As a Star Trek fan, how could I not watch the pilot episode of the first new Star Trek series in 12 years? I’m still working on my season 5 overview of TNG, in the meantime I thought it’d be an apropos diversion to give my thoughts on Star Trek Discovery. I’ve only seen the first episode, so this will be my response to only that one episode.
This post will be different than any other I’ve published. I’m not going to give an organized (or even coherent) review, instead I will just write down the thoughts that occurred to me over the two viewings of the episode. I did look up a few things afterwards that I’ll include too. As I did with my review of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I will issue the following warning:
*WARNING* MASSIVE SPOILERS CONTAINED IN THIS REVIEW. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU’VE SEEN THE EPISODE OR DO NOT CARE ABOUT KNOWING KEY PLOT POINTS
The Klingons makeup change. Why? To set itself apart from every other series, and the films? The goal seems to be to make them seem genuinely “alien” instead of just humans with makeup. Whatever. Not a fan of the armor. I had the thought if this was a Disney animated film we’d be hearing about how offensive the portrayal is to African Americans: super-broad noses, portrayed as the villains, preferring only aggression, etc.
The cinematography and special effects are gorgeous, far higher than I’ve seen in just about any other TV show. They are really using up their budget to achieve an effect here. I like that!
The bridge seems very dark, in great contrast to the bridge of every ship in Star Trek history. Even DS9, arguably the darkest Star Trek, is lit brighter than this. This makes me worry this will be a darker show, which is exactly what it should not be. The screen shot I’ve seen of the Discovery with captain Lorca is on a more brightly lit bridge, which I’m going to take as a good sign. But this isn’t a review of future episodes, this is a review of this one.
Not sure what I think of the new uniforms. They are at least solid colors, much like TOS, but I dunno. They don’t look bad enough for me to complain too much.
This is the year 2256. The Original Series took place from 2265-2269. That’s far enough removed to guarantee no crossover with Kirk & Company I suppose. Then again, never say never.
Michael in that space suit heading out toward the “object of unknown origin” reminds me of Spock in Star Trek the Motion Picture doing something similar.
Sending in the first officer into a situation where she will likely die doesn’t seem like a good idea. In fact, shouldn’t she be dead? There is “15 seconds to lethal radiation exposure” and twice that time occurs before we cut back to the Klingon ship after her encounter. She’s dead. No amount of treatment will help her, according to what the episode itself tells us–she’s dead. Yet 10 minutes later she has completely recovered. And what kind of idiot captain lets their first officer go on a relatively unimportant mission that will kill them in 20 minutes and says they will be back in 19?
Michael is a guy’s name. I’ve since learned that this is a recurring theme for Bryan Fuller, who is the show runner. Ellen Muth played George on Dead Like Me, Anna Friel played Chuck in Pushing Daisies, and Caroline Dhavernas played Jaye on Wonderfalls. It’s still a dude’s name, though, not sure how I feel about that. It’s not really for a purpose.
In terms of chronology, did TOS have the capacity for hologram representation? If not, why do these guys have it? Seems like a needless mistake. Then again, this show doesn’t seem particularly interested in Star Trek fans.
Michael seems to have a strange way of trying to present her arguments. “Captain, we have to fire on them. Hit that ship with everything we’ve got.” When the captain doesn’t immediately go along she says in effect, look at my history of success and stop challenging me, attack the Klingons before we’re dragged into war. Then this experienced Starfleet officer yells at her on the bridge. So she’s definitely off the reservation. It’s made all the more ironic a few minutes later when her science officer questions her the same way she challenged her captain, and she threatens to remove him right there on the bridge.
Michael committing mutiny against her captain. What are we supposed to make of this? It seems to me the writers are wanting the audience to believe she’s in the right and simultaneously that she’s letting her emotions rule her decision-making. She feels driven to this because her captain won’t fire on the Klingons. We learn just a few minutes later that a whole fleet of Klingon warships have arrived, and if they had started a fight with a ship who they are “wildly outgunned” by, the other ships would immediately open fire and pulverize the Shenzhou. This doesn’t seem like a good play for a character I have just met and am still deciding if I like.
Why is the first officer the only one with any good ideas? The captain and science officer contribute almost nothing to the episode that’s helpful to the plot. In fact these are the only characters on the ship who seem to have any significant lines. The pilot of just about every other Star Trek series does a better job of introducing the ensemble.
It seems it is being implied that Starfleet training is not adequately preparing the captain to deal with Klingons, as exemplified by Captain Georgiou (had to look up the name). While I haven’t seen the second episode, my guess is she gets killed because CBS has revealed Michael will be serving under another captain (Captain Lorca). Jason Isaacs, who plays him, described his character as “probably more f-ed up” than any of the previous Star Trek captains.
While previous Star Trek incarnations at least began in a time of peace, it seems this one will begin in a state of war. I just hope Discovery isn’t about war, because that’s not what Star Trek is about. It’s not even what the title of this series is about!
The ending. A cliff-hanger? Certainly an obvious ploy to get the ‘free week of CBS All Access’ to watch the next episode, and if you like it you’ll just keep it. I’m not a fan of this and I did not like how the episode ended, but I understand it’s purpose.
I’m not angry at this episode but neither am I convinced it’s Star Trek, either. Then again it may take a season for this show to hit its stride. The first season of TNG, DS9 and Voyager weren’t exactly great either. But I’m not loving this enough to pay for the rest of the episodes of the season.
Addendum: I just realized the initials for this series will be STD. I find this hilarious.