Star Trek Discovery: Season 1 Retrospective


The first season of Star Trek Discovery has finished its first season CBS all Access in the US and Netflix in the rest of the world. (Except Canada who are weird). Since its conception the series was met with scepticism and trepidation. Its creator and original show runner Bryan Fuller left the show in its development and one of its executive producers Alex Kurtzman was associated with the Star Trek reboot films which leave fans heavily divided.

Even when the ship was first unveiled at San Diego Comic Con she was met with much derision, her design based was heavily on some of Ralf McQuarrie’s first sketches for the planned but aborted Star Trek Phase II. The final ship ended up being heavily revised before the season finally aired, the saucer altered drastically the odd colour of the ships hull adjusted her nacelles lengthened.
Discovery Comparison
Even conceptually the series was altered at birth, originally envisioned as an anthology series which was shot down by CBS who requested that Fuller concentrate on the whole prequel idea. In this writer’s humble opinion Star Trek is ideally suited to an Anthology series with its vast cannon and universe to explore both forward and backwards of some of the series we’ve seen so far. It’s a concept that should be revisited at some point. The decision to focus the series more around a single character, in this case Michael Burnham was greeted with even more scepticism before we even got into the premise of the story the Klingon war, the mirror universe, betrayal, honour, love, life and death.

There were even fans who declared the whole thing simply wasn’t Star Trek and no matter what happened it wasn’t Star Trek, it wasn’t the ideals and it simply didn’t fit and didn’t work, though by the end Its those ideals that drive the plot forward and ultimately draw the whole thing into a neat little bow. They say good science fiction holds up a mirror and makes you look at yourself in a different way. If you want that mirror smeared in Vaseline or easy to digest, then go watch The Orville that does a great job of holding up a mirror to society and makes you ask questions. If you want the mirror held up close to you individually to question the darker and more unpalatable areas of your soul, then Star Trek Discovery is where you look.

It’s safe to say it had a difficult birth but then there was the outrage in certain parts of the internet, the sheer outrage of people who were appalled that the lead character in the show was a black woman!! Holy Cow! Not a black woman, surely this is the end of the universe as we know it. There were even complaints that there weren’t enough straight white men. Genuinely, in the 21st century this happened!

Despite all everything that happened Star Trek Discovery turned out to be a genuinely exciting and gripping science series. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but very good. And to all the sweaty fan boys who disagree with me then can suck my hairy root. Its my opinion and I’m entitled to it you can disappear back into your forums, subreddits or even your own blogs and write your own opinions there.

In many ways it’s a series that benefitted for being on demand rather regular telly, in fact one of on demands strongest points is that it isn’t written for length. It doesn’t need to fit around 45 minutes, have space for three or four advert breaks and have mini cliff hangers throughout the episode. Star Trek Discovery had very little fat on it, episode length varied by as much as ten minutes 39 to 47 for some episodes. That handily allows the writers to explore some areas further without the need to pad to fit time scales.

The casting as Jason Issacs as Gabriel Lorca was inspired, I loved the work by Michelle Yeoh and Sonequa Martin-Green turned out to be an inspired choice as lead. The dynamic between the three at various points was engaging, conflicted and often fractured. Doug Jones as Saru was an engaging character and his tumultuous relationship with Michael Burnham, the flipping of roles they endured early in the series and Burnham’s evolving nature added real depth to the story. Star Trek Discovery was a real coming out Party for Shazad Latif whose relationship with Martin-Green’s Michael Burnham really allowed him to flex his acting muscles, his performance as the troubled Ash Tyler was a real standout even amongst such an accomplished cast. He’s come a long way from Clem Fandango!

I’m not against Star Trek going a bit dark, its been down dark alley’s before and always found the light again, and after the finale Discovery it looks like has continued that pattern quite nicely, but not only that its revelled in it. I’m also all for de-sanitising the whole process, the federation in its early years wasn’t sweetness and light with an army of catholic priests and lotharios in tight jumpers flying around in giant spaceships moralising everywhere. I like the lived-in feel the Federation has here, it explores the notion that ideals are one thing and nice to have but implementing them, understanding them and living ideals are very different from merely having them. I like the notion that the Federation isn’t perfect and is prepared to put survival before ideals at times, it humanises them makes them vulnerable and a little more endearing when they see the error of their ways.

If you are sceptical and haven’t watched Star Trek Discovery yet, then what’s keeping you, the end of every episode asking more and more questions and postulating theories, many of which remain unanswered.


Plot points I liked

I loved, loved and loved over again the Mirror Universe plot, with the Lorca and Georgiou reveals. The elaborate plan by mirror Lorca to use the Discovery and Stamets to get home and complete his evil scheme. We know from Deep Space 9 that it all eventually goes wrong for the empire, this may very well have been the catalyst that leads to their plight in the Deep Space 9 era some 100 years ahead. They even tied in the events of Enterprise and its ham-fisted attempts to visit the Mirror Universe into a neat little bow.

If I haven’t made clear just how much I love Shazad Latif’s performance as Ash Tyler and Voq then I will make it clear again. I loved his whole introduction as a character and even though it was clear early on that he was going to turn out to be Voq the reveal didn’t lose any of its effect and his torturous reveal and subsequent brutal murder of Dr Hugh Culber only helped Latif get stuck into his character’s pain even more.

Spore drives, I like this idea so much I will put these word’s down in writing and you can quote me on this. The Spore Drive is the single most impressive piece of science fiction creativity in the last 40 years. It combines some of the most recent scientific thoughts on Mycelium spores that exist on earth and the associated mycorrhizal networks. Basically, plants communicate with each other and they do so with a mycelial network. This has then been combined with recent discoveries that the brain must function as a quantum computer and advanced biology and neatly tied together with quantum entanglement theories. Merge in some good old-fashioned Star Trek subspace physics and the revelations that lifeforms can survive in the vacuum of space and you have the beginnings of a unique propulsion system. In fact, the character Paul Stamets is named for Paul Stamets arguably the world’s leading mycologist.

Harry Mudd, Rainn Wilson was really good.

Plot points I didn’t like.

I feel the final episode was rushed. Like they wanted 4 more episodes to wrap everything up but couldn’t get them. I would have really loved to have seen them spend more time on Qo’nos. I feel like we could have spent a whole episode exploring whether to commit genocide. It would be nice to really have got into the meat and drink of the politics of their final decision to give the power to unite the Klingon empire to L’Rell.

I fail to see any logic in installing Empress Georgiou as captain of the Discovery, even if it was to commit to genocide. It really showed the Starfleet brass as cowardly, if they were going to do it they should have done it themselves. Too many of the crew of that ship knew what had gone to install her as captain without a second question, something which became all too apparent by the end.

Klingons, stop messing with the looks of the Klingons. These were better than the Trek reboot movie Klingons but still, it’s annoying.