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Thread: Is Star Trek: Discovery Any Good? Yes, It’s Incredible

  1. #1
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    Is Star Trek: Discovery Any Good? Yes, It’s Incredible


    Star Trek: Discovery has concluded its first season and it was incredible. Taking the entire season into account, once you can see the mycelial forest for the trees, the first Star Trek series in 12 years earned its commission as the best incarnation of Trek since the heyday of the franchise in the mid-1990’s when The Next Generation had graduated to feature films while Deep Space Nine and Voyager carried the mantle on television. Now, Star Trek is truly back where it belongs, as a TV series, boldly going where it has never gone before. Discovery honors the venerable franchise’s storied canon while launching Trek in exciting new directions.

    No Star Trek series has ever been perfect. However, not since the first season of The Original Series in the 1960’s (which is arguably its best) has a Trek series had a season one as strong has the Discovery’s. The vaulting ambition of Discovery has earned Star Trek a place on the lofty plateau of Prestige TV occupied by Game of Thrones, Westworld, Breaking Bad, and the like. For its part, Discovery told an uncompromising serialized tale of war, loss, and the re-embracing of idealism that the franchise hasn’t attempted to this degree since the latter years of Deep Space Nine.

    Discovery featured a flawed and conflicted lead character, Michael Burnham, who was Starfleet’s first mutineer, and charted her difficult course to redemption. It maintained a breakneck pace full of action, shocking twists, and tragic death – the results were both thrilling and unsettling (certainly no one expected or particularly wanted so many casual references to cannibalism in Star Trek). Yet underneath it all was a glimmering spark of optimism – the spirit of hope at the very heart Star Trek – that fought its way out though the doom and gloom. This sense of hope shined brightest in the final episode of the season as Burnham ended the Klingon War she herself began by reasserting the core values of Starfleet.

    True, the shakedown cruise of the Disco was occasionally plagued with missteps. Perhaps the most maligned were the changes to the Klingons. Discovery‘s reinvention of the revered warrior race was a tough pill to swallow for many fans accustomed to decades of the Klingons’ history and culture being well-explored. However, it can be said that fans had grown so familiar with the Klingons that they had lost their edge as villains. Discovery‘s prequel time period required the Klingons to be the enemy, and the series succeeded in making them feel alien and other once more. (Just as Star Trek: The Motion Picture did when it first redesigned the Klingons in the 1970’s.) Yet through L’Rell and Ash Tyler, by the end of the season, we witnessed the seeds of how the Klingons and the Federation will eventually come together to cooperate in a few decades – before becoming steadfast allies in the 24th century.

    Here’s how else Discovery broke the mold and boldly reinvented Star Trek for our times:



    RISK IS STAR TREK’S BUSINESS


    No one has said it better than Captain Kirk himself: “Risk is our business.” Discovery took numerous risks in season 1 – including occasionally dropping curse words and F-bombs – and while some risks didn’t quite pay off, other delivered above and beyond. The series made bold moves by making the season about the Klingon War and then revealing that the captain of the Discovery, Gabriel Lorca, was an imposter from the Mirror Universe. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Ash Tyler waged a war within himself as he came to realize he was, in fact, the surgically-altered Klingon Voq incognito. Discovery found itself trapped in the Mirror Universe for a four-episode arc where nearly every character saw dark reflections of themselves as the scourges of the universe. Unfortunately, the best romance on the ship between Lieutenant Paul Stamets and Dr. Hugh Culber was cruelly ended, though there’s some hope that somehow Dr. Culber could return.

    Discovery began with a risk: killing off Michelle Yeoh’s Captain Phillipa Georgiou in the pilot while Michael Burnham absorbed all of the guilt and punishment she deserved for betraying her mentor. By the final episodes of the season, Georgiou had returned in the form of her evil Mirror opposite, Emperor Georgiou, who was then placed as captain of the Discovery in an insane gamble to end the Klingon War. This arc concluded with Michael offering her Mirror mentor a chance at her own redemption. At every point in season 1, Discovery took eyebrow-raising chances in refashioning what Star Trek could be.


    Sometimes, it was jarring and even disheartening to see characters wantonly killed off for the sake of shocking the audience. (Who can forget the idiotic death of Commander Landry?) It felt at points like the show was too grim, lacking the spirit of optimism and exploration fans identify with Star Trek. And yet, when the Discovery did make first contact with other races, like the tardigrade and the Pahvans, or delivered a bravura tale of twisting time travel like Harry Mudd trapping the ship and its crew in a causality loop, Discovery proved it truly understood and embodied everything great about Star Trek.

    “WE ARE STARFLEET.”



    Ultimately, Discovery‘s first season is about identity. When we first meet Michael Burnham, she – and by extension Starfleet – is riding high, blissfully unaware that galactic war just around the corner. Little did Starfleet suspect the Klingons were seeking to assert their own identity. They planned to unite their warring Great Houses under a messiah and subjugate the Federation. Through the course of the Klingon War that Burnham started by acting unilaterally and betraying Starfleet’s core principles, the Federation and the Klingons repeatedly compromised themselves and their values in their bid to wipe the other out. Both sides descended further and further from their ideals.

    The war only ended after Burnham had grown past her mistakes and stopped the Federation from reaching the point of no return by committing an act of genocide on Qo’noS. It was by arguing successfully for Starfleet’s enlightened principles and placing trust in their enemies to do the right thing that the crew of the Discovery achieved their greatest triumph. The season was bookended by the enemy declaring they must “Remain Klingon” and Acting Captain Saru countering with the pledge “We are Starfleet.” When Michael Burnham’s commission is restored and she is once more a Commander, her pivotal speech to the Federation doubles as Discovery declaring its intention to put the perils of war behind and live up to its name: to seek out new life and new civilizations and boldly go where no one has gone before.

    Discovery put its faith in the audience to weather the harrowing moments of the season with the promise of a brighter tomorrow to come, wherein the series would truly earn the mantle of Star Trek. Through it all, Discovery introduced a slew of fascinating characters, including some of the most powerful, dynamic, complex, and unforgettable women in the franchise’s history: Burnham, both versions of Georgiou, L’Rell, Admiral Cornwell, and especially the loveable Cadet Sylvia Tilly. Each of Discovery’s indomitable female cast proudly fought for their beliefs and ultimately rose to find their best selves, elevating Star Trek in the process.


    Meanwhile, before he revealed his duplicitous true self, Captain Lorca was, in his own way, an admirable and effective commander. Saru emerged as a true leader and inspired his crew during multiple mounting crises. Lieutenant Paul Stamets ran the gamut of his own personality and suffered a heartbreaking loss, but he also touched the unimagined possibilities of the mycelial network. Ash Tyler had an unimaginably difficult journey reconciling his true Klingon self and coping with the trauma of the abuses he suffered before choosing to fight for a better future. In the end, though some were lost or went their separate ways, like the very best Star Trek casts, Discovery‘s crew truly gelled as a family. (Here’s hoping more focus is given to bridge crewmembers Detmer, Airiam, Owosekun, Rhys, and Bryce in season 2.)

    With the prospects of a fourth Star Trek film set in the rebooted Kelvin timeline questionable (although Quentin Tarantino’s Trek apparently remains a possibility), fans can take heart that the Starfleet of the 23rd century is nevertheless truly back from the great beyond. With Discovery, Star Trek has returned to its first, best destiny – charting a thrilling journey as a Peak TV series that fuses the best aspects of the franchise with the boundless potential of the new. The future is thankfully bright for Star Trek once more. Thanks to Discovery, Star Trek and its fans have been gifted with a new way to fly.
    kirill, 20dust05, jimmy7 and 1 others like this.

  2. #2
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    I like it. Let's hope it doesn't get cancelled soon and network heads often go crazy.
    Rhialto likes this.

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    NOT a fan. Trying to throw in Spock's supposed sister just killed it for me. Add to that the redesign of, well, everything? Nope.
    sedna likes this.

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    Such a great show, never watched anything related to StarTrek before, so I'm not a purist/hater. I just enjoy it a lot
    Rhialto likes this.


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