Star Trek: Discovery season 2 is on the verge of making the same mistakes as its first season. The CBS All Access show got off to a shaky start, with a polarizing first season marred by behind the scenes drama. Season 1 showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg were dismissed from the show midway through production on season 2 due to allegedly abusive behavior, somewhat ironic for the duo who so openly acknowledged the influence of Game of Thrones on their version of Star Trek.
But season 2 of Discovery has been a marked improvement in virtually every way. The ensemble cast has come into sharper focus, the stories no longer hinge primarily on war with the Klingons, and Captain Pike has proved to be the missing element that ties together everything about the show that works – though it will have to do it without him in season 3, as Anson Mount will not be returning.
And yet Star Trek: Discovery season 2 seems poised to make the same sort of mistakes the show made in the back half of its first season, which may speak to a deeper problem with the show than previously acknowledged.
- This Page: Where Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Went Wrong
- Page 2: How Discovery Season 2 Is Making The Same Mistake
Star Trek: Discovery’s first season was met with much criticism for its violence and seemingly grimmer worldview than what had come before in the franchise. But darkness was never the season’s fatal flaw; plenty of Star Trek has gone to incredibly bleak places thematically, and even marinated in war for an extended period – over half of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine took place in the middle of the galaxy-spanning, incredibly bloody Dominion War. That series explored the limits of the Federation’s morality in stark, sometimes shocking ways.
Discovery very clearly aimed to explore similar territory, but that moral quandary was severely undercut by the season’s worst decision – the origins of Gabriel Lorca. Initially presented as a once-upstanding Starfleet officer whose mind and soul had been compromised by war, he was a fascinating foil for Michael Burnham, whose own life had been turned upside down by the same war. Yet instead of earnestly grappling with the horrors of conflict and maintaining one’s values in the face of unthinkable adversity, Lorca turned out to be a Mirror Universe refugee, a boring mustache twirler bent on universal conquest. Lorca died a villain’s death, and when the war ended, there were very few ramifications for any of the series’ key players. Admiral Cornwell’s eleventh-hour threat to destroy the Klingon homeworld felt more like a thin excuse for the Discovery crew to reclaim the moral high ground, but it was a largely unearned moment, and one the show has curiously chosen not to address again. The notion of the Federation seriously contemplating genocide – even in the face of its own extinction – bears more rumination than what it got.
This was always the main problem with Star Trek: Discovery season 1 – for all the dark posturing and allusions to serious, gritty prestige television, the show lost its nerve when it came to the big, existential questions about humanity and moral flexibility, sidestepping them in favor of a more cartoonish adversary.
Page 2 of 2: How Discovery Season 2 Is Making The Same Mistake
Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Is Breaking The Section 31 Promise
Section 31 was a polarizing topic among Star Trek fans long before Discovery debuted. The shadowy Federation organization was introduced in Deep Space Nine as a sort of covert ops division that did the dirty deeds the Federation found too distasteful to carry out in public. In Deep Space Nine, Section 31’s existence is a closely guarded secret, with only a handful of Starfleet personnel aware of it, and all of them disgusted by it.
Section 31 is in quite a different position in the era of Star Trek: Discovery. A century before the events of Deep Space Nine, Section 31 appears to be relatively well known throughout Starfleet, and presumably played a prominent role in the Klingon war that so tested the Federation’s nerve. Section 31 has loomed large over season 2, with Captain Leland and newly recruited Mirror Universe Georgiou taking actions that would seem to push past even the wide-ranging purview the organization has enjoyed in the past. Leland and Pike serve as mirror images of each other – highly regarded Starfleet captains who could not possibly operate with less similar moral and ethical compasses.
Yet in “Project Daedalus,” it’s revealed that many of the nefarious machinations this season have been undertaken by Control, Section 31’s threat assessment system that has seemingly become sentient. There are good sci-fi stories to be told with a runaway artificial intelligence attempting to wipe out humanity, but it’s not nearly as interesting as the notion of Starfleet grappling with its own soul, and results in Section 31 coming across as more incompetent than malevolent. It’s a storyline that more cleanly absolves our Federation heroes and the organization they work for, rather than one that grapples with the fact that Section 31’s very existence is in many ways incompatible with the Federation’s ideals.
There was no turning back from season 1’s Lorca reveal, but Star Trek: Discovery season 2 can still recover from the Control story point. Even if they’re not directly responsible for the murder and fraud perpetrated by their creation, Section 31 still has much to answer for, and seeing their influence and power curtailed in the wake of Control’s rampage would both serve a continuity purpose, and also establish that Starfleet has left behind all traces of the rot that grew in its heart during the Klingon war. Considering CBS All Access is developing a spinoff Section 31 series starring Michelle Yeoh’s Georgiou, that outcome may be a long shot, though it’s still unclear what exactly that series would look like.
If nothing else, Star Trek: Discovery season 2 still has a lot of unfinished business. The Red Angel storyline still has to be resolved, and it stands to reason there will be some sort of revelation in the fraught relationship between Burnham and Spock. And credit where it’s due – the character work in season 2 has been so much stronger that it can be easier to forgive disappointing plot points when the internal lives of characters like Saru, Culber, and Tilly have become so engaging. This is a fully formed group of characters in a way it very much was not in season 1’s Burnham-specific storytelling, reminiscent of the better seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, when character stories were the main driver of the action rather than intricate, serialized plotting. It’s unlikely Star Trek: Discovery will ever abandon the very in vogue serialization, but it’s good to see it flesh out its supporting cast so the audience cares about virtually everyone on the bridge, not just Burnham.
That said, if Star Trek: Discovery is going to make the leap from good to great in season 3, it’s going to need to wrestle with some of the big moral questions it has now seemingly hand waved two seasons in a row. Season 2’s overall improvement suggests the show has yet to approach its quality ceiling, so there’s still hope that it can eventually become the sort of show not afraid to answer the big questions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be quite there yet in season 2, and that’s a little sad.
Star Trek: Discovery streams Thursdays @ 8:30pm on CBS All-Access and internationally the next day on Netflix.
After The Vampire Diaries introduced the Mikaelson family as villains, Klaus and Elijah headed to New Orleans to lead their own series, the spinoff The Originals. They went from being villains in someone else's story to heroes in their own. Fans accepted that, despite the problems inherent in that premise.
Still, it was an entertaining show for five seasons. Though Klaus had threatened the lives of the TVD heroes and their loved ones, he still became someone viewers wanted to see come out on top in New Orleans. That even sometimes meant rooting for the end of someone else's life.
On The Originals, fans saw the Mikaelsons and those closest to them in a different light. Their lives and histories were explored in a way they couldn't be on the original series of the franchise. Their family grew (and not just biologically).
However, it was also a very dark show. Therefore, sometimes it was hard to find logic in some of the things that happened and characters got away with over the course of five seasons.
While it made sense that not everyone got a happily ever after, given some of the evil deeds they committed, it was still strange to see some endings not fit the story told for years.
Here are 20 Things That Make No Sense About The Originals.
20 The Show Asked Fans To Root For TVD's Villains
On The Vampire Diaries, the Originals were, for the most part, villains. Elena, Stefan, Damon, Bonnie, Caroline and their friends were the heroes of the story.
The Mikaelsons, especially Klaus, did horrible things to them. Klaus took control of others' bodies, using Alaric's to his advantage to get around before he had his back. He ended the life of Elena's aunt, Jenna, as part of a ritual to break his hybrid curse. He terrorized Mystic Falls, and having his siblings around didn't make things any better.
Yet, on The Originals, fans were expected to root for them to find happiness — and they did. Fans wanted to see the Mikaelsons protect each other and emerge as victors, no matter what that meant.
19 The Hayley/Elijah Buildup Ended Tragically
Hayley might have had a daughter with Klaus Mikaelson, but no one expected them to be an epic love story. That was a good thing, because they weren't. However, she and his brother, Elijah, were supposed to be.
It didn't matter that she married someone else. If there was one couple that was going to be together in the end, they were set up to be it.
However, that's not what happened. Instead, in the final season, Hayley gave up her life — and Elijah stood by and did nothing. He didn't know what she meant to him at the time because he didn't know who he really was. That didn't make it better or that decision a bit of a headscratcher. After everything they went through, they deserved better than that.
18 The Witch Community Was Okay With The Harvest Ritual
There was so much wrong about the Harvest Ritual. Furthermore, it didn't make sense that those who participated agreed with it.
For the ritual, four young witch girls were sacrificed — and this was to be done every 300 years. Doing so would strengthen the bond between the New Orleans witches still alive and their ancestors who had already passed away. It was for the good of the community, for those who practiced ancestral magic, but these were still four young lives.
Marcel intervened and saved Davina, but he shouldn't have been the exception in that situation.
Yes, there was a resurrection component to it, in the end, but that didn't negate the rest of the ritual.
17 Why Did Jackson Stick Around?
Jackson and Hayley's marriage had been arranged to unite the two bloodlines as one pack. However, he also knew that she had feelings for Elijah and was entangled in all the Mikaelson drama. This was all true before the wedding, and it remained a problem after it as well.
In fact, Hayley and Jackson separated briefly in the time leading up to his passing. It was Hayley's connection to the Mikaelsons that led to that moment. Tristan wanted to hurt Hayley, and the Mikaelsons had hurt him.
Jackson should have known that it was never going to end well for him. Even if he had survived, Hayley was always going to be mixed up with the Mikaelsons and especially Elijah.
16 Caroline Being There for Klaus After What He Did
Before The Originals was a show, Klaus Mikaelson was a major villain on The Vampire Diaries. It was there he met Caroline, and fans first saw the potential for a romance between them. By the time the world of the spinoff was established and Caroline began guest starring, they were no longer enemies. They became friends, who had also shared a romantic moment. However, that was it.
There was the potential for more, but they never dated. Still, she became an important person in his life, even showing up for him when he needed her or Hope needed him.
In fact, she ended up being there more for Klaus than she has for her daughters on Legacies on-screen. That's clearly due to scheduling, but it's still noticeable and illogical for in-story reasons. She, after all, knew him as a villain.
15 The Series Finale Didn't Show What Came Next For Klaus And Elijah
The end of The Vampire Diaries showed fans what became of characters who had passed away. They found peace, with loved ones, and were able to (finally) rest.
The Originals even did the same with Josh in season 5. After he lost his life, he and Aiden reunited.
However, the same was not true for Klaus and Elijah in the series finale. Instead, the final scene was the two of them perishing together, leaving fans to wonder what happened to them next.
It was a chance to mirror TVD's ending and come full circle, but The Originals didn't do that. Now, the Mikaelsons may have been villains to many and not deserved it, but this was one instance where fans deserved answers.
14 Marcel's Back And Forth As The Mikaelsons' Enemy And Ally
Was Marcel the Mikaelsons' worst enemy or their greatest ally?
Over the series' five seasons, he was both, depending on what else was happening.
However, at the same time, it felt like the show never settled on one for too long because it was just too much fun to play the antagonistic side of that relationship.
In the end, he was always protecting those he cared about most, which often put him at odds with the Mikaelsons. Though at the start of the series, he was probably the closet non-sibling to family out there, he was still very much an outsider.
Still, it felt like there was too much back-and-forth on which side he was on in the Mikaelsons' fight.
13 The Problems In The Way Of Marcel And Rebekah's Relationship
For the most part, Marcel had a contentious relationship with most of the Mikaelson siblings. At times, that even extended to Rebekah, and the two were romantically involved. In fact, the series clearly set them up as a couple fans were expected to root for to get a happily ever after.
However, there were quite a few obstacles in their path, not even including the fact that Rebekah wasn't always around full-time. There were issues with Klaus, plus Marcel was loyal to New Orleans and those who lived there. For the longest time, he wasn't going to go anywhere.
It took quite a long time and quite a few separations, but they did end up together.
12 Caroline's Existence Lessened Cami's Importance To Klaus
If you looked at The Originals as its own stand-alone show, without any prior knowledge of the characters going in, Cami looked like the big potential romantic connection for Klaus. It took a while for them to become more, but they finally did — only it was too late.
However, some of those who watched The Vampire Diaries had hope that his prior connection with Caroline could become more. To keep those fans tuning in, the spinoff never forgot about their relationship, and she was still part of his life, all the way until the end.
The result was a somewhat messy romantic history for Klaus. Caroline was never forgotten, and Cami's bond with Klaus seemed to be played down because of it.
11 All The Weapons That Subdued The Originals
Most of the Mikaelsons were Original vampires and built up as a formidable threat. Freya was a powerful witch.
On The Vampire Diaries, they were this big problem, albeit one that those heroes could handle. They were the villains of that story, and it was easy to see why.
However, The Originals couldn't very well show that with every enemy. The series would have been boring. Instead, there were weaknesses, curses, and poisons to slow them down or put their lives in danger.
Sure, the siblings couldn't get too many wins, or the show would've been boring or ended sooner. Still, it felt like a new weapon against them kept coming up just to keep things interesting.
10 Finn's Purpose Seemed to Be Losing His Life
The Mikaelsons were seen as major threats and weren't so easy to take down or end the lives of, but one didn't make it. Finn passed away, both on The Vampire Diaries and on The Originals.
Finn was a villain and nowhere near as close to his siblings as the others were. However, he was still a Mikaelson, and therefore the end of his life was something that hurt them.
Having Finn around and then bringing him back was one way to deliver a blow to the family without having to sacrifice a major player. That became very clear with his return(s) on the spinoff.
Considering how strong the family was, did they really need to have one member of the family around whose sole purpose seemed to be to perish?
9 How Young Davina Was For What Happened To Her
Considering everything Davina went through and some of the aspects of her relationship with Kol, it's understandable if you forgot how young she was for most of the series.
At the beginning, during the mess that was the Harvest ritual, she was only 16 years old. The purpose of the Harvest was to sacrifice four young witch girls every 300 years to strengthen the connection between the ancestors and New Orleans' witch community.
Davina's role in that was just the beginning. She also lost her life along the way before finally leaving town with Kol.
Because she was surrounded by immortal vampires and other supernatural creatures, who were for the most part adults, it's crazy to remember what The Originals put a teenager through.
8 Klaus And Caroline Ending Up Together Being A Possibility
Klaus clearly became a better person on The Originals than he was on The Vampire Diaries. However, that didn't make up for his past behavior.
Despite his evil deeds against her friends, some fans wanted to see Klaus and Caroline end up together. That almost happened.
Showrunner Julie Plec revealed to Entertainment Weekly that "early on," Klaus' ending would have taken him "to Paris with Caroline." That changed after Caroline married and lost Stefan on TVD. "It never really felt right to have Caroline move past Stefan's memory to go travel the world for all eternity with Klaus Mikaelson," Plec explained.
Even taking Stefan out of the equation, it wouldn't have made sense given everything Klaus had done to the people closest to Caroline. It may have been a good ending for Klaus, but not for Caroline.
7 The Mikaelsons Kept Breaking The "Always And Forever" Vow
The Mikaelsons vowed to stay by each other's sides "always and forever" multiple times. Yet, members of the family broke that vow numerous times.
It was a nice sentiment, but there seemed to be too much weight placed on it. It was both a blessing and a curse, because there were too many instances one of them could have thrown it in another's face. There were numerous times the siblings split up over the years, not to mention all the times one of them inflicted pain on another.
After all, daggering one's siblings and putting them in coffins doesn’t really uphold the vow, does it?
Though Rebekah didn't mean it at the time, she was right when she compared it to keeping her from what she truly wanted.
6 The Number Of Daggerings Took Away the Shock of the Act
Because most of the Mikaelson siblings were Original vampires, it wasn't easy to end any of their lives. However, there were still weapons that could be used against them — and they used them against each other as well.
White oak ash daggers could be used to keep Original vampires down for the count until they were removed. Klaus used them against his siblings several times. He then kept them in coffins. There was even a dagger that worked against Klaus.
However, it got to the point that the Mikaelsons daggering each other became almost laughable and simply a time-out, not a serious offense or intense act. Brother or sister do something to annoy you? Stick a dagger in him or her and find a coffin. It was ridiculous.
5 Klaus' Actions in Season 5 Were Mostly For A Caroline Visit
In the season 4 finale, four Mikaelson siblings split the Hollow among them and went their separate ways. Elijah's memory was wiped, but that didn't stop Klaus from keeping an eye on his brother. However, that wasn't all he did.
Klaus also returned to his villainous ways in the years that passed. The Originals didn't treat this side of him as seriously as The Vampire Diaries did.
In this case, the purpose seemed to be to set up a visit from Caroline. The series wanted to keep that connection going, even though in the end, it wouldn't go anywhere (or at least not where some fans hoped it would).
There were more important things going on at the time — namely, the Hollow — to properly address what Klaus was doing.
4 Cami Never Should Have Been Klaus' Love Interest
Even though Klaus' romantic life was never the main focus of the series, he did have a couple of serious love interests. One of them was Cami, but it probably would have made more sense for her to just be his therapist. He needed someone like that in his life, and maybe if this hadn't been a CW series, that would have been the case.
However, television shows also tend to up the drama and angst by hurting those closest to the main characters. In Klaus' case, that was Cami, and just as they took that step to be together, her life was ended. That made that loss all the more tragic.
Still, since the show also insisted on reminding viewers of Caroline (and sometimes forgetting about Cami), was it necessary to change that relationship?
3 The Mikaelsons' Actions Weren't Always Heroic
The Vampire Diaries franchise makes its viewers reevaluate who's seen as the hero or villain of the story. During the course of the original series, the Mikaelsons were seen as villains. However, once they moved to New Orleans and their own show, they were the heroes of their own story.
Not much changed for the family, though. They were still dangerous. They still ended lives. They still put their family first, at the expense of others' safety and lives. Still, that somehow worked for the show.
In the end, fans wanted to see these siblings get what they want, no matter what they'd done. Klaus and Elijah passing together was heartbreaking. Rebekah was going to one day get the normal life she wanted. Freya was going to have a family with Keelin. Kol returned to his life with Davina.
2 Freya Posed As Her Brother's "Date" To See Her Family
The rest of the family thought they'd lost their older sister, Freya, when they were young. However, it turned out she was part of a deal their mother, Esther made with her sister, Dahlia. It would take until the present day for the other siblings to find out she was alive.
Freya did spend time with her siblings before then. She posed as her brother Kol's "date" to a party in 1914, though no one knew who she really was. Couldn't she have come up with another way to mingle among her siblings without doing that?
Wanting to see her family was understandable. However, she should have interacted with them in another way prior to their big reunion in the present in New Orleans.
1 Why Did The Endgame Relationships All Have Tragic Backstories?
The Originals was never going to be a happy story, but all of the couples that made it to the end had tragic backstories. That seemed a bit much. Couldn't there just be one happy couple that maybe encountered some obstacles along the way instead? Did all of them have to start out poorly?
Rebekah and Marcel had Klaus as a problem.
Kol was lying about who he was — he was in Kaleb's body — when he and Davina met.
Freya and Keelin were enemies, and Freya was entirely focused on saving her family when they met.
This all could be traced back to the fact that the Mikaelsons have been portrayed as villains, though fans were expected to root for them, yet another aspect of the series that didn't make sense.