So last week I went in pretty hard on Star Trek: Discovery. For good reason, though: it didn’t quite feel like Star Trek. If you aren’t big into Star Trek that’s going to seem like a strange statement because, well, it’s Star Trek and it’s nerdy.
Truthfully, I had planned to write more last night about it, but then Las Vegas happened and it was difficult to focus on anything but that. In fact, it still is. Yet, I’m writing about Star Trek here because who knows.
I’m still hesitant to go all-in on Discovery because there is still that lingering fear that it’s going to be more JJ Abrams than the Trek we know and love, but this was indeed closer to Star Trek than the first two episodes were. In fact, throughout the episode I kept finding myself thinking “why even bother with those two episodes?” They were action-packed, but only really introduced a few recurring characters and while it served for backstory for the lead, Michael, those two episodes were still largely… nothing?
If anything they could have been condensed into one and served as an introduction as opposed to a stand-alone movie with a big name actress to establish our lead.
As a writer, I look at the first two episodes, then I look at the third, and I’m imagining what the third would feel like without that context from the first two and how it could have been a much more effective mode of storytelling to leave that mystery there. Introduce Michael as the quiet “mutineer” in Starfleet trying to redeem herself and sprinkle in her memories of those events as flashbacks throughout the season instead.
That gives the character an air of mystery and us, the viewer, finally seeing the full story unfold through her eyes would allow us to see that her actions that led to her disposition were justified. Instead, we’re to believe that they were and that she was unfairly punished by Starfleet and there is no dawning inside of her that she can forgive herself after self-reflection.
For starting a war, she also got let off pretty easily after a mere episode. Sure, they’ll be uneasy about her and she’ll have to win their trust over, but this whole redemption arc feels telegraphed by their fairly linear and straightforward storytelling method that is more focused on action than introspection.
The pacing was a lot better in this episode, the mystery and horror elements were fine, if sorta ho-hum, but it felt more like a Star Trek episode in that there were problems that needed ingenuity and trust to overcome, albeit not many.