Just last week Star Trek Discovery’s debut season came to an end with the promise of a lighter tone and new missions for season 2… and then the final scene happened and it looks like we’ll be stuck trying to desperately hold on to nostalgia instead of doing something new. I’m being facetious though with that final scene being hard to judge because we don’t know how far the writers will go in introducing the Enterprise and presumably Captain Pike and Spock but it’ll be difficult for them to pull it off in a satisfying way. Overall, I liked the finale, or at least the implications it sets up for a second season instead of the actual content of the episode, and I’m mixed to positive on the first season as a whole. There were things I enjoyed (the cast, Harry Mudd, most of the Mirror Universe stuff) and things I didn’t (obvious twists, not seeing the war, that episode where Saru turned bad for some reason) but overall it is one of Star Trek’s best first seasons and the show holds lots of potential going forward. Here are five of my biggest hopes for Star Trek Discovery as it warps towards its second season.
Saru continues on as captain
Saru is by far my favourite character on the show and the one that feels most like a classic Star Trek character. Each of the Star Trek shows have had an outsider crewmember: Spock in TOS, Data in TNG, Odo in DS9, Seven of Nine in Voyager and T’Pol in Enterprise. Discovery is a little different however because you could make a case for that role being filled by Tyler (Klingon in a Human suit), Burnham (Raised as a Vulcan and criminal) or even Lorca (secretly a moustache-twirling Mirror Universe baddie). Saru is the one that I gravitate to however with his nature of being from a ‘prey race’ becoming a defining factor but despite, or maybe because of, this difference he became a model Starfleet officer, brought the crew together in a time of need and even led them by becoming captain. It’s a great arc for him over the season (although he does drift into the background in the second half) and I really want to see him continue on as captain of the Discovery in season 2. The finale does state that Discovery is heading to Vulcan to pick up its new captain but I think this was just a plot contrivance to have Sarek onboard the Discovery when it bumps into the Enterprise ready for some scenes between him, Burnham and Spock next season. Speaking of which…
Convince me why Discovery needed to be a prequel
I’ve yet to be convinced why Discovery needed to a prequel. So many of my issues with the show would be null and void if the series was set after every other Star Trek series and trying to cram Discovery in a tight gap in the expansive continuity feels like an unnecessary risk. Sure, you couldn’t have done the Mirror Universe arc in the same way if it had been set post-Nemesis but if the entire series was chosen to be set pre-TOS just for that one mini-arc then that’s just foolish. The finale gives us a glimpse at the possible answer for the time period with the inclusion of the Enterprise, which I’m sure will be accompanied by Spock and Captain Pike. What the show needs in season 2 is balance between charting its own course and enough fan service (hate using that term) to make it fit seamlessly into established canon while convincing me that Discovery needed to be set when it is. Right now, I’m still thinking it was the wrong move.
Less aggressive serialisation
If I was the type of person that shouts at their television (and I want to make it clear that I’m not), then for the majority of Discovery’s first season I’d be shouting “Slow down!”. The series is too fast for its own good and the serialisation far too aggressive; by the end of the season it felt like we’d whizzed through 3 seasons worth of plot. Television has changed since Star Trek has been a premier franchise and I understand it has to evolve to survive but the writers have gone too far. For all the mockery that gets thrown at it I’m a big fan of Enterprise, particularly how it told its stories in the last two seasons. There was a season long arc which returned every few episodes, primarily in the premiere and finale, mini-arcs of three or four episodes to tell a longer but still contained story and then the occasional standalone adventure. I’d like Discovery’s second season to have an approach closer to this by starting with a mini-arc about the Enterprise which sets up the season-long arc and then have one, two or three-part adventures in between the longer plotline.
New races, villains and trials
We got very few new species in season one and only visited five alien planets in total; two of which we had already seen in previous Star Trek shows. I want that sense of adventure and exploration to return as we seek out new lifeforms and civilisations, boldly go blah-blah-blah you know the deal. I’m also fed up that we always seem to have to go back to the Klingons when we need an antagonist and now that the Klingon war has ended I hope the show will shift away from that aspect of the show. L’Rell, Tyler/Voq and Emperor Georgiou can still return for one or two of the aforementioned mini-arcs but I want new villains and allies going forward. Why do we need an enemy race anyway? Many of my favourite episodes of classic Star Trek didn’t need to rely on some grandiose conflict; throw some ethical dilemmas and trials at the cast for a change. Also, I really hope we don’t go back to the Mirror Universe. I liked the episodes but I don’t need to ever go back there again.
Lose the ongoing mysteries
After watching an episode of a serialised show, I want to be thinking “Ooh, what’s going to happen next?!” but after many of Discovery’s episodes I was left thinking “So what just happened there?”. The writers thought they were being clever with their ongoing mysteries that were supposed to have huge mind-blowing reveals but over the course of the season you could tell that things weren’t adding up and if you put the loose pieces together the ‘reveals’ were painfully obvious. A general rule for writing is to assume your audience is smarter than you are which is why I make myself come across like an idiot. It’s all an act I swear. This is something the Discovery writers didn’t follow. The Tyler/Voq reveal was clear from very early on and yet they stretched it out far too long and I remember thinking as the mid-season finale ended that they were in the Mirror Universe and that Lorca has purposefully sent them there because he himself is from there. The writers also confused the reveal with the pay off. The Tyler twist barely amounted to anything and having him be a Klingon did very little story-wise and was just included for the shock of the ‘reveal’ which fell completely flat. If you can’t pull off a good ongoing mystery and accompanying twist then just don’t bother.
So, there are my five hopes for the second season of Discovery which I have faith will be better than the first. For the next two weeks I’ll be releasing articles recapping and reviewing the first season of Jessica Jones to get up to speed for season 2. What did you think of the first season of Star Trek Discovery? What are your hopes for season 2? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.