Star Trek: Discovery‘s superior season 2 fittingly concludes with the crew bonded together in a way no other Star Trek cast has. Every series in the franchise is about a core ensemble of Starfleet Officers who become a found family. It only took two seasons for the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery to become that kind of unified front.
Traditionally, the main cast of a Star Trek series revolved around the captain, but Star Trek: Discovery tossed that paradigm out of the nearest airlock. Michael Burnham is – and continues to be – the centerpiece character, but by the end of Star Trek: Discovery season 1, fans still didn’t know who most of the bridge crew were. Thankfully, season 2 has taken huge strides to bring the ancillary members of the crew to the forefront. By the penultimate episode, “Such Sweet Sorrow”, the Starfleet Officers of the U.S.S. Discovery chose to risk their lives and their every futures for each other.
In order to stop the malevolent A.I. Control from gaining the sphere data it needs to wipe out all sentient life in the galaxy, Michael chose to become the second Red Angel and take the Discovery into the future. Even by Star Trek‘s standards of loyalty to one’s crew, Michael’s farewell was exceptionally heartfelt. “I love you. All of you,” Michael told her colleagues. “I wish there was more time. Thank you for the greatest moments of my life.” This was extra touching considering how Michael boarded the Discovery two years prior as Starfleet’s first mutineer. She was mistrusted and labeled “dangerous” by First Officer Saru himself.
In “Such Sweet Sorrow’, Ensign Silvia Tilly, Saru, Spock, Lt. Paul Stamets, Commander Jett Reno, Lt. Keyla Detmer, Lt. Joann Owosekun, Lt. Gen Rhys, Lt. R.A. Bryce, Commander Nhan, Lt. Nilsson, and Emperor Georgiou all elected to remain aboard as the U.S.S. Discovery’s crew to time travel with Michael into the distant future – perhaps never to return. This fitttingly put a button on how much season 2 highlighted its supporting cast.
In the season 2 premiere, Captain Pike asked the bridge crew to introduce themselves, which cleverly allowed him (and the fans) to put names to the faces. Later, Detmer and Owosekun saved Pike’s life as he flew through an asteroid field. Throughout season 2, Michael and Saru chaired Ready Room meetings where the bridge crew was able to show off their personalities. The Discovery’s lively mess hall was a far cry from Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Ten Forward lounge; the Disco’s crew took their meals together (not unlike Kirk’s crew in The Original Series), relaxed, laughed, swapped stories, and played the auto-antonym game. The Disco crew also weathered bizarre moments like the resurrected Dr. Hugh Culber brawling with Ash Tyler.
The Discovery also welcomed Commanders Nhan and Jett Reno; despite her tense working relationship with Stamets, Reno helped heal Stamets and Culber’s broken marriage while Nhan apologized to Michael for her role in Lieutenant Commander Airiam’s death. An augmented human who was possessed by Control and forced to betray her crewmates, Airiam was season 2’s most tragic character; “Project Daedalus” gave glimpses of Airiam when she was once fully human and fans saw the mutual affection between her, Tilly, and Michael. Airiam’s funeral was as touching as Spock’s in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Other Star Trek crews had more time to bond. With the exceptions of The Original Series and Star Trek: Enterprise, the other series had 7 seasons (which were generally understood to correspond to 7 years each) for their crews to gel and in their opening titles, the characters’ names were listed with the actors playing them. (The casts of TOS and TNG also had 10 Star Trek movies between them to further their bonds.) In addition, the other Star Trek series had about 26 episodes in the episodic format – ample time to devote to individual characters and familiarize them to fans.
By contrast, Star Trek: Discovery is serialized in the modern Peak TV style of storytelling (whereas even the serialized Deep Space Nine had plenty of room for one-off character episodes) and the CBS All-Access prequel only has 14-15 episodes to tell a complete season-long arc. Yet, in season 2, Star Trek: Discovery‘s crew proves to be resolutely behind Michael Burnham and they’ll follow her anywhere (or anywhen) – they could now even lay claim to the title of “the finest crew in Starfleet”.
Star Trek: Discovery‘s season 2 finale streams Thursday, April 18 @ 8:30pm on CBS All-Access and internationally the next day on Netflix