Star Trek: Discovery: Battle at the Binary Stars
September 24, 2017 7:52 PM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Face to face with Klingon vessels, the USS Shenzhou prepares for the possibility of war if negotiations fail. Amidst the turmoil, Burnham looks back to her Vulcan upbringing for guidance.

Memory Alpha (not much there as of this posting, but presumably wiki magic will flesh that out)
posted by DevilsAdvocate (109 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I think the first two episodes would have better served as a single double-length episode. The Memory Alpha page for The Vulcan Hello notes this is the first ST series since TAS(!) not to have a double-length pilot.

Even so, these two episodes together seemed to be more prologue and not the usual "meet the regular characters" that most ST pilots have done. Given that, I'm willing to withhold judgment and see where this goes. I'm certainly not one to say it's bad just because it's different, at least in that respect.

My main concern is whether this series can hold on to the Roddenberrian optimism and humanism that is at the core of all Trek series. Even DS9, with its late-season Dominion War arc, and reputation as the "darkest" Trek, did a good job of holding on to that. Georgiou's preference for diplomacy over militarism, even if it failed in this instance, needs to be proven ultimately successful, and it's hard to see how that will happen in the scope of this series, given that we know that the Klingons are still enemies of the Federation at the time of TOS.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:30 PM on September 24 [6 favorites]


Burnham's plan to capture T'Kuvma and thus humiliate him instead of making a martyr of him is quite...logical, but wouldn't you want more than two people on that mission? (I might object to sending both the captain and the first officer on such a dangerous mission, but that happens all the time in Trek, aside from a few objections from Riker in early TNG, so I'll let that slide.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:37 PM on September 24 [8 favorites]


Keying comms to verify reception

Still floating in some sort of debris field, overall perception and sensor analysis positive

somewhat concerned by apparent "meet them with force" narrative beats in light of current dotard news figures

additionally perplexed by appearance of Sarek given similar-looking individual in context of known illicit bondage-assassination clone outrage circa 21st c Canada,

memory alpha, please review all genetic records for Ambassador Sarek

Oxygen supply uncertain, still in null gee. Suit internet connectvity positive, will continue to stream pro-war propaganda until atmos exhausted, over
posted by mwhybark at 10:00 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]


And, just finished this one up, so continuing thoughts from before.

Stuff:
* This definitely should've aired as a single piece.

Splitting it up was highly illogical.

* Come back, Captain Georgiou, come back!

She was my favorite character here, hands down. Watching her get stabbed was a total gut punch. I'm going to continue watching this, but that if I were the type to ragequit a show, that probably would've sunk this for me.

Also, I agree that just the two of them going was very questionable. Michael shouldn't have been going at all, not after her mutiny, and they should've brought a security team either way.

* The space battle was pretty good.

Fights in Trek are often pretty bloodless/uninteresting, with the exception of the mass combat seen in late-era DS9. It's just a couple ships slugging it out, not really moving. The battle here was kinetic without losing the overall Trek vibe. I liked it. I appreciated how battered everybody got. The battering ram ship thing was dumb, (even without the self destruct, you're going to be right next to a warp core breach doing that), but I have to admit it looked pretty cool.

Props to them for an exciting fight.

* This episode also indulged in a weird Sarek conversation.

Last time, I feel like the holo-call to Sarek drained the momentum out of events. This was similar, but even weirder: giving Michael and Sarek some sort of katra-bond was bizarre, pausing the action for them to have a heart-to-heart was bizarre, and doing it in two out of two episodes is super bizarre. Dunno what they were going for there, but I wish they'd cut it, and I hope it's not a thing going forward, or I'm going to have to start counting them and tut-tutting like I do with stuff in Voyager. I also didn't like him shilling her: Sarek was never one to really hand out praise, IIRC.

(That said, I do think Frain has the Vulcan thing down well enough - flat affect and all. He also looks passably like Mark Lenard, so that all seemed fine. They're just using him in really weird ways so far.)

* Michael arguing with the computer was weird.

The whole 'ethical protocols' argument was pretty bizarre. It seems like the evacuation protocol should've just worked with a hull breach, and having Michael have to argue with the computer seemed like an odd choice to me.

* T'Kuvma claiming to be Kahless incarnate seemed fast.

I was surprised there were no unhappy murmurings when he declared himself 'the Unforgettable.' That's pretty much like a guy going on stage and claiming to be Jesus or Buddha or something - people do it, but I'd expect to see a little more Kool-Aid passed around first. In general, I feel like we got a ton of flashbacks to his unhappy childhood, but nothing about the stuff I was actually curious about, namely:

- Why is the Federation perceived as any kind of unifying threat? I can think of reasons, but given how the Klingons curbstomped them, I kinda want to see a little more about that on screen.

- Why were these guys following T'Kuvma in the first place?

- Where'd he get the space torch signal beacon artifact thing? Did they build that? Is it old? What the heck is it anyway? It was the point of the first third of this two-parter, but I don't even know what it's called, really. Weird lack of detail amid so many flashbacks.

Other random stuff I noticed:
- Donatu V is indeed a point of contention between the Klingons and the Federation in earlier times. I'm still puzzled by why the Klingons just buzzed off for a century in ST:D's backstory though, and feel like that deserved... something? Anything? I hope we learn more about that as the show goes on.

- This is not the first appearance of holographic comms. DS9 used them briefly, but they were portrayed as new in that era.

- The discussion of space exposure looks to be pretty accurate. I thought the number was closer to 30 seconds, but 15 is apparently spot on.

- Having the military tribunal in shadow didn't seem very Starfleet.

So... hm. Overall: I felt like this made less sense than the first installment, and was sorely disappointed by Georgiou's death, but it had a lot of good action sequences that may be helpful in keeping the show afloat.
posted by mordax at 10:05 PM on September 24 [7 favorites]


The husband and I had a really good debate about whether part 2's major twist was earned. I'm very curious to see where we're going now. The writing and concepts feel very bold even for Star Trek.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:12 PM on September 24 [3 favorites]


The husband and I had a really good debate about whether part 2's major twist was earned.

Care to share the highlights? I'm personally leaning toward 'no' - Michael's mutiny and actions overall felt pretty sudden to me - but I'm curious what everybody else thought.

The writing and concepts feel very bold even for Star Trek.

This is true. It might even turn out for the best. I'm sorta nonplussed by a lot of the details here, but it *is* just a pilot, and the risk taking might pay off after they've found their footing better.
posted by mordax at 10:17 PM on September 24


So.

Double episode: yes, I think that would've made the most sense. The theory that CBS split up a two-hour episode in order to sell their streaming service is compelling; luckily, up here in Canada, we got to see both on basic cable, so it worked out for the most part. (But dear god, I forgot how awful commercials are.) But let's say this was intended to be a two-hour pilot; even then, it's got a weird ending. Most pilot episodes are supposed to set up the basic premise of the show and introduce you to the cast. This only sort of does the former and doesn't at all do the latter, given what happens to Burnham at the very end. One of my friends remarked that we haven't even seen half of the credited cast yet. That's pretty weird!

Michelle Yeoh. I am really, really, really, really, REALLY not happy about this particular development. I don't know if this is really the set up for some bizarre arc involving her character and ha ha fooled you, but as it stands it feels very much like they pulled a Skyfall here. It might have worked better if they made Burnham an even remotely likeable character, but all she really is at this point is an irrational, annoying pseudo-Vulcan. Regardless, it feels like the writers conned me into thinking we'd have this awesome new captain who also happened to be an older Asian female, and then they chuck her in the dumpster without so much as a goodbye. She fucking deserved better. The show is going to have to do A LOT of work to get me to accept this, and I'm not sure it's up to the task. No matter what, it'll always have to fight the show in my head where Georgiou lives.

T'Kuvma: I don't know my Trek lore that well so I don't know what was supposed to have precipitated this particular war with the Klingons (was there even more than one?). But I'd totally buy that it took the Klingon equivalent of a religious fanatic to bind the Empire together against what he labelled a common enemy. It seemed pretty obvious to me that T'Kuvma had created a cult.

Anyways. It seems like a decent start to a new series, and it struck a balance between being Star Trek but also not, mostly in how it's absorbed the modern tendency towards highly serialized shows versus the anomaly-of-the-week model that even DS9 wasn't completely immune to. I have some concerns about how the show is going to keep the Klingon War from consuming all the oxygen in the show; it seems to leave precious little time for anything that doesn't involve wartime operations, which means precious little time for optimism, diplomacy, and all the other things I like to think make up the heart of Star Trek. I guess we'll see.
posted by chrominance at 10:17 PM on September 24 [7 favorites]


Oh, and regarding Burnham's mutiny: I can sort of buy that she'd do that, though I don't think the show did quite enough work to explore her previous trauma with the Klingons versus her Vulcan training (it's an unfair comparison, but I'm thinking about how Star Trek VI establishes Kirk's conflicted feelings about the Klingons in the face of imminent peace talks). The show needed to work harder to really have that move seem natural for the character and for the plot, but I could at least see how to get there from here. The most important thing to me was that the story respect just how explosive that action is by giving her fair punishment, and so far it seems like we might get to see that.

On the other hand, there are still plenty of pitfalls. We could spend a full season being constantly reminded that she's a traitor and cannot be trusted. Or we could end up with a Lieutenant Paris situation where everyone conveniently forgets about the mutiny except for Very Special Episodes where she gets demoted for a while after she does another bad thing and then everyone forgets again.
posted by chrominance at 10:25 PM on September 24 [3 favorites]


I don't know if this is really the set up for some bizarre arc involving her character and ha ha fooled you, but as it stands it feels very much like they pulled a Skyfall here.

Apparently this was all set in motion long ago by Bryan Fuller, and Michelle Yeoh's death is for real and a major part of the foundation of the rest of the season for Burnham.
posted by fatbird at 10:27 PM on September 24


What are the odds that Burnham is super-intelligent/genetically engineered like Majel Barrett's "Number One" in The Cage? ( Or was that the DC Fontana novel??? )
posted by mikelieman at 4:46 AM on September 25


For me these two episodes combined were easily the best pilot of any of the Trek series.

I'm loving the flawed nature of Burnham, she seemed so Number One in that way. Like a combination of Riker and Kira.

I wasn't surprised by Yeoh dying, I kind of expected it? I felt like I must have read somewhere that she wasn't in the whole show or something and it fits in with the narrative of Burnham's hero's journey.

The music was amazing, and the whole thing had such a cinematic feel. It also really reminded me of the BSG pilot which was fantastic.

Excited and nervous to see what happens next.
posted by liquorice at 5:03 AM on September 25 [4 favorites]


I forgot to add: I wonder how people on the internet (read: men) are going to react to having a female "anti-hero" who isn't necessarily likeable. I suspect not well.
posted by liquorice at 5:06 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


I wasn't surprised by Yeoh dying, I kind of expected it?

"Special Guest Star Michelle Yeoh" was the giveaway for me, and the direction/shot selection on their trip to the Klingon ship made it predictable/unsurprising that she got dramatically stabbed with a bat'leth. But she did a fantastic job of developing her character in two episodes and making you share the sense of loss the crew will feel.

It has potential, but it's too early to say where the show is going storywise. Regardless, it's so, so pretty to look at--is this what a good budget gets you these days (compared to the perfectly serviceable look of a lower budget sci-fi series like The Expanse)?
posted by cardboard at 7:24 AM on September 25 [3 favorites]


Oh, and regarding Burnham's mutiny: I can sort of buy that she'd do that, though I don't think the show did quite enough work to explore her previous trauma with the Klingons versus her Vulcan training (it's an unfair comparison, but I'm thinking about how Star Trek VI establishes Kirk's conflicted feelings about the Klingons in the face of imminent peace talks).

Agree with this. I felt like the plotting was very rushed in general (it was more obvious on the Klingon side than the human side that the timeline made little sense). Anyway, in retrospect, I think Yeoh's death was clearly telegraphed by the dialogue from her first scene on, but they developed her just enough that it felt unexpected. We don't know Burnham, really, and that she's a bit of a wildcard whose emotions--especially when it comes to her past--sometimes get the better of her is reflected here. She's trying for Vulcan cold-hearted calculatedness, but sometimes failing (or is she??? idk vulcans are sometimes dicks), and she is ruthless and also both physical and intellectual in her problem solving approaches. I like that.

I liked having her bicker with the computer, too. It was very James T. Kirk. She is kind of James T. Kirk generally.

My husband didn't buy it, but that's because he wanted a show with Burnham, Georgiou, and Saru bantering. I honestly think he was more frustrated by the story than the writing--which was supposed to be frustrating and upsetting. The show he wanted would have been awesome! But we're going to get something different, apparently. I want to know what.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:37 AM on September 25 [4 favorites]


I didn't catch it when I watched it, but someone on reddit pointed out that one of the Federation ships arriving at the binary star system (whose names were being announced in the background) was the USS Shran, a nice little nod to Enterprise.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:55 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


I like the look of the Discovery; the old Ralph McQuarrie design works much better on screen than I had expected it to. But I was a bit surprised that the Klingon ships all seem to have wandered over from Battlefleet Gothic Armada.
posted by Zonker at 8:02 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


My thoughts, rambling and incoherent:
  • Opening sequence is very not good. The paper textured background and prop design montage is very not Star Trek for me. Where's my space? Where's my ship? Where are my horns? Where's the majesty?
  • This show looks really expensive. I know it's expensive, but I found myself rewinding because I was distracted by how expensive it looked. That's not a bad thing it just looks really expensive.
  • The visual style reminds me strongly of the TOS-cast movies.. the dimly lit bridge, all the screens, the more formal uniforms.. I pulled up The Wrath Of Khan and Star Trek 2009 for comparison and superficially it looks more like The Wrath Of Khan then Star Trek 2009. I'm okay with the conspicuous high technology, holograms and other gadgets, because expectations about future-tech change and it would be pretty foolish to set out in 2017 to make a new show but to give us an obsolete vision of the future.
  • The uniforms are bizarre. This is just a prequel problem but there's no way that fashion could evolve into the other fashion. But that's the kind of anachronism that comes from setting your new show before a show that came out in the 1960's and was updated in the 1980's and 1990's. They kind of remind me of the TOS-cast movie uniforms, in the sense of being more formal than the TOS TV uniforms. They also kind of remind me of velour tracksuits. They're pretty cool though.
  • I'm mostly okay with the new Klingons and them being proper alien and all. But it kind of saddens me that this is a prequel because I grew up with TNG and the Klingons are supposed to be my friends. The Klingons have been allies for more screentime than they've been antagonists so going back in time to make them SUPER ALIEN and THE ENEMY doesn't quite feel right to me, especially since being a prequel we know that they can't establish any kind of friendly relations because they have to leave things where the original series picks up. I don't know, I feel like they picked an antagonist that I don't want to fight and my black woman space commander is screaming that they're the devil and need to be shot on sight.
  • I'm really feeling Burnham but that mutiny was fucking shocking and futile. Out of nowhere she's touching her captain's neck! In the very first episode she did one of the worst things a Starfleet officer can do and she did it so she could kill some folks. Very shocking and very sad. It's like she disappointed her mother, betrayed her mother's entire way of life, then tried to make it up to her, then failed and her mother died. Just shocking. I didn't see that coming at all. I thought they were doing the old "The hero goes rogue but was justified and it all works out in the end" thing but you don't come back from touching the captain's neck just because you disagree with her. Consequences! Shocking, I was shocked. Did I mention it was shocking?
  • I'm completely disregarding CBS All Access. I pay for Netflix, it's available on Netflix internationally, I just happen to be in the wrong country, clearly there's been an oversight. I will continue to stream it on Those Sites that have it immediately after airing. I don't have to try very hard to convince myself that it's CBS' intent that this show be paid for by an international audience and pirated by a US audience. The CBS All Access bid was a total fail for me, because I'm not interested in ANYTHING else CBS has to say and I'll be god damned before I pay for any of that drek just to watch Star Trek. If they had came out with a streaming service that ONLY played Star Trek Discovery I would have looked upon that more favorably and been more likely to unlimber my credit card than this state of affairs where they submerge the goods in a barrel of shit and try to sell me a ticket to bob for it. So.. I really hope the show does well but they're not getting a dime off me because they won't sell it to me on acceptable terms.
I like this show.
posted by yonega at 8:05 AM on September 25 [9 favorites]


The show worked well for me overall. Sonequa Martin-Green certainly being a highlight, I'd definitely would continue watching it for her. Way more nuanced then most of the previous Starfleet officers and with the promise of some ethical and personal issues that could lead to some interesting storylines. The console acting was decent. Still cautiously optimistic as new Trek shows tend to start out slow and take a bit to find their groove so I am willing to wait and see what they come up with. It certainly worked better than the premiere episodes of TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise.

Some small issues -

They really should have released the first 3 episodes as a long premiere. The main cast hasn't even really been introduced.

The facial applications on the nuKlingons make it difficult to discern actor emotion and the halting cadence of the Klingon language seemed odd when compared to the examples in the movies and the other shows. Maybe that's deliberate? A little confused by the redesign but hopefully they go somewhere interesting. They do seem much stranger as a race then they ever have previously so I assume that is deliberate. In anycase, assuming they are the main threat in the rest of the season I hope they are less opaque.

The Starfleet uniforms are pretty universally terrible (I guess that's the tradition but as Maureen Flynn asks in her Variety review - "Why give these capable officers panels of disco-friendly gold cloth on their hips?")

Why Sarek? Why not some other named Vulcan or better still a brand new character? I understand it is nice for long time fans to have continuity call backs but why bother in this case? Hopefully this has a worthwhile end point but I suspect it won't. For me this might be one of weaker story elements.

Fake Lens Flares. Seriously, why is this a thing? Their use was distancing in the movies and it is distracting if not outright terrible in the first episodes. The Dutch angles I didn't find as distracting as the lens flares. Along with that the design cues from the recent movies in the ship interiors this aspect of the production leaves me a bit cold. Again we'll have to wait and see where it goes.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:30 AM on September 25 [3 favorites]


Stupid lens flares.

It was an okay sci-fi space opera, but not very trek-y. I think The Orville does the Star Trek thing much better than STD. Oh well.

That battering-ram space ship was just so stupid. Do these people not know how objects in space work? You can't slowly push through a much smaller space ship. Oh wait, space sound effects, they have no idea how space works.

I think the captain being killed off was pretty clearly telegraphed right from the beginning. I didn't really know anything about this show coming in, other than there was a new Trek show, but at some point partway through the first episode I said "well, guess she's gonna be dead".

Using Sarek was just lazy. A giant galaxy with planets full of beings, yet somehow the same guys keep popping up for whatever reason. How many Vulcans are there supposed to be? Gotta imagine at least a few billion.
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:00 AM on September 25 [4 favorites]


Because Sarek already has had an unusual amount of contact (heh) with humans and is used to interacting with them. Apparently Amanda Grayson is going to be in this too. Which makes me happy. Sarek and Amanda are the best. Blame AC Crispin.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:37 AM on September 25 [5 favorites]


Also I am hoping that this is going to be a specific deconstruction of the "child of two worlds" thing that was started with Spock and continued with Worf.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:39 AM on September 25 [3 favorites]


I woke up thinking about the uniforms. why is there a little assymetrical collar tab? Why do they look like a design for cop uniforms that might well have appeared on the Jetsons?

I too was dissatisfied with the mutiny. It appeared both illogical and motiveless. It does appear that it will have career consequences, at least for a while, which is a good sign I suppose. But still, you get a WOC as your lead and the first thing you have her do is break her service oath and go to prison? Really? Come on. Do better.
posted by mwhybark at 9:52 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


If the showrunners aren't careful, the overall plot arc could move slower than the BSG reboot miniseries.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:57 AM on September 25


I really liked Georgiou's death. Yes, Yeoh's acting was outstanding - you could clearly see how she'd earn the love and respect of her crew, Burnham most of all. It's in the little beats - for example, the way she asks Connor if he can make it to sickbay on his own. You see that she's upset the man is hurt, and under different circumstances she'd probably walk him down to Sickbay herself, and she can't spare one more crewman than absolutely necessary. So she checks on him as quickly as possible, then sends him off on his own. Compassion, professionalism, and eventually rage at what's happened to her ship. Yah, I'd follow someone like that just about anywhere.

And *that* is why it was so important to kill Georgiou. If you want Burnham to be driven by shame and grief and frustration, you don't want her to just *say* she's feeling these things, or even *portray* these things - you want the audience right there with her.

I'm a bit concerned about how the rest of the series will go - from the previews, the captain of the Discovery seems to have a bit of Archer's bland affability, which was the wrong tone for Enterprise and a worse one here. But I'm cautiously optimistic.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 11:39 AM on September 25 [12 favorites]


Is there anywhere we can view the preview of episode 3? The app hung up on commercials again before we could see it so we finally just gave up.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:44 AM on September 25


The "preview" we saw last night was more of a preview of the entire series and was not particularly illuminating.

Really not feeling the writing in this, it feels explainy and forced, and the Klingon bits with the ugly subtitles really drag. I find the Klingons look way too much like Vogons and that's incredibly distracting. Nor do I believe that Klingons would just accept some mostly random dude suddenly becoming their leader and declaring war on Starfleet. I mean, very little of this works for me- it was just stupid that the computer had to be convinced to let her out of the brig, you can't ram a ship in space, the screen on the bridge is a window?, an ethnobiologist thinks it's perfectly fine to contaminate an unknown object by walking on it, the Starfleet hearing was dark and evil seeming... it's just very poor writing. Not sure how that will be overcome.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:54 AM on September 25 [3 favorites]


And *that* is why it was so important to kill Georgiou. If you want Burnham to be driven by shame and grief and frustration, you don't want her to just *say* she's feeling these things, or even *portray* these things - you want the audience right there with her.

I'm a bit concerned about how the rest of the series will go - from the previews, the captain of the Discovery seems to have a bit of Archer's bland affability, which was the wrong tone for Enterprise and a worse one here. But I'm cautiously optimistic.


Yeah, I can see from a distance why that story development makes sense for the series and for Burnham's development as a character. It still stings that we have to lose the charismatic captain (who happens to tick a whole bunch of representation checkboxes while ALSO being very well acted!) in order to get what appears to be Boring White Dude #27131. Maybe I'm wrong about Jason Isaacs and the new captain will be exactly what the show needed. I would like for that to happen because I don't want to constantly resent the writers irrationally for killing off my favourite character. But I would watch the crap out of a show with Captain Georgiou and I'm pissed that I don't get to, story considerations for Burnham be damned.
posted by chrominance at 12:09 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


Yeah one think I try to think about is something an editor said to me which is "I was really mad when you did x, but I realized I was mad at the author, not the book." Which is to say, some things are valid artistic choices and make sense given the context of everything you're building but make viewers or readers mad because they are unjust--and they're supposed to be unjust! But they still suck! And that's how I feel about Georgiou. I'm mad that it happened but I acknowledge that I'm supposed to be mad that it happened. I'm not mad at the show. I'm mad at the writers.

It doesn't mean we'd be better off given a different plot. It just sucks.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:25 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]


And that's how I feel about Georgiou. I'm mad that it happened but I acknowledge that I'm supposed to be mad that it happened. I'm not mad at the show. I'm mad at the writers.

It doesn't mean we'd be better off given a different plot. It just sucks.


Yeah, that's pretty much where I'm at now. Just glad there are other people on this train with me.
posted by chrominance at 12:35 PM on September 25


why it was so important to kill Georgiou

I get the feeling that we'll see more of her in flashbacks that will help inform Martin-Green's character and choices as they make a big deal out of the fact that they served 7 years together. Hopefully it won't be like how the flashbacks were used in the old Kung Fu show where the David Carradine flashes back to his lessons with his Asian teacher...
posted by Ashwagandha at 12:37 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]


It'll be a shame if we don't see more of Georgiou, she was definitely the best thing in it. Not decided on Martin-Green's character, I like the actress in TWD so there is hope.

Theme tune was very weak. It was like someone had said do a bland version of the Mad Men theme and then stick a couple of ST musical references on either end.

I liked the general approach to the Klingons. They seemed to be trying to set up a whole, 'properly alien' Klingon culture at one point, I hope that continues. It got lost a bit with them trying to do too much at the end but fingers crossed.
posted by biffa at 1:04 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


I am hoping there are some episodic stories moving forward, with the Klingon war only simmering in the background at times. I really miss my episodic Star Trek!
posted by Pryde at 1:32 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


Annnnd there's a big 'fuck you' to the blind and low-vision community. There's no described video track. Goddamit. It's really not that expensive, people, and the tech is well understood.
posted by Mogur at 1:42 PM on September 25 [8 favorites]


Klingons look way too much like Vogons

... infinite improbability drive engaged, we have crossover, repeat, London, we HAVE CROSSOVER

Consider: have you ever heard Shakespeare in the original Vogon?
posted by mwhybark at 2:17 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


Why does everything have to be an origin story? I’m really sick of it.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 3:06 PM on September 25


I liked it* and Martin-Green. Loved seeing Michelle Yeoh and Frain even though I kept expecting Frain to do something charmingly evil. The opening credits aren't great but I'd rather this than the damn earworm that was Enterprise's opener.

*What I mean to say is that I'm all in with Discovery and Oroville can go suck it.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 5:23 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


I'm still puzzled by why the Klingons just buzzed off for a century in ST:D's backstory though, and feel like that deserved... something? Anything?

The last appearance from the Klingons during Star Trek Enterprise was the season four 2-part episode in which the Klingons try to add human augment genes to their genome and end up with smooth human foreheads. My theory is that after that embarrassing mess, the Klingons said "Nuts to this!" and went home for a century, sick of dealing with those Starfleet troublemakers.


Theme tune was very weak. It was like someone had said do a bland version of the Mad Men theme and then stick a couple of ST musical references on either end.

There is an alternate theme that was released on YouTube. It's interesting but I feel like it's been done before.
posted by Servo5678 at 6:24 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


Honestly, these two episodes felt like a retconned, much better version of Star Trek: Nemesis.

And yes, as pilots go, this was fine (I mean, you've seen Encounter at Farpoint, yes?) but surprising that it spent no time introducing the rest of the crew except for the science officer (still learning names).

But even through the lens flare, it still felt like Trek in many ways. In fact they kinda went out of their way to emphasize that it was Trek.

A lot of Trek first seasons have been rough, so I can be patient and let this settle.
posted by dry white toast at 6:28 PM on September 25 [5 favorites]


other random thought re swag: rotating lens sets on the Type 1 phaser are very obviously inspired by the rotating lens sets on the dolly cameras used for mid-1960s live multicam TV shoots. It seems obvious to me, I mean, but it just struck me that I don't recall others posting about it here, in the wild, or on FB.

I kinda doubt the prop designer has an intended rhetorical point, but it certainly strikes me as, um, hella meta, not necessarily in a bad way.
posted by mwhybark at 7:41 PM on September 25 [3 favorites]


example
posted by mwhybark at 7:46 PM on September 25


Well, I'm feeling a bit more sanguine about the series after having watched this. Burnham's mutiny makes a bit more sense (although, especially since Georgiou actually knew Sarek, I still don't see why Burnham couldn't have included her in the interstellar conference call), and going by the coming attractions, the mutiny isn't going to be simply handwaved away; there's a bit of Tom Paris' redemption arc in the hints of coming attractions. And I really don't think that they cast the actor who played Lucius Malfoy to be a Jonathan Archer type. (Speaking of Enterprise, I don't know if that was supposed to be the Shran, but I did notice an NX-class ship showing up for the fight.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:59 PM on September 25 [2 favorites]


> The battering ram ship thing was dumb

Ahh... that was what was bugging me. The Klingon ships totally had a Warhammer 40k vibe to it, the Klingon's and their dress too, to think of it. Feels like whoever influenced the "dark" Romulans (Remans?) has a heavy hand in this production.

I was really worried about the artistic portrayal of technology that's supposed to be a decade before TOS and almost a century after Enterprise, but I'm surprisingly ok with it (especially since I gave up on Enterprise early - I'm glad the theme song for STD is non-annoying). The ship AI feels really anachronistic, though.

It feels like TOS era+ Federation-of-Planets optimism is a result of a backlash against the Feds doing really really bad stuff during this war.

Personal opinion - Yeoh the actor was used well. I could see all the criticisms (mostly invalid) that could have been leveraged against her as the Captain of the show, but she did a fantastic job setting up the series, "The Federation does not shoot first!".

Also good on the producers not insisting that she do "teh kung fu stuff."

Cautiously optimistic. Some of my favourite TNG episodes were the alternate "dark" timelines where the Federation was at war and The Enterprise was a warship; maybe this will satiate?
posted by porpoise at 8:39 PM on September 25 [1 favorite]


Two questions:
  1. Is Dr. Nambue a Gatchaman reference?
  2. Did Burnham ever have a chance to complete her antiradiation treatments? If not, is her DNA slowly unraveling going to be an ongoing subplot?

posted by The Tensor at 9:55 PM on September 25


I loved that the intro music included earlier trek themes. Maybe it was pandering, but it was pandering right to me and I felt very emotional Star Trek being back when I heard it.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:33 PM on September 25 [4 favorites]


There is an alternate theme that was released on YouTube. It's interesting but I feel like it's been done before.

Have I just been trek-rolled?
posted by biffa at 1:17 AM on September 26 [2 favorites]


I didn't want to say anything last episode since it seemed some people haven't been following the chatter about the show, as it's been noted for a while that the Shenzhou wasn't going to be the main ship of the series. So with that being the case, the non-introduction to most of the crew and at least seeming death of Captain Georgiou wasn't unexpected. That doesn't make losing Georgiou any better, but it was fairly well telegraphed before the season started that Yeoh wasn't one of the main cast members for the series.

The set up in this episode for the rest of the series was interesting. The Sarek conversation that leans heavily on the word terrorist, which unless the actions are shown, tends to more strongly indicate the alleged terrorism was no such thing, suggesting Sarek's adoption of Michael might be based in hiding knowledge of something that he can't share but feels, oops, thinks he or the Vulcans have some responsibility for.

They've doubled down on the parallel between orphan Michael and "Son of No One" Voq, but, interestingly, details on Voq are not very forthcoming, while other Klingon leaders are noted as being continuing characters in the show. It seems they're trying to keep Voq's role somewhat mysterious as a sort of echo of Michael, but how that'll play out is vague. (The reason I said seeming death of Captain Georgiou is that, for they've also sort of suggested a parallel between T'Kuvma and Georgiou in the relationship Voq and Michael had with each and in the importance of the two in driving the actions of their proteges, and second because it's pretty much a given that you can never really say a character is dead in fantasylike fictionif their body isn't recovered. We'll see where they go with it, but I suspect Georgiou isn't out of the series completely, alive or dead.)

The continuing focus on the Klingon perspective is welcome and suggests, along with Trek history, they aren't the villains they appear to be. The recovery of the dead, for example, is one of the more striking images of the show in a way that lends it an air of subtle majesty and further shows T'Kuvma acting from impulses that are not entirely clear beyond the possible suggestion that his fathers death and abandoned ship is tied somehow to the same or a similar incident to the actions that killed Michael's parents.

Michael's backstory, and that of the history surrounding part of the conflict here, is going to be revealed both going backwards and forwards. I just hope they do better with it than the early seasons of Arrow and those fricking annoying Island flashbacks. So far I'm fine with it here, but it's a tricky line to walk without losing interest on one side or the other.

I'm guessing the remainder of the series is going to get a bit brighter look to it, with these two episodes getting more darkness due to the theme and instigation of the remainder of the season coming from a dark place. I imagine Michael might have to earn her way back to the light in a sense, but I have to imagine that will come since that's so inherently tied to Trek.

The comment above about the look of the show feeling like the TOS movies is one I pretty much agree with, obviously with CGI upgrades, but there was a strong Star Trek: The Motion Picture vibe in some of the first episode for example. The ship to ship battles, thankfully, avoid the TV series issues with such things where they are so often the low point of the show; dull, predictable and without much sense of space or cost involved. Nice to see then get something more out of it in this episode, even if, as usual, the announcement of "evasive pattern whatever" is always pretty pointless in the end.

The previews for the upcoming season are both promising and a bit worrying. I won't spoil them for anyone who doesn't want to watch them, but there is the hint of both a needed expansion of perspective beyond the usual ship's bridge POV and some worrisome possibility of falling back to some Trek white liberalism tropes that I hope, no, that they need to avoid to make this all work.

I'm cautiously enthusiastic though since Michael's character really works for me so far in the variety of influences and values she's trying to balance yet retaining a personality of her own. It's definitely a more up to date approach to character than the previous shows where the character outline sheets seemed so often to limit the characters to narrow sets of possibilities, not always for the bad, but shows have changed since then and trying to go back to that would likely be unsatisfying.

Here, for example, Michael's been shown to be largely right in some of her perspective, but not very successful in fully realizing her own ideas. Her belief in attacking the Klingon's immediately may have been a more successful approach if it could have halted the meeting leading to the wide scale attack, but it was also short sighted in not seeling to grasp the full significance of the situation and ineffective to the extreme when enacted.

Her talk with Captain Georgiou about capturing T'Kuvma likewise showed a fine grasp of the immediate situation, but not only failed to work, but she herself ended up killing T'Kuvma, creating the very martyrdom she was warning against, and was again only looking to the immediate situation rather than the bigger picture in why events were unfolding as they were. Both visionary and blind at the same time, which goes back to something suggested in our first meeting with her and Captain Georgiou.

Oh, and something I failed to note in regards to the credits last time, is how they tell a little story that matches up a bit with the original intro to TOS and yet seems to carry a larger theme this show will be exploring as well. The animation of the credits builds with a ship and crystals, turns to a space suit, then the face of one who might enter that suit, suggesting exploration, a close up of the eye suggests a sense of wonder at what is seen out there. Then we are given first a phaser, then a communicator, suggesting the tension in encounters between talking and fighting. A Vulcan hand sign and Klingon weapon show new civilizations, an alien plant, new life, and the red and blue space suit clad hands seeking to come together, but evaporating into mist the promise and difficulties ahead in reaching out in friendship or to make contact. The ship flies through all of these threats and wonders as its mission.

One final thing, while I certainly don't begrudge anyone their decision not to sign up with the CBS streaming site, for me, five bucks a month to support the show seems worthwhile for now as I'll get my money's worth from it if it continues to build on its promise, and it does actually encourage them to keep making more Trek series, so since that's something I'm interested in seeing, at least for now, I don't have a problem supporting it at that price. Just an alternative point of view on the subject, not an argument that anyone's doing it wrong.

I had some other thoughts, but that's long enough for now.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:49 AM on September 26 [9 favorites]


Me, earlier: Why does everything have to be an origin story? I’m really sick of it.

Just to expand on this: she’s a human raised by Vulcans after her parents were killed by Klingons. That seems like plenty of back-story for a new character in a new series. She doesn’t need to also be the one who sparks the war by landing on the beacon and killing the first Klingon, and to be a mutineer, and see her captain killed in front of her, and be the one who kills the Klingon’s self-proclaimed messiah.

It’s like having a TV series set on a naval vessel in WW1, and your lead character was the one who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Why not just stick a bunch of interesting characters in a spaceship and have them fly around doing exciting things? We don’t have to have specific explanations for why each character has the personality quirks they do — they just need to have personalities demonstrated by their dialogue and actions.

Spiderman has an origin story because you need some explanation of how he can climb walls; although even then you don’t need to tell us again every time there’s a reboot. Normal human beings don’t need to have some key event that explains their whole character arc.

Anyway. I understand they wanted a big dramatic way to open their expensive new series. Maybe now it’ll calm down a bit, and the action will be spread around the crew members a bit more. If Michael is single-handedly deciding the fate of the galaxy every week, it’s going to get a bit exhausting.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 3:00 AM on September 26 [6 favorites]


Just to expand on this: she’s a human raised by Vulcans after her parents were killed by Klingons. That seems like plenty of back-story for a new character in a new series. She doesn’t need to also be the one who sparks the war by landing on the beacon and killing the first Klingon, and to be a mutineer, and see her captain killed in front of her, and be the one who kills the Klingon’s self-proclaimed messiah.

That's fair. I think the complaint may be more that this is seemingly another story based around someone being "the one" rather than it being an origin. That is an all too common movie trope and since this series is going to be more along the lines of a mini-series than ongoing TV show, it isn't unlikely that it'll be primarily told through Michael's point of view, at least on the Starfleet side of things, and follow more of a movie like plot in that fashion. One would still hope they flesh out the other characters of course, and give them significant action in the story rather than it being all about Michael alone, but I don't think it'll end up being a normal Trek bridge show, at least for this season.
posted by gusottertrout at 3:53 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


"Do these people not know how objects in space work? You can't slowly push through a much smaller space ship."

I don't think you're right about this (although, per my comment in the other thread, it's kind of silly to worry about it).

Presumably, by "objects in space" you mean "not like a ship in water, with friction". But these are huge structures, larger than an aircraft carrier. Water friction will scale as the square of the linear size, but mass and thus inertia scale as the cube. So I think the "in space" thing is irrelevant.

But would they behave like that, regardless? Well, we'd need to consider the structure and composition of the ship. While maybe sheer resistance and the like would scale linearly with mass -- and I don't think it would, quite -- given that these are spaceships with "deflector shields" there's no good reason why they'd build them to have that kind of resilience to impact. There's good reason to believe that they'd minimize the mass used in the structure of the ship. Absent some exotic material, I think that it's most likely any two of these ships colliding will just tear through and compress each other (especially given the wedge shape of the Klingon ship).

Granted, they might have an exotic material that is incredibly resilient. Also, they have artificial gravity, thus inertial control, as well as deflector and tractor shields. All of this would indicate an ability to reduce damage from a collision. But then, at this point we're trying to make sense of the Trek science and technology taken all together, which is a fool's pursuit.

Speculation: Michael's new captain will be quite unlike Georgiou and perhaps will be like an unsympathetic portrayal of a Kirk-type, emphasizing Kirk's vices. This will teach Michael some lessons about why she and Georgiou made different decisions and why everything went to shit.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:01 AM on September 26 [4 favorites]


I think how the show plays out will be determined by whether they're thinking in long term arcs in addition to season long stories, or just planning to tie up plot lines at the end of a season. If it's the former, then I'd expect a lot more time devoted to getting to know the crew of the new ship and building some conflicts that will extend for several seasons. If it's the latter, then obviously they'll try to be more tidy about answering questions they've raised before the end of this season.

I guess if CBS really views this as a key show for their service, then we can expect something more like a Game of Thrones structure, where the first season told something like a complete story about the fall of the Starks, rise of the Lannisters, and the becoming of Daenerys, but used that to lay the groundwork for the longer run. Here they might start introducing characters and building around Michael finding stability in her new place while setting up more of the conflict in the Klingon empire and between it and Starfleet for future seasons should their plan be to continue with roughly the same cast going forward.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:37 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


It's hard to imagine, though, that such a staid network as CBS would so radically embrace serialization and eschew the episodic structure so familiar to it.

I pretty much hate episodic television, feeling it's a waste of the medium's inherent virtues, so I'd be thrilled if they go that direction. But I expect them to try to be all things to all people, and fail. Because broadcast network. (Okay, a streaming service, but they're not going to change).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:34 AM on September 26


It's hard to imagine, though, that such a staid network as CBS would so radically embrace serialization and eschew the episodic structure so familiar to it.

My suspicion is this is a trial balloon for them, where they'll blame the show if their internal ratings don't fit their dreams and they'll go back to their comfort zone. I just can't believe any network could be completely blind to all the changes in viewing behavior going on, so they'll at least take a chance on getting their own little Game of Thrones thing going.

If they look to the last couple Trek shows as a guide, then they're probably expecting a guarantee of around 5 million baseline viewers at worst since that's what Voyager and DS9 were getting at their low side, and hoping to get something closer to the high end of 10ish million and holding or growing from that better than those shows did with bigger production values and more dynamic story telling.

Game of Thrones got 16.5 million viewers for one of their seventh season live broadcasts, and had 10.5 million for others and were totaling 31 million once all the streaming and delayed viewings were tallied in. They grew to that number, which is what I think they're hoping will happen with the base viewership of Trek fans and the curious and they're thinking they'll build from that.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:15 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


It's hard to imagine, though, that such a staid network as CBS would so radically embrace serialization and eschew the episodic structure so familiar to it.

They shitcanned Fuller because he wanted the show to be an anthology series, not episodic.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:25 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


Which makes me mad because a Star Trek anthology series could be phenomenal. Generally I think the network is showing a lack of imagination about modern TV storytelling.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:26 AM on September 26 [4 favorites]


Which makes me mad because a Star Trek anthology series could be phenomenal.

Star Trek is a rare franchise that can pull off either episodic shows or anthology arcs. On ships like the Enterprise the crew is boldly going somewhere new each week, so it's OK if everything is tied up at the end of the hour. Places like Deep Space Nine are stationary so of course the crew there is going to keep running into people in the neighborhood like Kai Winn and Gul Dukat and Weyoun. There's precedent for both and either can work really well given the right creative team behind it.
posted by Servo5678 at 7:54 AM on September 26 [7 favorites]


They shitcanned Fuller because he wanted the show to be an anthology series, not episodic.

I don't think the show is, or was, an episodic like the old Treks, its an ongoing serial. I think it's the ongoing part that they disagreed over, with Fuller wanting the anthology to reboot to a completely new story every season.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:14 AM on September 26 [3 favorites]


Right, yes, but CBS was wrong.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:38 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


Heh. Probably so, at least for the hardcore Trek fans, since there would have been stories set post Voyager as well as other moments in Federation history and Fuller wanted to stick more to the look of the series, whenever they were, so the bridge in this show would have looked like an updated version of the TOS one, not what we ended up with and the uniforms too would have stuck closer to the originals I gather.

I guess I can't entirely blame CBS for seeing more risk in an anthology version though since each season would have to win viewers anew with radically different casts and settings. Might have been fun nonetheless.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:47 AM on September 26


Probably an issue of cost as well. Making whole new sets and design assets every new season is an serious task if you can't reuse the older ones as much.
posted by Ferreous at 9:34 AM on September 26 [1 favorite]


SO MANY TREK THOUGHTS

...that I couldn't possibly cover them all. So I'll just say:

This isn't quite the show I wanted - but in retrospect, the show I wanted may be impossible.

I'm interested enough to keep watching. I do hope it becomes more of an ensemble show (like every previous Trek), and finds room for some thoughtfulness and humor alongside the epic space battles. Because after just two episodes, I'm already exhausted by how heavy and serious everything is.

I'm not optimistic about the future of All Access. That was my first experience with CBS or live TV in years, and...Jesus. So many commercials. So many mind-numbingly idiotic shows. Any pleasure I got from the show was almost canceled out by the crass idiocy that was blared at me every five minutes. Get it far away from me.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:16 AM on September 26 [3 favorites]


speaking of all access is there a way to easily maximize and hide ui on all access while pausing? Seems like they're dead set against even using screencaps.
posted by Ferreous at 10:39 AM on September 26


Annnnd there's a big 'fuck you' to the blind and low-vision community. There's no described video track. Goddamit. It's really not that expensive, people, and the tech is well understood.

Netflix do have a video description if anyone is thinking of watching this outside North America. If you are particularly hardcore about your trek experience, Netflix is also providing Klingon subtitling of all English speech.
posted by biffa at 12:23 PM on September 26 [6 favorites]


Went back and re-watched 'The Cage' last night and it was quite heartening to see the little touches that Discovery has made to keep it inline with what the Star Trek universe looked like in that episode. The uniforms and aesthetics are very similar.
posted by liquorice at 7:22 PM on September 26 [1 favorite]


I liked it. Not 'omg this is amazing' but easily 'really looking forward to the next one'.

I loved the intro.

Michael and Philippa made some weird choices. Not the mutiny (I get that, and we have a word for it because it's a thing that actually happens), but more 'let's send the 2IC out alone in a really dangerous environment because we don't have other more junior people on the ship who can do that, maybe in pairs'. Nothing that hasn't been done in ST before, though, and probably ok for people who are (a) explorers, (b) have enjoyed wandering around unchallenged for a long time and (c) think they're doing an audit. Presumably we'll get lots of flashbacks about why Michael would be willing to risk it all to kill Klingons / save Philippa.

Lots of non-human weirdness on the deck, which contrasted with TOS' / Abrams' all-but-half-of-one-person Earthling leadership team.

I like the new old Klingons and their 'Ming the Merciless' interior decorating sensibilities. Almost Elizabethan.

I liked the short, blunt 'yeah, you're going to jail forever' outcome of Michael's actions, and her 'yeah, that's probably what should happen' acceptance of it all. Can't wait to see how she gets out.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:11 PM on September 26 [3 favorites]


So immediately after finishing this episode, I hit the "Cancel Subscription" button on All Access, and a popup came up to offer me a one-month free trial instead of the previously-agreed-upon one-week free trial :) So I said, "Alright, you twisted my arm, CBS." I absolutely want to support the notion of More Trek, but (A) I've got to limit how many of these things I subscribe to; (B) I worry that our money going to All Access may not be interpreted as an endorsement of Trek itself, since the suits have so often made boneheaded decisions when it comes to Trek, and the fact that it's a streaming service and would presumably provide more useful viewership data than the Nielsens doesn't reassure me much; and (C) by supporting Trek on All Access, I am also tacitly supporting the concept of All Access itself, which >:(

I really like Burnham (I was initially concerned about some slight indications of Mary Sue-ness, but it looks like her development is veering away from that) and I'm even tolerant of the decision to have Sarek be her adopted father. I'm sure the writers and the network alike felt it necessary to have a single consistent tether to Trek That Came Before, and he makes a lot of sense as that tether, given Burnham's whole deal.

But (among other things) these two episodes feel, at almost every moment, like trailers. The too-brief intervals between commercial breaks are undoubtedly part of that.

I'm cautiously enthusiastic though since Michael's character really works for me so far in the variety of influences and values she's trying to balance yet retaining a personality of her own. It's definitely a more up to date approach to character than the previous shows where the character outline sheets seemed so often to limit the characters to narrow sets of possibilities, not always for the bad, but shows have changed since then and trying to go back to that would likely be unsatisfying.

Agreed; I expected this show to manifest lots of the contemporary serial-TV-storytelling trends, and it's good that they embraced this one for their protagonist. As previously discussed, whether CBS has the cojones to go full GoT with this will be interesting to see.

The writing and concepts feel very bold even for Star Trek.

Gonna disagree: the writing and concepts only feel bold BECAUSE it's Star Trek.

Burnham is an interesting character, well-acted by SM-G, and with the most interesting relationship on the show (though it has maybe one or two actual other relationships as competition) with Georgiou. But her arc so far, while unique to the Trek franchise as we have heretofore seen it, has a strong network-TV-drama vibe, which I worry will make too much of what follows eminently predictable. One half expects the Noir Starfleet Tribunal to angrily holler at Burnham about being a loose cannon who plays by her own rules. So far, not one story beat would feel out of place on The Blacklist. I don't intend that as praise.

They've doubled down on the parallel between orphan Michael and "Son of No One" Voq

Yeah gus, I found this irritatingly heavy-handed. Voq's imminent We're-Not-So-Different stuff could and should have been spread out over way more episodes, if it was necessary to do it at all.

The recovery of the dead, for example, is one of the more striking images of the show in a way that lends it an air of subtle majesty and further shows T'Kuvma acting from impulses that are not entirely clear

True; this was perhaps the only scene where my internal critic took a moment to shut up.

Really not feeling the writing in this, it feels explainy and forced, and the Klingon bits with the ugly subtitles really drag. I find the Klingons look way too much like Vogons and that's incredibly distracting. Nor do I believe that Klingons would just accept some mostly random dude suddenly becoming their leader and declaring war on Starfleet.

Yes, and on top of that, the essence of Starfleet/the Federation isn't really represented here, apart from the (good and fitting) disagreement about whether to shoot first. So far, the continuity has been almost exactly what I'd feared: purely surface-level (mentions of "we're explorers," Gamma Hydra, Donatu V, Tellarites, Andorians), but demonstrating no more depth w/r/t Starfleet than the J.J. films.

However, I will say that T'Kuvma's apparent philosophy already puts this show light-years ahead of the J.J. films in terms of overall depth. But yeah, it's too much makeup, and when you can't see your actors acting, your scene's gonna drag.

It feels like TOS era+ Federation-of-Planets optimism is a result of a backlash against the Feds doing really really bad stuff during this war.

If you're right, and I think you are, then my above complaint about the Starfleet philosophy might be null. Based on clues from the various teases we've seen, I predict that Captain Lorca (Isaacs) recruits Burnham in order to help develop some sort of nasty biological weapon from an exotic lifeform (hinted at by the tentacle-flower in the opening credits) that they Discover on some remote world, and Burnham has to wrestle with the idea of opposing two captains in a row versus betraying Starfleet's ideals. I mean, for god's sake, you don't cast Jason Isaacs for a part that ISN't at least morally ambiguous.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:36 AM on September 27 [2 favorites]


Speculation: Michael's new captain will be quite unlike Georgiou and perhaps will be like an unsympathetic portrayal of a Kirk-type, emphasizing Kirk's vices. This will teach Michael some lessons about why she and Georgiou made different decisions and why everything went to shit.

and Burnham has to wrestle with the idea of opposing two captains in a row versus betraying Starfleet's ideals.

Yeah, I think you both are on the right track here. Captain Lorca's ship will probably have a more militarylike inclination, emphasizing the other side of the Federation's possible directions, and Lorca will appeal to Burnham's prejudices regarding the Klingons, suggesting something like she was the only one who really understood what was happening blah, blah. Burnham will have to come to some realization of Captain Georgiou's vision being the better one, and at least come close to a second mutiny before, perhaps, realizing that most central value of the later Treks and "find another way".

That matches up well with what we've seen so far, with Captain Georgiou showing that attitude to Burnham twice, but with Burnham not entirely grasping the significance of what's she's seeing. It would also escape the problem of the white guy showing Burnham the way, even if he is a Starfleet captain and informs the tension suggested between Captain Georgiou's ship being that of explorers and the military direction things have taken since the first episode.

Incidentally, the ideal of the ship being about exploration actually came across fairly well for me, even without the bridge guy being explicit about it before being sucked out into space. It wasn't so much in how they explained anything as the general attitude shown and, especially, in Burnham's enthusiasm for going out to look at the beacon. That, along with it being Trek, was enough to give me a feeling for the kind of ship Captain Georgiou was in command of. It's something I might expect will be put on the back burner for a bit, regarding the same sense of wonderment at the new, to be slowly regained as the season progresses perhaps.

After some of the earlier comments in the thread about Fuller's role in the show, I'm starting to wonder a bit how well they'll integrate his vision with that of making it an ongoing. Since Fuller seems to have been the one primarily responsible for the direction the show is taking and is credited for writing the first two episodes, there may be some loss of connection between his one season vision, which goes towards explaining some of the heavy paralleling early on given the time constraints he was imagining, and drawing out conflicts over a longer span. I'll be curious to see if they let drop or radically extend some of the things he seemed to be setting up or whether his plan will hold for the run of the season. Switching show runners midstream doesn't always lead to smooth storytelling or strong consistency.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:20 AM on September 27 [2 favorites]


I really missed proper Trek and these premiere episodes of DSC have been so refreshing. Not without their flaws, sure, but I've found myself rewatching the episodes a whole bunch of times in the last few days (currently at 3 rewatches) and finding some new details to enjoy every time. CBS did themselves a huge disservice by only showing the first of the two episodes on broadcast, the story gets a lot more interesting in episode 2 (and a lot of "but whatabout--" questions get set up in it as well), and so many people missed out on that entirely.

We're in for undoubtedly a fantastic character redemption arc with Burnham and I'm looking forward to the ride, wherever it takes us. For better or for worse, I subscribed to All Access, but I really don't feel good about it.

The theme song especially has been repeating in my head. Sure, I miss the brassy and more optimistic themes from the 90s, but it's not 30 years ago and this theme song is appropriate for our times and how shows are done now. (A Trek for Today, if you will.)

Swapna Krishna on Engadget has it perfectly right: This show is great and shouldn't be hamstrung by a short-sighted business practice limiting it to a streaming service no one wants.
https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/25/star-trek-discovery-shouldnt-be-streaming-only/
I'm more than a little bit afraid that this decision will tank the show, and more than a little annoyed that it's nigh-impossible to discuss the merits of the show without gripes about the platform overwhelming everything.
posted by photinakis at 9:20 AM on September 27 [5 favorites]


I think they did themselves and the show a disservice by not combining the two episodes and airing them both on CBS before switching the show to streaming. Watching the first one I was kind of meh but it grew on me with this second part. I'm totally not liking the Klingons new look (but that may be because I had a huge crush on Worf growing up..all those hints at how Klingons bang :) but will give it great leeway simply because I missed Trek. I do think there wasn't enough of the Federations morals on display. Too much weaponry. But I could see it going as the last gasp of the military trying to stay in control. I'm mainly a DS9 Trekkie and do read the books. I wish they had continued on the novel storylines after Voyager. There's a map already out there how things go and I prefer bold new futuristic ideas to my trek than reshaping the past so much. In the current timelines of the book, the Borg have been destroyed with massive casualties to the Federation and they have to pull all the Starships into relief effort while Picard, Sisko, etc are pushing to go back to the exploration that's at the heart of the Federation. That's a little dark but they could just allude to that all that happened and then it wouldn't be the borg show over and over.

So questions I wished they asked and answered in the first two shows: What's the deal with the woman in a helmet on the bridge? Why didn't we meet her? Also, isn't flashing red alert on your own helmet distracting? Michael's phone call home didn't seem to be something she urgently needed to do. I mean it introduces Sarek but he basically just tells her he is proud of her and then goes away so they could maybe have just done it once? The new shiny tech is confusing me as to when this is supposed to be taking place? When is this happening?? And the makeup for the Klingons is so distracting to me. Why call them Klingons if you wanted that makeup? Couldn't they just pick another species that hasn't been shown?

Every time the Klingons were on screen speaking Klingon it slowed it real down and it felt like the actors were reading each word from a cue card. Also, maybe I'm old but this show was so LOUD and I had a hard time following what was happening in the space battle. Or maybe it is because no one ship was different from the others (I'm sure real Trekkies could tell..)

And while I like Michael a bit, frankly I would have rather had the Captain live and be the main character in the show. However, two women of colour on the bridge!! is exciting. I could have done without the walking around in her underwear scene.
posted by kanata at 9:53 AM on September 27


Regardless, it feels like the writers conned me into thinking we'd have this awesome new captain who also happened to be an older Asian female, and then they chuck her in the dumpster without so much as a goodbye. She fucking deserved better.

Yeah. I was getting super, super psyched for Yeoh's captain - such gorgeous acting and so nuanced - and then they just killed her off with no ceremony, in a stupid way - like again, why were they the only two there? In this Trek world, are there no staff on any ship outside of the bridge crew? What the hell? Why would you transfer both command officers off on a mission like that?

I'm not excited about Burnham - it's not the actress, but they seem to be just writing the character in a weirdly jerky way that doesn't make sense.

And I also find Sarek's treatment of her really weird - like, why would he be so concerned for the fate of one child after the attack?
posted by corb at 4:43 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


In this Trek world, are there no staff on any ship outside of the bridge crew? What the hell? Why would you transfer both command officers off on a mission like that?

Having the characters we're following do All The Things is what every Trek ever always does except for that one episode?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:57 PM on September 27 [3 favorites]


In every Trek, the characters we're following do All The Things, but usually they have some accompanying redshirts.
posted by corb at 5:23 PM on September 27


Oh, I almost forgot to mention how much I got a kick out of the Lateral Vector Transporters. I'm hoping they'll continue to bring in some other "archaic" future tech to the show.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:45 PM on September 27 [3 favorites]


Dropping over to Memory Alpha following your link led me to realize that Michael's relationship with Sarek necessarily overlaps, or indeed appears contiguous with that of Spock. This raises all sorts of timeline eyebrows, at least on my time-lined forehead.
posted by mwhybark at 11:56 PM on September 27 [1 favorite]


As someone pointed out earlier, Spock managed to avoid mentioning the existence of a half-brother until the events of ST V and was estranged for nearly two decades from Sarek. So far we've seen Burnham engage with Sarek twice, both in circumstances where it's unlikely she would have asked "Oh, by the way, are you back on speaking terms with my stepbrother yet?"

I would expect some form of acknowledgement of Spock's existence in due course though, otherwise it's going to become a distracting anomaly for anyone even remotely familiar with Star Trek.
posted by Major Clanger at 12:48 AM on September 28


A friend of mine raised a point about Burnham's mutiny that I think explains why it comes across as so jarring. She pointed out that readers or viewers are entirely happy to accept a major character doing something very shocking or foolish, so long as we know enough about that character to make such a decision believable.

An example she gave was Miles Vorkosigan from Lois McMaster Bujold's books. When Miles makes a monumentally ill-judged decision in Memory that has life-changing consequences for him, he is a character who readers have seen (and thanks to Bujold's narrative style, read the thoughts of) over half a dozen books covering his life from 17 to 29. Miles' bad decision - a crucial lie of omission - is an entirely plausible one for him to make, because readers will be very familiar with him as a character.

The problem with the depiction of Burnham is that she makes her drastic decision when we have only had half an hour of screen time to get to know her, and most of that consisted of being told things about her rather than learning about her. This might have worked far better as a shocking cliffhanger at the end of Season One rather than the opening for the character. I still think she's one of the most interesting characters we've seen in any incarnation of Star Trek, but I hope her character development is handled well (I suspect it is going to be the well-worn arc of 'getting round my mental block that stops me understanding how I screwed up.')
posted by Major Clanger at 1:05 AM on September 28 [3 favorites]


I can't say I enjoyed it, but I didn't not enjoy it, so that's good. I don't find it compelling yet. Of the three interesting characters the first two episodes spent time on, two are dead and the third's in jail. I'm very leering of a quick redemption arc that starts with a character assaulting their commanding officer, hijacking an entire vessel, and intending to start an attack on another species. It's like the Maquis and Federation crew becoming indistinguishable practically overnight.

I'll have to see what they do with the other characters. I can't even recall the names of any of them yet - there's weepy girl, the domesticated alien, the robot thing, and... oh, right, the other guy got blown out into space. GoT has instilled a lot of "don't get too comfortable with any character" into this show, and it's too early to get invested in any of them. We haven't even met Isaacs yet.

As for the cost, here in Canada it's essentially free so I have no worries, but I thought the cost of All Access was going to be comparable to a comic book. Is that true?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:03 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


I believe it's $5.99 or $6.99 a month, that's with ads.

Speaking of how this all fits in with the rest of the shows, it's worth checking out the novel tie-in which provides a lot more detail about Burnham and the USS Shenzhou. For instance, in the book they encounter the Enterprise and deal with Spock!
posted by liquorice at 7:16 AM on September 28 [2 favorites]


In every Trek, the characters we're following do All The Things, but usually they have some accompanying redshirts.

That's a fair cop.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:37 AM on September 28


This might have worked far better as a shocking cliffhanger at the end of Season One rather than the opening for the character.

For me, at least, that holds true for the entire episode(s) -- nothing about it was particularly shocking or surprising, because we haven't had any time to establish a status quo. We barely got to meet the bridge crew, let alone get to know them -- and likewise for their Klingon counterparts. And it should be shocking! It's a mutiny, after all; but it comes off as the baseline for Burnham, rather than the departure from it. That might work in the overall arc of the season/show, if everyone else sees her as a mutineer-first, and officer second, but it didn't work for me in the context of the pilot.

Some scattered thoughts, having just watched the two episodes last night:

- The one thing about the show that I hate unequivocally is the cinematography. Why are there so many Dutch angles? Why won't they just keep the camera still for a minute and let us watch people act? Why are there so many quick cuts during regular dialogue? The cast was great, and it would have been nice to have a few moments of quiet to dwell on that rather than just SWOOSHING CAMERA, QUICK CUT, NEXT LINE. (Opinions may vary, and if you enjoyed this aspect of the show, I am glad!)
- I'm 100% fine with tossing the visual lines of TOS out the window and making the show look like the Current Future, and the design work is, in the abstract, great, excepting the uniforms.
- I'm 100% not fine with how they used the holograms -- why would a hologram lean on a real chair? How would that work? When Burnham enters the room during a holographic conversation, does the holographic receptor just start projecting her too? And other other small issues.
- If you want to be projecting technology forward, why didn't the away team have Starfleet GoPros strapped to them? Canon aside, ubiquitous video would solve a lot of issues that regularly come up on the show. And why weren't more of, say, the ship's controls holographic? It seems odd that you'd have that technology and use it for exactly one thing, and one thing only.
- The pacing of both episodes felt rushed -- I could have seen this overall arc of 'Klingon prophet wants a war,' 'who is Burnham' taking, say, five or six episodes, if not a whole season. Get to the know the crew, get to know these Old/New Klingons, and then upend everything. That's probably too bold for CBS, sadly. Or, conversely, it feels like you could almost have skipped these two episodes entirely and started with episode #3, with flashbacks to these events.

- Judging this on its own is probably unfair in that most other Star Trek pilots -- and most other pilots, period -- are not representative samples of their shows. It's unclear how much any of my likes and dislikes and thoughts on these episodes will translate to the series as a whole. That's fine, and I'm curious where they're taking this.

- I actually like the Klingon designs, except that they don't feel very Klingon. And, broadly: it didn't feel like a prequel, and it did't feel like there was much in this that justified it's need to be a prequel.

Imagine for a second if the Klingons in this were New Alien Race, and that the show was set, say, twenty years after Voyager, and toss the Sarek connection for a moment, and put the Discovery farther out in Federation space. What else would have to change? I would argue: not much. The aesthetics of the show don't really match pre-TOS Starfleet (which is fine); they needn't match our expectations for post-VOY Starfleet either. Likewise, we're already throwing out a decent amount of Klingon continuity (ie, hair?); inventing a new race wouldn't be too different. And so on. It could even be a not-the-same-continuity Star Trek that happens to be a few years past Voyager, if needs be.

But it's easy to say that about these two episodes: we don't know what the rest of the season will be like, and they may yet justify the premise. I liked it enough to keep watching it, so in a television-business sense it achieved that goal. And it mostly got the underlying spirit right, I think -- although we'll see where Burnham's arc goes; if the show concludes the firing first is justified...I'll talk about that if they do -- which is exactly what The Orville has been getting wrong.

Also hoping we see more of Captain Georgiou in flashbacks, and less of Force Ghost Sarek.
posted by cjelli at 8:19 AM on September 28 [7 favorites]


It's not a bad show, but it just doesn't seem like Star Trek to me. It's more like not-terrible JJ Trek.

What really seemed out of place was the whole imprisoned for life by nefarious looking court martial, with little to no apparent process or representation. It just shows incredibly clearly that the people behind the show just don't get it. They could have done a very similar scene even in the time allotted that didn't shit all over the franchise. Even saying "15 years minimum in a penal colony" and changing nothing else would have been at least some acknowledgement that even by the time of Enterprise, Earth notions of justice had evolved beyond that point, at least given some time for hot heads to cool. It would still be out of place, but not so wildly so.

Outside of a few situations with rogue elements and/or human-sack-wearing alien parasites, justice in Starfleet has never been depicted as such a horror show. Might as well be contemporary for all I could tell. Did I already say it was incredibly jarring? Good thing it came at the end!
posted by wierdo at 9:27 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]


In summary, Starfleet annexed an otherwise unimportant star system containing a Klingon religious site, stabbed one of the worshippers, escalated the situation with a massive show of force, used an IED hidden in a corpse, and then assassinated their religious leader.

I know, I know, that's a selective reading, but it's not exactly a wrong one either, is it?
posted by Zarkonnen at 9:45 AM on September 28 [20 favorites]


Starfleet annexed an otherwise unimportant star system containing a Klingon religious site...I know, that's a selective reading, but it's not exactly a wrong one either, is it?

As to that particular point -- did it strike anyone else as weird that a major Klingon religious site would be outside of Klingon space? Is it newly built? Is it old? Why was it built to sent a warp-speed signal and also light up really brightly? That all felt kind of vaguely drawn, considering its importance.

"Members of the Federation, what you call your most remote borders, I call too close to Klingon territory." - emphasis mine, implying that it isn't in Klingon space.
posted by cjelli at 10:03 AM on September 28 [4 favorites]


I think that the Federation has repeatedly ended up in conflict with other societies based on rather different ideas of territory - notably the Cardassians. They seem to have this tendency to build star bases and colonies in space that they consider "empty" but other societies might consider buffer zones.

And yeah, there's a lot of background info we're missing. But I find this repeated pattern of "colonies are a good thing, oh wait, our colonies got attacked" quite... interesting.
posted by Zarkonnen at 10:30 AM on September 28 [3 favorites]


Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space.

One thing that has always bugged me about Star Trek and conflict with other societies is that seeing as there are lightyears of nothing between star systems, why the hell would anyone care about relatively tiny ships flying through the vast inky nothing of the interstellar space? Do they have no concept of international waters?
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:56 AM on September 28 [7 favorites]


Did anyone else feel like the klingon language reading was super flat? It was delivered in a very measured way where everything was at the same cadence and tone.

It felt as though it were being read off a teleprompter showing phonetic pronunciations but not indicating where you would raise your tone or emphasize certain words to show more emotional context.
posted by Ferreous at 12:35 PM on September 28 [6 favorites]


Yeah, it sure didn't sound like the Klingon I've come to expect as a well-developed conlang.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:54 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


Popping back in with another note:

I play Star Trek Online, (probably too much lately), and my fleet - STO equivalent of a guild/clan/whatever - has been discussing Discovery some. Nobody in my particular, family friendly, non-asshole group has complained about the diversity of the show or anything. (I've seen that in zone, because zone is always terrible, of course.)

What they didn't like were the weapon effects. Too JJTrek, they said. Personally, I liked them for being more STO - I've totally had PUGs that went just like the battle in this episode, down to cannons being useless. But I thought that was interesting.

(The other major complaint that got raised was 'mutiny is too soon,' which... yes. Yes it was.)
posted by mordax at 1:37 PM on September 28 [1 favorite]


I have been jonesing to rewatch these two episodes, but havent been able to stomach watching on my laptop/watching on my Roku only to have it crash for 40 minutes straight again (your streaming service is a PROBLEM, CBS). So instead I watched Star Trek VI. And it was interesting--there are so many parallels, not just the discussion of whether or not the Federation's goal is actually colonization and extinction of the Klingon way of life but also the mentor/mentee relationship between Spock/Valeris and Sarek/Michael Burnham. When Valeris aims her phaser at Spock, he tells her that the logical action would be to kill him. Michael Burham disables her captain and advocates radical violence against the Klingons as a rational course of action. We're meant to read these as her human emotions overpowering her, but against the viewing of the Undiscovered Country, she actually looks very, very Vulcan.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:35 PM on September 28 [6 favorites]


Dropping over to Memory Alpha following your link led me to realize that Michael's relationship with Sarek necessarily overlaps, or indeed appears contiguous with that of Spock.

Fwiw, a brief survey of Memory Alpha suggests that our flashback here (with the very Vulcan-presenting Michael first arriving on the Shenzhou) takes place the year before Spock heads for Starfleet Academy, sparking the famous eighteen-year estrangement between Spock and Sarek.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:24 PM on September 29 [2 favorites]


Burnham is an interesting character, well-acted by SM-G,

I don't mind telling you, this gave me a brief moment of vertigo as a vision of Commander Buffy Burnham, played by Sarah Michelle Geller, appeared before my eyes.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:33 PM on September 29 [7 favorites]


Consider: have you ever heard Shakespeare in the original Vogon?

Do ninth grade classroom read-alouds count?
posted by traveler_ at 10:11 PM on September 29 [2 favorites]


I freakin' loved it.
Star Trek fan since 1972, attended my first con in 1976 and STILL a member of Starfleet International.
I'm just so grateful and happy to have ANY Star Trek on air to look forward to.
But, having said that, my quibbles:

- the theme music: NOTHING TO HUM! No horns, no hook, nothing. When even the theme song for "Enterprise" is better than yours, you got problems.
- the uniforms: ICK. Can we make those away team SWAT uniforms the regular standard dress ones? Because those are awesome.

I'm in.

Also, STVI is my favorite original cast movie, much better than STII.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:34 AM on September 30 [3 favorites]


In summary, Starfleet annexed an otherwise unimportant star system containing a Klingon religious site, stabbed one of the worshippers, escalated the situation with a massive show of force, used an IED hidden in a corpse, and then assassinated their religious leader.

Personally, I did find "They're collecting their dead? What an opportunity for us to strike back!" as a particularly un-Starfleet thing to do, arguably a war crime. I can't imagine Picard, or heck even Kirk, allowing the situation to escalate the way it did.

If this show really is "ten years before Kirk, Spock, and McCoy" then the USS Enterprise and her sister ships are already in commission. In fact, these two episodes seem to take place 2 years after TOS episode "The Cage", so theoretically Pike is captain of the Enterprise somewhere out there. That said, I don't hold out hope of seeing a Constitution-class starship any time soon, or have any overlap with Original Series characters or concepts, er, other than Sarek I guess? What I've seen so far seems to indicate they don't want to rehash old Trek the way previous series have. That's fine, I guess, but making the series into a soft reboot of the hard reboot of NuTrek would've been nice.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:26 AM on October 1 [3 favorites]


It helps my mental health if I just create three silos: Prime timeline, Kelvin timeline and Discovery timeline, because, for the life of me, I cannot see any way to retcon Discovery into Prime (from a stylistic point of view).
I don't care if they've thought it all out and have explanations for everything from A to Zed, I just can't see it.
Kelvin timeline? I could see that easily, but Prime?
Too much of a grasp.
Therefore, I have decided that Discovery is just its own thing, and will enjoy it as such, because it sure is purty.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 10:49 AM on October 1 [4 favorites]


I liked this show! I watched it as a two parter. I liked Burnham, sort of a "what if Mary Sue but deeply flawed and yet intriguing?". I think starting with Michelle Yeoh was a mistake though; she sets a very high bar that will be hard to meet.

The #1 thing that bothered me is you'd think T'Kuvma would speak better Klingon. His delivery was just awful. I mean I don't know the first thing about spoken Klingon, I'm not one of those nerds. But whatever he was intoning sounded like shitty phonetic reading, not acting. Also it bugged the hell out of me they couldn't hold the camera level. I'm OK with various cinematographic excesses, but 30 degree tilts on face shots is not one of them.

I have a terrible feeling the actual show is going to be nothing like the pilot. Hopefully it will be it's own good thing, Jason Isaacs is great. But.. well we'll see.
posted by Nelson at 12:03 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


I like that we are now two full episodes into the series, and we have not yet even heard the name of the ship (Discovery) mentioned, much less seen it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:01 PM on October 1


There was a red haired woman on the bridge at helm who looked really familiar to me. Anyone know the name of the actress or character?
posted by bq at 4:43 PM on October 1


I had the same reaction... it's Mary Wiseman, who hasn't been in a whole lot. She was in several episodes of Longmire but I haven't really watched that so it's not what I'm thinking of.

So I think she must look like someone else or several someone elses, but I can't think of who.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:11 PM on October 1


I hate it when someone is super-familiar but when I go to IMDB, they've not been in anything I've watched.

This is probably just that thing that happens when you get older -- everybody looks sort of familiar.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:16 PM on October 1 [2 favorites]


I suspect, and hope, that the pilot is not representative of the show. Two hours of pilot and they didn't encounter anything new --- the technologies and cultures are mostly what we've seen before (with the exception of Saru who has potential). Trek is at its finest when it's a deep dive into an alien culture or new situation that inevitably leads us to reflect back on ourselves.

Of course it's possible to do space allegory with the same old cast of characters / alien species, but the stories end up being pretty limited in their scope (i.e. stories about Klingons focus the same set of themes like class, individuality vs social obligations, or war). The pilot episodes gave me the impression this is going to be a gritty war drama between the Klingon empire and the federation. It could be just like every other drama, but just happens to be set in the Trek universe. Hopefully this won't be the case, and the war will just be a backdrop that we'll occasionally check in on, like the temporal cold war in Enterprise.

I don't think any of the Trek pilots are very good, but they are at least thematically correct.
"Encounter at Farpoint" wasn't a great episode, but it did set the exploratory tone of the series well (introduction to Q, WTF moment as the base ends up being a bizarre space lifeform, etc). Same with "Emissary" and even "Caretaker". "Broken Arrow" annoyed me in a similar way because, at the time, it seemed like a best hits collection of Trek adversaries (Klingons + Borg).

I love Trek so I will keep watching even if it's bad (I made it through all of Enterprise ... twice), but am hoping for the best.
posted by sloafmaster at 6:53 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


The third episode looks to be a better indication of their direction, and with about five extra minutes of exposition could have been the pilot. It's like these first two are extended backstory for a few characters, making some scenes in the third have more depth, but it seems like an unnecessary extravagance. Still, two episodes with Yeoh is two more than I ever expected and I'm glad we got those.

Imagine if they'd never done "The Menagerie", and aired "The Cage" first. Neat but not needed.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:32 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]


The redhead (Mary Wiseman) reminded me very much of Marcia Cross who played Bree on Desperate Housewives. Also a bit of Julianne Moore, she's had that same haircut in something. We only get a few glimpses of Wiseman but her acting looked terrible, or maybe terribly directed, a bit like one of those fan-produced filmed productions featuring actors from the local village repertory theater. But she didn't get any real time on screen, so who knows.

I really liked Sonequa Martin-Green in the pilot. She's great! And a tough role. She has to carry the show, and be the continuity, all the while sharing the screen with Michelle Yeoh and yet not be upstaged by her. It worked! Her back story is a bit too much to be believed, particularly the conviction for treason part that will be her story going forward, and like I sad upthread the character felt a bit too competent to be believable. But the actress was great and the emotional story with her is intriguing enough I want to see more.
posted by Nelson at 12:39 AM on October 2 [2 favorites]


FWIW, I think the helmsman on the Shenzhou was Keyla Detmer, played by Emily Coutts. Wiseman's character, Sylvia Tilly, doesn't show up until Episode 3.
posted by Zonker at 6:52 AM on October 2 [1 favorite]


Yah, I had confused the redheads.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:07 PM on October 2


Emily Coutts reminds me of Natalie Dormer so maybe that could be it...?
posted by liquorice at 4:24 PM on October 2 [1 favorite]


That said, I don't hold out hope of seeing a Constitution-class starship any time soon, or have any overlap with Original Series characters or concepts, er, other than Sarek I guess?

It's been announced that Rain Wilson is playing Harry Mudd so there's one additional point of continuity with TOS.
posted by nathan_teske at 6:27 PM on October 2


I was thinking of Jayma Mays from Glee (who is not in this show)
posted by bq at 12:31 PM on October 3


Burnham's plan to capture T'Kuvma and thus humiliate him instead of making a martyr of him is quite...logical, but wouldn't you want more than two people on that mission? (I might object to sending both the captain and the first officer on such a dangerous mission, but that happens all the time in Trek, aside from a few objections from Riker in early TNG, so I'll let that slide.)

posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:37 PM on September 24 [8 favorites +] [!]


Ha! Yes, this was the one eye roll for me. But this is the THE classic Star Trek thing that is always dumb in every Trek: You send your top officers to every unknown planetary mission, every away team, every most dangerous battle. TNG was a little more realistic on this at least in the first seasons, where Picard would stay back at the ship when Riker would beam down to get in fights and stuff. I guess this is just the problem of a show where your leads are the top officers: you have to show them doing stuff, but it's absurd that your most valuable officers would be put in harms way so much!
posted by latkes at 7:45 AM on October 4


I'm still really enjoying this. We watched this as a family again and we were all really excited on the couch with the light off. At one point my daughter actually said, "This is exciting!". It was cute.

Loved, loved, loved the female friendship/collaboration thing. I'll be sad to miss that. So far the biggest departure from the usual Trek world is this does seem to be a show about one person not an ensemble.

I totally vowed not to pay to watch this show but for some reason it is hitting a sweet spot for me where there's enough depth to make me interested while it's still light and silly enough to be a relaxing escape. I may pay CBS for a season.
posted by latkes at 7:49 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]


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