What I love about sequels is how confidently they are made. The studio in tasting success is able to cull a bigger budget; more action, better lighting, special effects because they are the closest thing in entertainment to a sure thing. In a deeper show this can be a hindrance that blocks out meaningful character development, but when you are as shallow as Star Trek: Discovery is it is undoubtedly an asset.
I’ll get the negatives out-of-the-way first since this should be largely a positive review, and I want any new readers to understand my position. I think the shows co-creator Alex Kurtzman (co-writer of the J.J. Abrams Star Trek films and co-writer/ director of the Tom Cruise version of The Mummy) is a bit of a hack who sets the story of this series 10 years before the original so they can constantly refer back to old characters and ideas instead of creating new ones (Spock will be a central character this season), and I think many critics oversell this show. However, I am a comparatively new Star Trek fan who got on board with the 2009 film (I dressed as Spock for Halloween) so what do I know?
The spaceflight jump sequence (similar to the ones in the 2009 and 2013 films) is an incredible sight to behold, especially on TV (I watched on the Space Channel in Canada rather than the native CBS All-Access) you almost feel spoiled getting to watch it on TV for free. The sound, special effects and cinematography were on point. Predictability aside (of course some blue shirt who has a few spare lines moments before is going to get red-shirted, and there’s no way the main or legacy characters are in any actual mortal danger) I had a fun time seeing where the characters were going to end up and what they were going to find. The pacing of it all was pitch-perfect in its set up and character trajectory. Anson Mount who plays Christopher Pike as Captain of the USS Enterprise (predecessor to Captain Kirk) seems very much like Kirk or an All-American cowboy figure but he makes the show more interesting. Indulging in cheap tricks and the greatest hits so far brings the best out of this show and its a straightforward tactic I wish Westworld Season 2 had tried rather than trying and failing to tell a more complicated story. For example, Pike asking for a quick roll call of the bridge crew before charging into battle is a bit out of turn but also is great for the audience to quickly get to know the background players a bit more. Finally with Stamets (Anthony Rapp) day dreaming about his lost love shows that the show hasn’t cast aside important dramatic character elements from the first season. The show is continuing to build and gathering momentum. And it has rocketed off to a great start, one of the show’s best episodes so far.
- I was glad to see that there was no Ash Tyler in this episode, as that character is not only dangerously unqualified and psychologically unfit to be a part of any space crew, he is a complete liability who is written like a bad female or girlfriend character from tv shows past. I’ll enjoy his absence as long as I can.
- I do not look forward to the small screen iteration of Spock who is bearded and edgy when there is a perfectly good big screen version of Spock Prime.
- Tilly is alright. One of things that makes a tv show exceptional is when it gives its supporting players something meaningful to do, this episode had something.
- Is anybody going to comment on how the show in turning up the action and down on philosophical ideas heavily riffs on the Mass Effect aesthetic? No? Okay.