Star Trek: Discovery

SF elements: Star Trek

  1. season 1. 2017
  2. season 2. 2019
  3. season 3. 2020
  4. season 4. 2021

2018 / DVD

15 × 45 min episodes

season 1 review

I recall when this first came out hearing a lot of fannish criticism, from the uniforms to the plot. I hadn’t heard whether that died down during the season or not. But we thought we’d give it a try anyway.

So, we are in the Star Trek universe, about 100 years after Enterprise, and 10 years before the Original Series. I’m not sure if it joins up with the original TV timeline, or the new movie series timeline (which I personally consider to be non-canon); maybe that never becomes clear. Michael Burnham, adopted daughter of Sarek and Amanda, is cashiered for mutiny at the start of the Klingon war with the Federation. Despite this, she ends up on board the starship Discovery, with its experimental spore drive, a key weapon against the Klingons.

This is not your typical light optimistic Star Trek. It unfolds into a dark season arc; it has a (deliberately) non-funny Harry Mudd episode, a “Groundhog Day” episode, a Mirror Universe episode, a lot of very nasty Klingons, a lot of very nasty Terrans, a captain acting dubiously, Starfleet acting dubiously, and more. It plays like grimdark non-canon Star Trek fanfic (what happened to the spore drive? why had we not seen Kelpiens before, or since?), yet also weaves in bits of early Original Series background.

It starts off slowly, but as the existence of the arc becomes established, the tension mounts. Characters die. Other characters are not what they seem. There are several jaw-droppingly unexpected moments. It’s really rather good.

Now for season 2…

Rating: 3
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 9 April 2020

2019 / DVD

14 × 45 min episodes

season 2 review

The Search for Spock’s Heart

Season 2 combines a time travel subplot, a Starfleet Has a Problem subplot, and Why Captain Pike Has Spock’s Loyalty subpolt, all to great intertwining effect. It manages the complexity and interest of Season 1, with a very different feel – no Klingon War or Mirror Universe, although repercussions of these are still around – but an initally smaller scale problem that ramps up to an even bigger existential crisis. And a semi-plausible ret-con of why we never heard of any of these events during ToS (except for the events of The Cage – the Pike arc is excellently done).

A dramatic ending promises a season 3 again unlike its predecessors. Complex arcs and the lack of reboot at end of each episode makes for a much more interesting experience.

Rating: 3
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 8 July 2020

2020 / DVD

13 × 45 min episodes

season 3 review

Season 3

Michael Burnham travels nearly 1000 years into her future, to protect the galaxy from the rogue AI Control, and the crew of Discovery vote to follow her. There they discover that the catastrophic Burn has nearly destroyed the Federation, and led to a breakdown of law and order. Their task: to discover the source of the Burn, and to restore Starfleet.

Since we are no longer in the familiar world of ToS, there are fewer opportunities to link into that world (although there is a terrific one late in the season). But we get a whole new world to play in, with a Michael Burnham even more disinclined to follow orders due to making her own way for the year before Discovery arrived (hair does not grow that much in a year, though?), the exploration of a new problem, and the humanisation of ex-Emperor Phillipa Georgiou.

No cliffhanger ending, but clearly set up for more adventures.

Rating: 3
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 24 March 2022

2022 / DVD

13 × 45 min episodes

season 4 review

Season 4

Michael Burnham and her crew have successfully restored Starfleet. Now they need to save the galaxy from a weird dark matter anomaly.

This season is a bit more pedestrian than previously (mainly due to the lack of Phillipa Georgiou). Again, we get none of the fascinating back-story infilling, because we are so far in the future. We have a galaxy-shattering problem, and only Captain Burnham and her crew from the past can fix it, yet they spend a lot of time emoting and agonising, rather than doing. However, there are enough interesting little snippets (such as the relationship between Saru and Ni'Var President T'Rina) to keep the story moving along.

Galaxy saved, no cliffhanger ending, but a fifth season is in the works.

Rating: 3.5
[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 6 November 2023