It’s truth time here: ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ is a polarizing show, there is no two ways about it. As a viewer, you’re likely in one of two camps: you either enjoy the darker and “gritty” aspect of the show as a refreshing change of pace from the ‘Trek’ series that have come before, or you believe that the show has a blatant disregard for the core values that ‘Trek’ series have had since the beginning of the franchise and you’re confused as to why ‘Discovery’ is attempting to shoehorn this story into a place in the established ‘Trek’ timeline that it really has no business being in. If you’re in the former group, then you probably haven’t been enjoying my reviews that much, and this week’s review will provide more of the same. If you’re in the latter camp: read on, friend, and let’s be irate together!
WARNING: Spoilers for this episode of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ lie ahead, obviously. If you haven’t seen the episode and don’t wish for any of its content to be spoiled for you, the time to turn back is NOW!
RECAP: Starfleet’s happy that Discovery is so awesome, but since each spore jump seems to be not-so-slowly killing the only Mega-Tardigrade they can find, the Admiralty tells Lorca to not do it for the foreseeable future. Lorca’s pouty and somehow gets captured by Klingons on his short shuttle ride between the starbase and Discovery. He meets Harry Mudd on the Klingon jail ship who isn’t nearly as happy-go-lucky as he will be 10 years from now in the Trek timeline.
On Discovery, Acting Captain Saru (you remember him, the Kelpian who we established in the first episode (about six months ago in the timeline) is a natural prey creature and whose first instinct is to be timid and run away) has apparently grown some pretty sizable space-balls awfully quickly because he says damn the orders and uses the spore drive to go looking for Lorca in Klingon space. The Mega-Tardigrade doesn’t like this, so he curls up into a ball and almost dies.
Back in Klingon Land, Lorca meets another Starfleet officer who has somehow stayed alive (and with such minimal bruising, even though we see him plainly being beaten!) for seven months on-board. Well, both he and Lorca get beaten up for a bit, then manage to escape fairly easily anyhow. Discovery finds them and spore drives away – because Stamets hooked himself up to the spore drive instead of the Mega-Tardigrade (who Burnham releases to the stars in the very next scene without any real authority to do so). Now his reflection stares back at him in a whole different way…
- Dude, Lorca’s capture on the shuttle is all too easy – and where the hell was Discovery? Lorca just went for a quick meeting with some Starfleet brass on a starbase, shouldn’t the ship be docked there, or at least conveniently nearby?
- Do we not care that two human men, who were just recently tortured and beaten to a pulp by the fiercest warrior race in the galaxy, are able to overpower two of said Klingon warriors so easily? And the Klingons beat Tyler on-screen (including some not-very-convincing CGI blood splatter) and have allegedly been kicking the crap out of him for months, but he has no bruises? And the Klingon female captain talks with a British accent pretty much just for the hell of it? I feel like I should be calling this alien race “Klangons” in order to help avoid copyright infringement because these are no Klingons I’ve ever known in the history of ‘Trek.’
- So yes, there’s likely a thin-logic reason why Tyler shows no bruising: he’s Voq, right? Does anyone not think this to be the case? Last episode, L’Rell told him that he would have to sacrifice “everything” – it certainly makes sense, then, that he’d have to sacrifice his physical Klingon heritage to be genetically altered to look like a human. (For the record, Voq’s Klingon heritage has already been established to be nothing to write home about to begin with.) He’s aligned with L’Rell, a member of a matriarchal house, and this prison ship is conveniently captained by a female Klingon… the writing seems to be pretty plainly on the wall, so don’t act too surprised when the “big reveal” comes.
- In the first few episodes, set about six months prior to this episode, we’re told that “Starfleet knows practically nothing about the Klingons,” (to paraphrase) except, apparently, when conveniently needed for plot holes as Lorca can easily not only locate the shuttle bay on the prison ship but also flawlessly pilot a “Klingon Raider.” Klingon Raider – could the creative team want these guys to be Cylons any more?
- I love Rainn Wilson as an actor but his Mudd portrayal is extremely hit-and-miss, at least for me it is.
- Just like the above comment, I may be tainted by my general displeasure with this series so far, but Tilly’s “this if F**king awesome” feels really forced instead of being the cool “holy crap, they cursed on Star Trek” moment that it should have been.
- To reiterate what I mentioned in the recap above: Saru is NOT the same character introduced in the first episode. Not even close.
- Saru checks the list of “most decorated” Starfleet captains and sees Captain Pike’s name. Pike is on active duty in the galaxy right now, with Burnham’s half-brother Spock as his Chief Science Officer and on one of the best ships in the fleet at his command – where the hell is he in the wartime efforts?
- You can certainly tell that Nicholas Meyer has his hand in the production design of this show, yeah? The ‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’ director gets multiple references to that film in this episode including seeing prison planet Rura Penthe on a map of Klingon locations and having Discovery feature the visual “Red Alert” klaxon as seen in the Star Trek “original crew” films. Who cares that it’s decades too early to be seeing this graphic? Certainly not Discovery’s creative team, apparently.
- Before a SINGLE PERSON posts about Star Trek promoting the “gay agenda” or any of that other nonsense: you can save your hateful speech for another message board. The entire scene in question culminated in one man telling another man that he cared for him and lightly squeezing his shoulder. After watching the “straight agenda” since the time of The Original Series and Captain Kirk tongue-thrashing a green Orion slave girl, among others, you don’t have any shred of an actual argument here.
- The final scene where Stamets leaves the bathroom, but his reflection stays behind… in the… Mirror… boy, if Jonathan Frakes hadn’t spilled the Mirror Universe beans months ago, it would be pretty plainly telegraphed now where the show is headed, eh?
- Please tell me that Burnham’s shirt in the preview for next episode doesn’t say “DISCO” – I don’t think I have enough palms to slap enough foreheads to deal with that.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: I don’t think you need much more commentary from me here in order to tell how I’m feeling about the series so far. I’m genuinely not trying to be mean in my observations, but as a lover of classic Trek and the integrity of its ideals and established timeline, I personally just cannot get behind ‘Discovery,’ which is wildly disappointing for me.
PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:
Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Doug Jones as Lieutenant Saru
Jason Isaacs as Captain Lorca
Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Stamets
Mary Wiseman as Cadet Tilly
‘Star Trek: Discovery’ features new episodes Sunday nights at 8:30 pm online via CBS All Access.