Emperor Georgiou: “What’s wrong? Are you scared, Number One? Where I’m from, there’s a saying,’Scared Kelpian makes for tough Kelpian.’ Have you gotten tough since we served together on the Shenzhou, Mr. Saru?”
Saru: “Affirmative, Captain. Very tough. So much so that many find me simply unpalatable.”
You’ll probably notice a pattern. If I really love a particular series, it usually takes me a long time to really finish it; I guess I like to savour things. Star Trek Discovery is no exception. I watched half the season on Netflix when it initially came out. The second half, I put off until now until I could re-watch it in one go. I said to myself I wasn’t going to write a long review, but I love Star Trek too much not to, so here goes…
Firstly, before I delve into the series itself, I just want to note that whoever thought of the name of the show and the eventual acronym it would become known for… I mean, Star Trek Discovery… Could you not have thought of literally any other word instead of Discovery? Some ideas: Star Trek Encounter / Star Trek Explore / Star Trek Vision / Star Trek Sporedrive… etc etc? STD is such an unfortunate acronym to be known as… I know that officially it is DSC, but Star Trek fans all laugh about the STD-ness of it all.
Back to the show itself. I was brought up on Star Trek TOS, TNG and VOY. I’ve not seen much of DS9, Enterprise or the more recent Picard series (I know… SHAME!) so I can’t really speak to the way their shows were shot or the character portrayal. That said, what I have loved about STD.. ahem I mean DSC, is that other offerings of the Star Trek universe I have watched generally follow a captain, the deck and some notable exceptions (being the medical doctor, transporter people and very occasionally a kickass and extremely knowledgeable bartender). Ultimately though, the focal point is the captain. In fact, when I talk about Star Trek to other fans, often we do away with referencing the actual name of the series and refer only to them through the name of the captain. Oh I loved Picard era Star Trek etc etc. With DSC, the focal point is actually on Michael Burnham who starts out as the First Officer of the USS Shenzhou and then events take quite a turn. She’s extremely complicated as a protagonist and exists in her a great moral ambiguity and sometimes unlikability – as you learn more about her, you just love her though (I do). So that was quite unusual to me, and I really loved the fresh sort of change in this direction.
There were a couple great ‘what the fuck’ moments in the series – without giving anything away – that I wasn’t expecting where I was totally surprised and I thought generally the first season offering was really well written.
The character progression also allowed us to see and be opened up to this warm tenderness, particularly through its LGBTQ characters. In fact, this is the first season of Star Trek that saw openly gay characters feature through Paul and Hugh (fun fact: Paul, played by Anthony Rapp was the original Mark from the musical RENT, which happens to be my absolute favourite musical of all time and I listen to the soundtrack ALL. THE. TIME… and he also has this really quirky single/music video called ‘Out Out Damn Spot’ which is one of my go-to songs when I want to dance about. Go check it out. You’re welcome). HALLELUJAH! It’s really about time. Like what? You can imagine a species of peoples that look like wood? You can imagine a room people can use to pretend they are Sherlock Holmes and then Moriarty accidentally gets out and somehow is self aware even though he is just a computer programme? You can imagine an android finally getting his emotion chip and losing his damn mind? You can imagine Sulu going crazy and trying to fence people to death while maniacally laughing? You can imagine a Captain and a Borg being Best Friends Forever? You can imagine Captain Kirk sleeping with all manner of lady-alien? But you can’t imagine gay characters until two thousand fricking seventeen?! I know I don’t sound grateful… I’m REALLY grateful, and even more grateful that I know season two introduces trans and non-binary characters, but good grief Star Trek writers! Buffy the Vampire Slayer was literally writing about LGBTQ characters in the 90s, and that was a children’s TV show… I feel like we all deserve better but I guess at least Star Trek are representing a real spectrum of characters, which is more than a lot of other shows are doing. I just hope that other shows will take note! So yay? And thankyou? And about time? And please don’t take this away from us? But please normalise this? We need this? Also please represent more prominent characters with disabilities? Indigenous characters liken to our own?!
Last thing to mention is that it felt like the season was very top heavy, in that there was a lot happening along a couple story arks and the final cherry felt rushed with regards to mentions/resolution of a Klingon war and seemed a little unlikely and tacked on but the outcome of that ending led the season to be in a nice place for season two so…
Anyways, I loved it. Great characters, yay LGBTQ, really cinematic and epic visuals. I would really have loved to have watched the season in a cinema. I bet it would be GLORIOUS. Story was great. There are some fricking kickass women in this season, curveballs and concepts in space travel that haven’t been explored before, Michael Burnham is a literal joy to watch. All in all, really enjoyable. Would watch again. I’m watching season two now which is even better. More on that soon.