Star Trek Discovery Sticks to Its Strengths and Expands its Universe

first_img ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ S2 Finale Recap: When No One Has Gone Before’Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 2, Ep 13 Recap: Tearful Preparations Stay on target It’s a lot of fun to watch the debate that reignites with every new episode of Star Trek: Discovery. Fans argue over whether or not the show is true Star Trek. Either they don’t realize or don’t care that these same arguments were had over The Next Generation and Deep Space 9 when those shows came out. If anything the simple fact that these arguments are happening are absolute proof that Discovery is Star Trek. Especially because part of the reason they’re happening is that this series is boldly going where no Trek has gone before.No Star Trek series has featured a captain who wasn’t unquestionably the good guy. Yes, antiheroes are popular on TV right now, but the show seems aware that Lorca isn’t who we should be rooting for. It makes no bones about the fact that he does some real unsavory things, especially in these last two episodes. It’s to the point where if I see someone say Lorca is their favorite captain, I worry about that person. (It’s not like Kirk vs. Picard, as both captains have their merits. The same can be said for Janeway. Those who prefer Sisko are just correct.) Lorca is more than just militaristic. He’s calculating and spiteful. Where the show gets interesting is that he is also a hero. You get the sense that he does try to do the noble thing, even if we don’t always agree with his methods.Jason Isaacs, Jayne Brook (Photo via CBS)This week’s episode showed us he’s also extremely self-preservationist. The whole episode centers around rescuing Sarek. He was on his way to meet with Klingon leaders who were ousted by General Kol. If Starfleet could work with some Klingons to undermine Kol’s war, maybe they could create some kind of peace. Sarek doesn’t make it to the meeting, though. His co-pilot turns out to be a “Logic Extremist,” there to kill Sarek for continually introducing other species into Vulcan society. The attack leaves Sarek bleeding out and drifting inside a nebula. Lorca defies orders and goes to rescue Sarek, realizing that the longer the Federation debates the best course of action, the more likely Sarek will die. Since taking the Discovery into the nebula would cause the spore drive to explode, Burnham, Tilly and new guy Tyler take a small shuttle inside, relying on Sarek’s katra in Burnham to find him.While Burnham and crew are away, Lorca gets a visit from Admiral Cornwell. She’s not happy. Lorca’s defiance of orders was enough to (almost) bring a Vulcan to anger, and she’s the one who had to deal with it. She’s also something of a psychiatrist, and she’s there to assess Lorca’s fitness for duty. Lorca assures her that he’s OK, and seduces her because it’s Star Trek. The captain was going to get with someone eventually. It’s not all good times, though. Lorca has a PTSD-induced night-terror and ends up pointing a phaser in Cornwell’s face. Yeah, that’s enough to convince her that he’s unfit to command the Federation’s most powerful starship. She plans to have it taken away, but they realize the window for peace talks with the Klingons is closing. Not one to turn down peace, Cornwell heads to the meeting, planning to discuss Lorca’s stepping down once she gets back. Of course, as we all kind of suspected from the beginning, the invitation was a trap. Cornwell is captured by Klingons. Lorca is strangely OK with waiting for Starfleet’s orders this time, though. Rather than attempt a rescue mission like he normally would, he’s suddenly OK with waiting for Starfleet to deliberate. This is his self-preservation tendencies coming through. He doesn’t want to give up control of his ship, so he’s not hurrying to rescue the person that will take it away. In fact, he was the one that suggested Cornwell go to the meeting. Did he suspect that it was a trap? Lorca may do heroic things sometimes, like go after Sarek, but he’s not the hero of this show. When doing the right thing involves a personal sacrifice, he’s not so eager.Jason Isaacs, Sonequa Martin-Green (Photo via CBS)The goal of rescuing Sarek drives every aspect of the episode’s plot. Six episodes in and it’s clear that this kind of focus brings out the best in Discovery. This is how the show should handle serialization. Give each episode a clear, driving force and let the characters grow and change from episode to episode. They can certainly do episodes that move the Klingon war story forward, as long as they don’t try to cram any unrelated subplots in there. The show tends to fall apart when they do that. This week’s episode used Sarek’s rescue to dive deeper into his relationship with Burnham and expand what we know about Vulcan society. It did both of those things really well. Despite pulling Burnham into his mind, Sarek keeps trying to force her back out. There’s something he doesn’t want her to see. We learn that Burnham has spent her entire life thinking she disappointed Sarek by not getting into the Vulcan Expeditionary Group. Tyler proves to be a useful addition to the team when he points out that dying people don’t focus on their disappointments. They focus on their regrets and the people they love. It’s only when she convinces Sarek to show her what he’s hiding that he lets her save him. It turns out she was accepted into the Vulcan Exploratory group. But they would only allow one of Sarek’s “non-vulcans” in. And no, they don’t consider Spock as Vulcan. Sarek chose Spock over Burnham, and Spock ended up joining Starfleet anyway. That was his great shame.I loved the way this episode explored Vulcan society. Of course if there’s a species that considers itself the most logical, some will develop notions of supremacy. Just because your society operates on logic doesn’t mean prejudice doesn’t exist.  You just find ways to disguise it as logic. How many racist/sexist tools on the internet disguise their bigotry as rational and scientific? The Logical Extremists are basically sci-fi versions of that mass-emailing Google employee. Star Trek has explored this idea a little bit in the past, but not quite to this degree. Star Trek has always used allegory to talk about our present even though the show is set in the future. This episode is another great example of that tradition.Jason Isaacs, Shazad Latif (Photo via CBS)Oh, and if you’re here because you want to rant about the technology featured on the show… knock yourself out. Yes, the Discovery looks more advanced than the Enterprise, because it’s made in 2017, not 1966. Just because it takes place before the original series doesn’t mean they need to bring back the cardboard sets and hole-in-the-wall viewscreen. They at least make an effort. The replicators featured in last night’s episode have the same sliding door functionality that the original ones did. That was a cool subtle callback. As for the holodeck… well, they didn’t actually call it a holodeck for one. Also, one of the recreation rooms on the Enterprise had hologram technology, as shown in the animated series. It counts. That’s enough justification for me. Also, while they weren’t standard on Federation starships until the TNG era, the Federation was working on the technology at this point, largely thanks to the Xyrillian ship found by Captain Archer. And the Discovery is not a standard starship. It’s experimental in every way. There’s no reason it wouldn’t include an experimental hologram-capable rec room. So, proto-holodeck justified. Nyah. Now I just hope it gives the writers an excuse to do a full holodeck episodes. I always loved those on TNG.Star Trek: Discovery continues to get better as it figures out what it’s good at. Though DS9 was a serialized show, it wasn’t even close to this degree. In the past two weeks, Discovery seems to have figured out that it can’t be Game of Thrones in space. It has to be Star Trek. It appears to have figured out what that means. I still don’t trust Tyler, though. As helpful and warm as he was this episode, it could still be all an act. Lorca even said he fights like a Klingon. That line isn’t in there by mistake.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img