Star Trek: Discovery has wrapped up its dark, twisty first season with the decidedly hopeful, surprisingly conclusive finale “Will You Take My Hand?” The story of disgraced Starfleet officer Michael Burnham came full circle, and the war with the Klingons came to a surprising end. The final moments of the episode will be hotly discussed for months, as it opens up a world of possibilities for the show’s second season.
Here’s a recap of the major beats of Star Trek: Discovery‘s season 1 finale.
The Battle For Starfleet’s Soul
Following Admiral Cornwall’s desperate move of installing the Mirror Universe Georgiou as the Discovery’s new captain, the ship sets out for the Qo’noS, the Klingon home world. Their mission is ostensibly to create a distraction that will pull the Klingon forces away from Earth, but in reality Mirror Georgiou is carrying out Starfleet’s true orders – the destruction of Qo’noS. An away team of Georgiou, Burnham, Tyler, and Tilly make their way through an Orion encampment on the planet – which looks like a cross between a Star Wars cantina and a Mad Max swap meet – looking for information on the series of caverns they need to pinpoint in order to carry out their plan. Tilly eventually realizes Georgiou’s real plan, at which point the Terran Emperor ditches her new crewmates.
Back on the Discovery, Burnham confronts Admiral Cornwall over the viciousness of the true plan, arguing that Starfleet’s ideals don’t allow for genocide, even in the face of annihilation. This is a theme Discovery has struggled with over its first season: the viability of Starfleet’s high minded ideals in the face of an overwhelming force bent on their destruction. Burnham herself betrayed those ideals before the war even began, but has more than proved herself a proponent of Starfleet’s idealistic, empathetic worldview as the season has progressed. Burnham threatens another mutiny, but this time her crew mates are on her side, and eventually Cornwall relents, and Burnham hatches a new plan.
Once she tracks down Georgiou, Burnham convinces her to not destroy the planet, promising Starfleet will still grant her the freedom she was promised – and Starfleet would never stop hunting her if she carried out her plan. Georgiou relents, partially out of self-preservation, but at least a little bit out of affection for Burnham. Georgiou is allowed to escape, though it seems highly unlikely we’ve seen that last of her.
With Georgiou dealt with, Burnham enacts her new plan – handing over control of the planet-destroying weapon to L’Rell, who plans to use that power to bring order back to the Klingon Empire and re-unite the 24 warring houses. Surprisingly, the part-human, part-Klingon Tyler decides to depart with L’Rell, seemingly in an effort to bring a shred of humanity to the Empire. Once L’Rell proclaims her new power to the Klingons, they pull their ships away from Earth, and the war ends with the Federation’s soul bruised, but intact.
The War Is Over
With L’Rell’s apparent ascension to Klingon Emperor, the war between the Federation and the Klingons comes to an abrupt end. At a Starfleet ceremony presided over by Admiral Cornwall – in a very futuristic looking version of Paris – the crew of the Discovery are celebrated as war heroes. Tilly is promoted to ensign and enters Starfleet’s command training program, Stamets is promoted to Lieutenant Commander, and Saru is awarded with a medal of honor – though not the captain’s chair of the Discovery, for some reason.
After sharing a warm moment with her adopted mother, Burnham and Sarek discuss the end of the war, with the Vulcan ambassador expressing his regret over his part in Starfleet’s plans for Qo’noS. After articulating his pride in Burnham, he presents her with her Starfleet officer insignia. Her record of mutiny has been expunged, and she rejoins the Discovery’s crew as a Commander.
Page 2: The Enterprise Surprise!
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