Episode 8 Recap and Review

Episode 8 Recap and Review

Episode 8 is a welcome return to form, and is the most Star Trek episode of Star Trek: Discovery to date in story and theme.

It feels nice saying that, because I’ve said it almost every review now, which means (to me, anyway) that the writers are on the right track and the show is growing stronger every week.

It needs to be said, Kirsten Beyer wrote the crap out of this episode.  Kirsten is a Star Trek novelist, and this is her first television writing credit.

You couldn’t tell.

If this episode has a flaw, it’s in its run time.  There was so much story and not enough time was given to some aspects of it, but, more on that later.

The Facts
Episode Number:
108
Episode Title: “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum”
Written By: Kirsten Beyer
Directed By: John S. Scott

Quotable
Lorca to Rhys
: “Mr Rhys, could I trouble you to fire at something?

Stamets to Tilly: “What are you doing down here, captain?

Michael to Ash and Saru: “We can’t touch that transmitter now.
Ash to Michael: “General Order One?
Michael, in response: “No, Order One restricts us from revealing ourselves to sentient beings that aren’t warp capable.  We’re well beyond that.  Now our duty is to follow First Contact Protocol, and we can’t borrow or alter their property without them understanding our objective, and agreeing to it.

Michael to Ash: “The needs of the many…
Ash to Michael: “Are worth fighting for… are worth dying for… but so are the needs of the few.
Michael, in response: “Or the one?

Tilly to Stamets: “Okay.  What is going on with you?
Stamets, in response: “Excuse me?
Tilly back to Stamets: “At first, the tardigrade DNA booster seemed like a good thing, but now you’re back to your old persnickety, grumpy self.  So what’s the deal?

L’Rell to Cornwell: “What happens to those who Starfleet captures?
Cornwell, in response: “In war?  They’re imprisoned.  Interrogated – humanely.  Eventually, they’re returned to their people as part of any final peace settlement.
L’Rell, in response: “So, you do not… execute them?
Cornwell: “The Federation has no death penalty.
L’Rell: “I wish to defect.

L’Rell: “First, I am ensuring the end of Kol’s days.  He neglected T’Kuvma’s message.  He desecrated this vessel with his fetid presence.  Before we depart, I will set the ship’s warp core to overload.
Cornwell: “He really disappointed you!
L’Rell: “He disgusts me.  My only regret is that I will not be able to see his pretty painted face as he takes his final breath.

Interesting Bits and Pieces
– “Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum” was originally slated to be the last episode of the first half of the first season.  Episode 9 was made the last episode for the first half a few episodes into the current run.
– The USS Gagarin, we assume, is named for the Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin.
– Kelpiens can run at up to 80 kilometres per hour!
– This was Kirsten Beyer’s first professional television or film credit, as mentioned above.  Prior to being recruited by Bryan Fuller to work on Star Trek: Discovery, she was (and still is) the author of 10 Star Trek novels, with two more on the way.  Eight of those novels are based on Star Trek: Voyager.  For information on Kirsten, see her Memory Alpha page here.
– We get some insight into what is happening to Lieutenant Paul Stamets via an exchange in the mess hall with Tilly:
Okay.  I’ll admit that something has been happening to me.  One minute I know where I am, who you are, what I’m doing, and then, all of a sudden, what I know… changes… it gets jumbled…

The Recap and Review
We kick off with a bang after another cold open (no teaser before the credits), with a brand new Starfleet vessel, the USS Gagarin, in a fierce battle with the Klingons.

Sadly, the Gagarin is getting its warp nacelles kicked.

The USS Gagarin

The Discovery drops in to save the day… but can’t, and the Gagarin is blown to pieces.

It’s a demoralising moment for the crew as they engage the spore drive and jump out of the battle to safety, with Lorca (almost showing a drop of compassion) telling them there will be a time to grieve, but later.

Star Trek: Discovery throws together a nice battle sequence.  The effects are always top notch, though at times there are some unusual direction choices that are made that don’t quite allow the scenes to ‘pop’ as much as they could.

I do miss the more traditional phaser fire of past series – sustained beams of light rather than the more Star Wars like bolts of energy, but that’s a small thing.

This entire opening shows Lorca in his element.  He’s a dynamic captain who looks like he wants to jump through the viewer into the midst of the battle, and physically beat the Klingon ships into oblivion.  This is no Kirk or Picard, calmly or with restrained intensity, commanding an engagement from the captain’s chair.  Lorca paces like a caged animal, unleashing the fury of his ship on the enemy.  Jason Isaacs makes you believe it’s personal and he is convincing as a man who has lost a lot to the Klingons and wants to deal them a decisive blow.  He is such an excellent choice for this new Starfleet captain.

Even though Lorca doesn’t get a lot to do in this episode, every shot he’s in adds to his character – and that’s all thanks to Jason’s acting ability.  Last episode he was the fall guy for Mudd’s craziness, but every line delivery imbued Lorca with personality.  I love watching this very talented man work.

If Ash is Voq, Lorca is going to lose it and watching Jason Isaacs chew the scenery over that one will be an Emmy-winning moment.

Stamets Connected to the Spore Drive

After the destruction of the Gargarin, we visit with Stamets and Tilly and quickly learn that the spore-drive has more of an effect on Stamets than we were initially led to believe.  He staggers out of the reaction chamber like a man waking from sleep.  He’s confused, disoriented and says to Tilly “what are you doing here, captain?

Is he jumping timelines?

Tilly has stated that she intends to be a captain.  Has becoming “unstuck” in time thanks to the tardigrade DNA allowed Stamets to see or even actually visit future or alternate timelines?  He’s in a chamber infused with spores… is he actually IN that chamber?  Is something else mysterious going on while he’s hooked up to the machine?  This brief scene was very nicely set up last episode, and you can bet this one is also planting a seed or two that will bear fruit in episodes to come.

As Paul pulls himself together, he goes from confused to snappy in a heart beat.  Shroom-happy, huggy Stamets is gone.  Not-so-happy and eternally grumpy Stamets is back.

We leave Tilly and Stamets to visit with Lorca and a Vulcan admiral, where Lorca once again shows his disdain for the chain of command, walking through the hologram image and speaking abruptly, even dismissively, to the Vulcan (sometimes he’s more respectful with his subordinates).

The Vulcan admiral tells Lorca that they need to find a way to defeat the Klingon cloaking technology, or all might be lost.

We quickly leave the ship and FINALLY visit a planet, Pahvo, where a Landing Party of Saru, Ash Tyler and Michael Burnham are trekking through a forest that gives a slight nod to the very first episode of Star Trek ever, “The Cage”, with blue tinted foliage and an eerie, ethereal, ever-present background musical noise that sounds like it incorporates old school Trek sound effects.

Ash, Michael and Saru on Pahvo

This is the first planet a Landing Party has visited since the Shenzhou Landing Party in the very first episode… and it is beautiful.  Everything about Pahvo is interesting and thought provoking.  I had a really visceral reaction, and was swept away and engaged on every level by the scenes on the mystical world.

The team are trekking through the wilderness in search of a giant crystal spire that ‘sings’ in the hope it can help them detect cloaked Klingon vessels.  Saru is a bit annoyed, because, compared to a Kelpien, human’s are physically quite slow – also, the constant hum and vibration of the planet is doing Saru’s head in.  His senses are more refined than a human’s and he’s struggling through the background ‘noise’ of Pahvo.

We eventually learn that the whole planet may be sentient, as that sentience manifests itself as a beautiful, slowly undulating and swirling cloud of blue/white energy.  The manifestations/emanations choose to communicate with Saru and end up having quite an effect on the Kelpien First Officer.

Ash Tyler and Michael Burnham on Pahvo

More on that later!

Alongside this main plot, we have a secondary plot that involves the Klingons (with the odd visit back to the Discovery).

Yes.  When I saw the Klingons I groaned and looked away, wondering if I should just hit pause and come back to the episode later or go grab a coffee while they growled and pontificated at each other, but thankfully the stilted dialogue and posturing ended quickly and we got to see Admiral Katrina Cornwell again, a character I’ve really come to enjoy.

The Klingon scenes start with L’Rell convincing Kol she can be of use to him as an interrogator, and he sets her the task of getting information out of the Admiral.  She pays a visit to Katrina with a collection of nasty looking weapons in tow, and after getting the Admiral to scream, quite quickly asks to defect.

L'Rell and Cornwell Face Off

L’Rell and Admiral Katrina Cornwell need their own spin-off.  Both Mary Chieffo and Jayne Brook are excellent together.  The scenes between both women sparkle.

In the first exchange between L’Rell and Cornwell, we learn L’Rell hates Kol.

I mean really HATES Kol.

I believe her.  I believe the character’s contempt is genuine.

Does she want to defect though?  That, I’m not so certain of.  I want her to.  I’d love to see more of her and I’d love her to hate Kol so much she works with the Federation to destroy him, then double-crosses our heroes in an attempt to rebuild the Empire.

L'Rell and Cornwell Bond

I don’t know if that could ever happen… but it’s a tiny little fanboy fantasy I have!

Sadly, the exchanges between these two powerful women are too brief, and eventually end with the apparent death of Admiral Cornwell.  In the last half of the episode, L’Rell is taking the Admiral to her ship when they’re discovered by Kol.  In that moment, there’s yet another nice exchange between both as they confirm neither is what the other expected, and then Katrina grabs a weapon from L’Rell’s belt, attacks her, and L’Rell pushes her into a power conduit after some nifty hand-to-hand combat.  Being held against the conduit as it sparks and flashes seems to kill the Admiral.

I’m hoping, desperately, that Cornwell isn’t dead, but I’m honestly not sure.  L’Rell’s statement to her when Kol sees them together in the corridor suggests otherwise – “At least you won’t die in a cage, Admiral.”  So either she killed her, or she’s alluding to their eventual escape that is yet to come.

It is telling that L’Rell offers to get rid of the body… so, who knows?

The scenes between L’Rell, Kol and Cornwell are the best scenes to feature Klingons to date.

Back on the planet Saru gets high on sparkly happy dust and, we eventually learn, loses all fear.  Sort of.  He seems to maintain the fear of losing his loss of fear – if that confusing sentence makes sense?

Saru is Given a Gift From the Pahvo

I don’t know if Saru goes native or not, but he definitely changes.  He crushes communicators, deceives his colleagues, and donkey-kicks Burnham in an attempt to stay on the planet.

Very un-Saru behaviour, and definitely not behaviour that is becoming of an officer.

Before that craziness though, we see Burnham and Tyler take a step closer in their relationship in what is ultimately an awkward scene.  This was a perfect example of how this episode needed more time.  A few scenes needed just one more minute each to make this entire episode something outstanding.

With Ash and Michael, one minute they’re talking about trout, the next Burnham is saying she’s probably going back to prison, and then there’s a touching exchange that evokes Suraks’ teachings (and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), that turns into a kiss.

The scene works, and our head-canon can say that stuff has been building off-screen, but it would have been so much better to see that build.  As it was presented, the scene seems wedged in because the writers thought we needed to have these characters kiss because their last kiss got wiped out of existence.

Thanks, Harry!

Ash and Michael Kiss

So, nice moment, then craziness.  It all ends in Saru once again expressing his frustration and anger at Burnham for, in his opinion, ruining his life.

It’s a powerful moment, but not as powerful as it could have been.

This episode was touted as an immensely emotional outing, and wasn’t.  While it was emotional it didn’t live up to the hype – which made me certain I’d shed a tear or two.  Unfortunately, it just didn’t quite rise to the occasion.

The episode starts to wrap up with a beautiful scene between Saru and Michael that continues the theme of healing that’s been subtle but present in most of their interactions since Burnham’s invitation to join Discovery.  It takes place in Sickbay and goes a little something like this:
Saru.  Please look at me.  Are you alright?
I lied to you… and Lieutenant Tyler.  I attacked you.  I could have killed you.”
“You weren’t yourself.
But I was.”  Beat.  “We are born afraid, we Kelpiens.  It’s how we survive.  As such, my whole life I have never known a moment without fear.  The freedom of it.  Not one moment… until Pahvo.

This is what I meant when I mentioned earlier that Saru found himself devoid of fear, but ultimately still acted out of fear.

This scene also makes me wonder about Saru’s suitability for command.

The last scene is an exchange on the bridge where they learn that the Pahvo have invited the Klingons to come chat… and they take up the invitation, warping in.  The Pahvo are dedicated to harmony, and want to make Starfleet and the Klingons play nice together.  I think we know that that isn’t going to end well!

Saru in Sickbay

So… all in all, a really satisfying episode.

Next week’s episode is “Into The Forest I Go.”

Predictions
I don’t think Lorca and Stamets are going to make it out of the series alive.  A few weeks ago I said I didn’t think Lorca would be alive by the end of the season, and now I’m no longer sure about Stamets.  He’s “unstuck” in time.  His story feels like it’s going to end in tragedy.  He might make it into the next season, and possibly others, but we know the spore-drive doesn’t work and no doubt Paul’s fate will be tied to it.

I am now almost completely convinced Ash is Voq.  Listening to Ash’s voice, listening to Voq’s.  The vague similarity in facial features.  The simple fact that this would really hurt Michael and writers like to torture their main characters!  There would be no more cruel or shocking way to torment Michael than to have her fall in love with a representative of the race that killed her parents – AND her surrogate mother (Georgiou).

Saru will step down as First Officer.  Ash will succeed him (because Lorca makes non-traditional choices, as we’ve seen).  Ash will be revealed as Voq, Burnham will receive a battlefield promotion and her sentence will be commuted, and she’ll become the new First Officer.

In the wishful fanboy category… Cornwell is alive.

Scorecard

4 Deltas

This was an exceptional episode, whose only weakness was in its length – it needed to be longer, and not just because I loved it.

It loses a delta for how “crammed” the story felt.  The story was excellent, and by and large the pacing was good – we just needed more in some scenes because really big things happened in this episode… the possible death of Admiral Cornwell, the kiss between Michael and Ash, L’Rell wanting to defect, the exploration of Saru and the healing journey he and Burnham are on… these are all huge, and just as important, the dynamic between all of these characters, like Michael and Ash, Cornwell and L’Rell and Michael and Saru, deserved more time.

The episode was only 41 minutes long.  That might be the shortest live-action Star Trek episode in history?  They could have included more.  I don’t know if they thought they’d bore us if they extended those scenes, but if so – hear us, oh writers room, you wouldn’t have!  Trek fans love that stuff.  We’re not paying to see this show to watch special effects, we’re paying to be a part of these characters’ journeys.  What’s more, modern viewing audiences love character and story too.  Excellent production values are important, but we want to know and walk side by side with these characters.  Don’t rob us of the opportunity.

Star Trek: Discovery airs in the United States on CBS All Access, with new episodes available Sundays at 8:30pm ET.  In Canada, the show airs on the Space Channel at 8:00pm ET.  Outside of the US and Canada, Star Trek: Discovery airs on Netflix with new episodes dropping in the UK at 8:00am BST Monday mornings, and in Australia at 6:00pm AEDT, Monday evenings.

One more episode left before the mid-season break.

By the way, what torturous, horrible person thought up mid-season breaks?  Not a fan.

Join us in a few days time for another review, the last one for a few months.  Until then (and always), Live Long, and Prosper.

LCARS Interface

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Episode 4 Recap and Review, and a Discovery Update

Ripper might be my new favourite character!

“Ripper?”  Yep.  That cute, kinda scary, humongous tardigrade.

A lot of Episode 4 focused on Ripper this week and I think I might have fallen in love with the poor guy (gal?).  Burnham does refer to the tardigrade as a “he” part way through the episode, so we’ll go with that.

Tardigrade in Reaction Chamber

Before we get to Ripper’s antics and the news items, here are some basics:

The Facts
Episode Number: 104 (Season 1, Episode 4)
Episode Title: “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry”
Writers: Jesse Alexander and Aron Eli Coleite
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi

Quotable
Saru to Burnham: “My threat ganglia remain unconvinced.”

Burnham to Stamets: “The phaser will only piss him off.
Stamets to Burnham: “Think of it as a… placebo for my skepticism.

Stamets to Lorca and Doctor Culber: “The frontal lobe is overrated.  It only contains memory and emotional expression.  It’s completely unnecessary.
Doctor Culber, in response to Stamets: “Well, I’ll save it, you know, just in case you want to have a feeling one day.

Burnham to Landry: “You judge the creature by its appearance and by one single incident from its past.  Nothing in its biology suggests it would attack except in self-defence.  Commander, this creature is an unknown alien.  It can only be what it is, not what you want it to be.
Landry, in response to Burnham: “It’s amazing how much I hate Vulcan proverbs.

Georgiou to Burnham: “Take good care, but, more importantly, take good care of those in your care.

Interesting Bits and Pieces
–  Corvan II was first mentioned in Star Trek: The Next Generation, in the episode “New Ground” from the fifth season.
– The USS Discovery has both a Warp Drive and a DASH Drive.  Displacement-Activated Spore Hub drive.

The Recap and Review
This is my favourite episode to date.  It didn’t start out that way, but my opinion shifted faster than a ship powered by a “spore-drive” can pop to another part of the galaxy.

The episode began with what, we eventually learn, was the creation of a uniform for Michael.

I don’t know if I had streaming issues at the beginning of the episode or not, but the effect looked pretty average.  It’s shot in a way that initially makes you wonder if it’s a planetscape you’re seeing, before pulling back to reveal it’s a Discovery uniform under construction.

After my Spock-like eyebrow-raise at that scene, everything got a lot better and pretty much instantly so.

Tilly walks in on Michael trying on her new uniform and examining herself in a very cool holographic mirror.  She’s her adorable awkward self as she delivers a bag to Michael.  The satchel beeps (constantly) and as Michael touches it, it’s revealed to be the last will and testament of Captain Philippa Georgiou.

Michael can’t bring herself to open it and Tilly is momentarily horrified, explaining that she’d not known about the contents of the bag.

The effect on Michael is telling, as she stashes the bleeping satchel under her bed.

Michael leaves her and Tilly’s room and heads to the bridge.  In the turbolift she meets Saru whose threat ganglia are out.  Saru isn’t happy she’s on the ship, nor is he is happy about not having been consulted by the captain.  Michael tries to assure him she’s only there to help.

They walk out onto the bridge into the middle of a confrontation with the Klingons.

TBKCNFTLC5

Obviously, this review contains spoilers.

The Klingon attack is a simulation – that the crew fail at, terribly.

As Lorca instructs Saru to keep running the simulation, Lorca takes Michael into the bowels of the ship where we learn why Lorca wants her on the Discovery.

They arrive at Lorca’s private sanctuary, which, thankfully, isn’t accessed via a breath scan.

The sanctuary contains a lot of weapons – and Ripper.  Lorca tells Michael that he wants her to weaponise the tardigrade.

I had an issue with that, but as the episode progresses we get a little bit more insight into Lorca which may be the start of an explanation for his actions.

All of that happens in the opening teaser.

Opening Credit Sequence 5

From there, we jump to the Klingons.

Snore.

The only things I like about the Klingons are L’Rell and Kol.  If it weren’t for L’Rell and Kol I’d fast forward through the Klingon bits.  They are painful.

I don’t mind the new look, it’s not that.  It’s the pacing and it’s the subtitles.

I get the language thing and the use of subtitles, but they are annoying and unnecessary.  I can’t stare admiringly at the incredible sets, I can’t fully appreciate the actors’ performance, and I can’t appreciate the remarkable makeup.  Makeup that, unfortunately, most of the actors have to fight through in an attempt to articulate their dialogue.  I’m still shocked this wasn’t picked up by the producers.

The Klingon scenes drag and drag and drraaagggg.

The set design, costuming and makeup is a tour de force of design brilliance, but who can enjoy it unless they watch the Klingon scenes multiple times?

I do watch them multiple times, but I don’t want to, because I don’t care.  There is no “in” for me with this species.  I don’t give a crap if the Klingon Houses unite, Voq is not an interesting character to me, and they ate Captain Georgiou which really pissed me off.

Captain Philippa Georgiou

This is going to sound ridiculous to some of you, but she is now my favourite Star Trek captain.  There was something about Michelle Yeoh’s performance that spoke to me, and I’m annoyed she’s gone.  I get the drama of it all, but the same thing could have been achieved with Michael thinking she was dead and her disappearing until Season Two.  Then we’d have the additional drama of Michael picking up the pieces all over again, and being forced to analyse what she did in the aftermath of Georgiou’s perceived death.  We’d also have Georgiou’s recovery from her journey as a prisoner of war to reflect on, which would have been a nice mirror to Ash Tyler’s experience.

I thought that was where the creative’s were going, but I was wrong.

Anyway… if it weren’t for L’Rell and Kol, I would not pay any attention to the Klingon scenes.  I don’t know how Mary Chieffo does it, but she conveys such powerful emotion underneath all of that makeup.  The subtlety of her performance is astounding and she articulates the language effectively.

There’s a mystery set up in the episode between L’Rell and Voq and what looks like the start of a romance, but that’s not enough to make me want more Klingons on my screen.

TBKCNFTLC7

I’ll leave the Klingons there.  I just don’t care enough to return to their scenes – but for the sake of accuracy:
– No dilithium.
– Fight between Voq and L’Rell about the Shenzhou‘s dilithium.
– Kol pops in and wants the cloaking device.
– They take the dilithium from the “vermin’s” ship.
– Kol turns Voq’s people against him with food, because they’ve been stuck in the debris field of the battle (from episode 2) that whole time and were starving.
– L’Rell pulls a swifty.
– Voq gets dumped on the Shenzhou.
– L’Rell rescues him and convinces him to join House Mokai.

Sounds exciting, but no.  Just a lot of growling, subtitles, and poorly paced action intermixed with beautiful visuals you can’t notice because of the subtitles, and outstanding performances from Mary Chieffo and Kenneth Mitchell.

After the first Klingon scene, we return to Discovery.  Commander Ellen Landry walks in on Michael as she applies the scientific method to Ripper (this is the scene where Ripper gets his name).

Landry isn’t interested and takes a pot shot at Michael’s idealism, saying she was sent to keep Burnham on track.

Next we visit Lorca, eating at his standing desk.

His meal is interrupted by a Starfleet Admiral who isn’t an idiot and we learn about Corvan II and a Klingon attack.

In a tried and true (and annoying) Trek trope, the Discovery is the only ship that can get to Corvan II… despite the fact it’s one of Starfleets most valuable dilithium processing areas.  I mean, why protect something that supplies dilithium to 40% of your fleet?  That’d be silly.

Lorca assures the admiral they are ready, and Lorca wanders off to have a verbal joust with Stamets, as Saru looks on.

Lorca tells Stamets to make the DASH drive work because if he doesn’t, people will die.

They activate the DASH-drive, and Michael notices that the tardigrade responds to it.  As the ship does a weird spinny-thing, it pops out of existence and into the gravity well of a star.

Not awesome!  But looks beautiful and is a wonderfully tense scene.

For his troubles, poor old Stamets gets his nose broken and his brain almost punctured by one of the bones.

While Michael tells Landry what she observed, in another scene we get to finally meet Doctor Hugh Culber as he heals Stamets’ injury.

Doctor Hugh Culber

He’s going to be a character I will fall in love with, though we didn’t get to see too much of him.  Regardless of his brief screen time, he had presence and I felt a connection to the character.

It’s clear he loves Stamets, but not in an obvious way, and likewise you can see Stamets soften when he speaks with his partner.

Lorca is there, and just gives it to Stamets who gets a little prickly about his drive and his spores.

Lorca pretty much says get in line, or get off.

TBKCNFTLC4

Lorca is either a complete ass, or a man who has been broken and has come back from that, but as someone different.

I want to believe he cares, and cares deeply, but doesn’t know how to express it anymore.  As he asks the computer to play the audio from the attack on Corvan II you can see something haunted in his eyes.

Something horrible has happened to Lorca, and he’s trying to cope the only way he knows how.  By being a soldier and saving lives.

I’m not great at predictions, but I’m going to call it now – Lorca isn’t making it out of season one alive.

A quick observation.  The saucer section of Discovery spins – fast – in spore-drive, an effect I hated on my first watch of the episode.  Why?  Common sense.  Science.  Canon.  Stuff like that.  Something spinning that fast that had biological entities inside it, would cause those life forms to turn to soup.  There’s not an inertial damper strong enough in existence to stop that from happening.  If there were, no one would get jostled about when the ship hit or got hit by stuff.  On my second viewing, I’m now 99% certain it’s only the plating on the hull that spins – because the windows in the body of both rings stayed still.  That assuaged my frustrations a little, but I am not a fan of the spinning hull.  Why does it spin?  It casts off the heat generated by the spore/DASH drive.

Anyway… as the crew digests what they’ve heard from Corvan II, we visit with Landry, Burnham and Ripper.

Landry is pissed after hearing the recording and wants to do something.  So she pushes a button on the side of her head and ejects her brain (I’m joking, but she might as well have), picks up a phaser rifle she knows Ripper is immune to and a knife of some sort, and tries to cut off Rippers hand.

That goes down about as well as you would expect it to.

No security officer with Landry’s experience would do what she did.  Everything about that scene was silly.  It was filmed beautifully, the effects were awesome, Sonequa and Rekha acted the shit out of it, but it was poor story-telling.

It’s been obvious from the moment we met Landry that she was a dead security officer walking.  That’s lazy writing.  That’s an unforgivably bad use of an actor as good as Rekha Sharma.  Go check out Battlestar Galactica and you’ll see how amazing Rekha is.

If you’re going to kill off characters, don’t do it for the sake of a bit of gore and an MA rating.  Don’t make one-dimensional characters.  Landry’s death could have had so much more of an impact.  It was surprising, but I’m pretty sure no one in the audience cared.  I wanted to like Landry, but never got the chance and her character remained a flat stereotype for her all too short a stay on the Discovery.

So… scratch two red/bronze shirts (one died last episode on the Glenn).

The only good thing about that scene was that we got to see Hugh again.

Oh, and some nice TOS sound effects in sickbay.  That was a beautiful touch.

Not long afterwards, Saru and Burnham have a conversation in Lorca’s sanctuary of horrors.

It’s been said by some that Michael Burnham isn’t a sympathetic character.  I couldn’t disagree more.  Yes, some of the stuff she says and does is a little cold, but she’s a human being struggling to regain her humanity after a life raised as a Vulcan.  More than that, she’s a human being in pain, seeking redemption.

I’ve had moments in my life where decisions I’ve made have led to completely unexpected and sometimes awful outcomes.  Maybe because of that I relate to Michael.  I can see her struggle and appreciate what it’s like to lose everything and try to regain it.  She’s not a perfect human-being, and she’s not a “super” character.  She is very human, and all of her faults are shining out at us every week.  I like this imperfect human, and I’m loving being a part of her journey to “becoming.”

I wish people would give her more of a chance, and try to walk a kilometre (or mile) in her fancy silver-soled boots.  Sonequa Martin-Green’s performance alone should warrant that.  I am totally engaged every time she’s on screen.

Michael upsets Saru by trying to kill two birds with one stone – apologise to him, AND lull him into a contemplative state to see whether or not his threat ganglia react to Ripper.  She doesn’t handle this too well, but I don’t believe she set out to be cruel.

Saru takes it as if she is using him and gives no thought to her apology, but I feel he misjudged her.

In a quick scene cut, Tilly delivers some stolen spores to Michael so she can test an hypothesis.

Tilly gets to show us, once again, that she is bad-ass.  To test her hypothesis, Michael needs to open Rippers containment pen.  Tilly could have gotten out of there, but she stayed with Michael, wanting to help her, despite knowing what happened to Landry.

With Saru, Michael’s cold, Vulcanesque dismissal of his reaction showed us that she’s still struggling to get this whole human thing right – but the empathy she so obviously feels for the tardigrade shows that she is both emotional and capable of compassion.  Her and Saru’s interactions are interesting and, it would appear, full of misunderstanding and miscommunication.

In a very touching scene that had me hugging the crap out of my dog, Ripper kind of hugs Michael as a way of thanking her for feeding him.

Michael takes her findings to Stamets, and as it becomes clear how brilliant she is, we see Stamets’ attitude toward Burnham shift.

They take Ripper for a walk in Stamets’ field of mushrooms and Michael realises the tardigrade can communicate with the spores, possibly making Ripper the perfect navigator for Discovery.

They test their hypothesis and make a successful jump to Corvan II.

It seems to hurt Ripper, which surprises and upsets Michael.

I’m not a fan of the effect where Discovery spins like a coin as it jumps because, again, inertial dampers aren’t that good and everyone on board would have been turned to a splash of red.  It looks great, but is silly.  It’s just another thing where a writer thought “that will look cool”, like that bloody delta in the sand scene in the pilot.  And it doesn’t.  It looks pretty and that’s it.  It has me wondering… is there a teenage boy on the writing team?  It’s makes me think of the Transformers movies – all spectacle, no substance.

The spinning is unnecessary.  A special effect for special effects’ sake is a waste of money.

TBKCNFTLC1

The episode ends with Corvan II being saved in what is one of the best battle scenes I’ve ever seen in televised Star Trek, and Michael trying to let Ripper know that they never meant to harm him.  Ripper retreats from the overture, leaving Michael saddened.

The battle scenes are pretty awesome – fantastic camera work, brilliant effects, excellent performances, beautiful editing, great dialogue. The tension builds effectively and the interspersed cuts between the battle and Ripper in pain are poignant.

The last scenes feature Tilly, Michael and a holographic representation of my new favourite captain.

After telling Michael that she’s starting to develop a different kind of reputation, Tilly gently challenges Michael, telling her that she’s not afraid of anything and should open the package.

Tilly is, right now, the heart and soul of this show.

Tilly leaves, and we close on Michael opening up Captain Georgiou’s last will and testament in a very moving, beautiful scene that just makes me miss Michelle Yeoh even more.

Curiously, Georgiou gifts Michael with an ancient family heirloom, a telescope, telling her that she is like a daughter to her.  The last time we saw that telescope it was on the Shenzhou.  It would appear that after the battle, Starfleet went back to retrieve bodies and wills and, it would appear, that telescope.

I have no issue with that.  Voq’s ship was damaged so he and his crew would have stayed hidden, and it makes sense that Starfleet would treat it’s dead with such respect.  They would also want to see if there were any survivors they had missed.

“The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry” is a very strong hour of Star Trek, and it’s the most Star Trek like episode yet.

Scorecard
Acting: 10/10
Direction: 10/10
Writing: 8/10
Editing: 10/10
Special Effects/VFX: 9/10
Story: 8/10.

Overall, four Starfleet deltas out of five.
4 Deltas

The News
– The names of all remaining episodes for this season have been released, for more information visit TrekMoviehere.
– Production on Star Trek: Discovery has just finished!  All that is left now is for the episodes to have their effects completed and the music scored.
– Photos from Episode 5 are online.  Harry Mudd makes his first appearance!  For more information and to see the photos visit TrekMovie again here.
– The first half of Season 1 will end with episode 9 now, instead of 8… and…
– According to Les Moonves, another season is “likely.”

The next episode is “Choose Your Pain.”  I get the feeling that may be a Klingon episode.  Great Bird of the Galaxy help me!

Until next week, Live Long and Prosper.

Episode 3 Recap and Review

Star Trek Discovery Update 22062017

I am so conflicted.

I really enjoyed this episode, but there were a couple of things that gave me pause.  More on that later in the review.  First… the basics:

The Facts
Episode Number
: 103 (Season 1, Episode 3)
Episode Title: “Context Is For Kings”
Writers: Aaron Harberts, Gretchen J. Berg and Craig Sweeny
Story: Bryan Fuller, Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg
Director: Akiva Goldsman

Interesting Bits and Pieces
We get to see our first Jefferies Tube!
There is a different Starfleet delta badge worn by some officers on the Discovery.  It’s all black.
A boarding party is a boarding party, not an away team (like on TNG).
Amanda is mentioned, and Spock is hinted at when Burnham talks to Tilly about her childhood.
Lorca has a Tribble.  That is hopefully neutered!
Lorca has a Gorn skeleton in his private area.  This is a little annoying, because I’m pretty sure we don’t officially meet the Gorn until the TOS era?
The robot is called Airiam and appears to be a Lieutenant Commander or full Commander?  I hope they explain this soon.  It looks like Data may have been the first “human-looking” android and not the first android in Starfleet.
The Discovery uses “breath” ID scans to access sensitive parts of the ship.  It actually looks kind of silly.
Last, but not least, Lorca and Landry are up to something together, and seem to have a relationship that goes back a while.

The Recap and Review
The first few minutes of “Context Is For Kings” did not grab me on the first watch.  On the second watch, I was far more interested because I knew what was coming and the scene made more sense.

We start on a prisoner transfer shuttle six-months after the events of “Battle At The Binary Stars.”

Burnham is in old school command mustard-gold, though it’s not a Starfleet uniform she is wearing, it’s prison garb.  She’s not in a good head space.

Sharing the shuttle with her are three not very nice individuals, one woman, two men, all human.  They’re unpleasant in every way, and this works.  The scene does a few things.  It shows us we’re not yet in the utopia that the Federation will become in the Picard-Sisko-Janeway era and it shows us that, as a species, humanity is still working itself out and is still trying to cast off some of its less desirable traits.

We quickly learn that Burnham is infamous as one of the prisoners tells her, with considerable anger, that she lost a family member in that battle.

Before things get violent, some kind of life form that feeds on energy starts to drain the shuttle of all power.  The pilot does an emergency EVA to try and fix the problem, but her tether breaks and she shoots off into the distance.  It’s all a little weird.  The scene is filmed in a very flat and undramatic way.  It’s devoid of intensity and energy.  Even the pilots death lacks drama.  She just shoots by a window.  I think that’s Akiva (the Director) helping us to climb into Michael’s mind – but initially I didn’t like it.

The prisoners go into a panic but Burnham sits there, quietly, almost with an air of relief, accepting her fate.  Perhaps even looking forward to it.

That, the second time around, was actually quite powerful.  It’s as if Burnham wanted to die and thought she deserved it.

Suddenly, a beautiful looking starship drifts languidly into shot, tractor beam extended, to save them.

USS Discovery

After two episodes, we finally get to see the USS Discovery.

I know the Discovery‘s design has divided fandom, but I love it.  It’s recognisably Starfleet, but is it’s own thing – and it’s stunning.  It’s design influence is a little alien, and I wonder at that.  I don’t recognise any particular Star Trek race’s ‘fingerprints’ on the design, but find that I want to know who developed her and whether or not they were guided by an alien aesthetic.

That’s the Trek geek in my coming out!

From the moment Discovery sails in to save the day, the episode kicks into high gear and we finally get to meet most of the principle cast.

Rekha Sharma as Commander Ellen Landry is entirely unlikeable.  She doesn’t seem to like or dislike Burnham, but treats everyone with what feels like contempt.  Equally.  Except for Gabriel Lorca.

Jason Isaacs plays our new Captain and you never know, from one moment to the next, whether or not Lorca is a good guy or a bad guy.  He is entirely mysterious, almost menacing, and completely compelling.

Mary Wiseman’s Ensign Sylvia Tilly is fantastic in every way.  She’s someone a lot of us can relate to.  This show is serious and tense, and Tilly brings a lighter touch which is needed.  I admit, I adore her.  She’s awkward, a ball of anxiety, allergic to almost everything, and is just a really good and really sweet human being.

Anthony Rapp’s Lieutenant Paul Stamets is arrogant, dismissive and entirely obsessed with his work.  He’s going to be an amazing character.  He doesn’t seem to like Lorca, and I’m not sure if he’s Starfleet or civilian?  It seems, from his dialogue, that he might have been drafted.

We reunite with Doug Jones’ Saru, and there’s also a brief, dialogue free reunion with a cybernetically altered Lieutenant Keyla Detmer from the Shenzhou, played by Emily Coutts.

Neither reunion goes well.  Gone is the brother/sister vibe between Saru and Burnham.  Saru is now the first officer of the Discovery, and he makes it clear that he considers Michael dangerous.

Keyla?  She just stares at Michael with barely constrained hatred and turns away.

Michael is temporarily put to work in Engineering with Stamets and Tilly while the shuttle is repaired.  It’s made clear she’ll ship out with the other prisoners and resume her journey when the transport is fixed.

As she gets to work, and gets a little break-and-entery, the mystery that is Discovery and her mission starts to unfold.

We learn that the Discovery has a sister ship, the USS Glenn, and the Glenn goes silent after upping their mycelial propulsion experiment.

Discovery shoots off to investigate.

Burnham, Tilly, Stamets, Landry and our first red-shirt (sorry… bronze-shirt), Ensign Ricky, shuttle over to what turns out to be a ship of horrors.

The experimental propulsion system on the Glenn has done something terrible to the biological lifeforms on the ship, and we go from Star Trek to horror-Trek in a matter of moments.  Disfigured, dismembered crew litter the ship, and it appears the Klingons tried to board her as we see one – before he’s quickly eaten by some kind of slug/beetle hybrid.

It’s a scene that is both amusing and horrifying.  One moment the Klingon is “shushing” the Discovery crew, the next he’s set upon by the monster and sucked into its toothy maw.

After a tense chase scene, that includes Michael reciting lines from an Alice in Wonderland book, our heroes escape, and, we learn, so too does the monster… though escape is probably the wrong word.  It ends up in some sort of menagerie aboard the Discovery thanks to Commander Landry.

The episode ends with Lorca asking Burnham to stay on as a consultant.  She declines, saying she committed mutiny and deserves her punishment, giving context to her despondency in the first scene.  She also doubts Lorca can over rule Starfleet.  He tells her he has a wide latitude in his mission, and insists she’s someone he needs.

She initially thinks its to engage in clandestine, barely legal activities in the name of the war effort and challenges him on this.

In a moment that gives us some welcome insight into Lorca’s cold and suspicious behaviour, he says it’s not.  He needs people who think on their feet, and are capable of doing what is necessary to save lives.

Burnham accepts his offer, affected by Lorca’s argument: “you helped start a war, don’t you wanna help me end it?”

What will her role be?  We’ll have to tune in to the next episode to find out.

“Context Is For Kings” is an excellent episode.  Akiva Goldsman really can direct.

The entire episode is tight, though there is a lot of treknobabble it doesn’t get in the way, and the exposition is light.

The performance of every single actor is superb.  There isn’t one weak actor in this show.

The writing… well, it feels like it’s been written by a committee and suffered as a result.  Previous Trek shows have an almost lyrical narrative flow, but Star Trek: Discovery hasn’t found that yet – and I think it’s because so many people have their fingers in each script.

That might eventually prove to be a good thing, but right now it is clear the writers are still trying to find their groove.

What gave me pause?

This new way of flying.  Unless I’m missing something, the Discovery appears to be mushroom-powered.  Which is okay.  In my day job, one part of the business I work for is looking into the science of mushrooms and how they can purify water and reclaim waste – and I am almost convinced mushrooms might save our planet, but there are four Trek series set in the future where there is zero mention of or reference to mushroom powered vessels.

Also, Lorca.  I admit I love his character, but I can’t work out if he’s a genius or a sociopath.

It rubs me the wrong way that Starfleet has given this man carte blanche to find a way to defeat the Klingons.

Context may be for kings, but I need more context.  We all do.  Is the war going so badly after six-months, that Starfleet is willing to consider chemical weapons or some other horrific tool as a means of stopping the Klingons?  Is this a Section 31 thing?  Are the black markings on the Discovery a symbol it is somehow different from other Starfleet vessels?

Lorca’s moral ambiguity is both fascinating and disquieting.

The shows writers and producers have gone to great pains to assure us it will all make sense, so I’m happy to suspend my concerns and enjoy the ride, but I do hope things become a little clearer soon.

Overall, this is an intense and enjoyable third episode… or actual pilot, if you prefer to see it that way.

Scorecard
This series is shaping up to be something very different and uniquely wonderful.  Four delta’s out of five!
4 Deltas

The next episode of Star Trek: Discovery has the second longest title in Trek history (I think).  It’s called “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry.”

The longest episode title in Trek history?  To my knowledge, it’s “For The World Is Hollow, and I Have Touched the Sky.”

We’ll be back with another review in a few days time.

Star Trek: Discovery continues to look incredible, and while the show still feels a little uneven I have no doubt it will find its voice soon, and its place in Star Trek canon.

Live Long, and Prosper.

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Pilot Episode Recap and Review (Parts One & Two)

Review Banner

It’s been 12 long years, but finally Star Trek is back on television.  Sort of.  It was on television in the US for a night, and then switched to a streaming service… but you know what I mean!

The event also coincides, give or take a few days, with the 30th anniversary of another Trek show that gave birth to 18 years of science fiction adventure – Star Trek: The Next Generation.

TNG was a ground breaking series for its time and gave birth to a shared universe before the Marvel movies made the idea popular.  Though beloved now by most Star Trek fans, back in the day people were swearing they would not give it a chance because of how different it was: the command uniform colour was red, red-shirts were suddenly gold-shirts, the ships only looked vaguely familiar and Klingons were on the bridge.  Some Trek fans do like to get their knickers in a twist and make a fuss.

A fuss most certainly has been made about Star Trek: Discovery.  For those of us who were in our teens (or older) when the new series was first in production, all this ‘noise’ is annoyingly familiar.  We also saw it when Star Trek: Enterprise went into production.

I’ll give the more rabid among us this though, the job is harder when the new show is a prequel, especially one that is set in a timeframe we all already know so much about.

In Australia, “The Vulcan Hello” and “Battle of the Binary Stars” dropped on Netflix only a few hours after they had premiered in the United States and Canada.  I quickly downloaded both episodes, finished up work for the day and headed to my car, fully intending to watch both episodes when I got home… only I couldn’t resist taking a peek.

Promising myself I’d only watch the first 15 minutes, I turned the car engine on, left it in park, hooked my phone into the car’s speakers, cued the first episode up on my pone and 40 minutes later I had to stop and just drive.

I eventually finished both episodes later that night in the comfort of my own home, with a nice warm feeling inside.  This was the new normal.  Star Trek on tap once a week, once again.

What did I think of the two-part premiere?

I enjoyed them.  I didn’t outright love them.  I was fully prepared to love them, I wanted to love them, but I didn’t quite get there.  I loved a lot of what I saw and I could see with ease the promise of an amazing series (which you might doubt when you read the review below), but it wasn’t there yet.  Nor should it be, it’s a pilot and every series has to find it’s feet, however, having just written that, I loved “The Emissary.”  With that pilot, I was sold.  It remains my favourite introduction to a new Trek series ever – and boy was that series different!

It was the same for Star Trek: Voyager.  I loved “Caretaker.”  That was an excellent pilot and ranks second on my list.

Star Trek: Enterprise‘s “Broken Bow” I enjoyed but had issues with.  The soft porn gel rub down in the decon chamber struck me as gratuitous and ruined that pilot for me.  It still does.

Next Gen?  Well, I was 15.  I loved it, but the adult me now sees how touch and go it was.  I still enjoy it (thanks nostalgia) but we all know it had a lot of issues.

“The Cage” vs “Where No Man Has Gone Before”… I love “The Cage.”  It wins out for me.  I loved Pike and I loved Number One.  Of course, I love Kirk and his crew too, but “The Cage” resonated with me when I first saw it when it was finally released on video many years ago.

Star Trek: Discovery?  I still don’t know.  It’s a little telling that I haven’t watched the two parter since that first night, I will, I just haven’t yet.  I strongly believe it will be an amazing series, but it upsets me that I didn’t immediately love it.

Why didn’t I love it?

I think they made a few mistakes that were avoidable – not Kelvin timeline level mistakes, but mistakes that shouldn’t have happened with that many executive producers nurse-maiding the series to air.

Before I go any further, it’s only fair I give you this warning:

Spoiler Alert

The Recap and Review
Now that that is out of the way, I’m going to go a little spoiler crazy.  This won’t be a blow by blow review, but I will highlight some of what gave me pause.

The first episode starts with the Klingons, and I think that was a mistake.

They look fantastic.  Yes, they are different from the Klingons we’ve known and loved (or been sick of for years because they’re so over used), and that is a little jarring, but they are recognisably Klingon, a more ornate version with very ornate costumes and intricately detailed sets, but they are without doubt Klingon.

The problem is that the makeup/prosthetics are so heavy I couldn’t work out what they were saying.  I don’t understand Klingon, but there is a cadence and familiarity we all have with that language, which was absent.

I wasn’t engaged by any of the Klingon scenes.   Not that opening scene or any subsequent scene.   They were laborious.  Slow, plodding and full of mangled guttural sounds.  I don’t believe that was the fault of the actors, but of the heavy prosthetics, the producers and the two director (part one and two had different directors).

It wasn’t a smart way to start a series.

The second misstep was the scene on the desert world with Georgiou and Burnham.

It was the second scene and it served no purpose.  We weren’t given a chance to be invested in the aliens they’re secretly helping, and though we were given an insight into Georgiou and Burnham’s relationship we get better examples of that later on.  Watching it, it felt like an excuse to mention “General Order One” to reassure us they were playing by the rules, and to set up Burnham’s fall from grace – being told she’s ready to command her own ship, only to have that all fall apart later on.

The worst part of that scene was the Starfleet delta in the sand.  I had hoped it was an insert by CBS that was used only for promos, but no.

Georgiou and Burnham walk a delta in the sand to help the Shenzhou spot them from orbit.

Let’s not even talk about how big that delta would have needed to be.  The biggest sin, besides the stupidity of the delta, was showing the Shenzhou break through the clouds only to jarringly cut to a shot of her hovering over the desert floor.  They wasted what would have been a stunning shot.

BUT, from there, the show really took off.

After a ‘different’ kind of opening credits sequence that is good but derivative, with music that is almost perfect (it dips in the middle which shifts the whole theme from awesome to average) and a list of credits that has us all asking “just how many Executive Producers does one show need?” we jump straight to the Shenzhou and their encounter with a mysterious object.  Suddenly, you forget all the executive producers, the muffled Klingons and the sand-delta because the show becomes Star Trek.  Everything starts to click.

The bridge and design of the Shenzhou owe more to the ships of Star Trek: Enterprise or to the USS Kelvin and USS Franklin of the J.J. Abrams films than to any TOS ship, and the uniforms are unlike anything we’ve ever seen in any Star Trek, but suddenly, for me, it all fit.

The designers have linked the old with the new in a way that works.  They couldn’t ignore the Kelvin timeline, because a smidge of it takes place in the Prime timeline – so it suddenly made sense that we’d see a mix of TOS and Kelvin and Star Trek: Enterprise design aesthetics in the show, mixed harmoniously together.  There wasn’t enough TOS, but we have been told that will come.  We’ve even been told we’ll see the original uniforms in some version.  On that, apparently the new uniforms, as seen on Pike and his crew, are being phased in, like the DS9 and Voyager uniforms were phased in, in Star Trek: Generations before they changed entirely for the eighth film.

It wasn’t just all of those things clicking in my head that made the show take off – it was everything that happened in those first scenes on the Shenzhou.  It worked.  The cast were great.  I’ve read a review or two that suggest the acting was wooden, but I didn’t see it.  There were a couple of moments where I questioned a performance or two, but it was the first episode and that sort of thing is going to happen.

From there, pretty much everything was excellent.  There was one more misstep, and that was in episode two where things happened too fast.  The actual battle with the Klingons and the appearance and almost instant annihilation of the USS Europa and Terry Serpico’s character were a wasted opportunity.  The episode was really building and then suddenly it felt like everything was over far too quickly.

If I have one major issue with these two opening instalments, it’s their pacing.  In places it’s off.

But that’s okay.  By the end of both episodes you realise you haven’t actually seen the pilot.  You’ve seen a prequel to the prequel.

Huh?

The Shenzhou does not make it out.  Georgiou and most of the other characters we’ve been getting to know don’t live.  There is no resolution for the main character, there is life imprisonment for mutiny.  There is no USS Discovery and we don’t meet most of the actual main cast.

I liked that.  I hated it because I was really liking Georgiou and Danby Connor, but I liked it because it was unique and a wonderful device for getting exposition out of the way.

The real pilot we’ve since been told, will be episode three.

So… everyone dies?  Almost.  But yeah, most of the characters we meet don’t make it to the last act.

There are two impactful deaths in this two parter, for me, and both were handled beautifully.

I fell for Georgiou and Ensign Connor immediately, thanks to all the lead up about their characters, and they both go out in style.  Connors’ death is a shock.  But it’s what would happen in a space battle.  It’s so jarring and unexpected I forgot to breathe for a few moments.

Georgiou’s death we knew was coming, there was no way she was making it out alive, but it still surprised me, and Burnham’s reaction was perfect.  It was a heart-breaking, emotionally powerful scene.  Throughout the episode there were hints Philippa Georgiou was like a surrogate mother to Michael Burnham, and we see that play out meaningfully in her death.

Sonequa Martin-Green was incredible.

I won’t go any further into the episode because you need to watch it.  There is one more major death which is completely unexpected, but I don’t want to spoil that one.  It surprised me.

Yes, I’ve been critical of this two-part opener for the new series, but it really is excellent science fiction and it IS Star Trek.  I know I’ve spoiled quite a bit, but there are many more things to discover (no pun intended) that I haven’t talked about.

To wrap up:

Sonequa Martin-Green and Doug Jones (as Burnham and Saru).  AMAZING.  10 out of 10.

Michelle Yeoh.  Why did they kill her off?  She is one of the best Star Trek captains I’ve seen on screen.  10 out of 10.

James Frain as Sarek.  He does it.  He honours Mark Leonard meaningfully, while making the character his own.  The only issue I had with Sarek was when his hologram sat on something in Burnham’s quarters from thousands of light years away, but that’s a nit pick I don’t have the energy to go into.  It’s one more thing the executive producers should have picked up on and didn’t.  Seriously… what do they do on the show?  The sitting hologram is not James’ fault and it didn’t detract from his performance.

The rest of the cast.  Just kick-ass.  I wanted to spend more time with them and am disappointed I didn’t get to.  We were promised “new ships” and got them, but I would have liked to see them stay around for longer.  10 out of 10.

Costumes and sets.  Blew my mind.  These surpass anything we’ve ever seen before on film or television.  10 out of 10.

Writing.  Needs a bit of work.  Some simple plot structure mistakes were made, some dialogue was a bit clunky, and some of what we saw on screen was silly.  Which ever writer or producer thought the delta in the sand was a good idea and that immersing us in the political nonsense of the Klingons was going to be interesting needs to sit out the rest of the season.  7 out of 10.

The overall story.  It’s great.  Personally, I love it and I have no issue with the Spock connection.  10 out of 10.

Music.  The opening theme is beautiful, but strays in the middle which does affect it. The music throughout the show was brilliant.  9 out of 10.

Direction.  Good.  I don’t know why they had to tilt the camera angle all the time, it annoyed the crap out of me.  6 out of 10.

Special Effects.  BEAUTIFUL.  10 out of 10.

Pacing.  Needs a bit of work, especially in the Klingon scenes.  They rushed stuff they shouldn’t have rushed, like most of Episode Two, and set far too languid a pace for some scenes that they should have just smashed through.  7 out of 10.

Editing.  I’ve separated this from pacing, because I think the pacing was a writing, directing and producing issue.  The editing was perfect except for that one scene in the opening with the Shenzhou.  I didn’t feel thrown out of more than that one scene by the editing choices made.  9 out of 10.

Tone.  This was Star Trek.  It felt like Star Trek, it looked like Star Trek, it sounded like Star Trek.  So much so, the strangeness of the uniforms and the Kelvin timeline like effects and sounds faded into the background.  9 out of 10.

Scorecard
4 Starfleet Delta’s out of 5.
4 Deltas

There is room for improvement, but they kicked a goal and I really pleased to say “Star Trek is back.”  I’m proud of what these guys have accomplished and I believe Star Trek is in the right hands.  I’m putting all of what annoyed me down to the reality that this is a new series finding its feet.

Bring on Monday!  I can’t wait for the third episode.

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A Brave New Adventure

Star Trek Discovery Premiere Eve Banner

We’ve been a little quiet here at Star Trek: Sentinel because there has been so much Star Trek: Discovery news coming out that we kind of just wanted to enjoy it and let it wash over us, and didn’t feel the need to comment on it.

Now we stand on the eve of the launch of a brand new series and a bold new experiment in Star Trek.

Since the new series was first announced and up until today, we’ve all seen people expressing hope and excitement for the show and people nit-picking everything and heaping disdain on this new series every Trek fan should be looking forward to.

Georgiou and Burnham

It’s probably no secret that I am incredibly excited about the show.  I love Sonequa Martin-Green as an actor, I’m a huge fan of Kirsten Beyer, Akiva Goldsman and many other behind the scenes creatives, and I admire the risks everyone has taken to make this version of Star Trek relevant.

I’ve been disappointed, even upset by some of the negative coverage coming from some sites.  The amount of it coming from one particular sci-fi site (not a Trek one) has caused me to delete it from my favourites and move on.

Now that we’re literally only hours away from the first brand new episode of Star Trek television in 12 years, I thought it might be a good idea to point you guys toward a handful of excellent articles out there right now on websites staffed by professionals who are genuinely excited to see Star Trek: Discovery.

There are two sites in particular that have had extensive and exceptional coverage over these last few weeks:

TrekMovie and TrekCore.

TrekMovie, in particular has suddenly become one of the best, if not the best, Trek site ever.  Their coverage of Star Trek: Discovery has been spectacular.

TrekCore have always been amazing, and though they may be following a close second behind TrekMovie, their coverage has still been excellent.

Inside the Discovery

Here are some great articles from both sites.

Let’s start with the coverage of the recent Premiere, held a couple of days ago in Los Angeles – attended by many of the cast and crew of Star Trek: Discovery, and Star Trek royalty, Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner.

Nichelle, Sonequa and Bill

Sonequa and the cast get a blessing from one of the most significant women in modern science fiction, Nichelle Nichols.

TrekMovie gives us some photos from the Hollywood Premiere.

TrekCore‘s coverage of the Premiere.

For more on the “blue carpet” premiere event, visit both TrekMovie and TrekCore and look through their most recent articles.

Of particular interest to fans, the Season One Press Kit for Star Trek: Discovery has finally been released.

It’s beautiful.  The images above, and one a little earlier on in this article are from that kit.

TrekCore got the scoop on this one, so go check out their article focusing on the kit here.

Some of the things we’ve learned over the last few weeks are that the Klingon War with the Federation will play a major part in Season One of Star Trek: Discovery.

We’ve also learned that the war story will be wrapped up by the end of the 15 episode first season arc.

We don’t know what Season Two might hold, but it’s interesting that the Klingon conflict will fade out to be replaced by something else.

I think that’s a good idea.  Multiple years focusing on a war might get a bit a much – plus, there’s a lot more to Star Trek than Klingons and the war-arc has already been done and done well in Trek’s illustrious history.

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If you want to catch up with all of the Star Trek: Discovery news, visit those two wonderful sites.

Right now, I am eagerly counting down the hours to Star Trek: Discovery‘s release on Netflix.

If I could have one wish over these next few days, it would be for my fellow Trek fans to give this show a chance.

A great deal of incredible talent has been brought together to bring this show to us, and a lot of love and care has gone into it.  Yes, it looks different to Star Trek: The Original Series and probably shares more in common with Star Trek: Enterprise and the J.J. Abrams Trek movies, but that’s superficial and necessary if we want to attract new viewers and keep Stat Trek alive.  The show and it’s producers are doing everything they can to be faithful to canon and to make us something we will love.

The internet has become an horrifically nasty place where people seem to think it’s acceptable, even ‘cool’ and funny, to be negative and sometimes even abusive, but Star Trek fans are better than that, and the worst of us are nothing more than a vocal minority.

I hope other fans who love all things Trek for everything that the shows stand for, and respect and attempt to live the ideals of Star Trek, embrace this new show and love it and ensure it continues for many years to come.

We’ll be back in a couple of days with a review of the pilot episode, which is titled “The Vulcan Hello.”

Until then, may we all and may Star Trek: Discovery especially, live long and prosper.

In the United States, Star Trek: Discovery premieres on CBS on the 24th of September with all subsequent episodes airing on CBS All Access.  In Canada Star Trek: Discovery will premiere on the 24th of September also, on Bell Media’s CTV and the Space Channel.  For the rest of us, Star Trek: Discovery will launch on Netflix on Monday the 25th of September.

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Discovery News Hits Warp Speed

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We’ve purposefully held off on posting any of the ‘new’ news about Star Trek: Discovery that’s been coming out, because we were pretty sure SDCC (San Diego Comic-Con) would drop a lot of information.  And we were right.  And then EW did also, which means there is a fair bit to catch up on.

Where to start?

The first place would be with the new trailer that was released.  It is… fantastic.  Despite what some science fiction news sites have said.  They haven’t said it’s bad, but one or two have given it a less than warm reception.

I’ve been really disappointed with some of the comments made by these sites, but on the up side I have been really impressed with the cautious optimism and enthusiasm coming from Trek-specific news sites.

When it comes to the new Star Trek show a couple of these online genre news outlets have an overly negative attitude going on, and appear to feel that unnecessary nitpicking is the way to go.  One or two of their points have merit and some are downright ridiculous and poorly researched.  Example?  Gene’s vision of a future where Starfleet officers don’t argue or have conflict of any sort.  This is true for the TNG era, but not for what came before it.  In TOS and the first six films, there was plenty of conflict.  Anyone remember Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country?  Kirk was not happy with Spock for volunteering him and the Enterprise to escort the Klingon High Chancellor to Khitomer, and in TOS Spock and McCoy went at it almost every chance they got.  For that matter, Kirk and McCoy could get pretty testy with each other now and again.

Another example of the nitpicking?

There was an article a couple of days ago on io9, one of my favourite sites, by my favourite writer on that site, taking exception to Kirsten Beyer asking Jason Isaacs to avoid saying the word “God” (in an ad lib) because Gene had envisioned a world where religion didn’t have a great deal of influence on human beings.  Not a world/universe where there was no religion, but one where it’s impact wasn’t as wide felt.  The writer of that article was annoyed by this, and said (I’m paraphrasing) that it was just another ‘thing’ she didn’t get about the show.

She kind of has a point, ad libbing in a “God” is a small thing, but then she went and ruined her point by citing Star Trek: The Final Frontier and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, saying the correction was silly because the “g” word had been used before in Star Trek.

In the fifth feature, Kirk doesn’t ask the question “what does God need with a starship?” because he believes in God, he asks it because if there was a God, he or she or it would not need a ship to get anywhere, and the line isn’t an ad lib, but an integral part of the story.

And DS9?  For almost the whole seven years of that series, Benjamin Sisko fought against his appointment as The Emissary, and believed the Bajoran Gods were nothing more than wormhole aliens.

I might be wrong, it’s been a long time since I watched season seven of DS9, but I don’t think Sisko ever truly believed the wormhole occupants were Gods or a representative of God or a God.  They were extra-dimensional beings with a command and understanding of space-time far different to our own.

Lorca is a Starfleet officer and is part of an organisation dedicated to scientific research and exploration (alongside a joint mission to defend and protect the United Federation of Planets).  While many scientists are still people of faith in today’s world, and no doubt will be in the future, it’s not a big enough thing to nitpick about.  I don’t know why Kirsten’s correction of an ad libbed line has earned her that journalists ire?  My question is, do we know enough about the context of that conversation (between Kirsten and Jason) to be getting upset about this?  Probably not.

Also, I really don’t know why this particular situation is another ‘choice’, apparently amongst many, that is hard to understand?

Some of the decisions the writers have made have been contraversial, but they’re understandable.  The series needed to be updated if it was going to have a chance against the juggernauts of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.  The creative team has made mostly cosmetic changes, and where things may upset canon have promised us an in-Universe explanation.

Star Trek Discovery EW Photoshoot 5

A lot of the snipes coming from these sites are silly and they are getting really annoying.  Hundreds of thousands, if not more, Star Trek fans around the world have been waiting for a new series, and a lot of us are over-joyed and excited about this show and are holding out hope it will be brilliant.  If you don’t want anything to do with the show or aren’t coping with the changes that have been made, keep your opinions to yourself unless they have some balance and substance.

Instead, focus on THE most diverse cast in Trek history and how that lives up to Gene’s vision, a vision he wanted to show but couldn’t while he was alive because of the resistance he faced over the years.

Don’t forget, his son, the keeper of Trek now that Majel has left us, is intimately involved with this series.  Show some respect, and give this show a chance before ‘bagging’ it across the internet.

Sorry for that digression.  Those two examples above are only some of a number of articles that have really irked me.  But!  Back to the trailer!!

If you’d like to watch it, jump over to the official Star Trek site here.  The music is “I’d Love To Change The Workd”, by Jetta.

This show is, from the look of both trailers (the first one released and this newest trailer), aiming to be an intense and exciting, epic exploration of a time before Kirk and after Archer, and it’s trying to be a deep and thoughtful exploration of the ‘self’ and the journey we all go through on this roller-coaster ride we call life.

The over-arching story is starting to take shape thanks to the trailers and interviews we’ve seen, heard and read, but I have no doubt there will be more to the series and I also have no doubt that the creative team will throw us a few red-herrings!

What is that story?  A war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.  It’s been hinted at, but never shown, so now we may get some context around why the Organians were so insistent on implementing that treaty way back in TOS’s first season (2267), and ending that war.

A few days after the trailer hit, EW released some beautiful photos from a behind-the-scenes interview and photoshoot they did.  Some of them are peppered throughout this article.

If you’d like to see all of these really gorgeous shots, visit Entertainment Weekly here.  Even better, buy their latest edition featuring the new crew, here.  I have, and I don’t regret it.

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If, for whatever reason, you can’t view the trailer, below are some screenshots from it.  Because I’m in Australia, I have only seen the Netflix version, and I have no idea how different it is from any trailer that was released by CBS or Space (in Canada).

When you see the release date screen grab pop up at the end, don’t freak out.  In the United States and Canada Star Trek: Discovery will still air on the 24th of September, but in Australia and most other countries it will air on the 25th.

Here are the trailer shots, with a tiny bit of commentary.  The trailer I saw had subtitles.

Warning… there are a LOT of images.  Apologies for the quality, at times the internet was holding up beautifully, and at others it wasn’t.  Australia is a great country, but our internet service providers and internet speeds are a joke.

Just a quick aside first.  Some people have thought the Shenzhou leaves behind ‘graffiti’ on the desert world Georgiou and Burnham visit, in the form of a Starfleet Delta.  I really doubt that is something that happens ‘in-show’, and I’m pretty certain it’s a creative effect by CBS.  Time will tell if I’m wrong.

As I said above, it really feels like the creative team are setting up something thoughtful, and hopefully epic… “All life is born from chaos…”  Those are portentious words!

It’s clear there’s some sort of battle, and it looks like the USS Shenzhou doesn’t come out of it in one piece – and it looks like that’s thanks to our old friends, the Klingons.

Throughout the trailer it’s insinuated that our lead character, Michael Burnham, makes a decision or is involved in a decision that starts a war with a fractured Klingon Empire.

It also seems like Burnham is reporting back to Sarek.  It’s unclear if Sarek is an Ambassador at this time?  I looked him up on Memory Alpha but it doesn’t talk about his career in the 2250’s so who knows what this legendary individual is up to at this point in his life?!  Is it his handling of this affair which makes him an Ambassador?

Next we see a series of images that seem to depict the very beginnings of what becomes a war between the still relatively young United Federation of Planets (the UFP was founded in 2161) and the ancient Klingon Empire.

We don’t know who fires first, but from the first trailer where Georgiou says “Starfleet doesn’t fire first”, we can guess it’s the Klingons.

Then we get some random stuff.  Space mushrooms maybe?

I don’t know what these shots indicate, but my guess would be it’s Michael Burnham exploring the Discovery after being assigned there.

If it’s not space mushrooms she’s seeing, then perhaps the Discovery is the first starship to have it’s own large garden area and she’s amazed and impressed by the sight?

Those images are quickly followed by more combat images and what seems to be the Shenzhou under attack.

As you can see, things don’t look good for the Shenzhou.

A lot of fans have been predicting Captain Georgiou doesn’t make it out alive and that Michelle Yeoh only guests for the first two episodes.  I’m hoping against hope that isn’t true, because she’s an incredible actor and because it would be nice to see a competent female captain who doesn’t die in the first thirty-minutes of a Trek-show, other than Janeway of course, but I have to concede that those fans may be right in this case.

Following from the above, as you’ll see below, it looks like the Shenzhou doesn’t just get the crap shot out of it, it looks like she gets boarded too.

Rather than evacuating in escape pods, Burnham and some of the crew flee in a small shuttle craft of some kind.

Then we get random again, and the storyline hints at a mystery of some sort?

What the hell is going on on this ship?” Burnham asks.

For those of you who don’t know, the fifth image of a young woman in bed is Cadet Sylvia Tilly.  She bunks with Burnham and from interviews with the actor (Mary Wiseman) playing Tilly, she and Burnham become friends.

We get more images of people running, then Captain Lorca talking about the USS Discovery.

We finally get to see the first in-trailer image of the Discovery, though only very very briefly.  The ship has longer nacelles than the original earlier design, which I like.  She looks more graceful and powerful as a result.

We are shown how Sarek and Michael meet.  In later interviews we learn that Sarek rescues Michael Burnham from a world that has been attacked, and he and Amanda adopt her when it’s discovered her parents are dead.

Yes.  Michael is Spock and Sybok’s adopted sister.

Cue outraged fans.

Don’t worry, the creative team have said they will address this hiccup in continuity.

Then everything shifts again and we get our first look at Harry Mudd.  He seems to be putting Burnham through some kind of obstacle course, and if she doesn’t complete it something goes “boom”!  Either that, or he is rescuing her.  Later on, there is an image that is either a jail cell or a section of a corridor on the Shenzhou that is protected from losing atmosphere by forcefields, and Burnham is trapped in that tiny space.

It’s unclear if these images are from the pilot, or the second, third, fourth or fifth episode filmed, but if Harry is rescuing her, he might be in the first two episodes.

The way the announcements dropped earlier in the year, it seemed like we wouldn’t see Harry Mudd until close to the middle of the 15 episode season… but this production has kept its secrets pretty well so Harry may be popping up early!

Then more images of destruction.  Is the Shenzhou being side swiped by a Klingon vessel?

We also get another interaction with Mudd, with a dialogue exchange that is a little cheesy, but is guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of long-term fans.

We switch to Lorca talking to Burnham: “You chose to do the right thing…”

This is cut with images of Georgiou and Burnham beaming into what looks like a Klingon vessel.  The fifth image is of poor quality, but it’s someone leaping out and tackling Burnham.

We get random again for the next images, but in them Lorca has a voice over where he continues on from his previous comment, saying to Burnham “…even at a great cost, to yourself.”  The images end on Georgiou facing something bright on the viewscreen of her ship.

The “great cost” might be the death of this woman, who we have learned is very important to Burnham, or it could be the war Lorca mentions and the punishment Burnham received.

Here’s the image I was talking about earlier.  Does that look like a futuristic jail cell in the second image?  Or is it a sectioned off part of a ship that’s lost containment and she’s trapped in that area?

We see Georgiou standing in front of the viewscreen of the Shenzhou as something explodes.

In voice over, Lorca says: “You helped start a war.”  In the next scene he asks her, in an almost Lucious Malfoy kind of way: “Don’t you wanna help me end it?

The last image in this set is random.  Lorca is touching a forcefield of some kind.

The last live action images show us escape pods ejecting from the Shenzhou, and Burnham in an environmental suit that is pretty badly damaged, spinning off into space.

Looks like that Klingon she faces off with (from the first main trailer) gets the upper hand.

This is a better trailer than the first one.

The first one definitely got me excited, but this one gave me chills and continues to every time I watch it.

As I said up above, some science fiction news sites have been dismissive of this new footage because being negative is ‘cool’, but a number of Star Trek news sites have been very excited!

Watch the trailer and let me know what you think.  Depending on where you live in the world, you’ll see either the CBS version or the Netflix version.  I wish I could tell you if there are any differences, but I don’t know.  I’m sure a site will find a way to access both and do a comparison.  TrekCore, for example, has correspondents in various countries around the world.

So what have we learned since the last update?

So much.

Here are all the major bits as dot points:

  • As mentioned above, Michael Burnham is Spock and Sybok’s adopted sister, and was raised by Sarek and Amanda after losing her parents;
  • The USS Discovery possesses a ‘new way’ to ‘fly’, so perhaps some prototype warp engine?  In Star Trek: Enterprise a lot of fuss was made about the warp 5 engine, perhaps this is the beginning of the warp 8 engine we see Kirk’s Enterprise using?
  • A couple of weeks ago, some news came out about Saru’s race – his species was one of the few things I had issues with from the first trailer, because they are apparently genetically designed to “sense the coming of death” and that didn’t make any sense to me.  While chatting with EW, Doug Jones revealed a little more about his species: “On Saru’s planet, there’s a dominant predator species that constantly imperils another weaker species called Kelpiens.  As part of the latter group, Saru has evolved with heightened survival instincts.”  To read more about Kelpiens, check out the TrekMovie article here.  We also learned that Kelpiens have hooves;
  • We’ve been told that Harry Mudd is more edgy than the more mature version we see in TOS, which makes sense – he’s a younger version in Star Trek: Discovery, and perhaps his interactions with the Discovery crew ‘mellow’ him;
  • We learned that Captain Lorca is not your run-of-the-mill Starfleet captain, and has “a lot of sharp edges.”  This fits with his reputation as a tactical genius, and someone like that, you would imagine, would not always feel it was necessary to obey the standard social niceties;
  • A new character was announced, and it’s a boyfriend for Lieutenant Stamets, the first openly gay character in Star Trek television.  The new character is Doctor Hugh Culber, played by Wilson Cruz;
  • The creative team behind Star Trek: Discovery went to great lengths to assure fans at SDCC that they are always mindful of canon, and that despite the fact it feels like a lot has changed (the uniforms, the look of the Klingons and the ship designs), a lot more than we might think is the same and is very Star Trek.  A bit of a codicil was added to that, saying that one of the aims of Discovery is to excite existing fans while allowing the show to bring in brand new fans to ensure Star Trek‘s longevity;
  • This new Trek is designed to be as much an emotional journey for the characters and us as the audience, as it will be a physical journey of discovery and exploration for the ship and her crew;
  • The Klingons will speak Klingon when talking to each other, and those scenes will be subtitled for our benefit;
  • The show has been designed with diversity in mind, and the casting choices have been purposeful.  The best actor was always chosen for the role, but one of the aims of the show was to give as many people in the audience as was possible someone to relate to – and this has always been an important part of Trek.  One of the greatest compliments given to Nichelle Nichols and Uhura was that people of colour saw themselves ‘in’ her, and thanks to that, saw a future for themselves.  This diversity, of course, doesn’t just extend to people of different nationalities, it extends to people who are thoughtful, who are focused and driven, who are GLBTQI+, to people who are more action oriented in life, and to people who are experiencing difficult emotional journeys thanks to a mental illness – with one character suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Lieutenant Ash Tyler who is a former prisoner of war);
  • The Klingons are no longer a proxy for the Russians, as they were when Gene originally envisioned the race.  That’s not to disrespect Gene’s vision, it’s to do what Gene always did, try to reflect the times we live in – and the times we live in are full of isolationist rhetoric, an understandable and warranted fear of terrorism, and general paranoia.  The Klingons are now a proxy for us, and what fear has and is doing in this world;
  • One thing that has stuck out for me is the frequent mention of ‘being mindful of timelines’.  Bryan Fuller’s original pitch, we have recently learned, was to have the show jump timelines each season – starting in the 2250s, hitting Kirk’s era, and then going to the TNG era and beyond.  I don’t know if this is what is being referred to, or if another alternate timeline is being created?
  • Space mushrooms just might save the galaxy!
  • Not everyone is going to make it out of Season One alive.

So that’s most of the news that has dropped since the last time I did an update.

If you’d like to go into more detail on any of these items, visit the following sites to read every tiny bit of information that has been released to date on the new series:

TrekMovie, here, and TrekCore, here.  These two sites have had the best, and the most comprehensive, coverage.

That’s it for now!

We’re less than two months away from the debut of Star Trek: Discovery.  We can expect more information to be released very soon, and most likely at Star Trek: Las Vegas, which starts on the 2nd of August.

This new series is shaping up to be very exciting and something that modern Trek needs.  I hope you’re as excited to see it as I am.

Live long, and prosper.

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Five Episodes Filmed

Star Trek Discovery June Update

Slowly but surely, Star Trek: Discovery is getting ready for its September premiere.

Multiple sites have been reporting that a total of four episodes are now in the bag, with the fifth under way.  That’s one third of the first season pretty much complete.

Chatting with Collider earlier this month, Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman confirmed that five episodes have been filmed, and also addressed fan angst around the delays that have plagued the much anticipated series.

We postponed our schedule,” Alex said, “because the truth is we did not want to put out something that was subpar, and as the vision expanded we started feeling like we weren’t gonna be able to deliver the scope and the scale that was on the page.

He continued, saying something very few show-runners have probably ever said about a studio: “CBS was extremely supportive in saying, ‘okay… you know what, this is streaming, it’s not like we have to beat out right away, let’s do the best version of this, Trek is too important for all of us.

In an unusually talkative mood, Alex hinted that we should expect a major guest starring cameo or two in the first and following seasons.

So many actors are fans.  We literally got a list of them that were like, ‘Here are people who said they want to be on Star Trek.’  It was awesome…

Do we know who’s on that list?  Unfortunately, no.  Alex and the other producers will no doubt keep that close to their chests.  It does make me wonder, though, if Rainn Wilson was one of those people?

As he continued to discuss the soon to be released series, Alex gave us something of a rationale for the cosmetic differences between the sixth live action series and its predecessors – something which has annoyed a few die hard fans.

The line between film and television is utterly blurred.”  He said.  “Not just at a storytelling level, but visually now.  What we’re doing on Star Trek right now, that’s not that different from what we’re doing in the movies.  I think that’s what people expect when they pay for Netflix, or HBO, or whatever they’re going to pay for.

It’s kind of what we were talking about in our last post – modern audiences aren’t going to accept certain stylistic choices just because we, the long term fans, want design continuity.

From my perspective, a little more continuity would have been nice, but ultimately what I care about most are the characters and the stories.  I want to get swept up in an arc that I enjoy, and I want to develop a relationship with the characters and love them as much as I do the crew of the Enterprise D.  Uniforms and sets are essentially just uniforms and sets.  It would be great if there was an explanation offered for the differences, but if that doesn’t happen it’s not going to upset me.

Now that CBS and Alex Kurtzman are addressing the delays, I feel a lot more reassured.  I really do believe everyone behind this show is giving it their all.

Official Star Trek Discovery Launch Poster

Last bit of news… for those of you still mourning Bryan Fuller’s departure (like I am), according to Alex, his ‘hand’ is still all over the series.

His ideas weren’t abandoned, and his influence is still very much prevalent and will continue to be prevalent into the second season.  How nice is it to hear a producer talk about a second season, when a show hasn’t even aired yet?

Not long to go now, guys.  I hope you’re putting away any reservations you may have, or are at least suspending them, and are getting ready to give this series the chance it deserves.

It’s been over a decade since we had Star Trek on television – it’s true home.  Let’s get behind this new series and hope that the creative team have given us something worthy of our love and loyalty.

Live long, and prosper.

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Discovery: New Cast and Bryan Fuller

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Days after the casting rumour about Michelle Yeoh hit the net, CBS made an official announcement on not only her involvement is Star Trek: Discovery, but the involvement of two additional actors.

Michelle’s casting was confirmed, though it looks like the rumour mill was wrong about her character’s name.  Michelle will be playing Starfleet Captain Georgiou, in command of the USS Shenzhou – not Captain Han Bo.

Who else is joining her on the final frontier?

Doug Jones, playing an alien science officer called Lieutenant Saru, and Anthony Rapp, playing Starfleet science officer and astromycologist Lieutenant Stamets.

Astromycologist?  Mycology is the study of fungi… so… space fungi!  CBS have made a point of adding in the astromycology bit, so no doubt space fungi will in some way play an important part in the first season of the new Star Trek series.

What’s also interesting about the announcement is the differentiation between Lieutenant Saru and Lieutenant Stamets.

Saru is described as an alien science officer, and Doug Jones is particularly well know for his ability to bring characters to life under a mountain of makeup and prosthetics.  Stamets is described as a Starfleet Lieutenant.  In the images above, you’ll see “New Crews,” “New Villians,” “New Heroes,” and “New Worlds.”  It looks like Saru will be from one of those new crews and/or new worlds.  It remains to be seen as to whether or not he’ll be a new hero or a new villain.

Where might you have seen Doug and Anthony?

If you’re a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you’ll have seen Doug as one of the “Gentlemen” in the fantastic episode ‘Hush’.  You would have also seen his work in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Hellboy and The Strain.

You might have seen Anthony on Broadway in Rent, or on TV in the series The Knick.

If you want to learn more about Doug and Anthony, you can check out Doug’s IMDb page here, and Anthony’s IMDb page here.

In an interesting aside, they released the news at 10:31am.  Get it?  The USS Discovery is NX-1031.  Clever, CBS.  I actually love that little detail.

And now onto Bryan!

Star Trek fans everywhere felt a bit of a blow when it was announced that Bryan Fuller was stepping down as showrunner for Star Trek: Discovery.  For many of us, his involvement guaranteed quality, and it guaranteed deep and intelligent story-telling which is something we most certainly want.  Since the announcement, we’ve all been wondering why he chose American Gods over Star Trek: Discovery particularly when he is a proud and vocal Star Trek fan.  We were also, many of us, under the impression he would still be involved in some way with the show… but it turns out he’s not.  He’s stepped away entirely.

Bryan has finally spoken up about why, telling Digital Spy that the decision he made was a hard one and it came down to a couple of simple things – where Star Trek would give him the chance to have a conversation about things he cares deeply about, like human progress, environmental issues and hope, American Gods gives him the chance to comment on a few other things that Star Trek doesn’t often give voice to, like religion and immigration – two themes that run very strongly through Neil Gaiman’s American Gods novel.

The themes of faith and immigration that are present in American Gods resonate with Bryan, and he feels they will resonant deeply with people today.

It wasn’t an easy choice for him, but it was mitigated by the fact he felt he had done ‘enough’ to put Star Trek on the right path to success.  Should they need a little help navigating, he’s said he would be available for season two, if CBS needs him.

In the interview, when asked what Star Trek: Discovery is about, Bryan said there are three words that sum up the new series: “understand each other.”  I think that little sentence is very telling and I would hazard a guess that the premiere episode will start with a monumental misunderstanding between species that will throw us into the overall story-arc of this exciting new addition to the legacy of Star Trek.

Star Trek: Discovery starts filming in January 2017 in Toronto.  It’s first two episodes have been written by Bryan Fuller, and so far we now know that it stars Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones and Anthony Rapp.  The new series will premiere in May.

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Star Trek: Discovery – Casting News?

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According to multiple sources, including Nicholas Meyer (Discovery Producer), Variety, Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter, Michelle Yeoh of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame has a prominent role in the new Star Trek series.

The rumour first broke a few days ago thanks to Nicholas Meyer.  He was speaking at an event to promote a new release of his 1979 film, Time After Time, and dropped Michelle’s name when asked about how Discovery was coming along.

When approached by various news outlets and Trek news websites, CBS refused to confirm anything but they would say that some of what Nicholas had said at the event was accurate and some of it wasn’t.

Ah CBS, enigmatic as always.

So… what do we know?

According to Deadline, Michelle will be playing Starfleet Captain Han Bo of the USS Shenzhou, a vessel that is set to play a “big role” in Star Trek: Discovery‘s first season.

That is all the news we have.  It’s all the news anybody has at the moment – and there is still no firm confirmation from CBS, but it’s looking really likely with multiple sources confirming it is more than rumour.

Michelle’s apparent casting raises some interesting possibilities.  We now know for certain that there is another ship in play in the first season.

If you remember the hastily put together trailer that Bryan Fuller released to the world a few months ago, one of the last frames said “new crews” – and at the time of the trailers release, we all wondered about that.

New Crews.

To be precise, the promo showed frames saying “New Villains”, “New Heroes”, “New Worlds”, “New Crews.”  New worlds is a no brainer – it’s Star Trek, new villains however, just like new crews, raises some very interesting questions.  For a show set ten years before the first five-year mission of the Enterprise, most of us probably thought the Klingons and the Romulans and maybe the Gorn and the Tholians would feature prominently.  Looks like we’ll be introduced to a new group of bad guys who, for some reason, don’t survive through to the era of Star Trek we all know so well and who weren’t around in the time of Archer and his crew.

The new series has always been exciting, but even more so now with these little bits of information coming to light and with Michelle’s casting.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Michelle’s work, she’s one of the most popular and famous Asian actresses in the world.

Michelle was born in Malaysia to a family of Chinese descent.  Her introduction to the world of performing arts was as a dancer, beginning at the age of four!  Years later her family moved to the United Kingdom where she studied at the Royal Academy of Dance, majoring in ballet.

In 1983 she won the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant, and represented Malaysia at the Queen of the Pacific pageant which was held here in my home country of Australia.  Later she represented Malaysia at the Miss World pageant in London.

She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Creative Arts with a minor in Drama, and all of her training eventually led to a role in Police Story 3: Super Cop, and a number of other roles before being cast in the widely acclaimed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

From there she went on to star in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, and another critically acclaimed film, Memoirs of a Geisha.

Recently, her Wikipedia page was updated to say “In 2016 Yeoh was cast as Federation Captain Han Bo of the Shenzhou in the series Star Trek: Discovery.”

If you’d like to learn more about Michelle, check out her Wikipedia page here and her IMDb page here.

I think we all have good reason to jump for joy.  Michelle is an incredible actor, and she’s quite a coup for the new production.  Maybe now we’ll start to hear some more news about the other actors who have been cast.

As an aside note, I’ve done some digging around and it seems like they’re still looking for their lead.  That actor is proving hard to find.  When the rumour first broke about Michelle, it was assumed she was the lead – but the sources commenting on that have said she’s not, though her role will feature heavily during that first season.

I’ll keep you in the loop as I hear more and once I’m sure it’s more than just rumour.  I love rumours as much as the next fan, but when it comes to Discovery, I really want to publish stuff that is solid because so many of us are hanging out for this new series.

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What’s Happening on the Final Frontier?

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It’s been an interesting week for the fans of Star Trek.

A few days ago, it was announced Bryan Fuller had stepped down as the showrunner for the upcoming new series, Star Trek: Discovery.

This sent understandable shock waves through the fan community, because most of us felt the sixth live action series was in very good hands with Bryan at the helm.  He was a fan, he had Star Trek cred having written for both Deep Space Nine and Voyager, and he was communicating with us all on a fairly regular basis feeding hints here and there to keep us guessing.

Add this change to the relative silence coming out of the Discovery camp in recent weeks and the absence of the “major announcement” we had been promised in October, and you can forgive fans for feeling a little anxious.

According to CBS, we don’t have anything to worry about, so maybe now is the time to put our ‘Vulcan’ on and look at all of the facts.

The first thing we need to take a deep breath over is: Bryan Fuller is not leaving Star Trek: Discovery.  He is stretched thin, but he’s not abandoning the new series and he has not been booted by CBS.  Not only was Bryan the showrunner for the new Trek series, at the same time he was also (and still is) looking after American Gods and is still in the middle of prepping another brand new series, a reboot of Amazing Stories.

Because we haven’t perfected cloning yet, there is only so much one person can do and something had to give.

The story about the leadership change broke in Variety and according to their sources, the reshuffle at the top occurred partially as a result of the recent rescheduling of the series (announced in September) that moved the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery from January 2017 to May 2017.

It was also mentioned that the lead role for the series has not yet been cast, despite the fact the series starts filming in November.

The reschedule was an attempt to give post production the time it needed for effects work, and to give Bryan space to get the nascent series in good order.

According to the report in Variety, he has done just that:  “Fuller has penned the first two scripts for “Discovery” and has hammered out the broader story arc and mythology for the new “Trek” realm.  But it became clear that he couldn’t devote the amount of time needed for “Discovery” to make its premiere date and with production scheduled to start in Toronto next month.”

You can read the full article here.

Variety also reported that each episode of the new Star Trek series is expected to cost between 6 and 7 million dollars.  With that much money on the line per episode, you can understand why CBS was feeling a little nervous.

The article also mentioned a new creative was joining the production team, writer-director-producer Akiva Goldsman.  Akiva is best known for Fringe, The Da Vinci Code, I Am Legend, and for executive producing Paranormal Activity 2, 3 and 4.  To find out more about Akiva you can visit his IMDb profile here.

In a statement addressing the departure of Bryan from showrunner duties, CBS Television Studios said:

“We are extremely happy with the creative direction of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY and the strong foundation that Bryan Fuller has helped us create for the series.  Due to Bryan’s other projects, he is no longer able to oversee the day-to-day of Star Trek, but he remains an executive producer, and will continue to map the story arc for the entire season.

“Alex Kurtzman, co-creator and executive producer, along with Fuller’s producing partners and longtime collaborators, Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, will continue to oversee the show with the existing writing and producing team.

“Bryan is a brilliant creative talent and passionate Star Trek fan, who has helped us chart an exciting course for the series.  We are all committed to seeing this vision through and look forward to premiering STAR TREK: DISCOVERY this coming May 2017.”

So, a lot of news packed into that announcement!

For the record, Bryan seems good with it all.  He commented on the change of leadership via Twitter, saying:

“Riker spent 7 years of TNG unready for Captaincy, @GretchenJBerg @AaronHarberts are ready.  Thrilled to see them in command of the Bridge.”

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For the record Bryan, you were more than ready to be Captain… just probably of only one starship, not three at the same time!  Not even Kirk, Janeway, Sisko or Picard could have achieved that one alone.

In recapping, these are the important points:

  • Bryan Fuller has stepped down as showrunner, but remains an executive producer;
  • Bryan has helped establish the tone and mythology of the new Trek series;
  • Bryan has mapped the series across it’s first year, and will remain involved in that process;
  • Bryan has written the pilot and has written it’s follow up episode with Nicholas Meyer;
  • Each episode of Discovery carries a price tag of between 6 and 7 million dollars;
  • The show will still shoot in Toronto (Canada), and is still scheduled for release in May 2017;
  • The new showrunners are Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts;
  • Akiva Goldsman has joined the production team.

Other things to keep in mind about the new production:

  • Discovery is set ten years before the original Star Trek series;
  • The show will focus on the First Officer of the Discovery, not the captain.  It’s also been suggested it will follow the lives of non-bridge personnel;
  • The captain will be a character in the series, but we don’t know how a big a role they will have;
  • It’s been suggested the lead character might be a younger version of Majel Barrett-Roddenberry’s “Number One” from the first Star Trek pilot, ‘The Cage’, however Bryan had mentioned in August that he was looking to cast a non-white actor in that role so that rumour can probably settle now;
  • Klingons will feature in the series;
  • The series is based around an event that was mentioned in the original Trek, but the creative team aren’t telling us what that event is yet;
  • The Discovery is an experimental ship (designation NX-1031);
  • The show will feature an openly gay character, who may be played by an openly gay actor;
  • Some of the roles have been cast, including two admirals, a British doctor and an ‘advisor’.

It’s sad that Bryan has had to step out of the leadership position, but I think everyone can agree that the series is in very capable hands – especially with the talents of Alex Kurtzman, Kirsten Beyer, Nicholas Meyer and Heather Kadin on board, and with Gene Roddenberry’s son, Rod, having a hand in making sure his father’s vision isn’t compromised.

So why didn’t we hear anything in October, as was planned?

I’m assuming because things slowed down, and because no one has yet been cast in the lead role.

I don’t think anyone involved in the production to date, including Bryan, thought it would take this long to secure their lead and get the premise of the series sorted.  Star Trek is an incredibly complicated production, with so much history, that navigating that would be difficult.

I’m not surprised this has happened, but hopefully by freeing Bryan up and bringing in two people to replace him, we can start to get some of those announcements we’ve all been waiting for.

As always, as news breaks about Star Trek: Discovery I’ll post it here.

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