After becoming acquainted with the future, the Discovery crew faces their biggest threat yet in the fourth season of Star Trek: Discovery.
But first: a wardrobe change! After taking over as captain at the end of the third season, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) leads the crew as the face the unknown. Burnham really grows this season–she’s not the character she was during the first season. But still, she’s having to make life-or-death decisions while in command. No-win scenarios are not a thing that anybody wants to face but that could very well be what the Federation and non-Federation alike is going up against. Burnham took over as captain at the end of the third season. As the season starts, Saru (Doug Jones) is on Kaminar helping to reacquaint Su’Kal (Bill Irwin). Later on, he forms a relationship with Ni’Var president T’Rina (Tara Rosling).
This past season was a parallel to what we were facing here on Earth with the pandemic. Only in the television series, they go up against a Dark Matter Anomaly (DMA). The Federation is just beginning to pick up the pieces and rebuild what they once had. However, this threat is unlike anything they’ve faced before. Whether they’ll be able to survive is the question of the hour. Nobody knows who or what is causing the DMA only but it only leaves destruction in its wake.
Wisely, we witness very few planets being destroyed by the DMA. Unfortunately, one of them is Kwejian and this has a devastating impact on Book (David Ajala). When Star Trek blows up planets, we should be scared of what is going to happen. Throughout the season, we see how it not only impacts him but his relationship with Burnham. He makes some unwise decisions by teaming up with Ruon Tarka (Shawn Doyle), which can only hurt Discovery and the Federation.
This is the first season to film during the pandemic and it shows. It’s why the DMA is the big threat–it stands in for the Covid-19 pandemic. We don’t have as much action on the bridge featuring many of the co-stars, not until late in the season. My guess is that those scenes started filming after vaccines started to role out. In the earlier episodes, they make for as minimal use of people as possible while staying within the spirit of the show. They disguise it as time off for mental health. With what the crew has been through, that’s important, too. In a perfect world, the cast would be able to venture off-world to many new planets, exploring what life has to offer. The series is able to take advantage of what the video wall has to offer. However, you can only do so much with these screens.
Mary Wiseman leaves the series before the end season’s first half. However, she returns for the season finale. What I will say is that I like the arc for Sylvia Tilly. Tilly has grown so much since we first met her in season one. Now that she’s teaching at the new Starfleet Academy, she’ll be able to pay it forward for a new generation of cadets.
After only being seen by Adira (Blu del Barrio) last season, Gray (Ian Alexander) gets a synthetic body. In doing so, I love how they call back to the events of Star Trek: Picard. Both characters display tremendous growth as we get to know them some more. I love that we get to see this representation in a big way. Star Trek isn’t afraid to show it on screen whereas any LGBTQ representation in Star Wars is blink-and-miss it on screen while being relegated to books and comics.
I knew from social media that Stacey Abrams would be making a cameo appearance. You could not have written her scenes better. It was better than I anticipated. The United Earth is back in the Federation as it should be! There would be no Federation without either Earth or Vulcan (now Ni’Var) so it’s nice to see both planets back where they belong. No clue if Abrams will make a cameo during the fifth season but the Federation is in a great place as they move forward. We have this sense of hope as the season comes to an end.
After four seasons, Star Trek: Discovery is in uncharted territory but represents the very best ideals that the franchise can offer.
CREATORS: Bryan Fuller & Alex Kurtzman
SHOWRUNNERS: Alex Kurtzman and Michelle Paradise
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Alex Kurtzman, Michelle Paradise, Heather Kadin, Aaron Baiers, Olatunde Osunsanmi, Frank Siracusa, John Weber, Rod Roddenberry, and Trevor Roth
CAST: Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Wilson Cruz, Blu del Barrio, with Tig Notaro and David Ajala
GUEST STAR: Ian Alexander
Star Trek: Discovery is streaming on Paramount+. Grade: 4/5
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