I have been tuning in every week since the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery eagerly anticipating the next installment of the latest iteration of my favorite sci-fi series. I won’t lie, I’ve usually been left disappointed on some level after each episode. That’s not to say I don’t like the series, I do like it a lot but after every episode I felt a little unsatisfied with the progression of the story.
The pilot episode set up a major conflict with the Klingons. While aspects of this set up are a little frustrating I can totally buy into it as part of the history of Trek and the story they want to tell. War makes for great and tragic dramatic story telling and some of Deep Space Nine’s best episodes were during the Dominion War.
As I began hearing about the premise of Discovery before it was released, I imagined a ship of science changing its focus as it found itself in the middle of the Klingon conflict. Kind and gentle Starfleet officers would have to learn a more militaristic lifestyle and that would create a great deal of internal conflict with the primary characters of the show. I haven’t really seen anything like that with the crew of Discovery. Most of them seemed kind of shady from the start!
As for external conflict, I imagined the Klingons would press the Federation with numerous engagements, seizing world after world until the Federation had no choice but to dig deep and stand up to them. We really haven’t seen that either. Since the pilot we’re seen one space battle, the opening of episode 8 ‘Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum’ where Discovery swoops in to try and rescue a fellow Starfleet ship (they fail). The only conflict involving a strategic world was episode 4 with the awesome title ‘The Butcher’s Knife Cares not for the Lamb’s Cry’ where a dilethium mine colony is about to be overrun unless Discovery can get there in time.
Instead we have a show where there is a large focus on a new way to travel through space. We know this form of space travel will inevitably fail because this is a prequel series and in the twenty-fourth century they still use the tried and true warp engine. We have a small story arc with Harry Mudd, a character who made an appearance in the original series. This had me excited at first as I was hoping for some kind of anti-hero; a character who doesn’t play by the rules but still has some kind of moral backbone. With the shadiness of Captain Lorca, I guess there wasn’t much choice but to make Mudd a full on villain.
So far the show talks a lot about war, the cost of war, and how they must win the war. While Discovery has had a few run-ins with the Klingons, most of the time the show just tells us they’ve done a lot rather than show us the action. The primary focus is Burnham’s character arc and redemption journey. This would be great if she weren’t hampered by years of Vulcan training on the suppression of emotion. She comes across as cold which in my opinion doesn’t work very well in your principal lead.
While the content of the show may leave me with something to be desired, the production quality is nothing less than spectacular. I absolutely love the musical themes and I wish they’d release the soundtrack. Visually the show is stunning and it’s easy to believe the world they’ve created. While it’s not the Star Trek of old, it is very much in line with the reboot “Kelvin” universe and utilizes the best of what’s available in current cinematic tools. It may not have the feel of Star Trek but it does make for great science fiction.
After every episode I feel like I’m still waiting, waiting to see where they go and disappointed they haven’t made more progress in getting there. At least that was the case until I saw the mid-season finale. All of a sudden everything comes to a head and it looks like everything gets wrapped up in a nice package. Discovery has a plan to unlock the secrets of the Klingon cloaking device and mid-execution of said plan, the security chief suffers an episode of PTSD! Burnham fights the Klingons, Discovery fights the Klingon ship, the spore drive is put to the test! We went from zero to warp 9 in a single episode! That too was not very satisfying as there are still at least six episodes remaining in season one. It’s possible this wrap up is just an illusion or the show could be taking a new direction. The latest episode does end on a cliffhanger so I guess I’ll have to wait until January to find out.
Looks like I’m still waiting.