Episode 13 Review

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I’m a little late with the review this week, thanks to contracting a beautiful Aussie summer flu.  Gotta love those unexpected little life hiccups!

It’s almost not worth doing a review for Episode 13, because Episode 14 drops in about an hour here in Australia, but I’m a completionist so here goes.

The Facts
Episode Number: 113
Episode Title: “What’s Past Is Prologue” or “Lorca Chews The Scenery” or “Michelle Yeoh Kicks Ass.”
Written By: Ted Sullivan
Directed By: Olatunde Osunsanmi

Whats Past Is Prologue - Lorca

Quotable
Mirror Stamets to Lorca: “Gabriel.  I really hoped you were dead.
Lorca, in response: “Well, you can’t always get what you want.

Burnham to Saru: “It’s good to see you, Saru.
Saru: “You as well, my friend.  It appears your situation has become dire.  Is the captain with you?
Burnham: “He’s one of them.  He’s Terran.  He used us, and the Discovery, to jump here to his own universe.  It was his plan all along.

Saru to the crew of the Discovery: “It is well know that my species has the ability to sense the coming of death.  I do not sense it today.  I may not have all the answers, however I do know that I am surrounded by a team I trust.  The finest a Captain could ever hope to command.  Lorca abused our idealism.  And make no mistake, Discovery is no longer Lorca’s.  She is ours.  And today will be her maiden voyage.  We have a duty to perform and we will not accept a no-win scenario.  You have your orders.  On your way.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Discovery Soars Through Space

Moments of Interest
Lorca arrived in the prime universe via an ion storm and a transporter accident that was very similar to the one that sent Kirk, Uhura, McCoy and Scotty to the Mirror Universe.

There are a few obvious parallels with real world issues woven through this episode, including a clever play on a recent US election promise, and a little dig at big industry and their sometimes… careless lack of concern for our environment.

The appearance of Lorca’s minions, as Georgiou goes to confront him, is very similar to the Borg reveal in Star Trek: First Contact.

The Review
I’ve dropped the recap, because if you’ve watched the episode you don’t need me or anyone else giving you a blow by blow description of what’s just happened.  It’s a bit redundant, and probably a little frustrating for the reader.

Instead, I’ll focus on some of the stand out moments of the episode.

The first thing I want to comment on is the direction.  Olatunde Osunsanmi is a very talented individual.  His ability with the camera is uncanny.  There are moments in this episode where it could have become unnecessarily melodramatic, but Osunsanmi never lets it get there.  He manipulates the performances of the actors and the motion and angles of the camera expertly, never allowing anything to go too far, and somehow shapes all of these almost over the top plot points into meaningful, character defining drama.

Ted Sullivan’s script is big.  Motion picture big.  The stakes are shockingly high, perhaps the highest they’ve ever been in any Star Trek episode or movie, and the little character moments are intimate but equally as big and oh so Star Trek.  This man loves Gene Roddenberry’s creation, and he tips his hat to past series’ wherever he can in really beautiful and meaningful ways.

As much as this episode is one big dramatic action piece that barely lets up, it’s also a little fun and self-deprecating and even a little batshit crazy, thanks, in large part, to Jason Isaacs’ scene stealing performance.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Lorca Usurping The Throne

Jason Isaacs chews the scenery like a pro.  You can tell when an actor enjoys the role he or she is playing, and Jason must have loved playing this wolf in sheep’s clothing.  He goes for it, but instead of hamming it up and turning Lorca into a Bond-villain, he gloriously and lovingly portrays a man who is descending into madness and delusion.  Lorca doesn’t just want to be Emporer, he believes he is destined to rule – that the Universe wants him on the throne, and wants him to crush the aliens of the galaxy beneath his boot heel while keeping humanity in a choke-hold under him.

As well as Jason, we see exceptional performances from Michelle Yeoh, Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones and Anthony Rapp who is pulling double duty up until the moment Lorca dispatches Mirror Stamets with a quip and a point blank phaser blast.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Stamets and Landry

This episode puts everything on the line, including the very fate of all universes, everywhere.  Somehow, through all of that, it also tells a couple of intensely personal stories.  We see Saru rise beyond his species’ limitations to abandon fear and embrace hope and courage, and we see Burnham try to redeem herself by saving the woman she loved like a mother, despite the fact that woman is a dark and ruthless reflection of the hero she knew.

There are layers upon layers in this episode, and this is not an episode you should just watch once.

Absent from this action-packed 43 minutes are L’Rell and Tyler, and we barely get to see Tilly, but that’s not a bad thing.  The story needed to narrow down on these characters for a bit and it felt right that this climax be very much about Stamets, Burnham, Saru, Georgiou and Lorca.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Georgiou Gets Ready To Kick Ass

While Ash and L’Rell are missed, we do get to see a little bit more of the crew of the Discovery, working together and becoming a team.  Finally.  With Lorca gone, it seems they can at last be at their best and they more than rise to the occasion.  We also get to see the return of Commander Ellen Landry, which was welcome.

Amusingly, Mirror Landry is very similar to Prime Landry, just a little more trigger happy (believe it or not) and blood thirsty.  She’s also completely committed to Gabriel Lorca in this universe too.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Old Friends Reunite

Every character featured prominently gets a moment to shine, but none more so than our favourite Kelpien.  Saru goes nova in this episode and steals the entire season.

In “Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum” we were shown a Saru who was not ready for command, but once in the Mirror Universe was forced into it. We’ve seen him grow in the position of acting captain, but he hasn’t really been a leader.  In this episode he is, and delivers one of the best speeches we’ve seen in Star Trek in a long time.  It’s above, in Quotable, if you want to check it out.

I really love how Ted just gets these characters and organically advances their personal stories while giving us an hour of entertainment that is just awesome.

It’s no secret I love this show, despite my odd, minor issue.  Two of my biggest issues have been the death of Philippa Georgiou and something I haven’t mentioned to date.  We hardly ever get a really good look at the Discovery.

With Georgiou back, albiet as the Mirror version of herself, we get to feast on Michelle Yeoh’s performance and it’s excellent.  In this episode she gets to rock some of those incredible martial arts moves that she’s known for, and she grabs and holds our attention in every scene she is in.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Lorca and Burnham

This series has some of the finest actors on television in it, and for anyone to stand out in such talented company should be hard, but Ted Sullivan, Olatunde Osunsanmi, and the generosity of each actor in the series lets it happen – whether it’s Sonequa, Jason, Anthony, Doug or Michelle.

On top of the wonderful performances and having Michelle back in such a substantial way, we finally do get to see the Discovery in action and it is excellent.  It’s a special effects tour de force, and just plain satisfying as our gorgeous new vessel shoots the crap out of the Emporers city-ship.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Discovery Attacks

in Star Trek this series namesake vessel (or outpost) is a character, and Discovery is a character we haven’t seen enough of.

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

I could keep raving about this great episode, but I won’t, because I want to go and watch the next one.

To wrap up, what I will rave about is the climax.  It is everything you want it to be.  Excellent effects, emotional and intense music, beautiful editing, fast paced and sensitive direction, outstanding acting, phasers, photon torpedoes and explosions galore, and a completely unexpected double twist!

In the climax, as Michael presents Georgiou to Lorca in a faux attempt to save the Discovery, we get to see Georgiou enact her revenge and skewer Lorca with that big ass broadsword of hers, we get to see everyone kick the living crap out of each other (none with as much style and grace as Georgiou), we get to see the mycelial destroying globe of energy at the heart of the Charon blow up, we get to watch Landry die, again, and we get to see Michael save Georgiou, and Paul interacting with Hugh one more beautiful time.

It’s those last two moments that deliver the double twist.

Georgiou returns to the prime universe aboard the Discovery (and isn’t too happy about it), and the Discovery makes it home, but doesn’t make it back in time to save the Federation.  She makes it back nine-months later and the Klingons have won the war.

It all works.

The trip through the mycelial network is beautiful and wonderfully realised by the Visual Effects team, and gives us a moment with Hugh that is meaningful and sweet.  The saving of Georgiou is satisfying, and the unexpected time-jump is surprising in a way that some of the twists on this show haven’t been.

It wraps everything up beautifully and leaves us hungry for more.

Predictions
In the After Trek preview, we see Admiral Katrina Cormwell and Sarek boarding the Discovery, but not too much else is given away.  I can’t begin to imagine what they will do with Georgiou, but whatever it is, I doubt the Emperor will be survive the season. I see her sacrificing herself for Michael.

A tiny spore lands on Tilly at the end of the episode. Is it, somehow, Hugh? Will it allow Paul to stay in touch with his beloved?

Is this the end of the Mirror Universe in Star Trek: Discovery? It feels like it should be, but I doubt it.

Whats Past Is Prologue - Georgiou and Burnham

Scorecard
Five Starfleet Deltas

This was a great episode, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the last two episodes this season.

See you in a day or two with a more prompt review.

Live long and prosper.

LCARS Interface

Episode 6 Recap and Review, and an Announcement from CBS

Star Trek Discovery Recap and Review Banner 27102017

Before we jump into everything, CBS made an important announcement earlier in the week: Star Trek: Discovery has been renewed for a second season!

Congratulations to everyone involved.  So much love, time, care and attention to detail has gone into the show and this is a fitting reward for all of that exceptional effort.  As a fan, I am over the moon happy!

Thank you CBS.

Okay.  Let’s dive into this weeks episode.

Lethe was the mystical underworld river of oblivion, and the Greek Spirit of forgetfulness and oblivion, after which the river was named.

The shades of the dead used to drink from her waters to forget their mortal lives.

Star Trek: Discovery, episode six, “Lethe”, draws from that inspiration as it plays with the idea of memory and the things we might want to forget.

This was another episode that went by in a flash.  It’s also another episode that will challenge those Trekkers among us who choose to stick rigidly to perceived canon.

I say perceived, because canon doesn’t mean “this is it, and this is all there can be,” it means “this is what we know for now.”  In Star Trek, canon is what we see on screen.

Personally, I enjoy having my own perceptions of canon expanded and in most cases Star Trek: Discovery treads just this side of going too far.  Where they have crossed the line, most of the time they’ve had to.  What worked in 1966 will not work in 2017.  Choices had to be made, and while some of those choices are a bit mystifying right now we’ve been told they’ll make sense.  Eventually.  Of course, having said that, there are some things we’ll just have to deal with – the most noticeable being the design aesthetic of the 21st Century vs the design aesthetic of an era where colour TV was brand new, and the world had never heard of things like the internet, cloud computing, and 3D printing.

After watching “Lethe”, I found myself both excited by the things I had learned in the episode, and I found myself thinking back over an article I wrote a few months back where I wondered if CBS was purposefully rebooting the entire television franchise, just like Paramount rebooted the movies.

Back when Star Trek: Discovery was still teasing us with a non-committal release date, I began thinking “is this a reboot of everything, using Star Trek: Enterprise as the jumping off point?

I’m pretty sure that’s not an original thought, by the way.

Now and again, watching this new iteration of Star Trek, I wonder if that is indeed what is happening.  Back when I first wrote about that idea, I encouraged the new creative team behind Star Trek to take the 15 best episodes of each season of the existing Treks (post Star Trek: Discovery) and redo them.  That’s sacrilege to a lot of Trekkers, I know, but I keep thinking of how deeply Star Trek both changed and defined my life, and keep hoping that it will do the same for children in this and following generations.  I grew up with TNG and its impact on my life and the way I live it is still significant today.

I also keep worrying that the earlier versions of Star Trek will become niche memories for a faithful few.  When we look back at the older iterations of Trek we see moments of sexism and we see a visual style that is… kind of flat and boring.  Even TNG and more recent Trek’s fail to live up to the dynamic and visual style of today’s event television.  Using Star Trek: Enterprise as a jumping off point, and then rebooting the entire franchise from there, isn’t a terrible idea if the reboot is faithful to the original.  So… not a Battlestar Galactica reboot.  Not even a J.J. Abrams Kelvin-timeline reboot.  An update of the original where certain things can be ‘tweaked’, like the sexism, like the ship’s computer in TOS which has already been surpassed by Siri, and like many of the props and effects that just don’t hold up today.  As much as many of us probably don’t like admitting it, Star Trek: Discovery is a more faithful imagining of the future than we were capable of in the 1960s.  Even the 1980s.

What made me think back over those things?  The Holodeck (?) battle simulation Ash and Lorca went through, and the simple realism of the set of the Discovery and the shows props and visuals.  We see things in this episode that are going to give the more strict among us reason to complain, but they make sense when held up against the reality and wider audience expectations of today.

Sometimes I think these changes come down to one question: do we want Star Trek to live long and prosper?

But, enough of my musing (heretical ramblings?).  Let’s get into the recap and review.

Sarek Looks Across Vulcan - Lethe

The Facts
Episode Number: 106
Episode Title: “Lethe”
Written By: Ted Sullivan and Trek alumni Joe Menosky
Directed By: Doug Aarniokoski

Quotable
Sarek to his assistant
: “In times of crisis, ignorance can be beneficial.

Tilly to Michael: “It’s been my experience, that what I lack in athletic ability I more than make up for in intelligence and personality.  We may want to focus on those attributes.
Michael to Tilly: “Everyone applying to the command training program will be smart.  Personality doesn’t count.
Tilly, in response: “That’s just something people with no personality say… wait!  Which in… which in no way means you… ah… you, you absolutely have a personality!

Tilly to the computer: “Computer, green juice.  Extra green.

Interesting Bits and Pieces
In the second scene of the episode, Michael is trying to help Tilly achieve her dream of one day becoming a captain.  In that scene, she name drops the Constitution Class and the USS Enterprise, recommending that Tilly aim to get on a ship like the Enterprise to help with her career aspirations.

In this same scene, both women are wearing an awesome little t-shirt with one word printed on it: Disco.  Disco has long been an internal production nickname for the show.

According to After Trek, the producers had no idea the t-shirts were going to appear!  Now, they’re canon, and you can bet you’ll be able to buy them some time soon.  That is, if you can’t already!  I admit, I haven’t done that search on the official website, eBay or Amazon yet.

In this episode, we also learn that the food synthesiser likes to comment on the nutritional quality of your order!  I like that… though I could see me telling the computer to shut up after a while!  I can’t stand my fridge beeping at me when I’ve had the door open for too long.  If my fridge started talking to me I’d probably unplug it.

We also learn, thanks to Admiral Cornwell, that the Discovery is the most advanced starship in the fleet.

The Recap and Review
After “last time on Star Trek: Discovery,” the episode jumps into a scene on Vulcan, which is beautiful.

The visuals are evocative of past glimpses of the planet, while bringing something new.  There is no doubting it’s Vulcan you’re visiting.  We find Sarek is looking out across a dessert locked, red tinged city scape as a ship hovers into view.

Sarek and an assistant board the vessel and take off across the surface of the planet, into space.

The ship is a new design but looks Vulcan, and, like Starfleet vessels, has an excellent heads up display that I really like.

We don’t know where Sarek and his companion are going.

That scene transitions beautifully into a shot of the Discovery sailing through the void, and then moves seamlessly to an interior shot of Michael and Tilly jogging along one of the spokes that connects the two halves of the saucer section of the Discovery.

Michael is helping Tilly develop some strategies and habits that will benefit her in her pursuit of command.

According to After Trek, this scene took eight hours to shoot because the corridors were only long enough to permit ten seconds of dialogue as the actors ran the full length.  So, the slight exhaustion you see on Sylvia Tilly’s face might actually be more than good acting.

The interchange between both characters is wonderful.  These two actors play off each other really well, and the chemistry is so easy to see on the screen.  While the dialogue is excellent, you can’t fake chemistry.  I often find myself silently congratulating everyone involved in the casting process.

As Tilly responds to Michael’s mentorship, dashing on ahead of the show’s leading lady, we cut to a scene of Lorca and Ash Tyler zapping Klingons.

Lorca, being Lorca, has a deep and meaningful (D&M) with Tyler as they run around in armour shooting stuff.  Seriously, this ship needs Deanna Troi.  If these two men ooze out any more testosterone and repressed rage the whole ship will drown in it.

In their macho-D&M session, we learn that Ash is from Seattle and has lost both parents.  He had a challenging relationship with his father, which might hint at Lorca being a bit of a surrogate for him – just like he seems to be for Michael.

Lorca and Ash - Lethe

In an interesting exchange where Ash lies to Lorca to help his captain save a bit of face we learn that Lorca really does want to be surrounded by the best.  And probably needs a hobby like knitting or yoga to avoid going absolutely batshit crazy.  This guy is wound so tight he’s going to snap at some point and Michael is going to have to trot out the mutiny card again.  Lorca chews Ash out and tells him he wants his Chief of Security to shoot better than he does.  Chief of Security?  Ash, DO NOT take that job!  The last one got mangled by an unhappy tardigrade!!

This exchange surprises Ash, who asks Lorca if he’s giving him a job?  In a potentially telling moment (if you go by the Ash is Voq theory), Lorca says: “Well, I figure I’ve seen you fly, shoot… fight like a Klingon…”  Fight light a Klingon.  Way to screw with our heads, Star Trek: Discovery writing team.

Ash brushes that off, saying that he learned a thing or two from the Klingons beating on him for seven months.

Lorca then affirms Ash’s appointment.

We jump back to Sarek and his assistant, who shoots himself up with a funky little needle that starts tracing a burning pattern up his arm.

Sarek quickly realises that his assistant knows just what it is he’s planning to do and isn’t happy about it.

The assistant turns out to be a fanatic – a “logic extremist” who believes that humans are inferior.

It’s a nice tip of the hat to Star Trek: Enterprise and the less than pro-human sentiment often expressed by the Vulcans of that era, and it’s a nice nod to what we’re going through as a world today with extremists threatening our way of life, and the pro-nationalist views of some.

The assistant’s mission?  To draw attention to Vulcan purity, and to encourage Vulcan as a world to withdraw from the “…failed experiment known as the Federation.”  With that, he blows himself up.  Sarek erects a forcefield between the two men just in time, but that doesn’t stop the explosion from sending Sarek’s shuttle spinning out of control, and it doesn’t stop Sarek from being wounded.

We cut to the credit sequence.  Which, I have to say, is really growing on me.

And then we return to the Discovery where Tilly is ordering a green juice.  That’s extra green.

She and Michael order breakfast, with Michael over ruling Tilly’s choice.  The ships computer backs Michael up, reading out the nutritional value of burritos.

Ash Tyler walks in, and the girls have a bit of a gossip about how he kicked Klingon ass.  Six asses, to be exact.  It’s an interesting exchange because Michael makes the same comment many of us have been making since the last episode… Klingons are tough.  How could one human over power so many single handedly?  This is such a throw away comment in the context of the scene that you just know it means something.

Tilly also observes that Lorca wants to adopt Ash.  Michael challenges that, but Tilly reminds her that Lorca did the same to her.

Michael Tilly and Ash

Tilly, proving she has no filter, then sits down at Ash’s table and blurts out “Scuttlebut is that you took out six Klingon warriors in hand to hand combat.

Ash tells her not to believe everything she hears, and then asks Michael to sit.  We have an exchange between Ash and Michael that is really nice as he refuses to judge her on her past actions, and prefers instead to make up his mind based on what he sees.  That impresses Michael and makes her look at this new crew member in a different light.

Then, Michael collapses in pain!

In a katra-contact moment, Michael is plunged into one of Sarek’s memories.

We’re on Vulcan watching Vulcan’s wander serenely through a pristine plaza.  It’s beautiful, and full of familiar little touches, including examples of the Vulcan alphabet.  We zero in on a family gathering and finally meet Amanda, played beautifully by Mia Kirshner.  She’s arguing with Sarek over what appears to be Michael’s rejection from the Vulcan Expeditionary Group.  A young Michael watches on.  As does the current Michael, observing the memory as an outsider.

Mia Kirshner as Amanda Grayson

Sarek becomes aware of the older Michael, and challenges her, forcing her out of the memory.

They appear in a neutral mental space, where Sarek tells her that ever since the bombing of the learning centre his Katra has been with her.

She wakes up in Sickbay before we get to go any deeper into that little addition to canon.

Doctor Culber is trying to work out what is wrong as Lorca watches on.  Michael opens her eyes.

She tells them Sarek is in trouble.  Lorca challenges her, and she reveals that she shares part of Sarek’s katra.  Lorca wants to know more, so she reminds him that after her parents were killed at a Vulcan outpost that was attacked by the Klingons, she was raised by Vulcans to be Vulcan.  She says that Sarek hoped she could serve as a bridge to show other Vulcan’s the potential in humanity.

She then reveals something new.  A group of logic extremists, who did not want humans in their culture, attempted to kill her a few years later, while she was at the Vulcan Learning Academy.  It was then, to save her life, that Sarek shared his katra with her.

She was dead for three minutes.  Sarek’s katra had healing powers and his life force saved her life.  She tells them it is a rare procedure, and frowned upon.  It’s this gift that enables a form of long term telepathy between both Sarek and Michael.

She tells Lorca that Sarek is in danger and asks him to rescue her adopted father.

Lorca checks the facts with Starfleet, and they confirm Michael’s claims.  Sarek was on a diplomatic mission to try and stop the war.

Lorca says he’ll rescue Sarek, but Starfleet forbids it.  Lorca, being Lorca, ignores them.

They jump to the nebula that was the last known location of Sarek’s shuttle.  Saru tells them that they can’t scan for the shuttle because of all of the interference in the nebula and that it will take months to search it because of its size.

Lorca and Michael visit Stamets to see if he can help by creating a device that will enhance Michael’s connection to Sarek.

Stamets says “yes” – and it is clear we have a brand new Stamets.  His interaction with the spore-drive has really changed him.  He’s more relaxed, almost euphoric.

After some discussion, he says he can create something for Burnham and gets to work.

We also learn he has a bit of an implant that enables him to safely (?) engage with the drive.

Lorca tells Burnham to get a team ready to help her with locating Sarek.

Lorca and Ash on Shuttle - Lethe

Michael asks Lorca to assign Tilly to help her, because she’s a genius, and, in a telling moment, because Michael needs her emotional support.

Daw… friendship.  I LOVE IT!

Lorca agrees, and then assigns Ash Tyler to help.

As Tilly, Ash and Michael load up the shuttle and get it ready to enter the nebula, Lorca visits Ash and orders Ash to bring Michael back in one piece… or to not come back at all.

Hmmm… what does Lorca want from Michael?  She’s brilliant.  She’s extraordinary in many ways, but what are Lorca’s plans for her?

We leave our intrepid rescuers for a moment to cut to Lorca examining a star chart as Admiral Katrina Cornwell warps in for a visit.  She boards the Discovery and proceeds to rip Lorca a new one for disobeying orders.

She’s also not happy that one of his crew experimented with eugenics.

Behind all of this anger from Cornwell, we learn, is genuine concern for an old friend.  Lorca is not the Lorca Cornwell remembers.

We leave them in that moment and jump to the shuttle where Michael is preparing to send a katra ‘jolt’ to Sarek to wake him up so that he’ll activate his ships transponder so that the Discovery can find him.

In a nice character moment, Michael is nervous and anxious.  She shares her feelings with Tilly and Ash and tells them how affected she is by the memory she was dragged into in her initial psychic contact with Sarek.  She believes he is reliving that memory in his dying moments because she is his greatest disappointment.

As she goes under, she tells them not to pull her out of the katra connection, no matter what happens.

And… we’re back in the Vulcan plaza, in the same memory.

Sarek - Lethe

Young Michael is talking to Amanda, who gives her a gift – an old fashioned copy of Alice in Wonderland.  Going back to “Context is for Kings”, it’s obvious Amanda had as much of an impact on Michael as Sarek did.

Sarek intrudes and tells them that Michael’s application to the Expeditionary Group was rejected.

Older Michael interjects, and Sarek breaks from the memory to do some kick-ass Vulcan martial arts on Michael.

Back in the shuttle, Michael is showing the effects of being psychically beaten up.

Ash orders Tilly to wake Michael, and as she comes to with a gasp we jump to Discovery and a dinner between Lorca and Cornwell.

They’re reminiscing.

Lorca and Cornwell - Lethe

She tells him she’s worried about him.

He justifies his behaviours using the excuse of war.  She’s not going to be put off and tells him he’s unfairly pushing his crew.

Eventually, she tells him that he’s changed since the destruction of the Buran.

He says he’s passed every test and is fine.  She’s smarter than that and suggests that maybe he’s suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).  So… he seduces her, because he’s either got PTSD or there’s something else going on.

She falls for it.  Maybe?  I’m not sure if Katrina lets it happen in a calculated attempt to further test Lorca, or lets him seduce her because she still carries a flame for this complicated man, but she takes off her badge and smiles at him…

And we’re back on the shuttle.

Michael is deeply affected by the memory she keeps seeing.

Ash gives Michael a reality check, and says that maybe the memory isn’t about her failure – but Sareks?

Michael dives back into the katra-connection.

We’re back in the same memory and Michael has had enough.  She challenges Sarek on the memory-scape, asking him what he’s hiding.  He attacks her and she holds her own.  She asks him what he doesn’t want her to see, and begs him to let her in.

He does.

He also affirms what Ash said.  He’s not fixated on Michael’s failure.  He’s focused on his own.

We learn that Michael was accepted into the Vulcan Expeditionary Group, but that the Vulcan’s were concerned.  Were Spock to apply and be accepted, there would be two non-Vulcans in what had once been a Vulcan only institution – one human raised to be a Vulcan, whom Sarek says he has crafted into a being of exquisite logic, and one half-human, half-Vulcan who is still (it seems) at school.

The Vulcan elder tells Sarek that what he has done is extraordinary, and that he applauds Sarek’s efforts to integrate humans into Vulcan culture, but that his attempts need to be titrated.

Sarek has to choose between Michael and Spock.

Michael learns that Sarek chose Spock.  This adds a beautiful, extra layer to the historic distance between Sarek and Spock.  It always seemed petty that Sarek was so ‘pissed’ with his son for choosing Starfleet, this adds another welcome dimension and gives that history more impact.

Michael tells Sarek that her rejection from the Vulcan Expeditionary Group hurt her deeply.

Sarek says he didn’t realise the impact then, but does now.  He apologises, as only a Vulcan can: “I failed you, Michael Burnham.”

As he collapses on the memory-scape, he admits his shame.

Michael asks him to show her how to save him, like he saved her.  He helps her initiate a mind-meld and she wakes Sarek up.  He activates the transponder.

We cut to Lorca and Cornwell in bed.  She traces the scars on his back, which wakes him up.  Instead of snuggle time, he grabs a phaser from under his bed and rolls on top of her holding it to her face.

She loses her shit… and rightfully so.

She tells him he lied on his psyche evaluation and that his behaviour is pathological.  She finishes with the worst thing she could say: “I can’t leave Starfleets most powerful weapon in the hands of a broken man.

This illicits a genuine response from Lorca as he begs to keep his ship.  He admits his lie, admits that he needs help.  She tells him that she hates that she can’t tell if this is the real Lorca or not, and leaves.

Saru interrupts to tell Lorca that the crew are back from their mission.  Sarek is going to be alright, but he can’t finish his mission of peace.  Lorca says that Cornwell can.

Burnham thanks Lorca and in return he gives her a real assignment.  On the bridge.  She’s now the science specialist.

As Lorca leaves, she goes to visit Sarek.  He initially tries to dodge her question about what he remembers of the rescue, but she’s not having any of it.  Michael asks him to help her understand why he did what he did, so that they can come closer rather than be pushed further apart, because that’s what families do.  He says that technically they’re not related, and she tells him he can do better than that, but she won’t push him.  She tells him “We’ll have this conversation one day… father,” and leaves Sarek, looking a little lost, perhaps even a little shamed, in Sickbay.

Admiral Cornwell takes up the challenge of completing Sareks mission.  Lorca is waiting for her in the shuttlebay as she gets ready to leave.  She tells him that she doesn’t want to ruin his career, but adds that when she returns they will talk about how he steps down.  There’s compassion in her voice and it’s clear she believes her decision to be the right one – for Lorca, for the Discovery and her crew, and for Starfleet.

Lorca can’t find a response, and instead wishes her luck in her negotiations.

Just a side note, I love the new shuttlebay.  It’s magnificent.  It looks real, and it looks used.  It looks like it belongs on a ship like Discovery that has been busy both with a mission of science and exploration (previously), and now a mission of defence. The shuttle bays on the original Enterprise and Enterprise-D always bugged me because they looked… plastic and totally unused.  Even with transporters, those ships would have been busy with freight transfer and various visitors but they just looked lifeless.

We change scenes at this point to an interaction between Tilly and Michael.  Tilly is running through the corridors again.  Michael tells her, “I gave you bad advice.  There are a million ways to get to the captain’s chair.  Find your own.”  Tilly responds with, “I have,” and keeps running.

We follow Michael to the mess hall where she sits down with Ash Tyler.  Michael, obviously affected by her chats with both Sarek and Tilly, is in a reflective space.  She opens up to Ash, and we see a woman who is slowly coming to terms with the complicated relationship she has with her adopted father, and maybe even the internal conflict she feels as a human who has spent a great deal of her life trying too hard to be a Vulcan rather than a balanced amalgam of both.

To close the scene, Michael introduces herself to Ash, who is a bit confused at first because they know each other, but then gets it.  Michael has had an epiphany, or perhaps even a little bit of a rebirth and with a smile he takes her extended hand.

We leave this budding friendship? romance? to visit with Admiral Cornwell.  Let’s just say things go bad.  Her guards are killed.  The meeting hosts are killed.  Kol pops up as a hologram and Cornwell is taken prisoner.

In the last scene, Saru reports to Lorca, telling him Cornwell has been captured.  Prick-Lorca is in full swing as Saru tells Lorca they can start to calculate a jump to rescue her and Lorca says no.  Saru is taken aback.  Lorca rationalises his sudden “by the book” caution beautifully.

He orders Saru to notify Starfleet Command and to seek guidance.  Saru is surprised, but no doubt relieved by this change in his captain.  Saru is awesome, but he’s not a great first officer.

As he leaves to follow orders, Lorca closes the door of his quarters and the episode ends with him staring out the window as we focus on his reflection.

Is his reflection smiling?

Is this another hint at the upcoming Mirror-Universe episode?

I just know we’re going to have to wait a while and see.

USS Discovery in Flight

I really enjoyed this episode on so many levels.  I love the additional context to Sarek’s disappointment with Spock’s decision to go into Starfleet, as I mentioned earlier in the recap, and I’m intrigued by where the whole cloaking technology thing is going with the Klingons.

Historically, according to canon, the Klingons obtained their cloaking technology from the Romulans.  So… did T’Kuvmar negotiate that and then Kol meter it out through the Empire as he demanded loyalty from the various Houses?

Quite a few questions were raised in this episode.  Is the need for eugenic experimentation on humans what kills the spore-drive?  Does that mean we’re going to lose Stamets?

Is Ash Voq?  I keep trying to determine from Shazad Latif’s performance if he is, but can’t yet.

One the things I like most about this series, is the growth we’re starting to see in the characters.  They’re not fully realised.  They’re “becoming.”  We’re really seeing it in Michael’s character – and it’s a beautiful thing and very measured.  The writers have paced it beautifully, certainly a lot better than Star Trek: Voyager‘s writing team paced the integration of the Maquis and Tom Paris back into Starfleet.

Lorca’s character also continues to grow (or perhaps, more appropriately, be revealed), and it is evident he is a very damaged human being.  Did he recommend Admiral Katrina Cornwell go to the Klingons because he was hoping she’d be captured or killed?  Does winning the war mean that much to him?

We haven’t seen much of Saru recently, which is a little disappointing, but I get it.  The writers needed to set up Ash Tyler.  This will change, I believe, with Michael now on the bridge.

I like the addition to canon of the katra-communication.  There’s a parallel here to the mycelial network.  If there’s a bunch of spores spread throughout the universe that can be used as a source of navigation, why couldn’t a psychic ability have that kind of range?  I’m just not sure what the writers are getting it?  There’s a definite but very subtle spiritual aspect to this show, that hints at the interconnection of life.  Starfleet represents that and always has.  We’re all ‘star stuff’ and our commonalities are more interesting and meaningful than our differences, and so we should come together and celebrate that infinite diversity in its infinite combinations.

Though the Vulcan’s are best known for that philosophy of diversity, it’s interesting to see them still struggling with Surak’s teachings.  It is a nice echo from Star Trek: Enterprise, and I loved seeing Sarek be the main proponent of that concept with his attempts to unite the Vulcan people and humanity.  He will, of course, continue to do that kind of work throughout the history of Star Trek as he seeks to unite other disparate peoples.  Spock, of course, will eventually follow in his father’s footsteps.

All of this stuff also gives merit to Sybok.  Imagine being the oldest child growing up in such a mixed household?  You have a human step-mother, a human adopted sister and a half-human younger brother.  You can imagine Sybok sitting back and observing the strengths in both as his father seeks to bring two important worlds together.  All of this actually helps make sense of Sybok, but it also paints Sarek, always one of my favourite characters, as a vital part of the Federation.

By the time we really get to know Sarek, in the movie-era and in TNG, he’s an elder statesman who is held in high regard by everyone.  Star Trek: Discovery is helping us see why and how – despite his stubborn streak!

It’s just one opinion, but my opinion is that Star Trek: Discovery gives more to Star Trek than some of the other spin-off series.  It’s giving the entire collection of series’ and films a level of depth that I really appreciate.

Last but not least, there is not one bad performance.  Again.  Particular praise needs to be heaped on Sonequa Martin-Green, Jason Isaacs and James Frain.

How lucky are we to have such amazing actors bringing these characters to life?

Scorecard

Five Starfleet Deltas
Five out five Starfleet Deltas.  This was another exceptional outing.

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 the USA and Canada, Star Trek: Discovery airs on Netflix with new episodes dropping in the UK at 8:00am BST on Mondays, and in Australia at 6:00pm AEDT, also on Mondays.  We only have three more episodes until the mid-season break, so make sure you tune in.

Live long, and prosper.  See you next episode for “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad.”

LCARS Interface

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.

LCARS Interface

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.

Star Trek Discovery EW Photoshoot 1

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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Lorca and Burnham

Star Trek Discovery Update 22062017

One of the biggest questions to pop up after the most recent Star Trek: Discovery trailer was… where was Captain Lorca?

It seems he was a special surprise being kept for Entertainment Weekly, who have an article on the new series coming out in their next issue.

But before we get to that…

Yesterday, the star of Discovery spoke about something a lot of us have been contemplating since the release of the trailer – what is Lieutenant Commander Burnham’s relationship with Vulcan?  And, in particular, Sarek.

Sonequa shared some information on her character’s arc with Entertainment Weekly:

I have an inner war and it’s a journey of self discovery and finding out what it means to be alive, to be human, to be a Starfleet officer, what it means to be a hero.

Yes.  The character is human.  Many of us wondered if she might in fact be a Vulcan.

We were wrong!

On her connection to Vulcan, she said, “I have the Vulcan conflict in my life from Sarek and Amanda so there’s always going to be that inner conflict with me.  But I think it’s relatable because we all have some kind of inner conflict going on – who we are versus who we present ourselves to be.  There’s a lot to be discovered.

It might seem a little wanky, but the thing I love about this show is that it feels like the title, Discovery, is about more than just the ship or some ‘meta’ sort of “we’re out here discovering things” vibe.  It seems like the title runs through everything, from the intimate lives of each character, to the ‘macro’ stuff of discovering strange new worlds, and new civilisations.

And Captain Lorca?  What about him?  Well, that’s Gabriel Lorca to you.  Yes, he finally has a first name!

We don’t know a great deal about him, other than his name (finally), and the fact that he’s a brilliant military strategist.

Does that give us a hint about the Discovery‘s mission?  Might that add something to the strange markings on the USS Discovery, as visible in the most recent image of the ship?

Close Up of the USS Discovery

Are those markings meant to differentiate the ship from others in Starfleet in some way?  Is the Discovery covert ops?  Was the Shenzhou also covert ops – and is that why the uniforms for both crews are slightly different to what we’re used to – which is, for want of a better term, the exploration arm of Starfleet?  We now know that the Shenzhou is an older ship, so it would be interesting to get a close up of it’s dorsal section to see if it bears similar markings to those on the Discovery.  Could they be from the same fleet… sub-fleet(?) of Starfleet?  There are way too many ‘fleets’ in that sentence!

There is precedent – for there being more than one fleet (that’s an historic precedent) and for differing uniform designs (within Star Trek).

Fleets first… at the moment, the United States maintains seven fleets in its Navy, according to Wikipedia:
– United States Fleet Forces (formerly the Second Fleet, and both Homeland Defence and taking care of the North Atlantic);
– United States Third Fleet (East Pacific);
– United States Fourth Fleet (South Atlantic);
– United States Fifth Fleet (the Middle East);
– United States Sixth Fleet (Europe);
– United States Seventh Fleet (West Pacific), and;
– United States Tenth Fleet (Fleet Cyber Command, and formerly the anti-submarine warfare coordinating organisation).

If Discovery is set in 2255, as has been indicated, that’s 100 years after the events depicted in Star Trek: Enterprise (Seasons 1-4 happen between 2151 and 2155 – with the season 4 finale taking place in 2161), and there could still be a hangover from that pre-Federation era where we had Starfleet and the MACO (Military Assault Command Operations) – both answerable to the government of Earth, but one more militaristic than the other.  Do we know what happened to them?  I know that at some point their responsibilities were passed on to Starfleet Security… but did something survive?  Did the MACO have a new life in between the time of Archer and the time of Kirk?

The uniforms… well, the MACO had a completely different uniform to our friends in Starfleet.  Obviously, two different organisations, but serving the same government.

If the MACO continued in a slightly different form, as a part of Starfleet – as a specialist fleet, might they not have a different uniform?  That’s way out there, because if we were to use the US military as an example, the different fleets mentioned above don’t have different uniforms but this is the 23rd Century!

To me, Starfleet and the MACO are kind of like NASA and the US Military.  NASA is an independent agency of the executive branch of the US Federal Government and is in essence civilian, but it recruits from the military to fill some of its positions.  The US Military are the federal armed forces of the United States and, like NASA, are answerable to the government.  Do we have something similar going on in this era of Star Trek?  Could Burnham, Lorca and Georgiou be part of a new (or old), more military arm of Starfleet?  Hey, I’m doing what fans do.  Divining explanations from random sources to create ‘head-cannon’.

Ah… speculation, my old friend…

But I digress.  We were talking about Captain Lorca before I went on a flight of fancy.

Entertainment Weekly have very generously released the first official image of Captain Gabriel Lorca, on the bridge of the USS Discovery.  We don’t get to see much of the bridge, but we do get Lorca looking every bit a Captain and every bit a man who could most definitely be a military genius.

Jason Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca.jpg

He looks good, hey?

It’s been a really exciting week for news on Discovery.  If any more pops up, we’ll be sure to share it with you here.

If you’d like to check out the Entertainment Weekly exclusive, and subscribe to EW for the actual article when it comes out, click here.

Of interest to some of you, Kirsten Beyer and Ted Sullivan have been getting pretty active on Twitter recently, running non-spoiler Q&As.  If you want to check them out – and I recommend you do – follow @StarTrekRoom (the Star Trek: Discovery Writers Room) and @karterhol (Ted Sullivan).

If you’d like to read the most recent exchange, visit TrekMovie, here.

Now that we’ve seen Jason as Lorca, I am hanging for a new trailer so we can watch him in action and see how he and Sonequa bounce off each other!

I am so excited for this series!  What a cast.  How beautiful does it look?

Star Trek: Discovery airs on CBS (first episode only), CBS All Access, and Space (in Canada) on the 24th of September, and on the 25th of September for Netflix and international audiences.

It stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Jason Isaacs, Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones, Terry Serpico, Maulik Pancholy, James Frain, Anthony Rapp, Chris Obi, Shazad Latif, Sam Vartholomeos, Mary Chieffo, Kenneth Mitchell, Mary Wiseman, Rekha Sharma, Damon Runyan, Clare McConnell and Rainn Wilson.

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