You never have to look hard to find original programming on streaming services. And if you’re a bit of a geek, well, streaming services are definitely for you. Stranger Things, Jessica Jones, and The Handmaid’s Tale are all wildly popular.
But what about pure science fiction? Better yet, what about a sci-fi franchise that’s been around for over 50 years? Why yes, it’s another new Star Trek show! But not just any Star Trek show. Oh, no. This one has updated special effects and a grittier, darker, more mature storyline.
Star Trek: Discovery has just wrapped up its first season on CBS All Access. At the beginning of the season, the Federation (the good guys) go to war with the Klingons, (Star Trek’s classic enemies/allies). The series never lets up on the action.
The Klingons are styled in a completely different way than previous generations of Trek. The writers could have just called them a completely different race. But they are Klingons, so let’s just deal with it. We get to see some of the inner politics of the race. They are brash and warlike; similar to previous versions of the shows. Some of them are examined more closely during the course of the season, we learn that not all of them are so villainous. They can have feelings. They can be compassionate. This has always been a hallmark of Trek, showing the “human” side of aliens and humans alike.
The character arc of the main charcter, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), is profound to say the least. She has always done what she thought was right. Michael is a human whose parents were killed by Klingons when she was a child. She was then raised by a Vulcan father, Sarek (James Frain), and his human wife, Amanda (Mia Kirshner). They are also Spock's parents. Vulcans are a race who embrace logic and suppress their emotions as a way of life. Michael brings her Vulcan upbringing to Starfleet, a military/exploration service of the Federation.
As a Starfleet officer, she gets into trouble big time! She is thrown into prison and then gets out of prison on a conditional release. She spends the rest of the season trying to redeem and prove herself. She turns out to be a very intelligent and capable officer. She makes for a very positive role model. Though doting at times, she is strong-willed, yet empathetic, a true-to-life Star Trek character who overcomes adversity to better herself.
One of the highlights of the season was exploring the infamous mirror universe. Both casual and hardcore fans may remember the original episode with the alternate dimenston, where evil Spock had a goatee. The mirror universe basically has “evil” versions of all the characters in the regular, or “prime," universe. Since I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, I’ll just say that the universe became a great way to explore Burnham and her relationship to her mentors. She learned more about herself and her internal struggles and motivations.
Lieutenant Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), a science officer and openly gay character, also had some great development in the mirror unverise. He goes into somewhat of a virtual reality world and meets his evil mirror counterpart. He also examines his relationship with the love of his life. Stamets was a character who started in the series as an antagonist and was unlikeable. He grew into a much more charming and vital person on the show.
The show is not so deep into Star Trek, that you have to know the history of the show in order to enjoy it. Discovery can pretty much stand on its own. In fact, you could probably enjoy it more if you aren’t a fan. It’s difficult for us hardcore Trekkers to overlook how the technology is so much more advanced than on the original series. Especially when it supposedly takes place ten years before the original series. And let’s not even talk about continuity issues. Ok, yes, I really wish they would stick to established Trek canon. But I must say, the show has enough good points and future potential that I can accept it for what it is; a good, well-made series. Plus, Star Trek is supposed to be about the exploration of people and the human spirit, the “human adventure."
Discovery, with its serialized format over episodic adventures, proves a wonderful platform for exploring the human spirit. It shows how we can grow and change throughout our lives.