This post will contain spoilers for the first two episodes of season one of Star Trek: Discovery. I’ll be putting a ‘Read More’ tag after this paragraph so you don’t see the entirety of this post when you load the front page of my site.
You have been warned.
Let me preface this whole thing by saying that I am very excited for this show. This is the first time I have watched a Star Trek TV show as it airs, and as a long time Trekkie, this is an unique opportunity.
I also want to clearly state which ST series I have watched to clarify where I am coming from:
I have started both The Original Series and Enterprise but have since lost interest in them and dropped watching them. Take that as you will.
Season 1 Episode 1: The Vulcan Hello
The show opens with a rather impressive close up of T’Kuvma’s eyes. The first words we hear are in extremely clearly enunciated Klingon, which straight away establishes the importance of the Klingons to this show.
This scene is fantastic because it also establishes the motivations of our antagonist in clear terms, “..remain Klingon!”, a call to unify the Klingon houses.
Let’s talk about the episode opening for a moment, Star Trek show openings have always been grandiose both on the visual and audio fronts. The opening for Discovery is minimalist on the visual front with the use of animated drawings of various Starfleet equipment (and some very good font usage). The music follows the trend of Star Trek intro music and feels very familiar to someone who has watched the previous shows. Overall: a opening that is stylistically modern but still very Star Trek, I am a fan.
Back to the main show, this first episode is fairly quick to introduce and explain the various character’s motivations. The opening shot of our protagonists: Captain Georgiou and Lt. Commander Michael Burnham walking in a desert with the first line being, “We come in peace.”. Another line that stood out to me, “I trust you with my life Commander Burnham…”, this implies a strong and friendly relationship between these two characters, one of friends rather than strictly as a professional one between a captain and their first officer.
Onto our ship we go, the U.S.S Shenzou, Walker Class made in the San Francisco Fleet yards. I would put a picture here but I wasn’t able to find a good shot of the Shenzou in this first episode, ah well. Here have a shot of the binary star system the ship is in.
We also get introduced to our science officer Lt. Saru who we find out is a Kelpien and according to the captain, “thinks everything’s malicious”. So a character who errs on the side of caution, got it.
The decision is then made to send Burnham on a short flyby to the unknown object out in the distance, it wouldn’t be Star Trek without the first episode involving the first officer out on a very risky trip.
It isn’t for nothing though, we get some backstory for Burnham, about her past with the Vulcans and a very regal shot of Sarek.
I have run out of cool shots to post so let me give my final thoughts on this first episode.
Final Thoughts on Episode 1
I liked this first episode quite a bit. It introduces the various characters in an eloquent fashion, especially the antagonist. We also get to see some interpersonal dynamics in the crew of the Shenzou. Burnham gets backstory. Overall, a character development focused episode and a strong start. Let’s see where episode 2 takes us.
Season 1 Episode 2: Battle at the Binary Stars
This episode starts of with another Burnham flashback, to 7 years ago when she first came aboard the Shenzou. Is this a trend? Should we be expecting flashbacks as the go-to method of character development in Discovery? It isn’t a bad flashback mind you, it gives us some more clues about the relationship between Burnham and Georgiou. Also Burnham looks amazing in Vulcan garb.
This episode ups the pace like it’s a season closer rather than the second episode of a season. The last sci-fi show I watched was the first season of The Expanse where plot points can take multiple points to be resolved so this episode felt a bit weird.
Let me list the things that happen in this episode in order:
- The Klingon fleet attacks the Starfleet fleet in the system
- The Shenzou is disabled in this battle
- The Europa (the ship that Admiral Anderson is on) saves the Shenzou with a tractor beam
- Admiral Anderson hails the Klingons
- The Klingons deceive the Admiral and ram one of their ships into the Europa, which initiates self-destruct
- Burnham manages to have an ethical debate with the ship’s computer and escapes from the brig
- Burnham and Georgiou hatch a clever plan to send a torpedo warhead with the tractor beam that the Klingons are using to collect the bodies.
- This damages the Klingon flagship heavily and the dynamic duo transport over to the ship, fight with T’Kuvma.
- In this fight: Captain Georgiou is killed by T’Kuvma. T’Kuvma is then killed by Burnham.
- Burnham is transported back to the Shenzou, where it releases escape pods and the ship is presumably scuttled.
- The last scene is Burnham in a court-martial, she is found guilty of various charges and sentenced to a life in prison.
All of this in the space of ~39 minutes. I don’t know about you but that’s a lot of events happening in a short period of time.
Before I write my final thoughts on this episode, here are the rest of the screenshots I took from this episode.
Final Thoughts on Episode 2
This episode felt a bit rushed to me, it felt like all of these events had to be fitted into the initial two episode ‘premiere’ of the show for promotional purposes, a hook to get people to subscribe to CBS’ streaming service to see more next week.
The most interesting part of the episode is the part where Burnham has an ethical argument with the ship’s computer, I don’t remember seeing anything like that in any Trek episode previously. I would love to see more interactions that explore the nuance of AI interactions in Star Trek like the stuff we got with the Doctor in Voyager .
But yeah, let’s take it a bit slower, eh?
What I liked:
- The Klingon armour, looking forward to Klingon culture being explored further
- Some great space shots (need more of them!)
- Ethical argument with ship’s computer
What I didn’t like:
- The rushed pace of episode 2
- Faceless Starfleet personnel at the court martial (why is this a thing? Is it just a cliffhanger technique?)
- Admirals are still dicks apparently
Overall, I would say that this has been a good start to a modern Star Trek show.
As with many things these days, I am cautiously optimistic about Discovery’s future.