Star Trek Discovery Fall Finale

I’ve already written about my excitement over the launch of this newest series in the Star Trek franchise. Tonight is the fall finale for Star Trek Discovery, as Episode 9 streams. Because I catch another show at 8:00 Sunday evenings, for one more week, I wait and watch Discovery after the hour long episode is over. The midway point in this year’s season provides the perfect opportunity to post an update about why I absolutely love this Star Trek.

Sunday evenings used to be my favorite night for television. For nine years, The X Files drew my viewing loyalty. Sunday night I was there, with Mulder and Scully. And while the original Star Trek and The Next Generation both aired on prime time television, the three series following TNG did not, at least not in Joplin. I watched Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise on Sunday nights at 10:30.

I didn’t mind the late hour. Everyone else would go to bed or to their rooms and the TV was mine. I am, and will always be, a Star Trek devotee. I watched it, whenever and wherever it was showing.

Which is why Sunday nights have become my favorite night for television again as Star Trek Discovery claimed that weekend spot. And why it was a no brainer for me to sign up for CBS All Access so that I could watch. That is the only way to catch episodes as they air. The cost for a year subscription was nominal. It is worth it to me.

It is SO worth it to me. I am loving Star Trek Discovery, with a passion that rivals my fondness for the original series. I am fully on board. The episodes are incredibly engaging, with movie quality cinematography, sets and special effects.

The crew is the most diverse yet, and that is high praise because all Star Trek series strive for that quality. The actors and actresses portraying those characters are just as diverse, extremely talented, and for being new at working together, have already developed strong connections with each other.

What I appreciate most about Discovery is that it is an edgier, darker Trek. I’ve only just figured out what it is that causes me to anticipate each episode, and set aside Sunday evenings to join the Discovery crew.

In the Star Trek timeline, Discovery’s events take place ten years before Captain Kirk steps onto the bridge of the Enterprise. By then, the starship functions as an exploratory vessel, charged with keeping peace in the universe and discovering strange new worlds as they boldly go.

Discovery is a war ship. The Federation is at war with the Klingon Houses. They aren’t boldly going on discovery missions so much as they are trying to survive and safeguard the universe. And here is what I am loving. This is a time of expansion and growth for the Federation. Captain Lorca doesn’t always take the moral high ground. He is a warrior more than a diplomat. He is a strategist, and he and his crew will do what it takes to win peace for the Federation.

Each crew member has his or her struggles. Michael Burnham, the series main character, is a mutineer who faces a life prison sentence. Tilly is full of doubts about her abilities. Lt Stamets wavers between snarkiness and self sacrifice. Saru is hardwired to feel fear every second of his life. These people…humans, non humans, androids…are in the process of becoming. It’s not always pretty. It’s messy and dark sometimes and gritty. But it has the ring of truth, of authenticity. That’s how lives…and organizations and Federations…transform. And that is what Discovery is all about, growth and transformation.

I can identify with that process, as can we all.

In Discovery’s time, we are seeing the huge shifts that take place in the universe that usher in the time of Kirk, Spock and Dr McCoy on Enterprise. For me, it is a journey worth taking. It gives me hope that fiction and fantasy aside, humanity is capable of making these same huge shifts that will ultimately bring about a different universe…or a different Earth at least. And like Discovery’s trek, ours can be just as gritty and edgy, and oft times it is fraught with perils.

We have to boldly go though, into that future, and we will figure it out as we go.

Star Trek Discovery returns for the spring season on January 7. I’ll be waiting…

Series Review: Star Trek Discovery

I embraced the Star Trek universe when I was 14 years old. In culture jargon, I became a Trekkie at that impressionable and informative age, and I have remained one since that time. In ways that are difficult to put into words, Star Trek has shaped my life by modeling for me how to boldy go, and how to expand my known universe.

Tonight, with great excitement and anticipation, I watched the premiere of the newest installment in this long running franchise…Star Trek Discovery.

Star Trek Discovery stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Maulik Pancholy, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Jason Isaacs, Kenneth Mitchell, and James Frain…among other upcoming season regulars. The sci-fi series premiere was directed by David Semel and is based on the Star Trek universe, as created by Gene Roddenberry. The series has a weekly run time of 1 hour and carries a MA (mature audience) rating.

Tonight’s episode, titled The Vulcan Hello, opens by reintroducing us to the warrior race known as the Klingons. Discovery takes place 10 years before the Enterprise sets out on its five year mission. At this point in the Star Trek storyline, the Klingons have not been seen for generations, except on rare occasions. But they are rallying the 24 noble houses, with an intent that seems less than peaceful. Commander Kol (Mitchell) is the formidable leader.

On a desert planet, we meet Captain Georgiou (Yeoh) and her first officer, Lt. Commander Michael Burnham (Martin-Green). The women have served together for seven years, long enough to develop an understanding of each other and build trust between them.

However, when Lt Commander Burnham makes a startling discovery involving the seldom encountered Klingons, long buried emotions from her past threaten to spill over.

While serving with the Vulcans, Burnham’s parents were killed during a Klingon attack. Orphaned, Burnham was raised by the Vulcan ambassador, Sarek (Frain). Although she has adopted logic, and learned to repress her emotions, finding the Klingons in Federation space brings Burnham’s distrust and desire for retaliation into sharp contrast with her cool intellect.

The Federation appears to be on the brink of a fresh war with the Klingons.

Other members of the crew of the USS Shenzhou that were introduced tonight include Dr Nambue (Pancholy), Lt Tyler (Latif), Lt Stamets (Rapp), and Lt Saru (Jones), an alien with the ability to sense approaching death. Jason Isaacs’ character, Captain Gabriel Lorca, will be a regular, although he was not present in the pilot.

There was much for me to love about Star Trek’s return to television after a 12 year absence. The movie quality visuals, special effects and musical score were amazing. There were moments of familiarity, such as seeing a young Sarek, that warmed my heart. And enough new material, species and technology to make me want to know more.

Discovery’s opening sequence was so good that it brought tears to my eyes. I had to watch it again after the episode ended. For Trekkies there are iconic depictions of the hand phaser, the flip open communicator and the beloved Vulcan salute. And within the new musical number, stirring notes from the classic Trek score can be heard. Watch the opening sequence HERE.

The stories in this series are told, for the first time, not from the captain’s perspective, but from the second in command’s viewpoint. There is a very diverse crew, portrayed by an equally diverse cast. The choice to make the commanding officers female is a tribute to Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt Uhura in the original series.

And there are unanswered questions at the end of episode one, the primary one being is Discovery the name of a replacement ship for the Shenzhou…or more of a theme? The series tagline is At the edge of the universe, discovery begins. I like that. My own discoveries, about who I am and what I am capable of, began at the edge of my known universe too. Going beyond has become my own personal trek.

The question that I had at the beginning of tonight’s episode has been answered. Another first for this franchise was moving the series to CBS All Access after the premiere. The first episode was on network television. The rest can only be seen with a paid subscription. I didn’t know if I would be joining the streaming network.

But…it’s Star Trek. This show and its concepts have been a part of my life for 45 years. I am a most loyal fan and devotee. I don’t try to make Star Trek fit within my parameters and perceptions. I accept it, in all of its storylines, series and movie adaptations, and remain open to the lessons that I can learn by doing so.

This is how Star Trek expands me. This is how Star Trek takes me beyond where I currently am. This is how I boldly go, where I have not gone before.

I am happily joining CBS All Access. It is a nominal fee. Episode two of Star Trek Discovery is waiting for me there.