The following post is super-spoilery. If you don’t want details on Star Trek: Discovery, don’t read further.
I said I was going to wait until the end of the season to blog more about this series, but I find I can’t contain myself right now. This is why I have a blog. I catch up on Discovery over coffee on Monday mornings. My hope was that they’d get better and discover the idea of Star Trek somewhere in their travels because TV really needs high quality Star Trek again. Pop culture really needs it and everything it stands for. But I typically don’t expect to have my mind blown. It seems that was my mistake. I’ve been hyper-critical about a great many elements of the series so far. I’ve also given concessions about what they’ve done right. The expectations were put into place from every series since TNG that they would flounder a bit before finding their footing, probably for a couple of seasons.
I didn’t expect them to find that footing quite so quickly. I still do not like the Burnham / Sarek connection. I think that’s contrived. I’m not really enamored with how they’ve presented the Klingons, but I’m getting used to it. The mycilial network and the spore drive are still so much plotonium, but I freely admit they’re using it for the greater advancement of the larger story. They’re making it work.
This larger story, as it turns out, is not self-contained to just Discovery. They’ve connected the Mirror Universe to ours and played story threads from TOS‘s “The Tholian Web” and Enterprise‘s “In a Mirror, Darkly,” and they did it right under our very noses from the beginning. I thought they were just playing with the Mirror Universe for now. Not so much.
I said from the beginning that Jason Isaacs is one of the best character actors working in the industry today, that Trek is fortunate to have him, but that I questioned everything about what his character stood for. Captain Gabriel Lorca was classified as one of the “bad captains” that we so often see in Trek, the ones that undermine the Federation and its principles.
“It was far easier for you as civilized men to act as barbarians, than for them as barbarians to act like civilized men.” — Spock, “Mirror, Mirror”
In last night’s Discovery episode, “Vaulting Ambition,” we’ve now learned that the Lorca in our universe is actually the Mirror Universe monster who betrayed his Emperor. Everything we thought was a continuity breach because “the Federation hasn’t encountered that” — the tribble on his desk, the Gorn skeleton in the lab, the diverse and probably illegal arsenal in his pursuit of his study of war, and so on — is information he brought back from the Defiant, information that very much would have existed in that ship’s databank before it was lost in “The Tholian Web,” crossing over into the Mirror Universe and backwards in time 150 years.
I still struggle with a few foundations of character, but on the whole, this series just pushed into warp speed beyond my wildest expectations! And it leads me to so many new questions that I now ask without trepidation or skepticism.
To the cast and crew of Discovery… thank you! You have truly found a way to push the boundaries of storytelling without sacrificing what makes Star Trek great on the altar of pop culture. I don’t know what the future holds, and I still see some holes that need plugging, but as of this moment, I feel like the future is bright for the first time.
Where Star Wars had recently put a lightsaber through its foot, Star Trek played the best hand imaginable in a way that I can only describe as top notch. Star Trek: Discovery has officially earned my trust and admiration for all the right reasons.
Now all you have to do is keep it. *grin*
Footnote: Dayton Ward’s next Trek novel is Drastic Measures, a Discovery novel that will deal with some backstory between Georgiou and Lorca before the events of the series. Based on what we’ve just seen, and knowing that these novels in particular are being written in conjunction with the people behind the series, my enthusiasm for this just skyrocketed. Release date is February 6, for those interested.