will you take my hand review

The finale for Star Trek: Discovery’s first season, “Will You Take My Hand?” was full of heartfelt moments and a very happy ending for Michael, who gets reinstated as a science officer after ending the Klingon War. But the episode still left me wanting? I feel a little like Ash Tyler – I’m of two minds and belong to no side when it comes to my Will You Take My Hand review.

Ash Tyler’s voyage with L’Rell

I’m quite all right with Tyler and Michael not hooking back up. With the whole mess about Voq trying to kill Michael in the body of Tyler, the relationship was launched into a gray area. Yeah, it wasn’t Tyler doing it but, as Michael alluded to in the past, it’s hard for the heart to understand that when it was Tyler’s face Michael was staring at. Let’s not forget that Tyler-as-Voq also killed poor Culber; that alone would serve as an impenetrable wedge between the two. Voq’s attempt on Michael’s life only strengthened that wedge.

Could the door to further reconciliation still be open? Michael saying she finally sees Tyler in his eyes seemed oddly forced when, just a few scenes ago, she couldn’t even look Tyler in the face. Also, it seems like Tyler will never be over Michael and the life they could have had together. But Michael might feel that same gnawing swirl of emotions too, seeing how she broke down crying as she held his boating knot.

I don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand, a possible encore of Tyler makes me happy, since Shazad Latif is amazing. But on the other hand, what more can be done with the two of them? I like Tyler as a character, and I’d love to see how he changes along his journey to self-discovery, but the main reason I like a nebulous character like Tyler is because I love Latif’s acting (and face-nuzzling). He really brought heart and pathos to a character who could have easily just flown directionless in the wind. But it’s probably for the best Michael and Tyler never see each other again. I mean, where else can they go? They certainly can’t be what they once were and ignore everything that happened. But this is for the writers to figure out.

What truly ground my gears, though, was that Tyler chose to return with L’Rell. ¿Qué? I mean, yes, Tyler’s no good for Starfleet and he’s no good for the Klingons, but if that’s the case, why choose to go back with L’Rell? Even though Voq might have memories of love for L’Rell, Tyler sure doesn’t; what he remembers of L’Rell is physical and sexual torture. So…what gives? This and the moment when Tyler, in the voice of Voq, gives L’Rell the courage to stand up to the Klingon houses were just two of the odd tonal shifts in this episode.

It’s easy for me, in the comfort of my living room with no pressure on me to write a TV show, to critique a room of writers who are under time and creative constraints. However, if I could change anything about this episode, it’d be for Tyler to strike out on his own and chart his own course in the universe so he can finally learn about himself. As far as his personal development goes, he’s not going to get anywhere traipsing behind L’Rell. Also, some who viewed Tyler’s journey as a survivor of sexual assault might not find it pleasing to see him run away, as it were, with his assailant.

The Orions

The depiction of the Orions in the Star Trek universe has always been a sticking point with me, and this episode didn’t fare any better. While other alien races get a chance to be fleshed out beyond their initial appearance, the Orions find themselves boxed in. The most notable time an Orion hasn’t been used just for sex was in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, which features Orion Starfleet cadet Gaila as Uhura’s roommate.

To me, the sexualization and enslavement of the Orions is analogous to how many non-white racial and ethnic groups are often stereotyped as being hypersexual and/or share a cultural history of enslavement. For instance, African-Americans; we’ve been hypersexualized since slavery, and those stereotypes still haven’t died down. The same for Asian women, East Asian women in particular; the concept of the “geisha” has been warped by Westerners, with too many believing a geisha is a high-falutin’ prostitute, when she’s actually a living reservoir of traditional Japanese culture. The stereotype of submissive Asian women also reigns with too many men looking for wives who won’t be “too loud” and will be “submissive,” especially when it comes to sex.

Middle Eastern stereotypes also include the idea of hypersexual women and this was in full form in this episode. That’s a real disappointment. It’s a long tradition of having Orion girls dance in a stereotypical belly-dancing style, but with the show’s focus on diversity, inclusion, and thinking outside of the box, this presentation of Orion men and women was not only lacking creativity, it was culturally regressive as well. The Orion belly dancing was even accompanied by music that is only analogous to traditional music from the Middle East. Plus, there was an Orion thief who tried to steal Tilly’s equipment while she was knocked out from drugs. Also: the fact that the thief was peddling said drugs, another stereotype spanning across many non-white races and ethnicities.

Star Trek: Discovery has checked so many boxes towards its goal of socially aware science fiction, and it had a big opportunity to change up the Orions. Instead, they dropped the ball.

Michael proves she’s better than Starfleet

I love how Starfleet had to be reminded of its own ethics by none other than Michael. To think that Starfleet punished one of its brightest and most loyal officers and then turned around and threaten to commit the same acts of desperation is a perfect representation of human short-term memory. It also acts as serialized proof to government doubters that if a sanctioned organization can get away with it, they will do what they can to preserve their own power. In this case, Starfleet was ready to commit genocide and look the other way.

This moment brings us back around to the season opener; Michael has always been someone who adhered religiously to the Starfleet ideals, and unfortunately, her strong adherence to it has gotten her in some trouble throughout her career. But her commitment is also why I’m happy we’re following her journey; her life can prove to Starfleet that everyone’s only human, but that humanity is at its best when it is reminded of how much good we can accomplish if only we’d look toward peace.

Sarek’s a proud dad

It’s so fun to finally see Sarek act like the proud father I always knew he was. I admit that I have a soft spot for Vulcans, so anytime Sarek is on screen, I’m happy. But I was even happier to find a Sarek who has seemingly melded both his emotional and intellectual sides together to become a more balanced dude (at least in this episode). When Sarek finally said to Michael that he was proud of her as his daughter, I was just plain relieved.

The Enterprise!

Apparently, we’re going to meet Captain Pike and his crew, a crew which isn’t the Enterprise crew we know (we think). What surprises are in store for us with them, and why are they sending a distress signal?

Since the Discovery (with Sarek aboard) was on the way to Vulcan and since they’ve been hailed by the Enterprise, I feel like we must be gearing up for a Spock arc. The Discovery continuity doesn’t allow Spock to serve yet; he’s still at the Vulcan Academy. But there must be some reason why there are so many Spock hints at one time. However, regardless of whether we see Spock in the next season, that still doesn’t answer the question of who’s going to be the next Discovery captain. Since the next captain is on Vulcan, is that a clue to someone we’ve seen in past Star Trek series? To me, though, there’s a more expedient candidate for the job – Saru. I mean, why not? He’s more than earned the promotion. I’m a little salty about that.

This was a choppy episode for the season to end on. It was full of gumption, but after so many great episodes back-to-back, this finale felt like it needed to be a two-parter, a proper bookend for the season’s two-part premiere. Regardless, live long and prosper, Star Trek: Discovery, until we meet again next season.

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