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Star Trek Discovery – Season 1

I have been mostly avoiding the newer Star Trek shows. One, I was under the mistaken impression that they were either part of the New Movies timeline, which I dislike, or they were yet ANOTHER new Timeline. It does not help that Discovery really, REALLY feels like they initially intended for it to be a new new timeline.

Everything about this show really feels way more advanced than other Trek shows, which is way weird because on the timeline of Trek Show continuity, it’s second after Star Trek Enterprise. It happens roughly 10-15 years before Star Trek TOS. I am sure the actual dates are out there, but like I said, roughly.

But we have holograms all over, and hologram displays on the bridge, and a ship that looks like a late TNG-era ship in Discovery.

USS Discovery

And the Klingons. The Klingons are really fucking weird. Spoilers (for a now quite old show), I think this was a big complaint and they do eventually fix it in a handwavey way I will probably mention when I get to Season 2. The excuse here is basically, these Klingons are kind of a cult for very old Klingon ways. They also have this big ship covered in coffins which vaguely resembles a Klingon Battle Cruiser in shape, but it’s bigger and looks nothing like a Klingon Battle Cruiser.

WTF is this nonsense???

There is also a core plot part of the show and the ship in the Spore Drive. Which is basically a Deus Ex Machina Warp Drive running on mushrooms and magic that transports the ship instantly. It does have some interesting limitations on its use, but it really feels like the show runners hate the usual time urgency that pops up in Trek shows a lot.

Star Trek isn’t the Expanse, where everything takes weeks to travel between places, but Warp still is “slow” in that it acknowledged the limitations of just how fuck huge space is.

Which kind of touches back on why I have been avoiding this. And not for trying. It took me three tries to actually stick with it. It really feels at times like the writers just don’t quite “get” Star Trek. I know, I probably sound like a big picky nerd, but all of the older shows just had this particular feel. They presented a perfect nice future with people who excel at what they do and the conflict was solving the problems of others. Sometimes the drama on this show feels like it’s a bit much.

Also the weird tech I consistency really bugs me. It’s gotten better as the series has gone on, but it would have been much better had they just gone another 100-200 years past TNG and made a “future, future” Trek show.

I mean, that’s kind of how TNG got away with a lot. Someone knew they could make things work better production-wise than a show made in the 60s and to not make it feel weird they just, aged up the timeline. Why can Enterprise D go to Warp 9 versus TOS basically maxing at Warp 6? Because it’s THE FUTURE! It’s the Future’s Future!

You ever wish you had a reason to feel bad for a ten foot tall micro-organism?

Over time, it does kind of feel like the writers realized this and rolled things back a bit. Also, the USS Discovery is supposed to be a super advanced prototype sort of ship, so you could sort of write off some of the inconsistency that way, except the first two episodes take place on the USS Shenzhou, which is just, a normal boring Federation starship.

The show also eschews its Trekisms in other ways. USS Discovery does not seem to have a Chief Medical Officer, or Chief Engineer, or Chief Science Officer. Or at least, they are not main characters. The crew complement and ship layout are also confusing. When doing Spore Jumps, the saucer parts of the ship start spinning, do people have quarters in these areas? Sometimes they do these weird internal Turbolift shots that also make the ship seem much more hollow than it actually is. The aft section seems to be like 90% shuttle Bay. It’s just, really not clear. Once again, not really sticking to the “grounded” parts of Star Trek sci-fi

The plot itself is alright, with some interesting twists at the end of the season that I will avoid for spoiler reasons. The whole thing is basically 3 acts with a two-episode setup front-ending it all. The set up 2 part episode takes place on the Shinzou and sets up Burnham’s history, this leads into some Klingon War stuff and a bit of an “episode of the week-ish” format. They also explore the Spore Drive quite a bit during this part. Then there is part teo, which is a visit to another far-off place, with a twist at the end that would have actually been more interesting if the surprise clue for it was not revealed the instant it happened. Then we return for the third act and Deus Ex wrap up the Klingon War, which has almost destroyed the Federation in Discovery’s absence.

If Burnham is a bit of a Mary Sue character, Discovery is definitely a Mary Sue ship.

Speaking of Burnham, is probably worth commenting on the characters a bit. There is another non-Trek thing going on here where there are only like, 5 crew members we care about and the rest of the bridge crew are literally just set pieces. It actually felt weird when they suddenly all started talking during the last few episodes of the season. They seem to be pushing some of the secondary non-federation/crewmember characters a bit more to make up for the smaller “main cast”.

The main character is Michael Burnham, who has no rank during this season but basically serves as Science Officer. She is also Spock’s adopted sister and is perfect in everyway! (/s). It’s really weird how much Ambassador Sarak shows up in this show and never shows up during Strange New Worlds where Spock’s is a main character. Anyway, she lost her parents at a young age and Sarak took her in to raise her as a Vulcan to strengthen human/Vulcan relations. This is all explored more in Season 2.

Saru and Lorca

Discovery’s 1st Officer is Saru, an alien from a planet that is driven by fear and survival. He often commends the Discovery and Shenzou when the captain is busy, as 1st officer. He doesn’t get a ton of background but he is one of the more interesting characters in the show. He also is very tall and has this goofy way of walking.

The spore drive is a bit part of the ship and plot and is controlled by Stamets, who essentially serves the role of Chief Engineer, but he isn’t and works with plants and spores and the space magic of the show. His characterization is a bit inconsistent, early on he feels very anal and strict, but over time he seems to just be, kind of worried but not so much, most of the time. He is also gay, we see his Doctor Boyfriend a few times, but for much of this season Doctor Boyfriend is kind of a non-character until we need to sympathize with this couple more for “plot reasons”. He is, an ok, character, I find him a little annoying at times.

Sylvia Tilly, a Cadet, or Ensign or low ranking officer who works under Stamets. She is also Burnham’s roommate and as such, more or less Burnham’s best friend, eventually. She is bubbly and insecure, and kind of feels like she exists to make Stamets come off as more likeable sometimes. Just kidding, she exists to be the Mary Sue character when the plot needs Burnham to suffer. I expected to like Tilly and maybe overtime, but for season 1, I found her to be a bit, really annoying.

Lorcam Tilly, Burnham

Lastly, the remaining important character , is Captain Lorca. Whom I disliked at first, but then is style of Captaining kind of grew on me and I found that I really liked him. Then I kind of really disliked him again. But that doesn’t really matter by Season 2.

Ash Tyler and Michael Burnham

Honorable mention I suppose to Ash Tyler. He has the most convoluted and weird story line going on, and he becomes Burnham’s love interest pretty quickly, and we are supposed to like him, I guess, but man, I sure don’t like him. Especially because of his participation in the previously mentioned “Doctor Boyfriend is kind of a non character until we need to sympathize with this couple more for plot reasons,” moment. Because unlike Stamets alone, Stamets+ Doctor Boyfriend was pretty good and interesting.

Anyway, that about sums up my general thoughts on Season 1 and my “before I really watched” impressions.