THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!
Watching the Season Three premier of Star Trek: Discovery, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching the first episode of an entirely new Trek series. Not only did it look quite different (and downright visually stunning at times), but I didn’t need my knowledge of the previous two seasons to get involved in the story.
Think of this as a series pitch:
Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) finds herself 930 years in the future, alone, looking for her lost ship, the USS Discovery. She meets a mysterious stranger called Book (David Ajala), who informs her that something called The Burn happened about 100 years ago and hobbled the once-powerful Federation.
After an initial betrayal, Burnham and Book join forces to fight off a group of smugglers led by Andorians and Orions and rescue a creature from an endangered species to give it a new home. Book returns the favour by bringing Burnham to the last Starfleet outpost in the sector.
She meets Aditya Sahil (Adil Hussain), a lone non-commissioned officer, who agrees to let Burnham know when her ship arrives. In exchange, she gives him a battlefield promotion and the two raise the Federation flag together.
It works just like that, doesn’t it? Sure, general knowledge of Trek, say what the Federation is and who Andorians are, helps, but specific knowledge of what happened during the the first two seasons of Disco is not required, at least not yet.
This is a series reboot. And it’s not one required by low ratings (or whatever counts for ratings on streaming services) or creative differences. It was one that seemed to be born out of creative inspiration.
Yes, the change of setting was required by the story. It also means that they no longer have to tiptoe around Trek cannon.
But they could have changed the setting and added new characters without restarting everything. Instead they chose to restart everything and it really works.
World Building First
Before we even see Burnham, we get Sahil, though we don’t know his name or what his story is yet. We also get to see his world.
There’s that holographic bird alarm clock. There is the bed that essentially melts away and morphs into a desk and chair when the time is appropriate.
I know that Trek tech sometimes becomes real world tech a couple of decades later. So exactly how long do I have to wait for my bed that I don’t have to make? Anyways…
We also get a bit of Book and his world before Burnham, still in the Red Angel suit, knocks him out of the sky. Then it’s a quick resolution to Season 2 (the time jump worked, biological sentient life still exists, the signal for Spock was sent) before we follow Burnham for some more world-building.
While we do get a bit from Burnham about who she is, why she is there and how she needs to find her ship, the focus is still on this new reality, what happened to the Federation, how to survive in this world and, of course, all the new tech.
New Unanswered Questions
There are, of course, unanswered questions for the viewer as well as the characters. Questions like:
- What exactly caused The Burn? Could it be related to that TNG episode where they imposed warp speed limits? Did Burnham somehow cause it (kind of a lazy answer, but who knows)?
- Can The Burn be undone?
- Can the Federation be rebuilt?
- How long will it take for Burnham and Book to become a couple (c’mon, he was shirtless in front of her and her previous lover is 930 years in the past)?
None of these questions relate to the old reality of the series, only the new rebooted one. Yes, we also want to know when Discovery will show up. I’m guessing the end of the next episode, but it’s a matter of when, not if.
Yes, Discovery will arrive. And yes, it will bring all the main characters on board as well as the backstory from the first two seasons with it.
Like Burnham, though, they will have to adapt to and discover (forgive the pun) this new reality. Not the other way around.
I was already a fan of Discovery, but so far I’m liking this new show Discovery even more!