The last post I wrote for this blog before I went on a ridiculously long break was about Star Trek Discovery. The show had just started, airing the first 2 episodes which created and destroyed the world I thought this story was to take place in. I had enjoyed the episodes but because I hadn’t really seen the show, I tried to reserve my opinion.
Since then 2 whole seasons of the show have aired. A new world was built after those 2 episodes that pushed plots and developed characters. And, like with everything these days, toxic hardcore “fans” shaking fists, screaming obscenities, and generally being vile because the show wasn’t exactly what they wanted/expected reared their ugly heads. They are rarely critical of the content but go after the minutiae that may have fallen to the waist-side. But I have to agree with them on one point, this is not Star Trek.
After watching 2 full seasons of the show with people clad in Starfleet uniforms spouting Federation rhetoric but not following through on any of the Federation/Starfleet values, it is hard to deny. The choices and decisions made on the show, despite often being preceded by long Vulcan-esqe justifications that actually make little logical sense, completely contradict what we have learned over the last 53 years of Star Trek.
And even beyond the content, there are continuity issues including events, technologies, designs, and relations that muddle, flub, or down right ignore the timeline that was previously set in the Star Trek Universe. Which all could have easily been avoided if they had placed the show in the future…Like the Star Trek future, the 26th century or something. But they decided the shoehorn the show into the timeline at 10 years before the original series so they can make random and very unnecessary connections. If they had done that the only thing they would have had to change was Michael’s relation to Spock. The drastic change in the Klingons, the technology used, the change in Federation tactics, would have been easier to accept and understood. They did try to explain the change in tactics by revealing a connection to the mirror universe but for me that was not enough of an explanation.
Despite all of that, season 1 of the show was good. Sure it wasn’t Star Trek, but it was decent Sci-Fi. They built a world, the crew of the Starship Discovery went on an adventure, there was spaceships, torpedos, phasers, and a purpose to what they are doing. You got to know characters (Tilly is my FAVE!) and forge connections (Stamets and Culber, OMG!). And at the end of the season, with a shot of the iconic Starship Enterprise, my interests were piqued and I was ready for another season.
It was almost a full year til the beginning of the next season but as a precursor to Season 2 fans were treated to 4 mini-episodes, Short Treks, that were not directly linked to the story we had been witnessed to so far. They were presented with some mystery giving the audience little information as to their purpose or meaning as well as being disconnected from the heavily serialized show that we had seen so far.
They were…acceptable. They just seemed like ideas that had potential but the writers didn’t know how to flesh them out to fill a whole episode. We got treated to seeing what Tilly does in her down time; where the Discovery ship would be in 1000 years; how Saru ended up in Starfleet; and the antics of Harry Mudd. They were good enough to fill the Star Trek void.
Then it finally happened, season 2 began. In the first episode we were introduced to a “new” captain (Pike was in the OS, gotta know your Star Trek History), there was something about red lights, and a tease of Spock showing up. We also picked up a new engineer in Jett Reno (Tig Notaro) which was a welcomed bit of humour in a bloated look-at-all-the-cool-stuff story. Overall it was bad. This did not bode well for the rest of the season.
Then episode 2 happened. It was a solid Star Trek episode. It had the intrigue, the deplomancy, the ethics. Despite still having the flashy tone that show has maintained so far, it focused on the story not the visuals. It was such a breath of fresh air and showed just what the show could be. This gave me hope for the series. Like they had finally found their stride. Every Star Trek show needed time to find its focus. I am one of the first to admit, the start TNG was tough, like brutal, and the same can be said for DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise. But here we are, at that moment where I can say, “Oh the show is awesome! But not really until season 2.”
Then the next episode aired, I excitedly sat in front of the TV (yes, legit live TV with commercials and everything) and I was crestfallen. It was horrible! They brought back the Klingons which I can accept the hideousness of the costume design if they actually knew how to write a proper story about them. There was a lot of talk and stern faces with the introduction for Section 31. And more talk about Spock.
Every episode after that continued to be a clap trap of nonsense just using the show as a platform for showcasing “cool” CG and making unnecessary references/connections to things that no one asked for. But they did show how the Short Trek Episodes fit into all of this. Overall though, it wasn’t just bad Star Trek at this point, it was also bad sci-fi and general bad storytelling with incredibly odd and distracting direction choices.
I still kept up hope that the finale, which was a 2 parter, would save the season. I PVRed the 2 episodes as me being a social butterfly (insert eyeroll here) was too busy to sit in front of the TV when it was airing. And again, to my chagrin, I was utterly disappointed.
The episodes were pretty much just a long battle, which, in itself, isn’t a bad thing. There have been big spaceship battles in TNG, DS9, and Voyager. But there was more of a purpose. Leading up to wars with the Borg, Dominion, and a whole bunch of people in the Delta Quadrant, there was a story and characters that you cared about; there seemed to be actual peril.
Because there was such a crappy build up, plus it was interspersed with cheesy, overly melodramatic moments, and long winded expositions, it just came across as pointless and stupid.
The way the show ended, the Discovery and crew thrust 930 years into the future, and the crew of the Enterprise sworn to secrecy about all of the events that have happened, seemed like the show makers were trying to explain away the issues that have plagued the show thus far. But it really doesn’t. It just seems ill conceived and lazy. A way to address at least some of the issues of the show is to write good episodes. Even if we go back to season one where it may not be Star Trek but it is decent Sci-Fi, I could handle that.
But who knows what will happen next season. Maybe they will get a new showrunner and writers who actually understand and love Star Trek. Then, and only then will we get something worth watching.