Discovery: not your mother’s Star Trek

The first season of Star Trek: Discovery is back on Netflix after a mid-season/Thanksgiving/Christmas Break (no idea) and continues to deliver something completely different from the Star Treks that boldly came before – and when I say “something different” then I really mean “everything is different”.

To begin with, there’s the characters. Okay, don’t get me wrong, I love the franchise, but up until now, everyone serving in Star Fleet has been the perfect hero or the perfect villain. Sure they all had their quirks (Spock’s way of using his eyebrows to tell you how inferior you are…), but in the end, you  knew that when push came to shove, everyone would knuckle down, dig deep, and save the day.

After one episode of Discovery, I wondered how any of these people had slipped past pysch eval and made it onto a starship. The crew is borderline dsysfunctional and the captain would happily jettison the lot of them into space if that’s what it took to complete the mission. We have a disgraced crew member who was responsible for the deaths of eight thousand fleet personnel. There’s an ensign who won’t let  Aspergers stop her from making captain (good for her), and the chief science officer is in a gay relationship with the ship’s doctor. (This really makes no sense because the chief scientist is a real dick, and so the doctor is punching way below his weight in my opinion).

So you don’t need me to tell you that this is the best Star Trek outing since Generations. Rather than the adventure-per-episode format that’s served them since the mid-sixties, Discovery has gone for a single mission – well … more of an interstellar war actually, and it’s not going well. The new format works because the writers can focus on filling out the characters, rather than spending twenty minutes getting the crew into a situation, then spending the next forty trying to get them out of it. It’s a new take, and for me it’s working.

And don’t get me started on the Klingons. They look different (what’s with the four nostrils?) and they’re as brutal as they come. They torture for sport and they eat their kill … Star Fleet officers included.

This is the Star Trek universe viewed through the darkness. The writers have gone back to the days before the star-spanning utopia enjoyed by Picard and co. (you remember that their Enterprise was basically a lounge and bar fitted with a warp drive), to a time when Star Fleet was an engine of war. No sacrifce too great, no deed too immoral to contemplate.

If you don’t have Netflix then Star Trek:Discovery is the best reason to get it. It’s bloody brilliant.




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