The recent arrival of the new Star Trek Discovery from Netflix has been heralded with much fanfare. I must admit to being excited when I head about it. I’m a Trekkie and have been ever since I decided I wanted to be an astronaut as a child. Back then I didn’t realise you needed a firm understanding of maths and physics in order to dance amongst the stars. So the astronaut idea was parked but the love of the cosmos remained.
The original Star Trek was a big pull for me- the characters, the sets, the pervading sense of optimism. This new Trek is a departure from that. It is once again a reboot, a reimagining of what has gone before. This is indeed the darkest timeline set approximately ten years before Captain Kirk takes charge of the Enterprise. Star fleet exists but not as we know it- the explorers and diplomats are gone, replaced by a galaxy at war.
Back to Basics
The writers have gone back to basics using the Klingons as the big bad. The newly imagined warrior race are hairless. They talk a lot (and very slowly) about how they used to be a great and powerful race. We’re not made privy to what happened the Klingons. We just know that they are a divided people who are scattered throughout the galaxy.
Michael Bergman is our protagonist. She’s a hot woman with a man’s name. It’s acceptable for her to have a man’s name due to her hotness level you see. She is First Officer to Michelle Yeoh’s Captain Phillipa Georgiou.
The first two episodes of Star Trek Discovery could easily have been condensed into less than half that time. The Spock/Saavik relationship is reborn in a somewhat familiar form. This time it is Sarek who is the rescuer for Michael, whose parents have been killed not at the hands of Romulans but by the Klingons. Michael has been raised on Vulcan before being mysteriously released into the charge of Captain. Why she has been permitted to circumnavigate the traditional Starfleet Academy route seems puzzling. Yes, she has been a student of the Vulcan Academy but Starfleet is not the kind of organisation to give free passes. At least not the Starfleet of the old Trek universe. In any event, her training must be sound as seven years later, she has progressed to the rank of First Officer.
At the heart of Discovery is what made the original Star Trek so wonderful-the exploration of the human soul. We see through Michael what it means to truly be an outstanding human being. I am not sure the flashbacks are the best narrative device here. I would have liked to have seen Michael transition from cold, logical Vulcan wannabe to emotional, passionate human in a more linear arc.
Star Trek Discovery brims with potential. It looks gorgeous and the actors are wonderful. We are even introduced to the first Trek character with special needs in episode 3. This welcome addition is tempered slightly as the character in question tells us she has special needs, but I’ll take any type of representation on screen I can get! The horror aspect is ramped up hugely, especially in episode 3 with the chilling ‘black alert’. For me the biggest failing is the dialogue-the considerable talent on show give it their all but they are given little to work with.
The technology also seems to be iffy- when a main character dies, the ship is unable to beam them back as one cannot ‘lock on without a life sign’. Perhaps this is why the traditional red/yellow/blue division of Starfleet uniforms has been done away it. After all, how can they send the red shirts on away missions if there’s no way to beam them back!
Three episodes in, and even though I’m invested in the characters, they’re a far cry from the beloved ones of my youth. Star Trek Discovery gets a solid B- for effort, but could do so much better.
I’m a member of the Netflix Stream Team which means I receive a free subscription to Netflix in exchange for honest reviews about the streaming service.