Back to its roots
*This article contains spoilers. Continue at your own peril.*
It’s been a long road, getting from there to here, but it was definitely worth it. Star Trek: Discovery is back, and there have been a few changes between the seasons. The first season was plagued with drama during production, which left its mark on the show, but now it’s all over. With Alex Kurtzman in the showrunner’s chair the Discovery is back to being an exploratory vessel on the outskirts of the known galaxy.
There is a new possible threat looming over the war-weary Federation: mysterious red… lights, I want to say? There are a bunch of them all over the galaxy, and the crew of Discovery needs to find out what they are. Are they a form of greeting? Are they a message of aggression?
Well, whatever they are, the crew is ready to find out. As you may remember, the first season ended with the appearance of the iconic USS Enterprise, which turned out to be kind of a let-down, since its only job was to bring Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) to the Discovery so he can take charge. Meanwhile, most of our original protagonists are still on board. Michael seems to have found her place in Starfleet again, Saru is acting-captain, Stamets wants to leave because the ship reminds him of his dear doctor and Tilly is still bubbly, and still there to lighten the mood. They are all a bit wary about Pike at first, but after him and Burnham have a speech-off they realise he’s cool. He is nice to the crew, asks Saru and Burnham for opinions and doesn’t mind having fun.
He brings a redshirt and a science officer with him on board, and, after introductions, the Discovery warps to a red thing. The signal led them to an asteroid field. One of the big ones has a gravitational field (which it shouldn’t have, it’s too small), and they find a medical vessel, the USS Hiawatha crashed on its surface. Burnham, Pike, redshirt and blueshirt try to fly to the surface, but kid-of-unlikable science guy hits an asteroid and blows up. In the wreck of the Hiawatha they find Jett Reno, an engineer with dry humour who kept some of the crew alive. It’s Star Trek, medicine and mechanics are interchangeable. They beam everyone up, except for Burnham, who heroically stays behind, and, after a spectacular escape, gets knocked out by debris. CoolCaptain Pike rescues her, and during transport they find out the rocks contain non-baryonic matter. After all this, Tilly catches a big rock and almost everybody’s safe.
But just as the Enterprise was a bit lacklustre, so was the hype around Spock. Burnham expected him to come with Pike and has a couple of flashbacks about him. We find out he had visions of these red things and left to solve the problem alone.
‘Brother’ reminded me a lot of the newer Star Trek movies. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, since Kurtzman was a writer and producer on those as well. It’s fast-paced, action-packed, full of quotable lines and funny one-liners.
Which happens a lot more in this first episode. I smiled, chuckled or laughed more times during these 40 minutes, than I did during the whole of the first season. This is what I mean when I say Discovery is back where it belongs: Star Trek for me isn’t a dark Sci-fi about the follies of man; it is a show about mankind’s best and brightest trying to make a good impression on every other species. I liked the first season very much, but I believe we all need Star Trek’s optimistic curiosity in our lives right now. We have a loveable captain, a crew that’s full of individuals, with actual names and a mystery to solve. What could go wrong?
*Star Trek: Discovery is back on Netflix with new episodes every Friday*
Cover photo by Jan Thijs/CBS