So if you haven’t gotten the general hint yet, I do love me some Star Trek. It doesn’t matter what era, what producer, what visual aesthetic, I don’t think I’ve analyzed any other franchise quite as closely, or as frequently as Star Trek. My father raised me on episodes from the Original Series, to Deep Space Nine, and I am a proud owner of all 13 films, and own the complete series of each show, except the Animated Series. And yes, this includes both seasons of the new Star Trek: Discovery.
While I will admit that Discovery has work to do in its series, I am very much enjoying it, and am eagerly awaiting its third season. I tend to roll my eyes at the appropriately named fandom menace in its views of the show, and find myself disagreeing with a lot of other fans when they complain about certain… well, rather trivial things. I understand that Discovery or even Picard isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea, and is likely challenging a to of viewers of Star Trek, but I very much applaud them for challenging the average Trek viewer in their shows, and I find it absolutely dumbfounding that so many say that this show doesn’t feel like Star Trek when it is absolutely full of moments that scream elements of this universe.
Well, I’m highlighting the best moments of the show so far. Yeah we’re still enjoying Picard for a few more weeks, but we have a lot to look forward to in Season 3 of Discovery if you ask me, and to help build a little anticipation for it, here’s what I believe are the ten absolute best moments of the show so far.
A quick note, I won’t be including moments from the Short Treks series in this list, and it’s fairly safe to say that I will be talking spoilers here, so if you haven’t seen this show yet, you might wanna look away.
10. Burnham and Spock Play Chess (Project Daedalus)
One of the more gutsy moves of the show’s second season was bringing in Spock, and showcasing the strained relationship that both he and Michael share with one another as estranged foster siblings. This is a move that could have backfired so easily, and yet, I cannot help but feel like they executed it with precision and care that really makes both of these characters stand out in so many ways. I’m not saying their relationship was absolutely flawless (there were a few moments, I thought were not properly earned), but I saw these two, and I saw a very believable relationship between the two, and I think it really came to life in this scene here.
The chess match between the two is a true highlight of character tension and drama between these two, and not only does it perfectly highlight the years of frustration and bitterness the two have held to one another all this time, but it really showcases the acting chops of Ethan Peck, who absolutely owns the role in this show. It is true that no one will ever truly replace Nimoy, but to say that Peck did a disservice to the role is absolute bonkers. Not only does he pull off the emotionless stoic persona of the character remarkably well, be he also brings to life a new side of the character that I can totally see in a younger side of Spock, and he works so well with the role. Their entire game, and exchange of dialogue leave me on the edge of my seat every time from start to finish.
9. Lorca Reveals the Spore Drive (Context Is for Kings)
One of the biggest areas of controversy when it comes to Discovery is its use of the ship’s spore drive, with many saying it feels too advanced for the time period, unscientific, or even straight up ripping off some concept from an unfinished video game (a lawsuit that is full of nonsense I might add). I have yet to hear a single complaint about the spore drive that I sympathize with, and the way that Gabriel Lorca shows it to us is actually really intriguing. When we first see Lorca, we are introduced to a battle-scarred war torn man who many thought he was hiding something. And granted he was, but if you ask me, he played his part really well, especially since this scene is as good as it is. This is a scene in which Michael Burnham is still a convict, and doubting not only herself, but Lorca’s intentions. And the way he wins her over to show her just what the Discovery is doing is just… really good.
Not only is it visually appealing in how he demonstrates the idea and concept of the Spore Drive, but how he tells her that they aren’t creating a weapon, but a new propulsion system just feels very Starfleet. Now granted, it can be said that he does end up weaponizing the spore drive, and again, that big secret of him not exactly being who he says he is factors heavily into how he behaves and how he acts, but still, you take away everything that is happening in that moment, stick this in a typical episode of TNG or TOS even, and this would fit right in. And his assurance of Michael Burnham also feels right at home in more ways than one, but if I go too far here, I’ll be digging into major spoilers. All that needs to be said is that our first glimpse into just what the spore drive is meant to be? It’s all Star Trek.
8. The Klingons and Kelpiens Join the Fight Against Control (Such Sweet Sorrow Pt. II)
The season two finale of Discovery is full of awesome moments, but I don’t think there’s one moment that sends chills down my neck quite as much in this episode as the moment when the Kelpiens and Klingons join in the fight against Control, joining the battle alongside the Discovery and the Enterprise. While it is heartwarming to see Saru’s sister, Siranna, and the rest of the Kelpiens fly into this battle, especially since they’re flying Ba’ul fighters; ships belonging to a race that persecuted them for hundreds of years, as it shows that the two races have likely reached a truce or understanding of one another, it’s really the Klingons who steal the show here.
When the Klingon cleave ship decloaks and just rams into two of Control’s ships, I tend to lose it. Seriously, I really hope we haven’t seen the last of the cleave ships. Those things are awesome. Why wouldn’t the Klingons fly what are essentially giant bat’leths in space? And it’s just awesome to see how the Klingon Empire, despite remaining on hostile terms with the Federation, will recognize that cooperation in light of a bigger threat is what matters. There’s not much more to say here. It’s just a really badass moment of the finale of season two. Nothing more, nothing less.
7. The Universal Translator Malfunctions (An Obol for Charon)
It’s moments like this that baffle me when I hear people say that this show feels creatively bland or unoriginal. “An Obol for Charon” was already one of my personal favorite episodes of Discovery so far (if not my all-time favorite so far), but moments like this feel so unappreciated. Star Trek has always danced around the language barrier by using the universal translator. And while we’ve had episodes that wonderfully dissect how understanding communication is important (such as TNG’s “Darmok”), we’d never seen the Universal Translator go haywire, until now.
After a mysterious sphere sends a mysterious transmission to the Discovery, we get one of the funniest, and one of the most clever malfunctions I’ve ever seen in all Star Trek, as people begin speaking different languages all over the ship. It’s a near perfect representation of how I feel this kind of thing would play out, making Pike straight up compare it to the Tower of Babel, fantastic wordplay. And it’s just a fantastic concept put in motion.
6. Ensign Tilly Becomes Captain Killy (Despite Yourself)
The Mirror Universe Arc of the debut season was another point on controversy for some, but was another thing I absolutely loved about the debut season. I can’t say that any other mirror universe episode of Star Trek really intrigues me as much as “Despite Yourself” did. And it is absolutely full of awesome moments, particularly when Ensign Tilly is forced out of her comfort bubble to impersonate her mirror counterpart as Captain of the ISS Discovery. The pep talk that Michael Burnham gives her in how she doesn’t have to be afraid of her role is really kinda heartwarming, especially considering the fact that Michael Burnham has been helping her train for command this season.
And when she’s actually in the command chair? She demands respect as any mirror universe captain would. Some of her lines Are disturbingly fantastic as I would expect them to be. She plays the part remarkably well, and it makes me think that one day, she’ll be just as good a captain… just not nearly as evil. For her first time in a backwards universe? She really pulls it off.
5. Saru Reunites with Siranna (The Sound of Thunder)
Saru has a pretty major development arc in the second season of the show, and it’s arguably one of the best arcs of the season. We’ll talk a bit about how it starts later on, but it results in a conclusion that is absolutely jaw-dropping, as we see him wrestle with a newfound truth about his people, and his oath to uphold Starfleet principles, including the Prime Directive. The reason this is such a big deal is because his people, the Kelpiens fall under the Prime Directive, and Saru’s status with Starfleet is little more than a special exception.
But when the circumstances come into play where he is once more put back in touch with his people, the scene in which he is reunited with his sister Siranna is exceptionally well done. Siranna’s reaction not only to seeing him again, but meeting Michael Burnham is absolutely fantastic. Her reactions to everything she is hearing, such as the principles of the universal translator, to the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of life forms in the galaxy is absolutely fantastic. Even the moment she compares her own hand to that of Burnham to see the similarities and differences. And the way she simply asks at the end of this scene if humans drink tea? It’s the perfect bit of Star Trek in an exceptional scene.
4. Reno’s Advice to Dr. Culber (Through the Valley of the Shadows)
One of the absolute best additions of the second season was the character Jett Reno, portrayed magnificently by stand-up comedian, Tig Notaro. Whenever this character was onscreen, you knew there was some comedy coming your way, but while Tig’s dry delivery and snark attitude was good for a well-earned laugh most of the time, she proved that she was just as capable of giving us a very heartfelt scene, like this one here, in which she confronts Dr. Hugh Culber, who if you follow the series, likely know that he was killed, and brought back to life, and found himself in a bit of an identity crisis this season, which led to him separating himself from his partner in Paul Stamets.
The talk that both she and Culber have is impossible not to smile at as she brings a bit of that snark dry delivery to the table (she even references some of her own stand-up material in this conversation!), before recollecting on her own previous message. Not only do I greatly applaud this scene for fleshing out the personal lives of two characters who are a member of the LGBTQ community, but I can’t help but feel like wanting to get a little emotional when Reno describes her deceased partner, and just how much she obviously meant to her. You can tell that her experiences greatly impact Dr. Culber. Her parting words to him are as blunt and to the point as you can imagine, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is a scene that can make you laugh, make you cry, and for all the right reasons.
3. Burnham Gives Georgiou’s Telescope to Saru (Choose Your Pain)
Season one’s best moment undoubtedly comes in the form of some absolutely phenomenal character development between both Michael Burnham, and Commander Saru, who for a good chunk of the season are at odds with each other over the events of the pilot episodes. As Michael Burnham is responsible for the death of their former captain, Philippa Georgiou, Saru sees her as a threat to the crew of Discovery, and resents her for a lot of very valid reasons. When he’s forced to take command of Discovery during this episode when Captain Lorca goes missing, he finds himself doubting himself since he never got the chance to learn how to take such a role, and had hoped to learn from Georgiou as Burnham did. This conflict results in some absolutely stellar conflicts between the two in this episode (Doug Jones is quickly becoming one of the best actors of the franchise if we’re being honest with each other), but it also results in the moment that shows that the two are ready to move forward together, and rekindle their friendship.
When the two have a heart-to-heart in the last act, and Saru finallly admits how he holds Burnham in envy over the fact that he never got the chance to serve as First Officer to Georgiou, Burnham really steps up as his friend, and assures him that everything he did in his time as acting Captain would have made Georgious proud. The discussion they have is enough to get me smiling, but it’s the very end of this scene that gets to me, in which Burnham gives Saru the telescope that Georgiou had left to Burnham in her last will and testament. This little gesture I believe is what truly puts them both on the road to healing in their relationship as fellow Starfleet Officers, and friends. And Saru’s last order as acting Captain, for her to go and save the Tardigrade (long story)? Just as heartwarming.
2. Saru’s Vahar’ai (An Obol for Charon)
There’s a reason I said “Obol for Charon” was among my favorite episodes of the show, and this moment is one of the big reasons why. This moment was so powerful that I actually ranked this episode number four in a list concerning Star Trek’s saddest episodes out there. And yeah, when it was happening, I was fighting tears, because I straight up though we were going to lose Saru, who is arguably one of the best, if not the best character in Discovery right now. Throughout the episode, Saru is fighting a terminal illness, unique to Kelpiens , called Vahar’ai; a disease which lets a Kelpien know that they are ready to die. And towards the end of the episode, when Saru’s weakened body is on the verge of shutdown, he asks Burnham to kill him.
Now I said in the last entry here that both he and Burnham have some incredible development together throughout the run of these two seasons, and it’s this moment where that development shines in full glory when they truly realize just how much the two mean to each other. Seeing Burnham struggle to find the strength to do what Saru asks, really feels real and is an emotional curveball that I tear up at every single time. But thank God she hesitates because it’s this hesitation that gives Saru a major revelation about the true nature of Vahar’ai. And it’s this moment that sets in motion his inner struggle with the knowledge of this truth of Vahar’ai, and his dedication to the Prime Directive in the episodes ahead. Seeing his disturbing realization that everything he thought about life was nothing more than a lie is something straight out of Plato’s Cave allegory, and sets in motion some fantastic developments down the road ahead. But regardless, it’s this moment that really stands out in it all.
1. Captain Pike Seals His Fate (Through the Valley of the Shadows)
I could probably fill this list with moments in how awesome Captain Pike is in the second season of Discovery, but if I had to choose one moment, it would easily be this one, and I don’t think there’s much room for argument in it. So long story short, the Discovery is in need of a time crystal to power a specific suit that can travel through time and space, and Pike visits some Klingon Monks in isolation who guard these crystals. Not only does this set in motion some really fun time concepts for this scene alone, but it of course reveals the eventual fate that Captain Pike will face in life. If you’ve seen the TOS episode, “The Menagerie”, you’d know that eventually, Pike will end up in an accident that will forever change his life, and cripple him. Before this episode, it always felt like such a poor send off to a character who was originally meant to be what Captain Kirk was of TOS. Here? Pike finally gets some well needed and well deserved vindication for the events to come.
Upon touching the crystal, he is of course taken to the moment in his life where he will be forever crippled and changed. He comes face to face with his forever crippled form, housed in a wheelchair, unable to even speak, and Pike’s reaction to it all is powerful in and of itself, but it’s the moments that follow that really cement this moment at the number one spot. The monk who guides him informs him that it is very much possible for him to walk away from this fate, but that if he takes the crystal, it will eventually happen. Pike has a choice here to save himself, and you can tell that for a moment, he contemplates it. The thing is, he knows that if he walks away, he will likely doom everything around him to extinction, and it’s this self-sacrifice that he willingly makes as he takes the crystal that makes me shout at CBS to give him a damn show already. And how he carries this bit of information throughout the rest of the show is just as impactful. This willful notion of him accepting what will eventually happen to him I truly believe puts him along the same level of Picard as a Starfleet Captain, and I will defend that claim to the grave. It turns what originally was a senseless tragedy into a very meaningful triumph, and it will likely be very tough to top in my eyes as far as Discovery’s best moments in the show are concerned.
We’ll just have to wait until Season 3.
And there you have it. The ten moments I feel are the best of Star Trek: Discovery so far. There were a lot I really wish I could have talked about, but these are well earned if you ask me. You’re free to let me know about moments I maybe missed that you yourself enjoyed down below, and as always, thanks for reading.
Live Long, and Prosper.