Trapped But Not Lost
The return of Star Trek: Discovery, one of my favorite shows of 2017, completely crept up on me and I was alarmed to see it back so soon. I’ve been pretty vocal about how I think Discovery should’ve just all been released at once but once I sat down to watch its return I realized I was rather enjoying getting to watch the show week by week. It’s obviously the traditional way of watching TV and for Discovery it adds an extra interesting element that links it back to its previous generations. Would Star Trek have been the same if people weren’t tuning in every week to see the next adventure? Probably not and that the feeling you get now from Discovery, a show that has found its footing in its first half of the seas and now gets to blossom in its second half of the season.
We start off the second half of season one with the USS Discovery having been transported to a foreign part of space. The crew doesn’t know where they are and are desperate to find out, they later find out that they are in fact in an alternate reality. This alternate reality is one where the human race is ruling space under a, so far unannounced, evil emperor and the rest of the races are fighting back against the humans, the Terran Empire. It’s all a little bit surreal Star Wars like whilst also not being like that. This alternate reality has alternate versions of every person on board the Discovery as well as every Starfleet ship. The USS Discovery go on the lookout for another ship from their reality that appears to have traveled here as well, the USS Defiant, whilst Burnham and Lorca go on a crazy/risky mission.
This week’s episode, Despite Yourself, is directed by Jonathan Frakes and that pretty much explains to you the whole vibe and careful consideration the show is taking in its first episode back. Many fans have said that Discovery isn’t their Star Trek and they’re allowed to think what they want but Discovery is here to stay and its current course is filled with references and moments linked to previous Star Trek generations. The main one now, which is most intriguing is the USS Defiant. Now I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t know what that was but after researching it I realized how big of a deal it is to simply name drop. The USS Defiant was a ship lost in a previous Star Trek episode and the ship now being mentioned in Discovery goes to show you how much the show is both respecting it’s past and weaving threads to link everything in the Star Trek universe together.
The speed of the show is a great quality it has and many have said that Discovery is just some good CGI mixed with some bad acting. Yet Despite Yourself has both and a great deal of it. Star Trek fans, like other fans of revived shows and films ‘cough Star Wars ‘cough’, live in this world where their precious favorite things are always golden and their films and episodes of old will always be the greatest thing ever and nothing could ever live up to it. If you go into Discovery looking at it blindly like that you won’t see what brilliance is being done with the show. This episode features one of Star Trek’s best fight scenes and its a vast improvement from dodgy stunt doubles flying across the screen. And yes I understand that’s what made Star Trek sooooo good but we live in different times where if you recreated that now a fan who hates Discovery would say that it’s not the same.
If the return of Star Trek: Discovery has taught me anything it’s that Discovery is a show that is dealing with the human condition and what it means to be human. It isn’t dealing with it in a natural sense but looking into the future, like previous Star Trek series has done, and suggesting to us how we should behave and act once we reach the Stars. In their normal universe Star Fleet are young and simply looking for peace and in the mirror universe Star Fleet has become an enemy to everyone in their way. Each character now has to act differently and go against their natural instincts because this alternate version of themselves are their worst nightmares. Discovery is putting their characters into the ring and making them take the punches while we try and figure out who is actually evil or not, I mean I’m still not completely convinced that Captain Lorca is a bad guy and that’s what makes it so good.