Star Trek: Discovery’ is the first ‘Trek’ series in over a decade. But despite that long absence, the show has proved a bit divisive within fandom. Though it’s far from the only reason, this issue tends to surface when the show rubs up against the storied franchise’s established continuity. Speaking at San Diego Comic-Con last Friday, showrunner and executive producer Alex Kurtzman revealed that the show will be tackling at least some of these issues head-on in its second season.
A particular sticking point for longtime fans has come in the form of Michael Burnham herself, specifically the way in which the show dropped a previously unmentioned adopted sister into Spock’s backstory. With the iconic Vulcan set to make an appearance in the upcoming season, Kurtzman promised that the show would make a point of addressing the question of just why she was never mentioned before.
But is that really necessary?
While it’s good to know that this talking point will finally be put to bed, it is in this writer’s estimation, quite possibly the least interesting question that ‘Discovery’ has raised to date. And the reason for that is simple. If you go back and watch the original series, ‘The Animated Series‘, and the first six movies, you’ll realize that Spock just doesn’t talk about his family unless he absolutely has to. In ‘Journey to Babel‘ – the episode that introduced Sarek and Amanda – the Enterprise stops at Vulcan to escort a Vulcan ambassador and his wife to a conference, and Kirk suggests that Spock take advantage of the opportunity to visit his parents. Spock then informs the captain that the Vulcan ambassador and his wife – who the two men are at this very moment preparing to great at the shuttle bay – are his parents. And even later in ‘Star Trek V: The Final Frontier’, Spock doesn’t see fit to mention that Sybok is his half-brother until the latter is holding his friends and fellow officers captive in the brig.
So, irrational as this behavior may be, it is nonetheless very much in character for Spock.
More pressing (though your mileage may vary) is the small matter of Discovery’s spore drive. While the first season half-heartedly offered a few potential justifications as to why this nigh-miraculous transportation system was completely abandoned when episodes and films set more than a century after the fact have shown Starfleet consistently (albeit with minimal success) experimenting with a variety of advanced propulsion technologies, all while relying on conventional warp drives (which Discovery itself rarely used, opting instead for its magic mushrooms). Thankfully, Kurtzman has also promised that the show will address that as well.
Speaking as a member of the continuity obsessive fanboy community, the most frustrating thing about the show’s continuity hiccups has never been the hiccups themselves. Rather, it’s been the fact that most if not all of them are a product of the creative staff’s efforts to tie the show to the original series. Of course, it’s easy to Monday morning quarterback ‘Discovery’ – or any show for that matter, but they really did paint themselves into this particular corner. Had the show been set, say, a century after ‘The Next Generation’, you could tell the same story with only minor, largely cosmetic changes (replacing the Klingons with original antagonists, for example, or using an original Vulcan diplomat instead of Sarek), and in the process virtually every continuity issues would disappear. It really does give one a new appreciation for the preference of early ‘Next Generation’ producers for avoiding stories that explicitly referenced or followed up on original series stories.
Are there any continuity questions that you hope ‘Discovery’ will address next season? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on the second season of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ and other upcoming ‘Star Trek’ projects as it becomes available.
‘Star Trek: Discovery’ will feature returning stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Mary Wiseman, and Anthony Rapp alongside newcomers Anson Mount and Tig Notaro. Though no premiere date for the second season has been announced yet, we know that it will begin airing on CBS All Access in January 2019.