“Change is the essential process of all existence, Commander Burnham. You must challenge your preconceptions, or they most certainly will challenge you.” – Vulcan Ambassador Sarek.
On September 24th, 2017, Star Trek Discovery became the first Star Trek show in twelve years to air on live television with its suspense filled debut episode The Vulcan Hello. Now, with the release of Discovery‘s second season, it is time to revisit how Discovery season 1 treated long-time fans and new viewers alike to a revitalized Star Trek universe that is far from typical for its franchise.
There are many important aspects of Discovery that make it interesting, including the messages it holds for our modern world. The Star Trek franchise has always been something of a forerunner for social justice.
In 1968, the Original Series episode Plato’s Stepchildren included the first interracial kiss on live television. The episode aired only a year after the U.S. Supreme court struck down anti interracial marriage laws across the nation. During filming, certain producers became so concerned about how Southern viewers would react to this episode that they tried to film a secondary version for Southern release in which the kiss took place offscreen, but the two main actors intentionally messed up their lines so that a second take could not be produced.
Michael Burnham, the main character of Discovery played by Sonequa Martin-Green, does a brilliant job of fulfilling this legacy. She is the first heroine in the show’s history to play a role other than captain, instead serving as Discovery’s science officer and xenoanthropologist. As such she spends quite a bit of her time keeping an open mind, doing everything from speaking to alien species in their native languages, to warning others of unintended cultural mistakes, to advocating for inter-dimensional space animal rights.
Yet Discovery always acknowledges Burnham’s flaws, most notably her unwavering aggression and animosity toward all Klingons due to a traumatic childhood event. Discovery also tackles issues of modern injustice. Through the course of the season the show also takes the time to address the life of Commander Saru, the first Kelpian in Star Fleet, as well as his anxiety about his position. These are just some of the ways in which Discovery explores how its futuristic society approaches the societal injustices of our modern day.
Even without the complicated issues that make up the show’s core ideas, Star Trek Discovery is a good sci-fi show in its own right. It revolves around a compelling plot which spans galaxies and cultures. It takes time to show episodes dedicated to many different sci-fi tropes besides the Klingon War, including teleportation, time loops, and alternate universes. Some complain that Discovery deviates from the Star Trek norm of short, one or two episode plot arcs by centering its main plot around an arc that spans the entire season of the show. There are very few episodes of Discovery that do not include many hints or unexplained details for future episodes or a cliffhanger for the next episode.
However, it should be noted that Discovery is not a live TV show like the old Star Treks. The show is only aired on CBS All Access, CBS’s streaming platform. This means that any one who wants to watch the show will instantly have access to every episode so, if you are looking for a show you can really get into, Star Trek Discovery is the perfect thing to watch.
Below see the official trailers for season 1 and the upcoming season 2, although be aware that the season 2 trailer may contain season 1 spoilers.