A Review of Star Trek: Discovery’s “The Vulcan Hello” and “Battle at the Binary Stars”

Image Credit: StarTrek.com

To say that Star Trek fans (Trekkies, as our preferred moniker goes) have waited an ungodly amount of time for a new series is, quite frankly, the understatement of the year; it’s a downright unforgivable sin, to say the least. It’s like a never-ending game of roshambo, only, we never get dibs on the first kick. Well, that wait finally came to an end Sunday night. But, before we delve into my thoughts on the series, I must first get something off of my chest. I think CBS’s decision to put Discovery on a streaming service is a greedy cash-grab which preys upon the immutable fact that we will ultimately all pay in order to watch. It’s bad enough they made us wait over a decade for a new series, but to then force us to open our wallets to watch is nothing less than pouring salt into fandom’s proverbial wound. It’s a dick-move, one that I hope doesn’t, in some way, hurt the reception and success of Discovery.

*takes a deep breath*

Okay, enough with the whining. Let’s talk about Discovery. Full disclosure before we begin: I’ll be discussing plot points that will ruin the episodes for you if you haven’t already watched both. Activate reverse thrust on my command if you have yet to indulge! On my mark, Mister Sulu….3….2….1….

Still there? Okay, just checking. Let’s get to it, then….

If you’ve subscribed to CBS All Access, you’ll undoubtedly already know that Episode 2 is ready for viewing as we speak. I watched both inaugural episodes Sunday night, and let me tell you, they did not disappoint. Everything about it felt cinematic and “grand” in scope, something we haven’t experienced with any of the previous shows. I didn’t feel like I was watching a television show; I felt like I was watching the latest movie-installment in the franchise.

As for the cast, I’m really digging it; well, at least those who haven’t already been massacred by the Klingons. Two episodes in and we’ve already lost our Captain and most of the crew, as well as our First Officer to a prison-term (thanks for the tease, ya smarmy bastards). However, we’ll be receiving a reprieve in the form of the amazing Jason Isaacs next Sunday. From the little that the previews have shown us, he doesn’t seem all that different from Peter Weller’s Admiral Marcus in Into Darkness, but only time will tell how “sound” my logic really is; that is, if they don’t kill him off as well. Oy vey…..

When we were first treated to the show’s casting announcements, I was a wee skeptical of Discovery’s inclusion of a young Sarek. I mean, I love James Frain. He’s a fine actor, and he’s been great in everything I’ve seen him in; but this was a different beast he’d be tackling, one that carried with it Godzilla-sized shoes to be filled. After all, Mark Lenard has been seared into all of our minds as thee only male parental of our favorite Vulcan (although, Ben Cross has done a great job in the Abrams films). Could Jimbo possibly win us over? To answer my own query – yes. After two episodes, I’m sold like an Orion slave girl. His Sarek is a bit snarky, but so was Lenard’s when we first met him on the bridge of the Enterprise in Journey To Babel. I loved the back-and-forth between him and Burnham when they first arrived on the Shenzhou. It made me laugh when he casually scolded her, instructing her to “behave,” as he exited to the transporter.

Speaking of scenes, one of my favorites was the one in which Sonequa Martin-Green’s Michael Burnham strategically outsmarted the ship’s computer to get out of the brig. It was a very “Kirkian” move (if that’s a word) and a nice tip-of-the-hat to The Original Series.

So, after binging, and re-binging the first two installments, I’m left with the following curiosities:

  • How did Sarek come to be Burnham’s ward after her parents were killed by Klingons?
  • Where in the timeline does this put Sarek’s past? Has he already met Amanda? Are they married yet? And if so, has Spock already been born?
  • Will we get to see more of Burnham’s past in regards to how she became the first human to attend The Vulcan Learning Center and Science Academy?
  • Since Discovery is set a mere 10 years before The Original Series, is it possible we’d cross paths with young versions of our beloved and future Enterprise crew?

I know, I know….so many friggin’ questions! I’ll just have to tap into my inner Vulcan, and allow time to unfold at the pace that it was meant to unfold. Dammit, Jim!

Lastly, before we part ways, I wanted to share a little tidbit that I think you’ll find quite fascinating. I was listening to Sunday night’s Engage Podcast episode right after the premiere, and its host Jordan Hoffman, who attended the Red Carpet screening, was talking a little bit about the event that night. It took place at the ArcLight’s Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, with the cast and crew, as well as past Trek alumni. Of course, up until last night’s series debut, there was an embargo on all reviews about the show. During the screening, right before “The Vulcan Hello” began, the audience was treated to a little message from James Frain, in full Sarek character and regalia. He came on-screen and told the audience, from the deck of the Discovery, “I know you’re excited, it’s a very emotional, human response. It would even be logical to share this with your social network. However, do not. For those of you who are compelled to take video, we have some guards”……I’m paraphrasing, but it was something to that effect. The “guards” he was referring to were Klingons off to the side, each with a bat’leth in-hand.

Well, I’m sure much more will be revealed over the next several months. I was hoping that we’d get a full network-season, but it appears that the first will only be 15-episodes; a little longer than a Netflix season, but much shorter than the usual 22 or 23 we’re accustomed to. I’m not complaining, though. I’m just so damn happy that, after many, many moons, we finally have another Star Trek series on-air. Here’s to six more seasons, friends….

 



Categories: Science Fiction, Show Reviews, Star Trek, Television

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