The first season of Star Trek: Discovery marked the franchise’s long-awaited return to the small screen after a decade-plus absence.
I went into Star Trek: Discovery knowing as little as possible so as to avoid spoiling myself. While I meant to start watching the series a few years back, it didn’t happen. It wasn’t until the recent convention in Chicago that I decided to make the trip into outer space. Plus, with the coming of Strange New Worlds, it makes sense to know some of the backstory. What I knew going in was that Discovery takes place about a decade before the start of The Original Series. I also knew that it was set in the Prime Timeline, which also means sticking with original canon and sometimes being boxed in. However, I like what I saw during the first season. It’s thrilling, entertaining, and offers a lot to enjoy.
In choosing to focus on a captain like in previous series, the main protagonist is first officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). Well, she’s not an officer for long because she unintentionally helps kick off the Federation-Klingon War. Six months into a life sentence for mutiny, Burnham’s journey eventually takes her to the Discovery, where Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Issacs) enlists him in the crew. In time, the rest of the crew welcomes her and she has quite the arc by the end of the season. The first two episodes focus on Burnham and her relationship with Shenzhou Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh).
There’s a few subplots to the season, one involving Discovery’s new Chief of Security Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif) and another dealing with Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp). Tyler has quite the interesting past. When we first meet him, the Starfleet officer is being tortured by the Klingons. Lorca rescues him and enlists him in Discovery’s crew. It turns out that the Klingons
The entire second off of the season turns to the Mirror Universe and the crew’s efforts to get back to their universe. Nothing is the same in this universe and it’s quite the reveal when see the Terran Emperor. The emperor’s reveal is just the least of it because it’s a shocker to learn the truth about Lorca. The events make for quite a thrilling second half of the first season. This universe is not new to Star Trek and as we learn throughout the season, other characters and locations make appearances pre-TOS.
This might be a TV series but if I’m being honest, it feels like a feature film especially in terms of production design and special effects. It’s not one of those sci-fi series that feels like it’s made-for-TV. No, they go above and beyond! Jeff Russo’s score incorporates classic themes where he can but for the most part, Discovery is its own show. It is very much a score that feels cinematic. There are references to the Enterprise every now and then but doesn’t appear until the season finale. The original theme also makes an appearance in the finale.
For me, the biggest reveal in watching Discovery is learning the connection to The Original Series. Sarek (James Frain) and Amanda Grayson (Mia Kershner) are the adoptive parents of Michael Burnham after her parents were killed by the Klingons. Burnham grows up on Vulcan gets rejected by the Vulcan Expeditionary Group. Of course, Spock ended up joining Starfleet so Sarek’s decision was moot. In any event, it’s nice to get into the backstory of what ties Burnham together with Spock. I’ll be curious to see the how the relationship develops further during Discovery and why there’s no mention of Burnham during the original Star Trek movies or series.
The 15-episode first season offers quite the thrill ride with twists that I didn’t see coming. I can understand why the studio decided to order the series for streaming rather than for broadcast. It’s a way to make sure that then-CBS All-Access–now Paramount+–could grow a subscriber base. With a franchise of this nature, it definitely helps when you’re the exclusive streaming home for the franchise. Cut to a few years later and there are multiple series. The primary reason why it took me so long to start watching Discovery is the budget constraints. One can only subscribe to so many streaming services! While I’m late to starting the series, it makes for quite the binge over the course of several days.
Following the first two episodes, Star Trek: Discovery gets off and running with a series that truly feels cinematic.
CREATORS: Bryan Fuller & Alex Kurtzman
SHOWRUNNERS: Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Alex Kurtzman, Bryan Fuller, Heather Kadin, Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts, Akiva Goldsman, Rod Roddenberry, and Trevor Roth
CAST: Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, and Jason Isaacs
SPECIAL GUEST STAR: Michelle Yeoh
Star Trek: Discovery is streaming on Paramount+. Grade: 4/5
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