Monday, October 09, 2017

Discovery continues, better but still not Trek


Star Trek: Discovery is now four episodes in and while I will say that it has immensely improved since the woefully mediocre pilot, it's still missing the Star Trek mark by a long-shot. Nevertheless it's worthy to watch and allow you to make up your own mind. I was somewhat critical of the pilot, yes but my issues were entirely justified. I won't retread old ground with regards to the ridiculously reimagined Klingons or the confusingly anachronistic technology as these elements are here to stay, they distract from the story and remove it from true acceptance as canonical Star Trek and I'll leave it at that.

Episode 3 "Context Is for Kings" was two things: 1. A far better episode of TV than either/both the pilot episodes and 2. It should have been the actual pilot with the previous episodes told in flashback. How cool would it have been instead to reveal Burnham's past than by her invoking Amanda as the person who read her bedtime stories rather than the nonsensical "Hologram Sarek"? Fuller obviously trusted fans to accept the dual mystery of  Burnham AND the Discovery but clearly nervous CBS executives disagreed and wanted something that they could offer half for fee and make people pay for the other half (as is the reprehensible money grabbing all-access situation in the U.S.). It seems that or assumed we would be too dumb to understand and spent several million explaining Burnham's transgressions to us instead.

It's not until this episode that we're actually introduced (quite spectacularly goosebump-worthy I might add) to the titular Discovery, her captain Gabriel Lorca (a possibly insane "warmonger" with one foot in the door of an admiral's office) and a whole plethora of Bryan Fuller mysteries (who are the black badges??) that now sadly, lesser writers have to solve. The episode itself was great, it had technobabble and even some welcome Star Trek staples that harked back all the way to the original series; a redshirt (not that you can tell because all the frikking uniforms are blue), a monster of the week and a terrible disaster that wiped out the crew on another ship that despite there being dozens of different starship designs they used the Discovery's design again as a "sister ship" the USS Glenn.

Episode 4 "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry" was again better than the pilot(s) but neither better nor worse than last week's episode. This week, we have Burnham studying last week's "monster" and the outcome is certainly in keeping with the principles of Star Trek, albeit not entirely resolved - which is OK as this series is not as self contained as previous shows. The fact that we have the need to check in with the current goings-on in Klingontown every act is a bit too disjointed, especially as they are still following the trope of not speaking English, forcing viewers to read dozens of lines of subtitles. Normally this would be OK as Klingons are more action than talk - except THESE ARE NOT REAL KLINGONS and do far too much faffing about, talking and pledging allegiance to to the memory of their messiah etc. Just shut up and get on with it for fuck sake!!

Another major issue is the characterisations of the personnel on board are not in keeping with humanity as a whole. Roddenberry created a positive vision of the future where human conflict and personal gain were now passe. It was referenced in the original series, fleshed out during The Next Generation and by the time Enterprise was shown, this mentality had been established. However, for some reason here we have Lt. Stamets who is sarcastic to the point of being borderline insubordinate and we have Cmdr. Landry who would seem more at home as the militaristic, trigger-happy henchman of a villain in a Disney movie. These archetypes of characters are great for "The Expanse" or "Battlestar Galactica" but the un-Star Trek-ness of them is distracting and damages both story and the brand.

Despite the myriad of new and old issues, these episodes are a marked improvement over the pilot but still far less Star Trek than is projected by the superior "The Orville" and it would seem most fans agree with me... for now.


5 comments:

Brigadier General Creedon said...

Spoilers:
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
- What the fuck happens the shuttle pilot in episode 3? If this was Lorcas' plan all along did he sacrifice her???
- Starfleet salvaged Captain Georgiou's telescope from the Shinzou's husk - but the left the intact and operation Dilithium Processor behind?
- Commander Landry takes the title of "Worst Starfleet Officer Ever" previously bestowed on Burnham. Seriously, like WTF???? Were they trying to actively have a death more pointless than Tasha Yar's.

Declan said...

I think up to this point in the production they still havent decided what to do with the characters or the story and Landry was a victim of some studio changes. The fate of the pilot is being left open ended because I think they want the option to go good captain or bad captain depending on fan reaction. Hell I think even Tilly could be good or bad so even the fate of the other prisoners might be open ended (go back and look at then end of ep 3)

I hope the telescope wasnt the same one on the Shinzou because leaving the bodies behind for the Klingons would be very cold blooded while leaving the equipment and a working computer full of Star Fleet files on is would be bloody stupid. More likely this is now deep in Klingon space so the Federation couldnt salvage anything and the telescope Burnham got is the original and the one in Georgiou's ready room was a new replica? Though it's also entirely possible that they filmed the Discovery scenes completely separately to the Klingon ones and the story arc changed in between leaving them with a telescope problem and some studio exec said in a meeting, "F it, they wont notice! No one pays attention to shows like this, those Battle Wars fans wont care! What time is the game on?".

Declan said...

Actually I'll go back on what I just said, Tilly isnt a traitor, Lorcas has in effect kidnapped Burnham and faked her death so no one outside Discovery knows it! That is the only rational explanation why Starfleet would be like "Oh you want the mutineer on your ship with our most top secret research, sure thing. Want us to send on her luggage?" They killed everyone on the shuttle and then somehow had the telescope stolen and sent to the ship which is why Tilly had to pick it up for her and why it took so long to be delivered.

Brigadier General Creedon said...

Seriously Dec. ALL of this is clearly better that what they've given us.

I suggest you send it to CBS now :)

Declan said...

I live in hope