I want to preface this by stating that I’m not a die hard Trekkie but someone who enjoys Star Trek, a lot. I’m not precious about the canon yet I’ve watched every TNG and DS9 episode multiple times and recently watched every series on their addition to Netflix. As such I’m not going to complain about how the tech looks too good for the time period or anything of the like but just give my general impressions on the beginning of Discovery.
Firstly Discovery is presented well. Visually it’s great and looks more like the recent films than the previous TV titles it follows (or chronologically precedes). The space vista’s, ships and effects are beautiful. The sound design and score is also spot on. The rising and fading score accompanies the scenes well and really give an emotional impact to what’s going on. Whilst not as punching as a film score may be, it’s use as background ambiance is faultless.
Whilst the first scenes introduce you to Georgiou and Burnham, a little of their personalities and the dynamic between them the first stand out moment is the great title sequence. I’m glad its modern and isn’t the simple repeated shots of ships from different angles of old. It’s got more in common with a Netflix/Marvel title sequence than anything Star Trek, except maybe a little bit of Enterprise. However I do think it’s a little ruined by the two notes at the end. Put in for emphasis perhaps but unneeded in my opinion.
One of the great things about Star Trek is the robust crew. Kyle Barratt wrote an article on his hopes for Discovery and wanted the series to explore the full crew rather than a handful of characters. Episodes 1 & 2 don’t do that. OK we’re not yet on the Discovery so the crew of the Shenzhou are not going to be explored at length whilst the story is set up. Instead we’re presented with characters who may form the core of the new bridge crew going forward and who had a part to play in the initial set up for the series. I’m hoping for a decent cast of diverse characters who can be explored and add differing view points on the overarching story through multiple seasons.
Burnham, Georgiou, Saru and T’kuvma are the four characters focused on in these first episodes. Each are explored well although Saru is used to bridge between and set up the exposition of Burnham and Georgiou. Sonequa Martin-Green takes the lead and stands out as Burnham, showing the struggle between her emotions and logical thinking very well. However the real star of the show is Chris Obi as T’kuvma. He portrays a character who is a good tactician both in combat and in positioning his allies and enemies where he needs them to gain their control. A character who isn’t afraid to use all his skills and technology against an enemy or his rhetoric and belief in gaining followers and a character who truly believes in what he is doing for himself and his people in repelling what is seen as an invader. A stand out moment in both the episodes and in understanding T’kuvma is the cloaked ship tearing the U.S.S. Europa in half. It’s brilliant as both a visual treat and an impact story moment showing the lengths T’kuvma will go.
It’s interesting that both the federation and the Klingon’s share the screen time and the story isn’t presented from one side. This change in perspective allows you to understand T’kuvma and his view on the ‘plight’ of the Klingon’s rather than it being through the usual crew exposition and ship to ship communications. T’kuvma uniting his people to stop an encroaching federation from absorbing them into a larger society is a great story to explore especially in a world currently dealing with some big isolationist issues. I hope this narrative remains past the first two episodes, isn’t just using it to set up a war situation and is explored thoroughly throughout the first season.
The one part of the show I could have done without was the kill shot from Burnham. Yes it shows that her emotion has trumped her logical side but, for me at least, undoes the struggle shown throughout the episodes rather than act as a conclusion. To believe that the logical thinking taught from a young age can just be discarded and isn’t so ingrained in her is a step too far. Plus I’m unhappy that T’kuvma won’t be the antagonist throughout the series.
With only one week until the next episode I’m excited for more.