I found the final episode to be a bit of nonsense, but a highly entertaining bit nonsense. As LexW says, it did look absolutely stunning throughout too. I don’t know if it is just because it is probably the only CGI heavy flashy thing I’ve watched in 4K Dolby Vision on my fairly new TV, but it has been consistently beautiful to look at throughout this season, even when direction choices have been… questionable. The time-travel stuff in particular was a real highlight, as well as the more obvious space battle sequences.
Speaking of the space battle, again, it was enjoyable to watch. Not exactly the tense naval-like battles that we expect from a Star Trek show and I’m not really sure when the Federation decided to use shuttle crafts in such a manner and to have such a large compliment on-board. The big stand out fisticuffs sequence was okay, but I couldn’t help but think all the way through that Inception did the whole thing so much better.
The emotional beats mostly worked. I still think so much of this would have worked a lot better if it hadn’t of been Spock though. Just changing his name to something else, have different parents, etc, and suddenly it removes all of that unnecessary baggage that the 50 odd years of backstory and expectations we already have for him adds to that character. It was less of an issue with Pike, who I feel had a very satisfactory arc. Those final scenes almost felt like the show longing to spend more time with him and that crew and I fully expect an announcement to be coming about it soon (can we ditch the S31 idea and replace it with that, please?)
Entering spoiler territory I found most of the closing out of the arc to be fine, if nothing special. It all felt rather obvious and not particularly original to have the signals all leading up to that final point. As with most extended time travel stories it opens up too many plot holes, as well as just seeming needlessly complicated solution. Still, the final moments of Discovery following Burnham into the wormhole was, again, fantastic to look at and opens up so many interesting possibilities for season 3. It didn’t make much sense as they had defeated Control by that point, but it was still a good moment.
Less good was the dismissive Armin Tamzarian resolution to why we have never heard of Burnham/Discovery/Spore drives before. Although it wasn’t satisfactory, I do think they blocked themselves into a corner with that one, outside of some gigantic reset button that wipes all the events out. Again, it shouldn’t haven’t been connected to Original Series characters in the first place and shouldn’t have been a prequel.
So, overall, I definitely think that this is a big improvement on the first season. There is still a lot to do before I can say that this is an actually good Star Trek series, let alone a great one, but they are getting there. Hopefully, season 3 will see that (wouldn’t be the first time).