This week saw the long awaited release of Star Trek Discovery. A show that had divided fans before its release and now that it is out the divisions seem to have only deepened. So what was it like? Is it good? read on to find out.
Despite the its tumultuous development cycle Star Trek: Discovery has finally arrived to a resounding ‘Meh’ from most series fans. TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise have created one of the most loyal fan bases in TV history. The fact that most of the above shows are known generally by their abbreviations, and Discovery’s abbreviation is STD, is perhaps the first hint of how little thought went into this show.
The first episode introduces the main character, Sonequa Martin Green’s Michael Burnham, and the USS Shenzou. We also get to meet Captain Philippa Georgiou played by Michelle Yeoh. In a departure from previous iterations of Star Trek where the episodes focused on an ensemble crew, this show seems to be directed only on the character of Michael Burnham.
The Shenzou is given a mission to investigate a broken satellite and in the process run into the first Federation encountered Klingons in over one hundred years. There is also a side plot about T’Kuvma trying to reunite the Klingon Empire and the whole side arc is filled with a lot of political and religious undertones that may not appeal to everyone.
Throughout the episode we learn a little more about Michael Burnham (No reason is given for the name Michael on a woman) She grew up on Vulcan and was raised by Sarek after her family were killed by Klingons. Sarek in this show is nothing like he was in TOS and it would have been better to have simply made him a different Vulcan.
Due to the gravity of a nearby solar event Burnham has to do an EVA and see what a mysterious object is. During this journey she accidentally kills a Klingon warrior and suffers radiation burns. The crew manage to get her back aboard and she warns them of the Klingon threat and not being believed. Eventually the Klingons make themselves known and the Captain is unsure how to deal with it. Burnham contacts Sarek for advice.
The episode ends with Michael Burnham using the Vulcan nerve pinch to incapacitate the Captain so she can order the Shenzou to fire on the Klingon ship. This scene had a lot of problems. On a personal level I really disliked seeing Starfleet officers fighting. It felt wrong, this is personal but longtime trek fans might feel the same. On a wider level the logic used in this scene is very circular and doesn’t add up.
A brief breakdown is that Sarek told Michael the Vulcans fired on the Klingon ships to stop the Klingons attacking them. So Michael believes that if the Shenzou fires on the Klingon ship before more Klingons arrive that they will all just leave peacefully. To say this scene is stupid is to be too nice to it. If Klingon vessels exited warp and saw another Klingon ship being attacked they would move in to help it. This scene was very poorly thought out and its logical flaws and total lack of sense have bugged me since I seen the show.
The first episode is perhaps the worst of the two. It takes ages for nothing to happen. The acting is bad, almost no interesting plot lines are established and I found myself wishing it would get to the point. Dialogue is poorly written and exposition heavy and there were points that I felt like I should be keeping notes. That said it looks pretty. The visual effects for this show are amazing and every thing looks really futuristic. However I do advocate that however was in charge of the lens flares should be brought outside and shot. I had to stop watching half way through the first episode to give my eyes a break from the constant assault under. Camera work is also poorly done as the camera seems only to move in strange angles and never points where you want it to.
Special mention should be made of Sonequa Martin-Green’s acting. Not because it was good, it wasn’t but because,despite how bad it was,it really looked like she was trying her best. I don’t watch The Walking Dead and can’t speak to her performance on that show. In this show she looked like she really wanted to give a good performance but was hampered by the writing. I do look forward to seeing what she could do under a decent writer in a better show.
To rate the first episode I would give it a 3/10. It is not a good opening, it is bland and I didn’t want to look at more. If it had been anything other than Star Trek I would have given up there. Nevertheless, I persisted into episode two.
The second episode was definitely the best of the two but this doesn’t mean it was good. It still suffers from the poor writing, bad camera work and I am now certain the man in charge of the lens flares was in some kind of distress and was desperately trying to get our attention. The acting in this episode was slightly better as well. Whether that was due to an actual improvement or I had just become accustomed to how poor it was, I don’t know.
This episode deals with the fallout from the first and in the process fully proves to me that it really only needed to be one episode instead of two. From what I can gather the reason it was two was so the first could be aired on network TV with the second only being available on All Access, the cliffhanger ending the first gave was to entice viewers over. This hurt the story and is probably why the two episodes have such pacing issues.
In this episode the Klingons attack the Shenzhou, Michael Burnham is placed in the brig and the more Federation ships arrive. The battle is ultimately very boring, suffers from poor camera work and all of the Federation ships looked very similar (I only spotted one that wasn’t the same model as the Shenzhou) so trying to keep track was difficult. I did like the new design on the Bird of Prey Klingon warship.
The only really important part of this episode comes at the end. The Federation fleet is destroyed, but it dealt a lot of damage to the Klingons. The Klingons swear loyalty to T’Kuvma and Georgiou and Burnham (who escapes a partially destroyed brig in a ridiculous scene copied from Guardians of the Galaxy) is immediately forgiven and takes part in a quick raid to try and capture T’Kuvma. Georgiou manages to fight the T’Kuvma and loses, being stabbed and dying. Burnham shoots and kills T’Kuvma even though it was her plan to take him alive. The scene is a little unclear as to whether the phaser being set to kill was an accident or on purpose. I didn’t like this scene. A major petty quibble of mine was that no security team went over with the Captain and First Officer. In fact despite a few conversations the entirety of the first two episodes didn’t need the rest of the crew at all.
With all the same complaints as before and being home to the only space battle I was ever bored by I have to give this episode a 4/10. It is still not good, and I doubt I will watch it next week. I was bored senseless throughout the entire show and couldn’t wait for it to end.
Should you watch it?
No. This is not a good show, it might get better but it is not good right now. If you live in a country where it will appear on Netflix than maybe give it a watch but I would caution against subscribing to a new platform just for this show. Personally I hope the show gets better as it goes along but I won’t be watching any more of it until it all comes out so I can binge the entire thing in one go.
I have tried to stay away from the continuity issues and the look of the Klingons because I think this show already has enough problems without bringing those into it, and they have been covered in quite a lot of detail elsewhere.
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Written By: Daniel D. Fitzpatrick
Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@BeardedNomad51) where I post about politics, comics, TV series and video games.