Sunday night we were formally introduced to the crew of the USS Discovery; and quite the introduction, it was. I’m still not sure why my Spidey Sense has been tingling without pause, but strange things are afoot at the Circle K, my friends; strange things, indeed.
It’s been six months since the events which unfolded in episodes 1 and 2. Lieutenant Commander Saru has been promoted to First Officer of the Discovery, and (former) First Officer Michael Burnham has been remanded to prison for her crime of mutiny – or whatever passes as a “prison” in the 23rd century. After her transport, en route to the aforementioned confinement, runs afoul of a situation, she, as well as the rest of her vanpool are rescued by the Discovery. Burnham is called to the captain’s ready room, and it is there that she meets Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs). I’m not sure if “smarmy” is the correct adjective to describe our new captain, but he’s definitely giving me the Admiral Marcus vibes. There’s something ulterior going on with this feller, but we haven’t been given enough to put our collective finger on it. The glass display case housing a Gorn skeleton aside, he does have a pet Tribble. So he can’t be all that bad, right?
We’re also introduced to three additional crew members aboard our new starship: Commander Ellen Landry (Rekha Sharma), Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman), and Lieutenant Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp). Stamets’ initial introduction is a bit off-putting because, quite frankly, he comes off as a dick. I mean, I get it, you have a prisoner aboard your ship who not only seems to have ingratiated herself with the captain, but who’s also just been assigned to work on your project (hell of an annoyance, if you ask me). However, never once does Burnham give him any reason to be a prick; he just feels like she’s the perfect target to vent his frustrations with the whole situation upon, especially given her high-profile within Starfleet. I found myself wanting to know more about Mr. Stamets’ background on the show, so I perused the interwebs for further information, and came upon a doozy of a tidbit. So, I’m sure by now those of you astute enough to do a bit of “Sherlocking” yourselves have also come upon this exciting news. Lieutenant Stamets is not only the first gay character in a Star Trek television series (although some could argue “Q” was really the first), he’s one of two on the show. His lover (who we have yet to meet) is none other than Rickie Vasquez of My So-Called Life. Wilson Cruz will be playing Doctor Hugh Culber this season, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be the ship’s chief medical officer or merely one of several doctors on the Discovery. Either way, it’s about friggin’ time, Star Trek!
Rounding out the newbs is Commander Ellen Landry, who we are shown very little about, other than her being complicit in Captain Lorca’s shady extracurricular activities, and Cadet Sylvia Tilly, who is quickly growing on me. She’s overly quirky, and a bit of a nervous spaz, but she’s cute, and seems to have a good heart. There’s great scene at the end, in which Burnham is telling her about how her foster mother on Vulcan used to read “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” to her when she was a little girl, because the two of them were the only humans in the household (her foster mother’s son being Vulcan). When the cadet asks Burnham for her name, she replies “Amanda”. I think I audibly reacted with a “Saaa-weet, baby Jesus!” Upon further “Sherlocking,” I discovered that Mia Kirshner has been cast as Amanda Grayson. So, it would appear we may be seeing a young Spock after all, folks. I patiently await with bated breath.
In this episode we were also treated to some pretty cool science fiction aspects, as well; that is, in addition to the flying starship and talking aliens (OMG, Eric). It’s revealed by Captain Lorca at the end that they’ve been working on developing a new propulsion system, one that allows for instantaneous transport; not unlike how, for you X-Men fans, Nightcrawler teleports from one spot to another. The way Lorca describes it is, “A microscopic web that spans the entire cosmos; an intergalactic ecosystem of an infinite number of roads leading everywhere.” So, essentially, you’d travel on microscopic spores that work like tiny, interconnected wormholes. Now that’s some old-school, Star Trek sci-fi for you right there, boys and girls. Damn, Gina, I missed this stuff.
Like you, I’ve been a bit curious as to how the show is going to explain-away any continuity breaches that will probably surface, like the new propulsion system. Well, Jordan Hoffman of the Star Trek podcast “Engage” brought up a great point. Since it would appear that Discovery is involved in some sort of black ops type of business, everything we have been privy to thus far could easily be rendered “classified” information. Therefore, everything they are doing and everyone they are encountering could conceivably remain under wraps for any and all future Starfleet generations, including Kirk and crew. So, take a deep breath and exhale, my friends. Our beloved crews of yesteryear, and all of their experiences, remain wholly intact; just like Shatner’s varying styles of fabulous hairpieces.