Or is this Star Trek: Black Ops? The third episode is full of promise for what could be a really good series. Once again, the broad strokes and characters are good but the plot details still need attention.
It is six months after the events of the first two episodes. Michael Burnham is on a shuttle transport amid some kind of space storm on her way with other prisoners to some space mines etc.
Viewer alert: engage disbelief suspension system. Beep, beep, beep. Space opera mode engaged: disbelief suspended.
It’s Star Trek, it wants more fake realism than other SF properties but this is still a rubber headed alien universe with tribbles and space monsters. I resolved to give it some more slack when the hull of the shuttle gets infected with electricity eating bugs.
Rescued by the surprise arrival of the USS Discovery, Michael finds herself back aboard a Starfleet ship – with her reputation as the mutinous officer who plunged Starfleet into a war with the Klingon Empire already well established.
And at last, the show proper appears to have started. This is a dark and sinister Starfleet – different from but consistent with the Starfleet of the original and of TNG. By ‘consistent with’ I mean that this shady side of Starfleet has appeared on numerous occasions. Not every officer is Kirk or Picard and not every action of Starfleet in its previous incarnations have been ethically non-dubious.
Enter Captain Lorca, Jason Issacs with an American accent* but otherwise delightfully Jason Issacs. The Discovery is a brand new, top of the range starship but…one dedicated to scientific research and some distance away from the frontlines. This despite the Federation being embroiled in a bloody war with the Klingon Empire.
Even by the end of the episode and after several revelations, we don’t know what exactly he is up to but everything (right down to Lorca obviously graduating from the Slytherin house of Starfleet Academy) is pointing to not good stuff. This is still the Starfleet of Star Trek but Lorca is apparently the sort of captain that Kirk would have ended up punching or Picard would have given a stern lecture to. There’s a whiff of the Genesis Project and other dodgy science experiments that would have provoked McCoy into exclaiming that you shouldn’t play at being God.
The plot does a detour into a spooky spaceship-with-everybody-dead section that is well done (and in keeping with the story) if over-familiar. However, the main thrust is Michael once again being on a starship and encountering new crew members and old comrades. There is no easy forgiveness here, in particular, Michael is seeking no forgiveness for herself.
Worth watching? Yes, mainly because I really like Michael Burnham as a character – an impulsive logician who has messed up more deeply than they ever thought possible. I’m hooked enough that I really want to see the next episode.
Bits and pieces:
- I’d like to know what happened to the prison shuttle pilot.
- An additional nod to Spock as an unnamed foster brother.
- Michael owns a copy of Alice in Wonderland – which is a great touch: an absurd novel about meaning and nonsense by a logician.
- Cadet Tilly was meant to be annoying I think but was quite likeable.
- I’m not sure Lt Stamets was meant to be annoying but he was.
- Saru is the only other returning character from the first two episodes with any lines. Played by Doug Jones who was Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies.
- I’m sure my Netflix app said this episode would be available next Monday rather than today? Did they move the schedule forward? If so smart move – it rekindled my interest.
- The minor plot hole flaws and the less-than-progressive Starfleet remain as issues from the first two. I don’t think those are going away as issues.
- A redshirt goes to redshirt Valhalla. Except they are wearing blue obviously. Not sure how they are colour coded but given the away team was a mix of security and engineering, they were definitely a redshirt by ToS nomenclature.
- “Is he shushing you?” best line.
- I’m blogging this episode by episode now? I wish somebody had warned me of that.
- Netflix keeps pushing me to watch an aftershow-show which I refuse to do because such things are always annoying.
- OK, I’ll do an episode ranking.
- Episode 3: Context is for Kings
- Episode 2: Battle at the Binary Stars
- Episode 1: The Vulcan Hello
That looks like a promising direction.
Disbelief systems re-engaging. Woop, woop woop.Disbelief system no longer suspended.
No, but seriously, what the heck was that space storm supposed to be? Random space weather? Random space weather with electricity eating bugs in it? Random space weather with electricity eating bugs in it and to get them off you have to climb out of your shuttle and what(?) scrape them off? And forced prison labour? And they feed the dangerous prisoners in the regular ship canteen? Because why? They’ve got food replicators all over the ship fer goodness sake.
*[I like it when actors get to keep their accent but in this case, Lorca sounding British would have turned the ‘sinister’ up way too high]