Star Trek: Discovery

"Context Is for Kings"

3 stars

Air date: 10/1/2017
Teleplay by Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts & Craig Sweeny
Story by Bryan Fuller & Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts
Directed by Akiva Goldsman

Sonequa Martin-Green (Michael Burnham), Jason Isaacs (Capt. Gabriel Lorca), Doug Jones (Lt. Cmdr. Saru), Anthony Rapp (Lt. Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Cadet Sylvia Tilly), Rekha Sharma (Security Chief Landry)

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The key scene in "Context Is for Kings" is the one where Burnham explains herself to Captain Lorca, after having come to the conclusion that he has orchestrated her release from prison so he could recruit her onto his crew to do dirty work on his behalf. She explains the reason she mutinied against her captain — her mentor — was because she thought she was taking the only course of action that would protect the Federation and, by extension, its values. That she had to break the Starfleet chain of command — one of those key values — is the paradox she must answer for. Her prison sentence was the cost of her actions and one she intends to pay. But she sees herself not as a renegade but as someone who made an extreme choice in an extreme moment that she thought was for the greater good.

This is important because it stakes out Burnham's moral compass in contrast to what will forever be her original sin as Starfleet's First Mutineer. The choice she made in "The Vulcan Hello" came across as impulsive and reckless (and I would still argue seemed forced under the somewhat contrived circumstances of how it was written), but "Context Is for Kings" puts that choice in full view and shows the personal consequences of what it meant as well as why she made it.

This explanation also indicates to me that Discovery is not throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to 50-plus years of Star Trek. This is the franchise reinvented for a new TV era and has a darker tone, yes, but it still retains a central morality about individuals doing the right thing governed by a value system. Those values are likely to be challenged and bent, as they were in DS9's war. And perhaps even more so here. But they exist.

Burnham is more than once referred to as the One Who Started the War, which is not really fair or accurate. The war would've started if Burnham had done nothing. Her mutiny, which failed, had no outcome on the battle or its genesis. Her killing of the Klingon on the artifact was self-defense. The Klingons were going to attack. But everyone seems to lack that context. Maybe they are just looking for a scapegoat for their misery.

That misery speaks to the pall that hangs over a lot of the characters in this episode, which picks up six months after "Battle at the Binary Stars." Burnham's seemingly chance arrival on the USS Discovery is one met with cold shoulders and murmurs and gasps about her infamy. If anything, the opening two episodes, which were an extended prologue to the series proper, serve to show the marked contrast between Then and Now. Back then, Starfleet operated at a recognizable peaceful Trekkian status quo with Burnham in a place of admiration and respect. Now, all of that has been laid to waste, Starfleet is at war, and Burnham occupies a rock-bottom place where she has been destroyed and humbled. It is a different central place to be for a Star Trek series, to be certain. I'm convinced even more here than before that Martin-Green's performance will be a big piece to carrying this series; here she plays scenes of withdrawn, sullen silence effectively but always seems to be contemplating what's unfolding around her.

What's going on around here I would describe as "intriguing" and also "ominous." The Discovery is a new and experimental science vessel — a good choice to keep options open for exploration and study — that has been appropriated for the war effort under Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs, in a mysterious performance that holds the cards close and makes an immediate impression). There are black Starfleet badges, "black alerts," and bizarre science-y things going on aboard the ship that don't have an immediate explanation.

In addition to introducing us to the new starship and setting, this episode is about introducing some of the key players. As mentioned, there's the stern and mysterious captain (who keeps a Tribble on his desk), and we also meet the surly science officer Lt. Stamets (Anthony Rapp), who is pretty bitter up about Starfleet co-opting the Discovery's science mission for the war; security chief Landry (Rekha Sharma, aka Tory from BSG); and green cadet Tilly (Mary Wiseman), a nervous/awkward but chipper character who talks about her unspecified "special needs" and hints at the possibility of this show's lighter side.

Also, there's Burnham's former Shenzhou colleague Saru, who is the first officer here. Consider me a fan of Saru; his sensibility (which strikes me as Odo-like) really keeps one foot of this show firmly grounded in the Star Trek tradition, even as Discovery aims to be its own thing. He has a couple conversations with Burnham — one brutally honest ("you're dangerous"), another more supportive — that suggest this will be a key relationship built on their past knowledge of each other.

Given her background, Lorca sees Burnham as an asset and assigns her to assist in the investigation and recovery aboard the Discovery's doomed sister ship, the Glenn, which suffered a catastrophic accident while working with experimental technology — killing the entire crew. Upon boarding the Glenn, the primary action borrows heavily from Alien crossed with vibes from Battlestar Galactica and The X-Files, featuring darkened corridors, visible flashlight beams, dissolved and twisted corpses that were victims of unspecified sci-fi happenings, and a monster of unknown origin running around the ship and apparently eating people (including members of a Klingon boarding party that is also on a salvage mission). This plays like an amalgam of sci-fi concepts and familiar genres, but it's a pretty entertaining one that highlights the possibilities here, if they can bring it all together into a coherent whole. This is reasonably solid, but functions here as more of a side than main course.

It all leads to that key conversation between Burnham and Lorca, where she gets a choice for possible redemption. He assures her he isn't offering her a role in a corrupt enterprise simply because she has no choice, but rather a role on a starship that he feels needs capable people willing to make bold moves. I said earlier that Burnham is wrongly but widely seen as the person who "started the war," but Lorca seems able to see through that narrative.

Or does he have other motives? In the final scene we see he has the creature from the Glenn beamed aboard the Discovery and placed in captivity. It's an ominous note that raises a lot of questions. What is it? Where did it come from? Why did Lorca bring it aboard in secret? What is his plan? Is he trustworthy or shady? Isaac's multifaceted performance includes a concealment that keeps us on our toes. "Context Is for Kings" sets up a lot of pieces and establishes this as a long game, but it does so with a narrative episodic enough that it works in its own right. This is solid but not groundbreaking, intriguing but not conclusive.

Some other brief takes:

  • I thought Landry, as security chief, was written as too needlessly hard-assed for the sake of itself (calling the cons "animals," letting the fight in the mess play out, etc.). She feels more like a cynical prison warden than a Starfleet professional.
  • On the other hand, Stamets, while an arrogant ass and undeniably a complete jerk to Burnham throughout much of the episode — and even insubordinate to Lorca, until Lorca rightly shuts him down — mostly worked for me. This is a scientist whose mission has been taken over for military reasons, who is not happy, and is vocal about it.
  • Even though there are dissolved bodies and one (very fleeting) four-letter word in this episode, this still seems pretty firmly in the TV-14 realm. Nothing too boundary-pushing here, which seems pretty consistent with the producers saying this might push a little further than previous Treks, but not much more so. I approve.
  • Given this is a prequel, are we to assume the scientific breakthroughs hinted at by Lorca's elaborate demonstration of the teleportation bio-technology will fail before all is said and done? Or that he's simply not telling the truth?
  • "Did I just get shushed by a Klingon?"
  • The production values continue to impress. The production design is pretty amazing, and even though I've never been totally sold on the exterior design of the Discovery itself, the angles they show off here make it look pretty cool.
  • The "breathalyzer" security system seems pretty weak, especially considering how easily Burnham defeats it.
  • "She's a badass. A beautiful badass. You can use that." — My wife granting me on-the-record status to her quote, following Burnham saving the crew from the monster and landing in a three-point stance.

Previous episode: The Vulcan Hello / Battle at the Binary Stars
Next episode: The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

◄ Season Index

188 comments on this review

Dobber
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
This new form of transport is absurd... magic space pixies that act like Iconian gateways? Threshold made more sense
Rahul
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
The overwhelming sentiment I have is that Discovery just does not feel like Star Trek at all. If this 3rd episode is supposed to be part of some alternate timeline or alternate universe, then, OK, that makes a little more sense. But right now, whatever is going on with the USS Discovery and Capt. Lorca does not feel like Star Fleet/Star Trek. I guess I have mixed feelings about “Context Is for Kings” even more so than I did for the 1st 2 DSC episodes.

I liked the Burnham character a lot more in this episode. She showed restraint and integrity in wanting to complete her prison sentence but obviously Lorca’s plan changed her mind. The war with the Klingons is ongoing and it seems Lorca’s developing something secret to win the war.

The good part of the episode is exposing the viewer to something radically new — the transportation capabilities using the spores and some kind of biological physics. An added dose of suspension of disbelief is required. The sentiment is a bit like the first hints of the Temporal Cold War in ENT - specifically “Cold Front” where there is a bunch of new stuff thrown at you, it’s hard to make sense of, but it is compelling and interesting and you’re left with more questions than answers after the hour. Going to be up to the writers to make it enthralling as they've set up potentially good premise.

As for questions, what is that creature that killed all the people (including Klingons) on the other Federation ship and why did Lorca beam it onto Discovery? What is going on in Lorca’s house of horrors?

As for the new characters, I’m disappointed. Tilly is downright annoying - she’s very green, but apparently well-qualified. Lorca’s security officer - the way she talks to prisoners etc. is highly inappropriate for Star Fleet. Lt. Stalmets is another annoying character. As for Lorca, he’s downright shady, but intriguing. it was good to see Saru as a “normal” Star Fleet officer. For me, he was one highlight of the 1st 2 episodes.

This 3rd episode is another new beginning. No more Shenzhou and Capt. Georgiou. Largely based on enjoyment but also the premise, the characters, the story, I’d give “Context Is for Kings” 2 stars. It’s decent once things start to come together a bit, but I wasn't really impressed and there were a few disappointments. I look forward to viewing this episode again and trying to pick up a few more details.
Karl Zimmerman
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
A few random thoughts.

1. The first two episodes - the pilot/prologue - seem to have been COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY UNNEEDED based upon what I've seen in this episode. While people referred to Burnham's mutiny, it wasn't discussed in enough depth that it would be hard to follow for someone just tuning in.

2. As an episode of a TV show, this worked a lot better than the first two outings. The dialogue continued to be a bit clunky, and there were some dumb plot elements, but there were no major segments of the episode which didn't work at least as mindless entertainment (I could do without the jump scares though).

3. The strongest element of this episode was the characterization. Burnham and Saru have improved in this outing. Lorca seems menacing, but may skirt the line and not be an outright villian. Tilly is refreshing (finally someone on the show who isn't grimdark, even if she's irritating) and Stamets is delightfully catty.

4. While I think this is much better than the first two episodes, this isn't Trek. Yes, there are some Easter eggs, but it's basically just generic grimdark sci-fi. If it were just missing the Trek optimism that would be one thing, but it's also still continuing to ignore canon. If an experimental propulsion system based upon space fungus existed why haven't we heard anything about it by the 24th century? I'm sure they'll find some way out of this hole, but as many have said, if they didn't want to work within canon, they could have done a post-Nemesis show.

5. A few random notes on Burnham. First, I was happy she mentioned Amanda Grayson being her stepmother. The pilot seemed to indicate she had no exposure to humans on Vulcan, which would have made no sense. The comment about her son being a human did seem a bit odd though, unless Spock had another half-sibling we've never heard of. On the other hand, I hated that someone said Burnham was not only a mutineer, but the first one in Starfleet history. Starfleet was founded in what - the 2130s? There was no mutineer in Starfleet history for 120 years?
Dobber
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
I really didn't like this episode. There was almost nothing about it I liked. The prisoner ship at the beginning (pilot just goes outside the ship and dies? Only a single crew member on board a prisoner ship? Er ok). Btw Michael has a conveniently different color prison uniform. The security chiefs dehumanisation of the prisoners was unbecoming of a Starfleet officer. The plot was one of those boring horror style bottle episodes that don't appeal to me. the quoting of Alice in wonderland was random? The reaction of the science officer on seeing his friends mutilated corpse was shockingly emotionless. The concept for the new propulsion system is absurd and flies in the face of canon imo if it can really transport people all around the galaxy like that. Just my 2 cents.
WTBA
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Wow. So so so so many questions.

Minor (vague) spoilers:

This episode was damn intriguing.

It is becoming harder to try to justify this as part of the established Trek universe. Presumably, the "new way to fly" etc. will be gone by the end of the series, as to not be there when TOS would be starting.

That doesn't fix the canon issues, but I will reserve complete judgment until later.

The overall feel of the show is definitely a unique one within Trek. It has some of the DS9 feel, but it is more House of Cards than House of Quark. TV is obviously very different now, and all the Treks are very much of their time in real time.

I am enjoying the series so far. The pacing is very slow. I would argue slower than say House of Cards, for example. It isn't really Trek as we have known it, but I enjoy it.

I guess this was better than the opening eps. The first two ran together (as I watched them back to back). As it stands, it almost feels like one long opening.

I am never bored, but it has been 95% setup so far. I hope it pays off in the long run.

Some character thoughts:

Michael is growing on me. I didn't dislike her before. I actually liked her Sherlock-esque smarts in the opening episodes, though her background and personality shifts are confusing/lacking. Her brooding in this ep was a little tired, but she seemed to be opening up a little by the end of the episode.

Lorca is fantastic. Mysterious, commanding, brazen. He is probably more of a baddie than a goodie, but that seems too easy and predictable. Once we know more about everything, it should be clearer.

Tilly is a little cloying, but her Barclayish awkwardness with people was relatable. Everyone in Starfleet can't be 100% perfect. That is part of what made Barclay so great.

Saru still stands out, despite minimal screen time.

Eager for Jammer's thoughts and the next episode.
Samuel
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 9:20pm (UTC -5)
They got the Governor from Walking Dead to be the captain now? Heh? Parallel actions, keeping a minster in his quarters...
WTBA
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
@Zimmerman "The comment about her son being a human did seem a bit odd though, unless Spock had another half-sibling we've never heard of"

Michael said her foster mother read to her and [her mother's] son, and that she and her mother were "the only vulcans in the house," It wasn't said the son was human.
WTBA
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
^^EDIT above: "the only HUMANS in the house."
Del_Duio
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 10:09pm (UTC -5)
"As for questions, what is that creature that killed all the people (including Klingons) on the other Federation ship and why did Lorca beam it onto Discovery? What is going on in Lorca’s house of horrors? "

I immediately thought of the company in the movie 'Alien', they want it for a weapon at all costs, crew expendable.

Well, DSC is pretty different I gotta give them that. And I like the show, it's just REALLY different. Saru is awesome, Bernham was way better in this episode and now you know why they chose Issacs to play Cpt. Lorca (hint: he plays awesome bad guys and nut jobs).

I'm not positive those spores are for travel at all, that night just be what he's telling Michael to keep her on board.

P.S: They kind of went out of their way to make the gay guy "too fruity" IMO. Sorry I know that's not PC or whatever but geez.
Del_Duio
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 10:15pm (UTC -5)
Oh and also this show could easily be set 200 years after VOY and it'd still make sense. Why is this a prequel again?
Peremensoe
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 10:47pm (UTC -5)
Pretty wild! I sure hope the writers have a better handle on this than the 'Temporal Cold War' ones did.


"The first two episodes - the pilot/prologue - seem to have been COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY UNNEEDED based upon what I've seen in this episode. While people referred to Burnham's mutiny, it wasn't discussed in enough depth that it would be hard to follow for someone just tuning in."

Except that the Burnham/Starfleet story was only half of the prologue. Surely we're going to be revisiting the Klingons, and not only when Starfleet does.
Troy
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
Is it just me or is the dialogue on these Discovery episodes difficult to understand? I'm 38 with decent speakers and find myself using the (broken) closed captioning because the sound mix is off


Chrome
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 11:00pm (UTC -5)
Say what you will about the Discovery, but it’s a really cool looking ship! Instead of the hanging plastic models in the black space of yore, we’re treated to some beautiful camera angles and zooms which make for a practical way to show the audience where a scene takes place (before it was always the Captain’s log that established a scene.)

As for the story, it’s quite a slowdown from the prologue presumably to help explain what future Burnham, though the episode is shrouded in mystery. Why is Burnham on the ship, what are black alerts, what is Captain Lorca’s true plan in all this? The way the episode walked us through these questions made for an interesting, if not puzzling watch.

Saru was great this episode and reminded me a lot of Odo. He had this almost familial love with Burnham, but her reckless actions last episode made it hard for him to show it. Speaking of Burnham’s actions, it’s pretty clear no part of the crew sympathisizes her, not even the raw cadet Tilly. Even if Burnham becomes a member of the crew we can tell that she’s going to have to work twice as hard for other Starfleet officers to listen too her.

The monster was interesting too, was it supposed to represent Burnham’s failure as it tore through forces on both Federation and Klingon sides just like the Burnham’s actions on the Shenzhen? Pretty clever for a monster of the week.

All and all a solid episode which answered about as many questions as it asked. 3 Stars.

“Why is this a prequel again?”

Because ST Voyager and Nemesis jumped the shark in the future.
Dobber
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
^^^ What does that matter if they're retconning everything anyway?
KosstAmojan
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
"Because ST Voyager and Nemesis jumped the shark in the future. "

And Enterprise and Into Darkness didin't jumped the shark in the past?
Intro2001
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
This IS Trek. And pretty good...I've watched every episode of every series and love some more than others but honestly, you're comparing apples to duck billed platypus(es).here.
As a pure (not semi as in DS9) season-spanning-stoey-arc series, this is a great new way to bring back Star Trek in a way that will not fizzle instantly.
I also appreciate the extensive review/comments.
I just can't commit that much time...
- The Dauphin: hated it
- Paralax: worth watching once to say you did
-Measure of a Man: Like a fine steak, I acknowledge it's excellent, I just didn't hit the spot as much as my Moms lasagna (The Defector, Doomsday Machine, Amok Time, Scorpion, The Visitor, Year Of Hell)
- Best of Both Worlds, City On The Edge of Forever, The Inner Light, Living Witness, Sacrifice of Angels, All Good Things, Balance Of Terror, Unimatrix Zero: Yesssss!!!
Just sayin' is all - There's WAY more good Trek than bad and I consider Discovery to be the former.

Zms5063
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
Wow! it's a little far out there! but, could U.S.S. Discovery be working on what will become the genesis device!?
Startrekwatcher
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
2.5 stars

A little bit better than the first two episodes but not really exciting me. Sonequa was better in this episode than the first two. But the show has such insufferable characters. I think using a war as the storyline was a bad idea. You can't really beat the way a Star Trek war was depicted with the Dominion War. The show should have done something different. Worse yet this feels like BSG-lite. I don't like the militaristic tone of the series.

The best part of the episode was the Discovery boarding party going into the unknown on the Glenn. That reminded me of Trek standalones where the crew would come upon something mysterious--DIS would have benefitted from more of this sense of adventure, this sense of exploration. Granted what they discovered was underwhelming especially the big alien slug--tall about uninspired. Yeesh.

Saru so far is the most likable character and feels the most Trek-like. The rest are curmudgeons
William
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 11:57pm (UTC -5)
While watching this episode, I tried to put my finger on what is wrong this show and i think I discovered the answer. It is Christopher Nolan's Trek. Excellent actors and somewhat interesting concepts that are weighed down by dry characters and a lack of any sense of joy. Look, DS9 is my favorite Star Trek series, so I don't mind darkness, but that series had clever dialogue and likable characters. Discovery does not have any of that.
Mertov
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 12:18am (UTC -5)
I am eager to read what Jammer says, but here are my few thoughts after watching the third episode.
(**Some spoilers**)

I am sold. The first three episodes together are a great start and this third one was even better than the first two. At the same time, the first two, looking back, were useful in providing the background and making the third one a "late pilot" with a lot of substance.

I agree with Intro2001 that this was Trek in many ways. It had a lot of elements of Trek series' episodes (a menacing monster-ish alien, interesting characters, make that quirky regular characters that have potential for further development, danger-filled "away mission" to another ship, Jeffrey's tube sequence, hallways, etc.) yet it was different enough.

Also, great call Chrome, regarding the Saru/Odo note.

Other than the silly plot device of having one pilot only on the prisoner-transport vessel (as Dobber noted above), this was close to a four star for me.
Garak
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 12:56am (UTC -5)
Frankly, this episode was a mess.

Some questions:

It took one episode for Burnham to assume a key role on a starship after being the first (eyes rolling) star fleet officer to mutiny in history?

Why did they turn the prisoners loose in the mess? Did they attack her just so that we could see Burnham's Vulcan Kung Fu?

Why did they put Burnham, apparently the most notorious criminal in star fleet history, happily in a room alongside a green ensign?

If I hear another person compare DIS to BSG I'll pull my hair out. Those were living, breathing flawed characters that we cared about from the beginning. This crew is, thus far, razor thin and more annoying than I thought possible with such a limited amount of dialogue. The only character besides Burnham that I even remotely find intriguing is Lorca, and he's obviously being set up as the villain. Ugh.

The first mention of Spock is of his mother reading him Alice in Wonderland with a sister we (and apparently he) never knew he had?

Is there any chance that we can airlock Tilly, Stamets, and that security officer as quickly as they did the poor fellow in the last episode outside the brig?

Tilly is the best theoretical physicist in star fleet?

Quantum fungus and biology=physics instantaneous space travel 10 years before Kirk's 5-year mission? Forget astrometrics. Seven should have grown some special shrooms in hydroponics. Poof! Back home in no time.

If Burnham was raised Vulcan, why is she not even remotely embracing logic? Her moods and rationale change as quickly as the temperature in the Vulcan desert. One minute, she's slamming prisoner face at dinner. The next, she's giving lessons on morality in the ready room to the captain. Other than the one flashback, however, there's nothing Vulcan about her. It would help so much if her actions earlier had believable merit. Perhaps, next episode, she can have a katra teleconference with Sarek then go nerve pinch Lorca and take over the bridge. After all Bulcan diplomacy isn't big on biologically engineered monster dogs.

There were some moments I liked. But so far, DIS has not only has DIS failed as Trek, but it's also lazy, mediocre television.

Can someone please give Ronald Moore a call?

ac
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 12:57am (UTC -5)
I'm onboard.
There are many things I could question or quibble about, but so far the stuff I like is winning me over and I'm willing to wait for answers, or look the other way. For now. All of the Trek series have masterpieces and failures. Changes. This one will be no different, and I think this one is off to a good start.

I'm definitely grateful that I gave this show lots of thought before I watched it. I worked hard to not approach it with any particular expectations, so far as any Trek fundamentalism goes. I only hoped for two things: more good episodes than not good, and pretty please now and then address current issues.

As far as I'm concerned, 3 for 3 episodes dominated with female characters is my second concern answered, in spades. I loved Michael in this episode. But I also like that she isn't the lone woman in the mix - that's a very pleasant surprise. Especially in our current political climate. Michael figures out the code and stands up to a grizzly bear type monster in an episode that just happens to air on the same weekend that the idiots in DC are saying Puerto Rico is "in the middle of a big ocean, a very big ocean."

So I'm onboard.


Cosmic
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 3:32am (UTC -5)
This episode was much better than the first two, largely making me echo what some others have been saying: "Why even bother with the first two episodes?" The "Previously on" sums up everything a person needed to know about the two-part premiere. What a shame. That being said, there's definitely some good things and some not so good things to say about this one.

Discovery has itself a uh, interesting crew of main characters:

Burnham - Better in this episode, I actually felt some sympathy for her character when compared to the last two episodes. I thought it was a nice touch for her to show remorse and a need to serve her sentence, but also be unable to suppress her scientific curiosity in regards to the Discovery and it's experiments. I like her a little bit more after the frustrating actions that she took in the last two episodes.

Lorca - What a strange captain. He comes across as a potentially dangerous man who has far too much power in his hands. "The ends justifies the means" sort of thing. I really like his setup in this episode. I think he could become great in the same ways that Dukat was - the guy who thinks he's the hero of his own story. Lots of potential here!

Saru - I liked the way he was handled this episode. At the beginning, he gives into his natural instincts in regards to Burnham and basically says "You are a person to fear, leave ASAP" - then after she proves herself to be an asset to the crew, he softens his stance towards her. It also helps that they served together for 7 years. I liked that they came to some sort of understanding by the end of the episode, I would've kinda hated to see their friction over the premiere play itself out for most of the season.

Tilly - They made a character that is somehow more awkward than Barclay? Oh boy... sometimes vaguely interesting, sometimes not. Not a whole lot to her at the moment.

Stamets - Wow. Might end up becoming the most unlikable character on the show if he keeps up with his unjustified arrogance. Nothing necessarily worthwhile about his character at the moment, though his friendship with the person aboard the other ship was a nice touch.

I believe that there is still one other main character that we still haven't been introduced to yet.

Some negatives:
- The opening on the shuttlecraft was awkward and didn't make much sense. One lone officer on a shuttle overseeing four prisoners? Yeah, okay.
- The prisoners then try to "kill" Michael in the mess hall and the security officers stand by and watch it play out for a little bit. Yikes... not the kind of Starfleet that I grew up with....

For this episode, I might lean towards a 3 on the Jammer scale, mainly because of Lorca/Isaacs. I'll sit on it for a little bit. In retrospect, I overrated "Battle at the Binary Stars"... that episode is so frustrating and kind of poor compared to this one. This episode probably should've been the pilot... oh well, too late now.
Hank
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 4:29am (UTC -5)
Ok, this is it. I give up. Spoilers may be up ahead, but I wouldn't know, I don't know what is going on in this series.

Every character in this Series is a carricature. Chief of security of the Discovery? "We have to feed the animals. Eat". Wow. Just wow. That redheaded chick? She would never be on a Star Ship in the first place. She is the stereotypical hysterical woman, incompetent, no self esteem, no single redeeming quality. Was that supposed to be comic relief? Captain Lorca, the warmongering mad scientist. The science guy was Sheldon from big bang theory. Michael can't emote for shit. Her Allice in Wonderland recitation was laughable. Everybody is so over the top. I'm done.

The "plot": What? I don't even. Not only is everything so dark, flaring and shaky that at times I didn't even knew what was going on, NOTHING MADE SENSE. Prison ship with ONE, i repeat, ONE GUARD? That is apparently utterly incompetent, because the moment she steps out of the shuttle she dies? What??? Starfleet personal that does not stop a "prison fight"? Because sure, everybody just wants to try and kill everybody when they are eating, SURROUNDED BY MILLITARY. Fuck me. BLACK ALERT? Black badges? Oh god, how clicheéd can you get? Science guy gives Burnham access to his top secret project, to fix the code? BREATH SCANNERS? And suddenly this show thinks it's the Alien franchise. That Klingon guy that made shush? He didn't do it to shut up the crew of Discovery, he just wanted to not hear any more bullshit. And please, next time, make their lamps shine even less, so that I can't see what's going on. I didn't even bother trying to figure out who was going where and what was supposed to happen.

And then the big reveal: Space Spores transport you instantly to any place in the galaxy, because on the quantum level, physics is biology. The muscles and bones of spacetime. You know, people say that it is alarming how anti-science we have become - and I agree. THIS IS BULLSHIT. Sure, adjusting the quantum flux to invert that phase regulator is also bullshit. But this is on a whole other level. There is not even a pretense of new physics; just magic. FUCK ME.

Oh, I could mention that Lorca has a tribble on his desk, and how that violates continuity for the sake of some stupid wink-wink-nudge-nudge moment? I won't. This series has gone FAR beyond reasonable analysis. I am not going to try and make carefully reasoned arguments about this anymore, there is nothing to be reasonable about. This is an idiotic, overly dark and edgy show with no redeeming qualities. There is just nothing here. What can we possibly talk about? The moral implications of space magic? Burnham as the FIRST EVER MUTINEER EVAAAAAAH in Starfleet? Fuck that. Not in a billion years. That might have been believable in TOS, or TNG, where everybody was super good and a highly advanced moral being. Here? No fucking way. Everybody in this show acts like a savage on one level or another, I expect mutinies to take place all the time. And what was this bullshit of questioning wether Discovery is a science ship? Burnham did it at least twice. It is obvious: It is not. It is a carricature. Remember that Voyager episode where the doctor was reactivated 300 years in the future, and everybody talked about "Warship Voyager"? This is it. Discovery is the Warship Voyager. I just hope they torture prisoners next or mutilate some people or rape somebody, because, hey, this is 2017, this is not your granddads Startrek. This is Wartrek. This is deconstructionist garbage. I am sorry for all the swearing, but I can barely contain my rage about this steaming pile of shit. If this wasn't called Star Trek, not a single person on this site would even consider watching or liking it. Face it, somebody took your childhood memories, piled them all up, shat on them, set it on fire and then laughed while pissing out the flames. This isn't even what was advertised. I fully expected some leftist agenda pushing, given what the cast and producers said about it, thats not even the case. And it would have been better than this braindead husk of a show, I rather WISH they'd just stuck to shoving political shit down my throat, at least then there would have been something to talk about, instead we get NOTHING. The ultimate expression of meaninglessness in HD. A shining, glittering, overproduced pile of nothingness.

I am done.
KidMarine
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 4:39am (UTC -5)
^ see you next week!
J.B.
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 5:27am (UTC -5)
I was lukewarm on the pilot but I found this gripping. Solid character work, some compelling mysteries and I even laughed a couple of times, which I wasn't expecting. It's really promising and I'm definitely on board for more.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 5:35am (UTC -5)
KidMarine, there are actually Trekkies who won't continue to watch [what they deem] garbage just because it has the "Trek" name stapled on it.

Kudos to Hank for giving Discovery a chance, and double kudos to him for deciding to stop watching when he realized the show isn't for him. And really, your sarcastic remark was really not needed here.

@Mertov
"I agree with Intro2001 that this was Trek in many ways. It had a lot of elements of Trek series' episodes (a menacing monster-ish alien, interesting characters, make that quirky regular characters that have potential for further development, danger-filled "away mission" to another ship, Jeffrey's tube sequence, hallways, etc.)"

The problem is that none of the things you've mentioned are unique to Trek. Some of items you've listed have been innovative back in the 1960s when Trek debuted, but this is 2017 and not 1960. You can find the things you've mentioned in any generic sci fi series.

So what is it that defines Trek? Optimism for the future. High concept social commentary. Role models that make you and humanity strive to be better humans (yes, even cowboy Kirk is a stellar role model when compared to the kind of "heroes" that are usually worshipped on mainstrem TV).

Sure, many Trek episodes also have tons of action, and some (particularly in DS9) put our heros is situations that force them into moral gray areas. There's nothing wrong with these things, AS LONG AS IT DOESN'T UNDERMINE THE ENTIRE PREMISE OF THE TREKVERSE.

And speaking of the Trekverse: Another staple of Star Trek is that for 40 years we've had an increasingly rich coherent fictional universe to which every new series contributed its share (yes, even "Enterprise").

Is there any of the above in "Discovery"? I've read hundreds of comments by both fans and detractors of the series, and didn't find a single one that speaks positively about this.



SlackerInc
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 5:42am (UTC -5)
I'm not quite done, but...I dunno. I could say I'm lukewarm about the show at this point, but that's only after mixing the constituent parts and letting them sit for a while. As I'm watching, I'm finding maybe 60-70 percent of the show quite good, and interesting. But that leaves the other 30-40 percent that's pretty bad, and in a boring way. That bad part is mainly everything concerning this "spore" project, and especially the away mission. Monsters running around? Klingons saying "shhhh"? What?

If all that were cut out, and we just had a story of Burnham coming to serve on this ship with its motley crew, I'd be more into it.

I'm not quite ready to say I am completely done, but I did just cancel my free trial before it charged me tomorrow. Now I think I'll probably pay for a month of the service next spring to finish out the season.
Peremensoe
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 6:06am (UTC -5)
There's been a lot put forward in the show is yet to be justified. There are some off notes in the execution.

We needn't imagine problems that aren't there.

"That redheaded chick? She would never be on a Star Ship in the first place. She is the stereotypical hysterical woman, incompetent, no self esteem, no single redeeming quality." There's been nothing to mark Tilly as hysterical or incompetent. To the contrary--she has the nervous tic and insecurity about others' perception, but a matter-of-fact awareness of these things--and she is perfectly adept in her actual work. And see her stand forth on the away team (about 31:47 in the stream).
wolfstar
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 6:13am (UTC -5)
3 stars; Saru is great, the show's saving grace even - he's the only thing about it that completely works. But as much I wanted to support Discovery, I have to get on board the criticism train. The show is trying too hard to be gloomy and serious, it feels less like Star Trek and more like a bad copy of BSG, or more precisely The Expanse, but without that show's camaraderie and strong plotting. Lorca is trying to harness the power of the protomolecule. The floating CGI blue globules and the fact it kills people are even the same. So you can instantly travel anywhere in space because the entire universe is connected by a web of fungus spores because at the quantum level biology and physics are the same thing. Wtf? That's like the worst science in Trek ever, it's appalling. It's absolute mumbo jumbo.

The main issue is the tone, which is dark without being earned; forced darkness that isn't organic. It doesn't feel like Starfleet when everyone is an asshole to each other. With regard to the cadet girl, I can totally see why they'd want to include a lighter character, but it could have been done with more grace and subtlety. Right now she's coming over as the annoying comic sidekick - the way they've written her character is too obvious and surface-level to be engaging, as well as jarring with the rest of the show.

The fact no-one is likeable apart from Saru is a problem. Of course, protagonists don't have to be likeable - having a troubled or even an anti-hero protagonist can work fantastically when done well. So the problem with Michael isn't that she's a troubled protagonist per se, it's that the basis for her decision-making (which is what makes her a troubled protagonist) doesn't seem credible or consistent. In this episode we have her being humble and wanting to genuinely atone for her crime, right alongside her using devious methods to break into a part of the ship she's not authorized to access. That's not consistent characterization. The greater problem beyond Michael is that no-one else is likeable (now that Captain Georgiou has been written out). Viewers come back to a TV show because it's a world they want to spend time in and because they're invested in the stakes (which in turn depends on caring about the characters). The characters on Discovery aren't people you want to spend time with, and that's gonna be the show's biggest problem. Their abrasiveness doesn't feel earned, organic or honest, more just a "look how dark" tonal gimmick.
Bees
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 6:23am (UTC -5)
This is Trek - for the next next generation. Writing, production acting are v sharp and incisive. Yes it could use more humour and warmth but give it time ... this really is boldly going where Star Trek has never been before ... and is a product of contemporary Western society and culture as it needs to be
Hank
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 6:41am (UTC -5)
@Peremensoe: You are right, I got that wrong. I didn't see anything from her to suggest competence, though, but I could just have missed it. It would be logical to assume that she has worthwhile skills to compensate her utter lack of confidence, but so far they haven't shown that. Still, if you are such a nervous wreck that you barely manage to tell somebody they are sleeping in your bed, I don't think you manage to stay calm and collected in the face of a Xenomorph killing Klingons amids piles of deformed bodies. Just more character inconsistency the way I see it. TNG already did all that better with Barcley anyways.
Robert
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 8:57am (UTC -5)
Is ST: Enterprise a pre-cursor to TOS/TNG/DS9/VOY? Or did the temporal cold war erase all of our Trek and leave this in it's place? :P
HawgWyld
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 9:00am (UTC -5)
@Startrekwatcher -- you are very correct in stating that a major problem with this show is that the only likable character thus far is Saru. One of the more interesting characters of the lot is Lorca, more than a bit Machiavellian but you can't help but think he's exactly the type of captain that would be necessary to whip that pack of self-centered complainers in shape if the Federation is to prevail over the Klingons.

The lead character is still obnoxious and that is a huge problem. Imagine what DS9 would have been like if Jadzea Dax was the lead character -- that's the same kind of dynamic going on here.
Karl Zimmerman
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 9:08am (UTC -5)
Peremensoe -

"Except that the Burnham/Starfleet story was only half of the prologue. Surely we're going to be revisiting the Klingons, and not only when Starfleet does."

It's pretty much universally agreed the Klingon part of the prologue was the most flawed. Barely anything of interest was said aside from "we hate the Federation because their peace and tolerance will pollute our culture." This could have been gotten from the 30-second viewscreen scene with T'Kumva and Burnham's own dialogue in those episodes. I think the series would have worked better if we slowly unpeeled the motivation - particularly because it's so skeletal as it is.

Thinking more about it, I am grateful with what didn't appear in this episode. There were no flashbacks, and no stupid scenes with Sarek. There were still too many "Burnham is awesome" scenes added for no good reason, but it was more tolerable since we weren't repeatedly getting beat over the head with how special she was.
Chrome
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:06am (UTC -5)
@Zms5063

"Wow! it's a little far out there! but, could U.S.S. Discovery be working on what will become the genesis device!?"

This was my initial thought as well. All that talk about not letting the Klingons get ahold of the Discovery's technology definitely rang overtones of TWOK. I'd like to take Lorca at his word and believe they're actually working on bio-physical warp, but with Discovery being capable of 300 simultaneous scientific missions it's totally possible the research could be applied to Genesis or a Genesis precursor.

"did the temporal cold war erase all of our Trek and leave this in it's place?"

My headcanon is that Seven and the Time Police stopped the Temporal Cold War from ever happening and thus spared me from having to watch it. :-)
Karl Zimmerman
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:08am (UTC -5)
One more thing, this is just a fan theory but I'm throwing it out there: This episode was constructed to be the pilot, and the pilot/prologue was tacked on later.

Back in May, it was announced that two episodes were being added to the season, bringing the total up to 15. We ended up with a two-part prologue which only featured two of the main characters and (so far) doesn't seem needed to follow the main story arc.

I believe The Vulcan Hello/Battle at the Binary Stars were probably mostly filmed as a series of separate scenes meant to be seen as flashbacks over the course of the season. At some point the producers decided there was too much content per episode, and decided to calve off these flashbacks into a prologue two-parter with some additional footage. Unfortunately, this meant that instead of having a pilot which was self-contained and might drag new viewers into the mystery, we ended up with a low energy half of a two-hour episode, since the deal with only the first episode of the series being shown live was baked in.

This might be totally wrong of course, but I'll throw it out there and see what others think.
Del_Duio
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:23am (UTC -5)
"With regard to the cadet girl, I can totally see why they'd want to include a lighter character, but it could have been done with more grace and subtlety. Right now she's coming over as the annoying comic sidekick - the way they've written her character is too obvious and surface-level to be engaging, as well as jarring with the rest of the show."

I thought that was super-jarring as well. She is an annoying character, and not too likable. She's also exhibit A on why HD televisions aren't always a good thing. Have they no Neutrogena in the future??

But damn if Saru isn't awesome. To the guy who said he reminds him of Odo, that was a great observation. This character might be the one who knocks it out of the park for DSC- Like the doctor in VOY was for that show.

Maybe in S2 they'll give Saru his own ship and we can boldly go somewhere that's better overall.

P.S: I like the above idea that they might be working on the Genesis project! Imagine that?
Chrome
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:24am (UTC -5)
@Karl Zimmerman

I seriously doubt that because (a this episode can't stand on its own without a ton of background exposition explaining why everyone hates Burnham, so you'd be talking about an episode that's 50% flashbacks already and b) The Vulcan Hello/Battle at the Binary Stars had too much polish on them to be "tacked on". Considering CBS's tyrannical marketing ploy is to grab everyone with the pilot, there's no doubt they planned to start with something epic.
Dom
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:32am (UTC -5)
I'm still skeptical about this show. I think @William hit the nail on the head when he said that it's not just that the show deals with dark themes, but unlike DS9 there's no joy or spark to it.

I think this episode also shows the dangers of excessive serialization. This episode didn't really have a core. It was partly to introduce Burnham to Discovery, partly a horror show, partly a high-concept episode about space-traveling fungus spores, but the disparate parts didn't fit well together into a single package. In classic Trek, if the show wanted to do a horror episode, that would be the focus. We'd have the mystery, see the monster, overcome it, and then have a resolution. Without any sort of resolution, this STD episode just feels unfinished and pointless. Like what did I just watch for the past hour? Did the show meaningfully engage with any big ideas or concepts?

I did like that we're seeing some imperfect Starfleet characters, like Stammets who has his catty moments. I like the idea of Tilly, but kind of wish they'd toned it back a bit with the whole "nerds have allergies and are socially awkward trope." And I really did not like the fact that it seemed the commander let the other prisoners attack Burnham. That's unbecoming of a Starfleet officer.
Maverick
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:38am (UTC -5)
I just finished watching the new Alien movie, i mean, third episode of DSC... so far, nothing... it still worries me that all we gonna get is generic current sci-fi cliches.
I think i've finally got the idea CBS have when they greenlit this show.
This must actually had started as a generic sci-fi show, but somewhere along the way, the executives realized that that wasnt enough to sell their new streaming channel. So, they rebranded it as Star Trek, toss just enough reference to actually be worth calling Star Trek and gave the same "modern sci-fi" treatment as any other ordinary show over the last 10 years.
This dark joyless mood never was the core of any Trek shows... maybe Enterprise came close with the Xindi arc, but that was crap also.
They really shouldn't made it a prequel. Trying to fit the 60's idea of the future in 2017 would be laughable, so we have all this new technology 10 years before the original story that end up feeling anachronistic to the TOS show.
To be fair, i didn't watch the whole episode... I stoped at that ridiculous Alice citations as my mind starting to wander away to the news on my cellphone. But I'll get the rest later tonight, and i'm bet i'm not gonna be surprised (in a good way).
I'm sorry, but this is not Star Trek, this is Generic Moody New Millenial "Can't Go 5 Minutes Without Intense Action or Forced Conflict" Trek.
Dom
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:48am (UTC -5)
@Zimmerman: "There were still too many "Burnham is awesome" scenes added for no good reason, but it was more tolerable since we weren't repeatedly getting beat over the head with how special she was."

That does bother me too, especially because this is a character who committed mutiny and hasn't really done a whole lot to earn our respect. I'd like to see this character do a bit more to earn our respect as opposed to just being super competent at everything. I hope and think maybe they're setting her up to be a true believer in Federation values, a contrast to Lorca's cynicism. If that's the case, I'd still like to see something more done to rehabilitate Burnham.
philadlj
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 11:03am (UTC -5)
Look, I get that a lot of people are frustrated that this takes place in the prime timeline ten years before Kirk, but I'm not. I'm going with it, and enjoying it immensely.

It really doesn't matter whether canon is being followed to a T. Would it be nice? Sure; a post-DS9/Voyager-set show would've been nice too.

I'm going to take what I can get. It's Star Trek. It feels like Star Trek to me. It looks fantastic, and there's some great performances among some iffy ones. Most of all, there's Trek-like discussion of morality and humanity's purpose: to better themselves. Of course, survival must come first.

Can't wait for next week, but I'm actually glad we didn't get all the eps at once. Better to let episodes digest rather than binge them all at once.
Chrome
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 11:20am (UTC -5)
"Did the show meaningfully engage with any big ideas or concepts? "

First we had Burnham's struggle of being the ultimate outcast, completely shunned by people indoctrinated with Federation values. As a comparison, I'd look at TNG's "Ensign Ro" and how everyone treated Ro with complete save Guinan, but obviously Ro proved herself in the end. This episode actually takes many cues from the Ensign Ro shows.

Next, as I mentioned earlier, the alien that was shredding apart Federation and Klingon officers was certainly an allegory for the conflict that Burnham started in the prologue. The monster Burnham released in the prologue that killed many on both sides in battle is not unlike the very physical monster we get in this episode. Burnham could only redeem herself after wrestling with the monster she let go, Her tenacity when battling what could be called her monster showed the crew that despite her past actions, Burnham had some valuable officer skills in a tight conflict.

The allegory is pushed even further at the end when Larco shows his willingness to work both with Burnham and the savage alien they captured as long as it furthered his means to end the war.

I'm looking forward to Jammer's take on this, and William B's too, if he ever watches this. His analysis of metaphors in Star Trek are very insightful.
Chrome
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 11:22am (UTC -5)
^Sorry, the above "with complete" in the first paragraph should be written as with contempt.
Hank
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 11:39am (UTC -5)
@philadlj: Care to point out some of those discussions? It seems I completely missed them.

@Chrome: I have heard time seeing that parallel between the war and the monster, or what Lorcas complete lack of a moral compass has to do with it. Also, what is the point of telling a story that you are already telling (namely, the consequences of Burnhams actions) again, but with some weird alien monster? Sorry, I didn't get the vibe that the monster meant anything besides cheap spectacle.
Braincells
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 12:31pm (UTC -5)
Anyone know what that monster was on the Glenn ship? Was it an experiment that went haywire on the Glenn? Was it something the Klingons unleashed on the ship?
Flatein
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi: "Kudos to Hank for giving Discovery a chance, and double kudos to him for deciding to stop watching when he realized the show isn't for him. And really, your sarcastic remark was really not needed here."

Thanks for taking on the self-annointed role of Today's Thought Police, but I for one welcomed @KidMarine's comment. Sarcastic, yes, but the remark was not suggesting that someone should just "shut up," as yours does.

A sarcastic remark is no more or less "offensive" (to the people have the market on the received wisdom as to what "offensiveness" is) than reading a post whose primary virtues are the strategic deployment (in capital letters, of course), of "shit, " "emote for shit," "steaming pile of shit," "BULLSHIT," "FUCK ME" and so forth. Sarcasm is no less inherently insightful than profanity, and vice-versa.

"And speaking of the Trekverse: Another staple of Star Trek is that for 40 years we've had an increasingly rich coherent fictional universe to which every new series contributed its share (yes, even "Enterprise").

Is there any of the above in "Discovery"? I've read hundreds of comments by both fans and detractors of the series, and didn't find a single one that speaks positively about this. "

By the end of how many episodes are we to judge whether this "speaks positively" comment, if no one makes it, means that the show is terrible?

Words like "rich," "increasingly," and "coherent" are subjective, value-laden terms. People can disagree whether these terms apply to what we have seen in the first three episodes. I think a case can be made that several of the characters have contributed toward the overall richness of a coherent fictional universe. I might also mention that people whose thought processes display coherence gaps are perhaps not best-suited toward critcizing something for "lack of coherence," but I suppose this remark is "not really needed," right?

Someone said, "'m going to take what I can get. It's Star Trek. It feels like Star Trek to me. It looks fantastic, and there's some great performances among some iffy ones. Most of all, there's Trek-like discussion of morality and humanity's purpose: to better themselves. Of course, survival must come first."

This assessment is a fair one.

Let's see what the common OTHER (and seemingly only) criteria are, based on what has been written here, for evaluating this show:

1. Stylistically, is it too much like the last three movies? (If so, it must be terrible, so no need to go through the other steps).
2. Is it really "Star Trek"? (If not, again, terrible, go no further).
3. Does it observe "continuity" ? (if not, abominable!)

Whether the show satisfied these self-made "tests" is a matter of opinion, as is whether the show MUST satisfy these tests to be "good."

I've noticed, this week, the development of a new "test" (which offers some conglomeration of the first two, above: ""Does the show display "Optimism for the future, high concept social commentary, or role models that make you and humanity strive to be better humans""? Does the show ""undermine the entire premise of the Trekverse?"" Having contrived this very particular answer, the questioner concludes, "no," and, "yes," respectively.

Good enough as Q.E.D., I suppose, but I'm not sure if "the entire premise" of the Trekverse can be reduced to a mathematical formula-and am even less sure that we should try doing so. The gist of the new test seems to be that lack of optimism and lack of "role models" is bad not only as Trek, but as television (as opposed to just being what it is, a characteristic).

Many episodes (DS9, the Xindi Arc) and at least one movie (VI) were not big on optimism or "good role models." These episodes and movies showed that optimisim only really means something in a world where pessimism, dissent, and conniving, also exist. If Discovery becomes, or turns out to be, "dark" as an affectation, or for the sake of it, I would probably share the sentiment that it seems to disregard the "positive vision for humanity" thing that has ultimately undergirded Trek. (For the measurement-obsessed, though, I think it is way too early to definitely conclude that Discovery has failed test #4. There are signs, IMHO, that it may be on its way toward a decent grade, given we are in Episode 3, not 100).

However, ultimately, being "optimistic" is neither virtue nor vice. Good and bad storytelling are virtue and vice. When Deep Space Nine was being created, the issue of whether fans would perceive that show as too "dark" were very much on Michael Piller's mind. It turned out that "dark," as part of a palette with moods, tones and characteristics, made for a great show -over time (a question to the complaint-mongers: Was "in the Pale Moonlight" terrible dramatically because it was too "dark"?) If all fans care about (to invert a Meyerism, if all fans care about is, not whether Spock is killed well, but is killed) - is "dark," "dark," "dark" - then perhaps it is the fans - and not the people who are making the show - who are suffering from a deficit of imagination.


Shannon
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed this episode, and the direction the writers are taking the storyline. Everything isn't so black and white in life, as prior Star Trek series have made it seem. Gene Roddenberry saw life in the future that way, with perfect humans that didn't have any internal conflict. That may have played well in the past, but I love this re-imagined new direction. Feels a lot like BSG and the amazing direction that Ron Moore took that franchise... For those of you hating on this episode and saying things like "this isn't start trek", what the hell do you want? Would you prefer Star Trek: Enterprise, with it's dull writing, bad casting, and even worse acting? Or perhaps Star Trek: Voyager and it's infamous reset button? Embrace the new direction and give it a chance. Or raise the capital and start your own show if you think you know so much better.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 12:53pm (UTC -5)
@Maverick
"This dark joyless mood never was the core of any Trek shows... maybe Enterprise came close with the Xindi arc."

Yeah, but Enterprise did that IN SEASON 3, and it took an actual attack on Earth and a very real threat of humanity's annihilation for this thing to happen. And Jonathan "Jack Beuer" Archer was *still* a more decent guy than the way Starfleet is portrayed in Discovery. Planting a bomb on a dead enemy to kill mourners? That's really low, even by contemporary standards.

DS9 also did it at the height of the Dominion Wars. And again, it was after a few seasons of "normal operations" and the big dark turn happened only when the entire Alpha Quadrant was in imminent danger.



OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
@Flatein
"Thanks for taking on the self-annointed role of Today's Thought Police, but I for one welcomed @KidMarine's comment. Sarcastic, yes, but the remark was not suggesting that someone should just "shut up," as yours does."

Thanks for taking on the self-annointed role of Today's Thought Police. At least I don't cowardly change my username before posting my opinion.




Chrome
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
@Braincells

"Anyone know what that monster was on the Glenn ship?"

It wasn't revealed what the creature was in this episode, but the Glenn's ship logs were downloaded right before they escaped the ship, so it's likely to be revealed later.

@Hank

Like I said, the rampaging monster that indiscriminately kills is analogous to the brutal warfare Burnham is reviled for from the last episode. Leading the team to safety and eventual capture of the monster is the beginning of redemption for her deeds. You don't see how Lorca being able to use a monster for his purposes is similar to uses a convicted criminal? I don't think that's a stretch.
Hank
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 2:07pm (UTC -5)
@Flatein: What exactly are you trying to say? Besides that Chromes (or my) "thought processes display coherence gaps"? Nobody here is saying "If this show does this single thing, it sucks", like you seem to portray it. You are just creating a strawman by insisting that everybody looks at this series in a binary manner. I also find it highly curious that you find words like "coherent", "rich" or "increasingly" to be subjective, and then go on and call an opinion that you happen to like "fair". Also, "measurement obsessed", "complaint mongers", what are you on about? Nobody is sitting here and counting the times the prime directive is mentioned or if the show has X amount of dialogue reserved for character building, but this show is not made in a vacuum. There are fifty years of background to this. So of course it will be compared to previous entries in the series.

My post my have been profanity-ridden, but I never lashed out at anybody liking this show or questioned their mental faculties. You seem overly angry with people who disagree with you. And yes, it is a subjective opinion that this show has to meet certain criteria to be considered good. That is a non-sequitur, like most of your post. All we do here is posting opinions, this is not a scientific endevour.

But I find it highly amusing that you blame the people, who find this show to be too dark, for it beeing so dark, because they lack imagination. Yes, I am indeed sure that, if I had more imagination, I would find twisted corpses, planting bombs on corpses, dark courtrooms with shadowy figures, violence against prisoners, setting your phaser to kill in a fit of rage, calling prisoners animals and destroying a whole federation fleet highly light-spirited and amusing. It really shows the easy-going when the first major action of your main character is mutiny. As for the DS9 comparison: DS9 build up to the shades of grey. They didn't start with Captain Sisko poisoning a whole planet, and that action alone got enough backlash from fans. I really like The Expanse, for example, and that show is also very dark. But it does not pretend to uphold the legacy of fifty years of completely different Expanse storytelling, like Discovery tries to do with Trek. If you have a favourite band, lets say, the Beatles, and they release a new Album called "Satanistic Fuckfest", and do Black Metal all of a sudden, I think it is totally reasonable to dismiss that new Album. And while it may be a really good Black Metal album, it is a very shitty Beatles Album. If Sesame Street is suddenly all about rape jokes, it is perfectly reasonable to question if that would be Sesame Street at all.

Oh, and a final point: Putting continuity in quotemarks so as to suggest that it is not really a thing: It is. It is that thing that makes a universe believable, and it is not subjective. Sure, you might not be bothered by it, that is your opinion, and if you enjoy the show regardless, great! But don't pretend that it does not matter at all for anybody.

So to sum up: Nobody is saying this show sucks because it is not TNG all over again. Hell, that is the most common complaint about Voyager, that it tried too hard to be TNG and did not do its own thing. Some people, like me, say this show sucks because it ticks none of the boxes I expect to be ticked by a Star Trek show, thus it can not be a real Star Trek show, in my opinion of course. I am not making absolute judgements here.
Hank
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome: Ok, if you put it that way I can see your point. I agree on the redemtion part. The similarities of using a monster or using a convict are also there, I thought you wanted to link Lorca to the first allegory, which didn't make sense to me. I just misread your post, it seems.
SC
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
Hmm, I didn't love it, I have to be honest. Preferred the two part opener. The CGI was quite poor on the creature (despite them hiding it in the dark) and the story was just okay for me. It's early days yet though.

Why are they blaming Michael? If they'd have listened to her everyone might still be alive.
Latex Zebra
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 2:59pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed it and I'm enjoying the series so far.
I get the feeling, obviously, this whole spore travel thing is going to fail miserably which is why we wont hear of it again. Like the Delphic Expanse.
The characters are people I want to see more of and I like the drip feeding of information. This isn't the one of stories of Trek gone by, apart from DS9, and it is building up. I'll be annoyed if it ends up being questions and questions with no answers.
I get people saying that perhaps it doesn't feel like traditional Trek but come on. Is the kind of stories TNG told going to attract the modern viewer?
I'm just pleased to have some Trek on TV and so far I've seen enough to get me invested. If we get to episode 15 and it ends up a total car crash then I'll be the first to moan.
Latex Zebra
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
Easter Egg frenzy as well... Not entirely sure I need that every episode... Was that a Gorn skeleton at the end?
Jarvis9
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 3:06pm (UTC -5)
Without commenting on the rest of the episode I love how they continued the proud redshirt tradition in this episode by having a random nobody security guard accompany the main characters and get offed.

Poor Ensign Ricky or whatever his name was.
Hank
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
@Latex Zebra: Glad that you enjoy the show so far, wish I could as well. Regarding the argument that TNG would not attract modern viewers: That may be the case, maybe not. The Orville sure is doing fine, and that is more or less updated TNG with some (bad) jokes. My argument would be: If you can't sell Star Trek to modern audiences - then leave it alone. Do something that you can sell. They said the same thing about Johnny Cash, btw, and then he made his comeback and was more successfull than in his first prime time.
Akkal
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 3:24pm (UTC -5)
I've watched all of Star Trek except from a few episodes of TOS, and I'm digging Dicovery this far. I would, however, have preferred that the new series took place after Voyager chronologically, as it would obviously make any continuity issues a lot simpler, and the technology more plausible, as far as plausible goes in sci-fi.

Characters getting a chance for redemption is nothing new. Ro Laren is mentioned above, but the same can be said about Tom Paris in Voyager, who was extracted from the penal colony to serve a purpose for a mission with Voyager, and in time he earned the crew's respect. One might even count Garak in for this comparison, since he apparently had a dark past as well. I'm sure that the Michael character's realations with the rest of the crew will improve in much the same manner throughout the series., as already seen with both her roomate and Saru. The fact that Michael gets this opportunity, gives me assosciations toward the trustworthiness in human kind that we know from Trek, and that everybody deserves a second chance, after all.

I don't think there have been any Star Trek series without one or many weak episodes (think 1st season TNG), so I for one will give the whole season a chance, no matter what. I'm already looking forward to next monday, which is when it is released on Netflix in Norway. :)

Breath scan: SILLY! But come to think about it, of course we have never heard of this invention from TOS 10 years later - just look at how easy it was for Michael to fake it. It must just have been a fad for a very limited time period and soon forgotten about. :P
Dom
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
@ Latex Zebra, "I'll be annoyed if it ends up being questions and questions with no answers."

I do worry about this as well. This has the feeling of a JJ Abrams mystery box. Not EVERYTHING has to be answered at the end of an episode, but I do feel like an episode should come to a satisfactory conclusion and provide some answers. I was very disappointed that this episode ends with absolutely no hint of what that monster was. I want the show to introduce concepts and do something interesting with them, not just tease us with the possibility of interesting concepts.
Startrekwatcher
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
I'd like Trek to get back to basics. Going out on a starship exploring the unknown. TNG was about weekly adventures. It wasn't mechanical or formulaic. It told a variety of stories ranging from intriguing sci-fi mysteries(Remember Me, Clues, Night Teerors, The Survivors, Cause and Effect, Timescape, The Chase, times arrow, future imperfect etc) to political intrigue utilizing marquee Trek aliens(sins of the father, reunion, redemption, the defector etc) to thought provoking episodes( the measure of a man, the host, ethics) to expanding the Trek mythos( q who with borg, the wounded with cardassians, ensign to with Bajorans) to episodes that touched on the alienness of the universe with Borg/tin man/crystalline entity etc. and tng also did big event episodes that were epic most notably The Best of Both Worlds

That's what I would have hoped out of this series. And likable characters. TNG was successful in no small way because of the casting and the characters. You screw up either of those and you might as well throw in the towel cause the rest doesn't matter

I don't get the modern fixation on bloated mythologies, mystery box storytelling, darkness, insufferable characters and war. And recycling. There's so much rebooting, and resurrecting of old storylines and old tv shows.
Startrekwatcher
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
Another fundamental aspect of Trek in my opinion is the way it feels familiar and comforting like snuggling into a warm blanket. Going out into space meeting new races, new characters each week, exploring who we are as a species. Frankly the deconstruction of humans in times of war has been done over and over and over and over since 9/11. Time to move on

And if the DIS writers think just because the Dominion War was well received that attempting that again only this time with the Klingons they need to think twice. The Dominion War worked for many reasons which aren't going to be found in DIS. The Founders were smart villains with depth and more than just one schtick in subverting their enemies. Two, a very large part of what made the a Dominion War interesting to watch was the intriguing dynamics of how this alien organization known as the Dominion impacted all the Alpha Quadrant races TOS and TNG developed. And most importantly we never knew the outcome of the war. Here we do with the Klingons
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
@Flateit

I've decided than even though you're probably a regular user here hiding behind a new username, your statements do deserves a proper reply:

"By the end of how many episodes are we to judge whether this "speaks positively" comment, if no one makes it, means that the show is terrible?"

I didn't say "the show is terrible". I said that calling it "Star Trek" is false advertising. Yes, there's a difference.

"I might also mention that people whose thought processes display coherence gaps are perhaps not best-suited toward critcizing something for 'lack of coherence,' but I suppose this remark is 'not really needed,' right?"

Well, unless you're going to point to a specific logical problem in my post, then what you've just written is a pure ad hominem. So yes, such a remark is both rude and completely pointless.

"I'm going to take what I can get. It's Star Trek. It feels like Star Trek to me. It looks fantastic, and there's some great performances among some iffy ones. Most of all, there's Trek-like discussion of morality and humanity's purpose: to better themselves. Of course, survival must come first.

This assessment is a fair one."

See? This is exactly the problem I'm having with this show.

You know that a show's moral compass is in trouble, when its only alleged "discussion of morality" is this fear-mongering rhetoric of "We need to do questionable things! Our survival depends on it!"...

Unless, of-course, their survival really *does* depend on it. Were the Klingons ever depicted as such formidable enemies that a preemptive strike would have been this crucial? Are they so dangerous that it justifies disregarding the rules of wars and planeting bombs in their corpses?

If Modern Star Trek is now in the habit of treating such abominable acts as if there's some kind of "moral dilemma" here, then yes: It isn't worthy of the Star Trek name.

"I've noticed, this week, the development of a new "test" (which offers some conglomeration of the first two, above: Does the show display 'Optimism for the future, high concept social commentary, or role models that make you and humanity strive to be better humans'?"

Quite frankly, yes. That is exactly what Star Trek was about in its first 40 years.

And I don't really understand why you think these lofty ideals should be mocked and ridiculed. Care to explain?

"The gist of the new test seems to be that lack of optimism and lack of 'role models' is bad not only as Trek, but as television (as opposed to just being what it is, a characteristic)."

Nope. Stop putting words in other people's mouths.

"Many episodes (DS9, the Xindi Arc) and at least one movie (VI) were not big on optimism or 'good role models.' These episodes and movies showed that optimisim only really means something in a world where pessimism, dissent, and conniving, also exist."

Can you name even one example which is anywhere close to the complete moral bankruptcy we've seen on Discovery so far? Any hero commiting war crimes against an enemy with which the war hasn't even started yet?

Yeah, Kirk's racism in ST VI is bad. But he doesn't actually act on it. You're actually comparing that to planting a f***-ing bomb?

As for the Xindi Arc and the Dominion Wars: They've made great efforts to demonstrate how dire the situation is, before our heros started doing questionable things. In both cases, failure to act would have lead to certain annihilation/enslavement of the human race.

And still, despite the incredibly high stakes, Sisko was very reluctant to follow his plan in "in the Pale Moonlight". Can you imagine anyone on "Discovery" batting an eye over saving the entire Alpha Quadrant from certain defeat in this manner?

(The only example which comes kinda close to supporting your point is DS9's episode "For the Uniform". But that's a single epsiode out of 700+. It's the exception that proves the rule.)

Archer, of-course, has more questionable actions under his belt. But we happen to know that his enemy had a planet-busting weapon and was actively planning to use it on earth. Again, are you comparing this to what happened in Discovery so far?

See, this is exactly how you do "moral dilemma" stories. You put fundamentally good people in very tough situations where they are forced to make difficult decisions. Should Archer have refrained for stealing that warp core in "Damage", when the probable outcome of the alternative would have been the earth going kaboom? That's an actual gut-wrenching dilemma, which is exactly what made the Xindi Arc so thought-provoking.

And there's nothing like that in these early Discovery episodes. Or at least that's the impression I've gotten. If I'm wrong, I'll be happy to be corrected.

"However, ultimately, being 'optimistic' is neither virtue nor vice."

True.

But throwing away everything that made your franchise special is most certainly a vice.

If you're writing a new Terminator film and you end up with a disney-style happy story with pink unicorns, then you have a problem.

I really don't see what's so difficult to understand here.


"When Deep Space Nine was being created, the issue of whether fans would perceive that show as too 'dark' were very much on Michael Piller's mind."

Huh?

When DS9 was created, it wasn't any darker than the darker episodes of late TNG.

It only turned "dark" with the Dominion War. And I've already explained why this is nothing like what's going on so far with Discovery.

"Was 'in the Pale Moonlight' terrible dramatically because it was too 'dark'?"

The episode "In the Pale Moonlight" was dramatically superb precisely because it *wasn't* arbitrarly dark. It worked (and worked well) only because we knew (a) the person Sisko is and (b) how hard his back was pressed against the wall.

As they say in the biz: Context is everything (even if "Context is for Kings")

Filip
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 3:43pm (UTC -5)
@Hank, please keep watching the series and writing reviews because the one you wrote here was both spot on and hilarious.

Now, onto my review. Didn't want to post on the first two episode as the jury was still out, but judging by this third episode - bad. Very bad.

SPOILERS AHEAD

First thing, and I would honestly appreciate if someone could explain this to me as either it went over everybody's heads or it's me missing something important:

How is Michael acutally responsible for the war? What action of hers did directly provoke the war and kill 8000 people in that first battle?

Yes, she broke the chain of command and led a one man mutiny that was... stopped in its tracks before it could go ahead with doing anything. The Klingons planned on engaging Starfleet long before Michael or anyone else on the Shenzhou even thought of Klingons. The war going to happen wether Michael fired the torpedos or stayed on Earth and read Alice in Wonderland.

So what I'm saying basically, did she mutiny and does she deserve to be punished? Absolutely. Did her mutiny actually provoke any direct consequences? Not really.

Now, as for this episode. In short - Trek meets Alien meets Walking Dead. A lot of you have already discussed the numerous issues plaguing this episode, and boy, there are a lot. I was ready for a different take at Trek, and was OK with a grittier approach, but whatever the setting, what made all of us (or me, at least) love Trek so much was the likeability of its characters, for better or for worse. We could identify with them, want to be like them and want them to win. Here, they are shady to a point where the righteousness of their cause is dubious at best. Not only is the captain (a Starfleet captain, mind you) presented as a very shady character, the rest of the crew seems hostile and arrogant. Take out the trash? Really? Allowing a brawl to go on in the middle of the mess hall... because? As for the initial exchange between Lorca and the science officer, could you imagine someone questioning Picard or Sisko like that? I can't. I am going to cut this part short because I could go on for a couple of pages.

What the fundamental problem is, I am, as I presume most of you are, used to treating the protagnoist crew of each series as a conjunct of intensly linked entities working towards a common goal. I am more than OK with keeping suspense with some shady business, but NOT when it comes from within the protagnoist conjunct as it seems to be the case here. That is not forming a relatable driving force of the show so characteristic of EVERY Trek series so far. In general, I don't have a problem with shady protagonists, nor do I think that a protagonist of a story should adhere to a specific moral code, but when it comes to Trek - I most certainly feel that way.

Looking at the visuals, I can't help but think how stellary spectacular DS9 would've looked like had it had the same CGI technology back in the day. Watching this show makes me really sad that they didn't decide to move the show after the events of Nemesis.

I am not going to quit on the show, as I am interested to see in which direction it will head. Not because of the plot, but to see what shape will this new Trek take, making it the sole reason for me sticking with it. Which is a shame, because it can't live only on its name forever.
Akkal
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 3:53pm (UTC -5)
@Filip : The accidental run-in with Michael and the klingon on the klingons' sacred structure in space which resulted in the klingon being killed, might have been a final blow to start the war? Just a thought. The klingon scenes before that also suggested that war plans were obviously already being made, of course, but this might have finally triggered it.
Filip
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
@Akkal, thanks for the quick reply.

However, that again does not explain the blame everybody keeps placing on her. She was attacked, that is, the Klingon was hostile first. Not much she, or anyone else in that situation, could do to prevent it.

The show bases a LOT of Michael's character development on the fact that she did something horrible, and when that fact turns out to be a massive plot hole, the development take the same turn.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
@Shannon
For those of you hating on this episode and saying things like "this isn't start trek", what the hell do you want? Would you prefer Star Trek: Enterprise."

Yes! Without question.

Enterprise at least tried to a prequel. Gotta give them that.

"Or perhaps Star Trek: Voyager and it's infamous reset button?"

A little harder... but still yes. At least their heart was in the right place.

"Embrace the new direction and give it a chance."

Why? Just because they put "Star Trek" in the show's name?

I suppose KidMarine's sarcastic remark had more merit in it than I thought. Apparently, there really *are* people who would watch anything as long as it is labeled "correctly".

"Or raise the capital and start your own show if you think you know so much better."

Now that's a pretty good idea... In fact, it's such a great idea that we already have such a show: The Orville. Funny how, despite the low brow humor, that show captures the essence of optimistic sci fi far better than Discovery ever will.

And the Orville is really just the first (and hopefully - far for the best) example of such a show. I have no doubt we'll see more shows in this genre, in the next few years.

BTW I do not "hate" Discovery. As a series standing on its own merits, I'm indifferent to it. To me it's just another generic space-based sci fi show, and I fully understand that suchs shows can be enjoyed on their own merits (even though I personally don't dig that genre).

What I do hate is the way CBS is marketing this show as "Star Trek". It's the fact that they are taking the name of something I love and deeply admire, and slams it on a show where the "heros" plant bombs on enemy corpses.


Mertov
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
Filip, I hear you, but I don't see it as such a big plot hole as you do.

I don't believe first of all that she was supposed to land on that ship/thing. I need to watch again and make sure but I think her instructions were to hover around it and observe (I can't remember the exact words).

On a separate note: that first killing did make it easier for T'Kuvma to convince the other leaders (of course, would Starfleet know that detail? Probably not.. right?).

Also, T'Kuvma was supposed to be captured alive and she is the one who killed him and turned him into a martyr.

The mutiny (whether consequential or not) did not help her image either, I am sure it was in the Starfleet records/reports.

It takes a lot less than that for masses to blame a person sometimes. In my opinion, I can see why people would see her as the no.1 responsible.
Peremensoe
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
Whether she is factually responsible for Klingon actions is a different matter from how her own actions look to everyone around her. Burnham trespassed on the Klingon Beacon first, a violation of their code and her Captain's orders. Then, upon the Torchbearer's move to defend the sacred artifact, instead of retreating, she killed him. Then, she assaulted her Captain, and tried to seize Shenzhou and open fire on a vessel which had yet done them no harm. You can't imagine why people would think her an aggressor and instigator?
Peremensoe
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
Karl, you may be right about how the two-part prologue came about. If so, I'm glad. I actually liked the Klingon parts best. So far, T'Kuvma is my favorite character in the series... and when was the last Trek death scene treated with such reverence?
Peremensoe
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
Dom: "I think this episode also shows the dangers of excessive serialization. This episode didn't really have a core. It was partly to introduce Burnham to Discovery, partly a horror show, partly a high-concept episode about space-traveling fungus spores, but the disparate parts didn't fit well together into a single package."

This I agree with. Personally I'd have liked to see these three parts in three separate episodes, with more of Burnham-as-prisoner in the first part. Apparently there are people who think the pace of events has been too slow as it is... but I'd just as soon stretch the big story out longer, in order to make room for some smaller stories to resolve in each episode.
Startrekwatcher
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
And as far as ENT. I appreciate it more now after DIS. It had lots of problems--weak characters and tired storytelling but it did a fantastic job at establishing the 22nd century and trying to look aesthetically like a prequel and did at times effectively capture that good 'ol Trek spirit and sense of exploration in episodes like Broken Bow, Fight or Floght, Strange New Worlds, Breaking the Ice, Detained, The Catwalk

DIS is all sound and fury so far
Latex Zebra
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 4:52pm (UTC -5)
@Hank - Really looking forward to The Orville. It's not showing in the UK yet and I'm not one for torrenting.
I don't feel it as as removed from Trek as some. DS9 was my favourite series so I liked the darker stuff. I like the little lines about this not being what Starfleet was about. The fact that the scientist got split up and their work not being used how they wanted. It, pardon the expression, is keeping it real for me. Time will tell but for now it's doing enough.

@Dom - This to me was the real pilot. Last week was an extended prologue. The pieces are set so now the story can begin. Not so worried about lack of answers on this one... That said, they didn't drag out the mystery of the spores etc, there was some payoff.
From the brief clip of next weeks episode it looks like the monster is in there so hoping that comes with some explanation... Then more questions no doubt.
Iceman
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
Another 3 stars for me. The beginning of the show was certainly clunky, but it was also worked on the whole. I'm interested to watch more. Some people here make good points about Discovery, but then they go on to start defending shows I find atrocious like Enterprise and The Orville, so perhaps our tastes just aren't aligned.

@startrekwater-I couldn't disagree more. Star Trek needs to move forward. We've had 3 seasons of TOS, 7 seasons of TNG, and 7 seasons of bland TNG knock off in Voyager. What Discovery is doing is the right call, even though I think a show set in the 25th century, in the aftermath of the Dominion War would be infinitely more interesting.
Flatein
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 5:39pm (UTC -5)
Here is an interesting take on the show:

https://www.polygon.com/tv/2017/10/2/16394866/star-trek-discovery-season-1- episode-3-review-context-is-for-kings


"At some point in their different series, Kirk, Picard, Sisko and Janeway all had to wrestle with the puzzle placed before them; even choosing to make unethical and reckless decisions because they believed it to be the only option at the time. "

"One thing that always made Star Trek stand out from the plethora of sci-fi shows and movies was its ability to make its characters feel extraordinarily ordinary in the most eventful of times. They’re human, even if the world they exist in is so fantastical and absurd that we know it couldn’t possibly be real. The stories are grounded in human decisions and the complex emotions that come along with irrationality. It’s when Star Trek is in its most frenzied state that its characters feel like people we know or imagine we could become ourselves. "

****************************************************************

"The third episode has reassured me that it has enough vision to carry it for an entire season."
Startrekwatcher
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
@iceman

The problem with voyager and first two seasons of ENT wasn't that it was following the TOS/TNG mold but that they did it poorly. The writing was weak.

Using the TOS/TNG model doesn't mean doing the same old thing. The only thing they share is a starship exploring the unknown. That's it. From there you can tell anything you want. I think folks problem with VOY/ENT were the stories were rehashes or just bad stories. If you got a good writing team they could churn out standalones that were new that we hadn't seen done before. The sky's the limit. And you could even do a multi part arc here and there if the idea so warranted it

What I liked so much about TNG was a different weekly adventure every week--sometimes they'd encounter a mind bending mystery or fascinating aliens or some ethical quandary that made them look at themselves and reflect on the human condition. It was fun.

I see no problem with another series in the 25th century out just exploring.

And is DIS any fresher? It's doing the whole war and how it brings out the darker aspects human behavior.
Hank
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
@Filip: Thank you! Well, one part of me really wants to watch this, because I just refuse to believe that this is all we get. Call it morbid curiousity. I am not sure if I am going to post reviews on this site, though. As you have seen, I can get quite angry and I don't know if this is the place for that kind of rant. I just find it hard staying calm and collected when somebody does this to my favourite franchise.

Regarding the blame placed on Burnham: Even when she was attacked, she had other options than to straight up kill the guy. It wasn't made clear if his spacesuit had engines, or if he was armed with some kind of ranged weapons. She could have tried to just fly away, go backwards instead of forward. She had choices. And if I remember correctly, in her trial, she did say that she did what she did to protect her crew and so forth, but did not try to justify her actions beyond that or explain why she had no choice but to kill him. And as nobody besides her could see what was happening, there is nobody to say that she was in the right. On the other hand, it could just be lazy writing. They needed to make her an outcast, so thats what they did. Another reason to think that it would have been better to slowly reveal her bad deed through backstory and dialogue as the series moves along.

@Latex Zebra: Do watch The Orville. Just pretend the humor isn't there, at least for me, I haven't laughed a single time about their jokes. But if you don't get hung up on that, it is actually a quite clever show, and the humor gets toned down after the first episode. The characters are likeable, and a good blend of familiar Star Trek characters and new stuff.

@Iceman: Hm, I think Discovery is doing neither very well. They are certainly not trying to bring back old vibes, and they are also not boldly going where we havent been before on numerous occasions. Well, except for the gore, obviously. I agree that they should have moved past the Dominion war. If they wanted to have something familiar, they could revisit Cardassia, and explore what they went through after the war. If they wanted to go all dark on us, they could have done something with the Federation too: After the Dominion War, the Borg attacks, and the events of voyager (holographic rights, for example - this could cause a huge uproar if suddenly you are not allowed to write certain Holoprograms, for example, that could even be intermingled with current Hate-Speech-Laws), I can see a shift in the Federation, ending a period of growth (I assume they have absorbed cardassian territory as a result of the war) and entering a more seclusive era, with people weary of boldly going where danger lies and a simultanious militarization of Star Fleet. Sure, we had that in Into Darkness as well, but I think it makes sense in this context. It would also mirror our times better. Have decadence set in: The Federation beat all enemies and is the close to becoming the only superpower in the Alpha-Quadrant. Have the Klingons become their quasi-puppet state, unable to continue on their own. Then you can throw in T'Kuvma and his Make Kronos Great Again campaign. If you want to mirror current events, have the Klingon Civil War affect neighbouring races and have huge amounts of refugees pour into federation territory, which leads to conflicts with the locals. Or have the Vulcans ditch the federation (in a parallel to Brexit), because they don't want to be involved in any more wars, even if just passively. You can have cameos of beloved characters like Seven or Sisko or Kira or Odo. You can go as futuristic as you want with your sets. The possibilities are practically endless, I am sure you all can come up with some ideas. Instead we get the Klingon Empire in shambles and trying to solve that by focusing on outside conflicts - just like in DS9. And TNG. And The Undiscovered Country.
Iceman
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
@startrekwatcher-It is pretty different. It's by far the most serialized of any Trek, which is exactly what I wanted. The TNG model is pretty dated by today's standards. Any version can work with good enough writing, but given the choice, I'd take the modern version of Trek.

@Hank-You'll get no argument from me on that point. The new Klingon designs are awful, and it's irritating that they went to another past time period rather than moving forward. Though it is possible that Trek's run its course, and should stay dead. I'd like to think that isn't true though.
Wouter Verhelst
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 7:22pm (UTC -5)
So, the physics/biology thing.

Is it bull? Perhaps. Thing is though, they're a research vessel, doing basic research. Some basic research will be groundbreaking, but most (in the real world) is cuckeloo. The only way to find out which is which, though, is to experiment.

They seem to have some magic instant transport capability that happens as Lorca puts Burnham into that lab place, but is it actually real? While she's 'standing' on the other planets, she can still hear Lorca speak. How much of this is real, and how much of it is not? We don't know yet, because all we've seen so far is nothing more than setup. A *lot* of setup.

The pilot double episode gives us some background in some of the characters, and shows that Burnham used to be very very good. Could they have done that with just flashbacks? Perhaps, but then her being so down right now and Lorca bribe interested wouldn't make much sense.

I think that anyone who looks at this show expecting another TNG, TOS, or DS9 will be sorely disappointed. Discovery is different from all those shows, mostly because the concept is different. It also is much less an episodic series, and much more of an arc show. But arcs require preparation and exposition, CV and that's where we're now.

I like what I've seen so far, and a lot of things don't make sense yet, and/or seem to conflict with established canon. I'm pretty sure this won't last forever though...
Moegreen
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 7:34pm (UTC -5)
I don't think the room-mate cadet is necessarily supposed to be comic relief, more Trek's attempt to tackle psychological challenges, anxiety etc. and overcome them. Was attempted before a little with Barclay but in too camp a manner (holo-addiction (ffs)),.
CBS CEO
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
The real Star Trek is Picard, Sisko and Janeway.

The fake Star Trek is Kirk, Spock, McCoy, all the movies ( including TNG movies ) and the others like Abrams and Archer and Michael the dark Vulcan from Earth.

I'm a fan of Trek not this drek. Not watching and I'm out.
Startrekwatcher
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 8:05pm (UTC -5)
@iceman

Serialized storytelling can be very entertaining but it needs to be well written--simply being serialized doesn't make it good. And right now DIS isn't very well done serialized storytelling. Bottom line I just want to be entertained at the end of an episode and a well done standalone can do that as easily as an ongoing arc.

And I'll also point out that serialized storytelling isn't some new form
Of storytelling that arose in last 15 years by the way. It's been around on daytime soaps and 80s/90s primetime dramas too for decades. So let's not act like it is some brilliant new form writers like Abrams or Lindelof or Cuse or Moore just recently created. So if TNG storytelling is dated then so is DIS since serialized storytelling is just as dated as standalone storytelling

If anything the 21st century has regressed serialized storytelling warping what was once very straightforward linear storytelling into a an unnecessarily complicated pretzel with flashbacks, mystery box philosophy, and an over reliance on water cooler moments. There's no comparison to old school serialization
Trent
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
Does anyone else find the dialgoue and dialects in Discovery "anachronistic". Michael doesn't sound like she's from the future; she sounds like a girl from the 21st century Bronx, and her use of words like "pissoff" and "sh*t" dont feel like swearwords that would be common in the far future.
Mertov
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 8:26pm (UTC -5)
Startrekwatcher, I think Iceman was referring to Star Trek standards when he said that TNG model was dated, not to how TV does serialized vs standalone storytelling in general or the universal idea of "serialized storytelling."

"It's by far the most serialized of any Trek, which is exactly what I wanted. The TNG model is pretty dated by today's standards. Any version can work with good enough writing, but given the choice, I'd take the modern version of Trek."

In the context that Iceman meant, I have to agree if this whole season will be played over a single major storyline.
Trent
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 8:34pm (UTC -5)
Why is Burnham blamed for the war by everyone? Her mutiny had no effect on the outcome of the engagement and the raid on the Klingon ship was signed off by her captain as well. Yes, she kills the torchbearer, but on a mission signed off by her superior, and the Klingons were out for blood before that happened anyway. So why's everyone blaming her?
Trek fan
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
Loved this episode -- I loved the characters, especially the alien Saru and captain, but also the others and Michael is starting to grow on me.

There were also people who said DS9 and the Star Trek reboot films "didn't feel like Star Trek" because DS9 was serialized on a space station and the reboots were action movies. Well, Discovery has elements of both DS9 (serialization and shift of narrative focus away from ship captain, thanks Bryan Fuller) and the reboots (I bet they're re-using a lot of costumes and design from Abrams, thanks Alex Kurtzman) in it. And I love it. "Star Trek" is a big tent that includes a lot of stuff. There were also long stretches of "Enterprise" that didn't feel like Trek to me -- none of which felt even remotely like a prequel of the TOS era so much as TNG/Voyager era show shifted to an earlier timeframe.

But we get used to these things over time; the reality is that each new Star Trek show must adapt to the times and reach a new audience if we want to see younger faces at the conventions. James Bond is the same way; I didn't like Daniel Craig at first, but I've grown fond of him re-watching his stuff in order and the Brosnan films seem incredibly bland/uninteresting to me now. We'll see how things go, but I think "Discovery" is very promising so far, far better than the knockoff "Orville."

So why buy a Romex when you can afford a Rolex? My loyalty is to the brand that delivers every time for me: Discovery has Bryan Fuller, Rod Roddenberry, Alex Kurtzman, Joe Menosky, Nicholas Meyer (!), and nearly every other name you'd want associated with a new Trek series. Orville has Brannon Braga, a sometimes-on high concept writer who gave us the worst excesses of Voyager and drove Ron Moore away from that show. Is this even a contest? Not for me.
Iceman
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
@startrekwatcher-I never said it was new. I said it was new for Star Trek. DS9 dipped its toe in, but never went full on serialized outside of the final chapter and the occupation arc. I highly doubt Discovery will surpass DS9 in quality, but I appreciate its approach to storytelling. It's what Trek needs, and for me it's worked thus far. If you don't agree that's perfectly fine-there's no reason to waste your time when there are so many fantastic shows around nowadays (Person of Interest, Justified, The Americans, Fargo, etc.)
Startrekwatcher
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 9:09pm (UTC -5)
@iceman

I'm not one of those fans who says trek needs to be either episodic or arc based. I loved to pieces Tng and it was episodic and I thought the best parts of DS9 were the occupation arc, the circle trilogy and the final chapter and for ENT the Vulcan trilogy and the xindi arc. I just want to be entertained. The problem I see with tv nowadays is writers try to emulate something people enjoyed in the past rather than just trying to do something fresh that a decade from now people would be looking back on in the same way as that which they copy

That said I've seen good arc based storytelling and DIS ain't it so far. Good arc storytelling isn't a bunch of scattershot scenes loosely stitched together where the writers essentially say you have to see these pieces in a bigger picture. Good arc storytelling tells a satisfying individual chapter that also progresses the arc each week. And too often nowadays that isn't the case
Iceman
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
We'll see if you turn out to be correct. I have a feeling the arc as a whole will be satisfying, but it's far too early to tell. I'm finding it amusing that I'm being nice to the show, considering I kind of agree with you. I know what a masterfully plotted show looks like (The final chapter from DS9 fits the bill imo), and this doesn't really fit. However, I have been pretty entertained by the three shows so far. I think Jammer is nailing it with the reviews. It's decent but not great. Doug Jones and Sonequa Martin-Green are really really good at least.
Jammer
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 9:49pm (UTC -5)
My review is now posted.
Karl Zimmerman
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
It's funny, but thinking about this more, I've come to the conclusion that this Trek outing - so far at least - is not character driven, but plot focused.

It seems that in "Modern TV," writers often confuse having lots of interpersonal conflict, or the character having major flaws, with being character driven. In reality, they are often just constructing situations where the interpersonal drama is the plot, and bending the will of the characters to this plot.

Anyway, turning this back to Trek, an example of a character-driven Trek was DS9. In the vast majority of outings the writers ensured that the main characters wouldn't make widely different decisions from episode to episode. As the series wound on, they also mined canon (both within the wider Trekverse and the series itself) to find good stories to bring out interesting elements of the characters.

On the other hand, Voyager was usually driven by the episodic plotlines. Some characters (like Janeway) were given dramatically different characterization from show to show, depending upon the needs of the plot of the week. Many times a cast member was given a "focus plot" yet nothing within the plot actually required the story line to focus on them in particular. The major exceptions were Seven and the Doctor, which is why the show came to focus upon them.

Regardless, the characterization for Burnham has been...not good so far. She's the model Starfleet officer, until she isn't. When she gets on Discovery she's contrite and follows all the rules - until she decides to break into the magic mushroom room (apparently just due to idle curiosity). This is all very troublesome, because it seems to indicate while the writers know where they want to end up with the character, they don't actually understand how the character will get there. Or don't care.
Michelle Burnham
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 9:55pm (UTC -5)
The only real Trek is the famous trio: K.S.M.

Kaptain Picard
Sisko
Ms. Janeway

The rest is fake news.
Weyoun Zero
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
Maybe this show would be better received if they had just came right out and called it Section (10)31? I mean, black alerts? Really? Why all the mystery surrounding the mystery?
Idolwild
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
Ughhhh. I’ll *gladly* show myself the door after this little rant.

I became a fan in ‘79 on syndicated TOS. 38 years of cred here. Watched every episode since then in broadcast time, every movie on premiere. You guys call yourself fans? Star Trek has been off the air for 12 years and now that it’s back all most of you can do is whine about “canon”. It’s obnoxious. After what is essentially the second episode (post-pilot) and we’re already complaining that the characters aren’t fleshed out, or have chemistry? Really? Does no one remember The Naked Now? Parallax? Past Prologue? Those were hardly gems and all the main characters were stiff as boards in those as well.

Or how about the people that complain about the production quality, the upgraded look and feel and how it doesn’t match TOS that comes after it? Ya? You want the cardboard sets and the paper mache Hortas back?

Or people throwing around “grimdark” or how Star Fleet is too militaristic or its generic sci-fi with a Star Trek veneer. And the people whining about how “we don’t see any mention of this tech in later series!” You do know the writers have the same access to the existing shows as you do, right? They probably thought of that one. Just sayin.

Look, Star Trek has always been a reflection of it’s time. And like it or not, we live in some fairly dark and shitty times. But man, Lorca and his final speech trying to get Burnham to stay - CLASSIC Trek. I’m so excited for this series and where it could go. And even if it goes NO where, it’s still inescapably Trek and I’ll take it over 95% of the garbage on TV and streaming services. To me, and I’m sure to REAL fans like me, even bad Trek is STILL Trek. What you guys need to start to realize is that this is a big, old, sprawling franchise - maybe the most complex and intricate alternate reality ever created by man. It’s going to get rebooted, reinterpreted, mixed up, have different takes and different approaches and they aren’t going to line up anymore - but you know what? That’s OK. Cause I’ll gladly spend as much time in this universe as I can, since I can’t be there in person.

That is all.
JPaul
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
This was one of the most bizarre episodes of "Trek" I've ever seen. I still can't understand why Michael is to blame for starting a war with the Klingons. Weirdly, even she blames herself and thinks she deserves to rot in prison for the rest of her life instead of telling everyone she meets that her idiot Captain wouldn't take her advice on how to avoid war. Georgiou even got herself killed in the attempt to capture T'Kumva - maybe instead she should have beamed over a squad of heavily armed security officers, who did she think she was, Kirk?

To continue, we have an immoral Captain of Discovery who makes Section 33 look like a bunch of schoolchildren who is working on a mutant alienesque killing machines and wacky spores that make warp drive redundant in order to kill the Klingons. Oh, and probably Genesis, but with the intent to use it as a weapon (speculation at the moment, but still).

We also get a main character who casually spouts Lewis Carroll while her life is in immediate danger, a crew member who thinks people in the 23rd century know who the Beatles and John Lennon are, and a borderline functional cadet with zero experience who gets sent on an incredibly dangerous and vital away mission.

It's like bizarro Star Trek, the exact opposite of what Roddenberry envisioned. Instead of everyone getting along in a bright future it's a nightmarish place where no one is nice to anyone. Are we sure this isn't the Mirror universe or something?
Hollow Decks
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:26pm (UTC -5)
@ idolwild

You just want people to support Star Drek because you want more Star Drek. What people want is STAR TREK, where Ferengi's are jewish, Romulans are Romans and Klingon lives matter.

On that note, the idea of an anthology series got me excited. The plan is to move on from Michael, and actually set stories all over the place, like what happened after the Dominion War or during the setting up of the Romulan Neutral Zone.

Maybe a whole show about the dinosaurs coming home to Earth? Hmmm...
Weyoun Zero
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:29pm (UTC -5)
Maybe the story is they use their potato gun, sorry their SPORE DRIVE...and disappear into the mirror universe, never to return. Or maybe the future? Could be why their tech isn't around anymore
JPaul
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:29pm (UTC -5)
Oh, by the way, the new iPhone X has a better security system than their breathalyzer ripped from Alien Resurrection tech does.
WTBA
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
@JPaul Why is knowing the Beatles here any different than us knowing the works of Shakespeare or Bach or who Cleopatra or Julius Caesar are?

If anything, with advanced tech (we already see this), historical figures/literature/etc. are amazingly preserved for continuing consumption.
Hank
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 11:13pm (UTC -5)
@Idolwild: I startet watching Star Trek when I was a kid, but I was born in the nineties. Since then, I have watched everything Star Trek. I also grew up on it, like you. And when Enterprise came around, after I watched the Pilot, I thought to myself "Man, this seems interesting!" I even liked the first Abrams movie, even though it was just mindless popcorn cinema, at least it was entertaining. This was not. If they said it was a reboot, fine! Sure, do that. Then half or more of the problems I have with this would just vanish. But they said "nono, this is the SAME THING as all the other Star Trek shows before it". Did I mind that the Klingons looked completely different in TOS and TNG? No, that was a constraint of the budget. Did I complain that DS9 was not taking place on a starship? Hell no, it was a great show. Nobody wants TOS sets back - but Enterprise managed to look LESS advanced than TOS (or TNG, at least) with more modern and far better sets. This does not. I laughed at the sets of TOS, but it was still a good show. This is not.

The writers of the show thought about it being grim-dark and starfleet being a gung-ho bunch of violent people? I guess not, otherwise we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Also, you realize that Lorcas Speech was hardly honest? He wants to use her to further his own plans to develop a weapon to destroy the Klingons. The discovery part of that is cover up. And even if this was Trek, how do you explain away all the other stuff that people brought up?

You said it yourself, "And even if it goes NO where, it’s still inescapably Trek and I’ll take it over 95% of the garbage on TV and streaming services. To me, and I’m sure to REAL fans like me, even bad Trek is STILL Trek." You don't care if its bad, I do. You call yourself a real fan, and anybody who disagrees with you not a real fan. I beg to differ. You have your preferences, I have mine, but don't presume to know what makes a REAL fan. If you like the show, fine, whatever floats your boat. But please, don't make assumptions about all of us and try to pass of your no-true-Sctosman fallacy as actual reasoning. And about liking bad Trek: Yeah, the Final Frontier, Movie number 5. Trek at its worst. But still Trek. I watch it every now and then. This is not the same thing. This does so many things wrong and so few actually right, that I feel quite confident in my opinion about even after seeing just three episodes. After all, seeing ONE Episode of Voyager was enough to sell it to me, and the same goes for all the other series and movies.

If it is enough for you that somebody sticks a "Star Trek" sticker on the front, thats fine, but it is not for me.
Discovery Forever
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 11:57pm (UTC -5)
@Idolwild Very well said! These negative rants are so depressing.

What an awesome, refreshingly different, new show! This is the new Trek and it's fabulous. If you don't like it, you can always dust off your VCRs and watch reruns of decades old shows. May you find comfort in the past while the rest of us boldly go forward with Michael Burnham aboard Discovery!
Peremensoe
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 12:13am (UTC -5)
"So, the physics/biology thing. Is it bull?"

More like meaningless truism, it seems to me. At the *quantum* level, biology is the same as physics? Well... no shit. *Everything* is physics at the quantum level.

Andrew
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 12:34am (UTC -5)
I love this new series. While waiting for this episode I went back and watched a couple of episodes of Voyager and and Enterprise and was reminded of just how dull Trek had become.

I also remember when TNG premiered. I was so excited to have new Trek on TV. However, looking back at the first couple of seasons, they were inconsistent and at times mediocre. Discovery, while not perfect, feels off to a stronger start than any of the other series, with the exception of the original.

I found the scenes with Burnham and Saru sort of heart breaking. I am a Saru fan and find myself rooting for a friendship between those two, or at least a good working relationship.

The little Easter eggs during Burnham's "mushroom trip" were subtle and well done. There was Starbase 11 from "The Menagerie" and Janus VI from "Devil in the Dark". Anyone see any others? Subtle enough that I didn't feel pandered to (unlike that starfleet insignia in the sand from the first episode).

Bring on Sunday.
Alexandrea
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 12:48am (UTC -5)
This second pilot feels like a new show, and entirely for the better. TOS also had two pilots, but the first one did not air and instead was cannibalized for flashbacks in a later episode. Maybe Discovery should have made that same decision.

We meet a protagonist guilty of a mutiny that helped start a war, and frankly I see no reason we required the first two episodes. From this 48 minutes, I have a stronger grasp of every character we've met than anyone in the two-episode premiere, Burnham included. Michael Burnham has a commitment to Starfleet and Vulcan principles in her heart, but she has an overwhelming curiosity and an arrogance in her own judgements that override her obedience to rules designed to protect the Federation she desires to uphold. Even if she would deny Lorca's vision of morality if asked, she follows it in practice. Thus we have someone who genuinely wants to do penance but cannot resist investigating what lies within the ship or accepting Lorca's offer.

Star Trek should tell us stories that force us to consider ethical or social problems, but it doesn't need to do so from the moral high ground of a Captain Picard. Star Trek often featured captains or admirals who occupied a morally much more questionable territory, usually as antagonists. Now we are on board the ship of such a captain, who has clearly recruited people like Chief Landry who are more likely than the average Starfleet officer to support his way of doing things.
Lest the show feel too dark, Saru and Tilly provide those rays of unmarred Starfleet principles.

Also, Tilly comes across as someone on the autism spectrum. Our main characters include a Black woman as the star, a South Asian woman, a gay man, and (if I understand Tilly correctly) a woman with a disability. Inclusivity: this is the Trek I have always known.

As Jammer mentions, the premier does not show Michael's mutiny as responsible for the war, but I don't think the writers now intend that she's a scapegoat. Instead, I think their premise was to have Michael be more or less guilty of what everyone blames her for, just the concept got mangled in execution. Michael's rage-kill of T'Kuvma did help plunge the Federation into war, but no one seems to care about that. Georgiou was the icon of Federation principles who then had the idea to plant bombs in corpses, and no one seems to care about that either. Saru's silly dialogue about being bred for one purpose fortunately also doesn't matter anymore. T'Kuvma is dead and had no depth anyway.

Unless the show subsequently forces me to do otherwise, I'm going to pretend the first two episodes didn't happen. They're not entirely consistent with episode three, their characterization comes across muddled, and they deliver almost no exposition we can't infer from "Context is for Kings." I wonder if the writers penned this episode first, and then the network demanded a premier with space battles. Whatever the reason, I'm chalking them up to the long tradition of Trek series having weak first aired episodes, with DS9 as the only exception.

If we stay at the quality level set by this episode, then CBS will have earned my money, hands down.
JP
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 1:17am (UTC -5)
Mixed feelings as above. If you're going to throw the canon out with the bath water, you'd better have a boatload of likable characters who are family, of which this show has none. They'd better get there fast. And again, we have a show that does not seem to understand biology or physics or human nature: the crew (including Ms. Indispensable Physics Genius) goes on a Red Shirt mission and beams aboard a dead ship without scanning it, waltzes on with nothing but flashlights and no helmets, knowing there is a biological experiment onboard? Weak. Having it be the precursor to the Genesis device makes more sense, but I get the feeling this series' problems would have been largely solved had they just set this after Kirk's era. Maybe there's a holdout of Klingons unhappy with how the Federation has treated them. One line of dialogue and we're back in business.
Darren
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 1:17am (UTC -5)
While far from sold on this show yet, I actually found this episode to be entertaining, and intriguing. (In comparison, I'm inclined to say the first two episodes--the "prologue"--were atrocious.)

Michael and Saru's interactions were really, really nice. Particularly their walk and conversation down the corridor. It was so sad to see Michael trying to express her remorse ... but then too to see how Saru stilled cared about her, yet now feared her enough to want to stay out of her way. And it was all so believable; "You were always a good officer ... until you weren't." Of course, after doing what she did, people would have good reason to not trust her. As a Kelpien, Saru would naturally go beyond mistrust to actual fear ... and that he and Michael had served together for so long--had been friends even--just made this all very poignant. (I only cited--perhaps just paraphrased, for the exact wording may be wrong--one line from this scene, but there are others. [Actually, now that I think about it, I think that line actually came from a later scene anyway.] This part was just very, very good.)

The characters and their introductions generally went well. Cadet Tilly brings some welcomed kindness to the whole affair; it was nice to even see her apologize to Michael, after telling her that the seats were assigned. (And for anyone wondering, although I'd have to search for the source, I seem to recall it being mentioned that an autistic character would be on the show. Given that she mentioned her special needs, I figure Cadet Tilly is that character.)

Lt. Stamets, while undeniably very arrogant and therefore not entirely likeable, still came off as authentic, and with an interesting disagreement with Capt. Lorca in particular and perhaps all of Starfleet in general.

And as for Capt. Lorca, I have to say I liked him from his very first scene. Maybe it's because he seemed right away to be giving Michael a chance, unlike so many others on the ship. And he does seem to have a kindly demeanor about him, at least some of the time. But he's also very mysterious, and even ominous. I actually found myself thinking of Dumbledoor or Voldemort from the Harry Potter series by the end of the episode, because I got the sense that Lorca is largely very much in control; knows quite a bit about what all's going on, on-ship and off-ship; keeps many things to himself; and is probably more emotionally distant than he might otherwise appear ... willing to use people to achieve grand ends. As for whether he'll end up being a hero or villain, the obvious setup is that Michael will ultimately be the hero and Lorca the villain, though I'd like to think it'll be more nuanced than that. (And as I've seen mentioned elsewhere, Michael and Gabriel are both angelic names; and it's occurred to me that, though often not depicted or thought of as such, angels, while benevolent, are nonetheless not lacking in power and fierceness in all accounts.)

Lastly, I have to say Lt. Cmdr. (?) Landry seemed less like a Star Trek character, and much more like someone from a crime show or police drama. Her attitude toward the prisoners even was just very un-Starfleet as we've known it ... and I can't say for now at least that there was much redeeming about her. (Though I did note that she apparently beamed the creature to Lorca's "collection" without involving anyone else, and she apparently was in on letting the mess hall fight commence--perhaps even having set the whole situation up--all, presumably, on Lorca's orders. In other words, it seems she has a standing and working relationship with Lorca that goes far beyond her formal rank and position.)

(Of course, far from Landry as a singular character, it's still very debatable that much of Discovery feels like Star Trek ... that it truly takes place in the Star Trek universe.)

Finally, although very speculative at this point, it seems that the Discovery is a joint venture between Starfleet proper and Section 31 (the black badged-officers, versus the others). Between that, and Discovery's scientific capabilities, it's clear that Discovery isn't the typical Starfleet vessel, which opens up a lot of interesting storytelling possibilities.

For that matter, so too does their experimental organic propulsion system, considering where all it could take them. Though I don't think at this point that it's at all scientifically plausible. And ... might it be capable of taking the crew to other universes? The creators seem so adamant that Discovery takes place in continuity with everything else, that I wonder if with the introduction of this experimental propulsion system, we're simultaneously seeing the introduction of the "continuity preserver", if you will ... something that will enable a great shake-up or development that will somehow bring everything into congruence ... or simply specify Discovery's reality with that of the franchise as a whole. To me, well, this wouldn't be my idea of Discovery taking place in the prime continuity, but perhaps to the creators, it is.

(Oh, and the references to the Beatles and "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" were nice ... even a bit Orville-esque. I don't doubt that entertainment and such--which has remained popular for decades by now--would suddenly go obscure and forgotten sometime in the future. And given Michael's internal conflict between her Vulcan upbringing and her human nature, having her go back to something her foster mother once read to her as a child seemed reasonable enough.)
JP
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 1:19am (UTC -5)
Oh, and it should have been Michael (that name!) saying she was raised on Vulcan and she had a step-brother named Tuvok.
Darren
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 1:33am (UTC -5)
I said: "I don't doubt that entertainment and such--which has remained popular for decades by now--would suddenly go obscure and forgotten sometime in the future."

But of course I meant I *do* doubt that it would suddenly go obscure.
Stefan T.
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 2:30am (UTC -5)
From the start until the end I felt more and more reminded of "Star Trek meets Doom" with captain Lorca being Dr. Betruger and the monster on the other ship being some kind of "pinky". The other characters? What other characters? The security chief prison warden talking of "we have to feed the animals as well"? The unsure red-headed engineer with no social skills? The scientist from the first two episodes now being first in command to someone like Lorca, not having anything to say about his methods at all?
Then we have some super-secret experiments, black alerts, black badges, excessive showing of violence never seen like that in Star Trek (even the most brutal episodes during DS9 didnt have that!), and in the end a pseudo-moral talk which "should" proof us that this is still Star Trek.
Sorry, I am not buying it. It feels ridiculous. Way over the top, too much around it to hide the fact that there is no substancial story at all.
I'd give it 2 out of 4 stars but only because it was indeed entertaining to some extent. If the next episode isnt really better than what we have seen up to now then I guess it will be the first time of me quitting a "Star Trek" series before the end of the first season.
James
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 3:37am (UTC -5)
This episode cleared up a lot about what this show is going to be, although much of it is still an enigma. It seems pretty clear to me that the Discovery's crew - in contrast to the Shenzhou - was presented in an intentionally unStarfleet way to highlight Burnham's adherence to Starfleet values. Ironically she is the one seen as anti-Starfleet.

I think the main failing of the show so far has been to show how the war has changed the Federation. It should have been made crystal clear that the stakes were different now that the Federation is at war. We should have gone into Episode 3 expecting a tougher, more ruthless and more military Starfleet because of the war, which would have been a good set-up for the introduction of the enigmatic Discovery.

Finally, the spore travel? It's silly, but for all we know it could be an hallucinogen.
James
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 4:13am (UTC -5)
Also, from the comments it seems a lot of people are unclear on why Burnham was seen as responsible for the war. For me it is obvious (though not at first) that the idea was that shooting T'Kuvma when the plan was to capture him led to the war - "If you kill him you make him a martyr - someone they can fight for endlessly". Yet Michael did just this in a moment of anger: as Sarek said her human heart her "failing".

The show is a lot more coherent after you've had a chance to think about it. To me that's bad direction. So maybe Fuller was right to be unhappy with the network's choice of director.
Hunter
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 4:25am (UTC -5)
This felt more like an episode of The Expanse than Star Trek, right down to the magical physics defying 'spores' being a key story element. Even the presentation of this show is quite similar, lots of blue hues everywhere... And to be honest now that I think about it, the intro credits are actually kinda like The Expanse, too.

F***k it, I wanna watch The Expanse now..

Oh, did anyone spot the red shirt minutes before his death?
karatasiospa
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 5:46am (UTC -5)
I will not take part in this discussion about Discovery being star trek or not. I went down that road before with JJ's movies ( for those who don't know i was against these movies) and it was a very unpleasant experience. So i will not do it again.
Judging this episode from what Discovery promised to do i give it 2 stars. The episode made me feel upset and sad. This is not what i expect from a star trek series.
Peremensoe
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 6:38am (UTC -5)
"Even the presentation of this show is quite similar, lots of blue hues everywhere..."

Sure. That's how you know it's the future.
https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/future-screens-are-mostly-blue/
Peremensoe
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 7:04am (UTC -5)
Hunter: "'If you kill him you make him a martyr - someone they can fight for endlessly.' Yet Michael did just this in a moment of anger: as Sarek said her human heart her 'failing.'"

Yes, thank you. I should have had this in my enumeration of her aggro moves upthread.

"The show is a lot more coherent after you've had a chance to think about it. To me that's bad direction."

Kind of on the audience, too, isn't it, if we react without thinking? O for the human heart.
John Harmon
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 7:32am (UTC -5)
Certainly better than the pilot. Much more intrigue to get me invested. I really hope the Captain doesn't turn out to be a villain. They're definitely trying to throw us off here
Karl Zimmerman
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 8:26am (UTC -5)
I certainly agree with the point that the first few episodes of most Trek series were shaky to downright awful. Even TOS, which is considered to have "gotten it's groove" in Season 1, had some early-installment weirdness, and didn't really find its way until the middle period of the season (in production order). I'm feeling better about Burnham as a protagonist now than I was after the first two episodes, meaning I'm cautiously optimistic the writers might get the greater arc right.

At the same time, realizing that the series has potential is different than what it is right now. And what it is right now, at least IMHO, is average. If you imagine this plotline being shoved awkwardly into Trek 20 years ago with a lower budget it could be an unremarkable episode of Voyager.
Robert
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 8:44am (UTC -5)
I've decided not to watch, so this is going to be my last post here on the merits of ST:DIS, though I may still chime in to see how things are going. I've made a few posts of late wondering if I would watch this (and in what form since I don't plan to get CBS's streaming service).

The truth is Discovery, it's not you, it's me. I've been much more moved by all the negative stuff I hear about the series (the look of the Klingons, the Klingon ships, the fact that these Klingons don't fit into Kirk's Klingons or Archer's Klingons, basically the fact that they decided they wanted the Klingons but not really... hey, VOY did that with the Kazon too :P).

And then there is the tech. ENT tried, they really did. They couldn't look more advanced than now (2000s) without looking more advanced than Kirk. But they did it in a way that made you feel like the problem was TOS, not ENT. That TOS had a limited 1970s budget, but if not for that ENT would be right before it. They had no shields, they had a junky transporter, they had a real live translator because their universal translator was new, they had a warp limit that was lower than TOS. ENT had other problems (for sure) but they made it feel for the Trek fans that this was before Kirk.

Nothing I hear about this show makes me believe the writers wanted to do a show before Kirk. They didn't want to use the established Klingons, they didn't want to use the established tech from ENT and expand a bit. They wanted to use holocommunicators that are beyond DS9. It's like when JJ added a subspace transporter. WTF?! They didn't want to use established ship designs. Or uniforms. We know approximately what the stuff from that era should be. And the answer is overwhelmingly... NOT THIS. So why not just set it in the future with a new set of aliens, unconstrained by all of this? Her mentor could be Tuvok instead of Sarek? I feel like whomever decided this needed to be a prequel isn't the person who is writing it and whomever is writing it resents those shackles... but maybe I'm wrong.

So what to make of a show that people are obviously enjoying? This is where we get to the whole, it's not you, it's me. I am more interested in the bad news than the good because I kind of knew in my gut all along that this wasn't the Trek I wanted and I was looking for confirmation. Well I have it, I just didn't want to accept it. I want new Trek, I really do. But we're 15 years out from VOY's ending and we've now gone back to Kirk and pre-Kirk three times and boldly forward ZERO times. Why? I'm not really sure.

But I don't think I can turn my brain's complaints off and try to pretend that this is what I want this time. I watched half of ENT before I got off that train (though I eventually went back to it years later and it isn't as bad as I remembered and some of the later stuff was downright good). I haven't watched the latest JJ movie. I just don't think I can bring myself to watch anything else with the Trek name on it just because I want more Trek and they don't want to give it to me. My Trek was the TNG-era Trek. I liked TOS, but that's not what I grew up with. I have no nostalgia for it. I'm ready for the Enterprise F or G. And I'd like it while my Trek characters are still alive enough to give a cameo or two.

But that's what it's about. Me and my brain and my wants and my inability to put those things aside and try to enjoy this. And it sounds like it doesn't suck. So what to do now? I could hope it fails miserably and that the powers that be learn the right lessons (stop trying to peddle your crappy ass streaming service and let's go back to the future already). But I feel like even if it fails they won't learn the right lessons. And wishing for failure seems kind of mean since so many of you are enjoying it. So meh.

We can have X-Files back, Will and Grace, Full House, Boy Meets World, even Roseanne is coming back... all these 90s staples... but not TNG-era Trek. WHY??!!!!!! 2017 has been an important life lesson for me in the sense that any time you think something is bad life will eventually make something worse enough that you miss the old thing. Not going to get into everything else I miss in 2017 (some personal, some not), but damn, I miss VOY and their inconsistent plotting, their characters that never learn anything, their dismissal of their interesting premise and their bi-polar Captain. Because despite all that when it was firing on all cylinders you could still get fan-freaking-tastic TNG era Trek. Come back Berman and Braga, I'll even forgive the first 2 seasons of Enterprise. I miss you guys!!!

That said... I'm with karatasiospa. Let's not argue about if this is Trek or not. TNG started out in the vein of TOS, even directly cribbing some episodes, but by the end they took TOS' western in space and flip flopped it on it's head. And DS9 was much maligned during it's run for not being Trek either. So I'm just going to leave on a high note and say I hope those of you who are watching it are enjoying it and if you're not... take a lesson from me and get out. Life is too short to watch something that's not what you want.

Live long and prosper all. I'll see you out there.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 10:02am (UTC -5)
@Idolwild
"Look, Star Trek has always been a reflection of it’s time. And like it or not, we live in some fairly dark and shitty times."

Yeah, unlike the 1960's where the world was ON THE BRINK OF A TOTAL NUCLEAR WAR.

Star Trek has always been a reflection of it's time, that's true. But it also always strived to be better than "it's time" and continually challenged the status quo.

TOS was definitely a product of the Cold War, but it still gave us an optimistic future and even a Soviet officer (the enemy!) on the bridge. In a time where nearly every other sci fi program played on our fears (whether it was fear of the commies, or fear of alien monsters), Trek strived to be different.

So I really don't see why a 2017 show can't do the same.


"You guys call yourself fans?"

A fan of what Star Trek used to be: yes.

A fan of this new CBS series which doesn't really have anything to do with the Trek we've known and loved for 40 years? Hell, no.

And don't blame people like me for CBS's dishonest marketing tactics. It isn't my fault that they've created a generic sci fi series and stamped the name "Star Trek" on it in an effort to lure fans like you in.

BTW I don't really think that this page ("Context is for King") is the appropriate place for this discussion. It's not fair for the people who want to enjoy the show and talk about the show.



Chrome
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 10:02am (UTC -5)
Good point about Stamets, Jammer, although his attitude is rather brisk, it is tone-setting and understandable considering what Starfleet is supposed to be about. I can imagine people longing for Picard's years of peaceful exploration while the Dominion War was raging. Although movies don't show it, I'm sure a lot of those officers were pretty bummed. I like the episode "In the Cards" where Jake notices a definite morale drop among the crew and in his efforts to please his dad inadvertently pleases everyone. I hope we get some happy moments like those to contrast the strife of war.

"It's like when JJ added a subspace transporter"

Actually, Rick Berman Michael Piller added it in TNG (Season 7), so it's plausible future Spock knew about it. I don't mind the canon talk, but I do find it ironic that the people who complain about it often don't do the research.
Del_Duio
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 10:28am (UTC -5)
"BTW I don't really think that this page ("Context is for King") is the appropriate place for this discussion. It's not fair for the people who want to enjoy the show and talk about the show. "

You should see the 'Who Watches the Watchers?' page!

So I was thinking, any chance this ship (the Discovery) is not a Section 31 ship at all but a ship from the future manned by temporal Starfleet officers? The thing's already crawling with armed guards and has an overabundance of science people. Lot of hush hush.

And if what Bryan Fuller says is true and he wanted to do some sort of Anthology series wouldn't a time ship be a perfect way to accomplish this? Each season it'd jump to a new time period and deal with that time period's particular storyline?

Maybe they started off 10 years before Kirk because somebody realized they needed Burnham specifically to be a part of this special crew? It wouldn't explain why the Klingons look different and all that but hey it's an idea.
Del_Duio
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 10:29am (UTC -5)
^^ Oh, and that would explain the mushroom warp- maybe in their time that's how people get around. ^^
Chrome
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 10:35am (UTC -5)
I appreciate the sentiment from OTDP, though, as there is a general topic for ST: Discovery out there where a lot of the same good issues people have with the show are already in discussion.

I'm not a big fan of Enterprise, but I can't imagine hopping onto every episode thread just so people can hear my piece about it. I have better things to do.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 10:42am (UTC -5)
@Robert
"But that's what it's about. Me and my brain and my wants and my inability to put those things aside and try to enjoy this. And it sounds like it doesn't suck. So what to do now? I could hope it fails miserably and that the powers that be learn the right lessons (stop trying to peddle your crappy ass streaming service and let's go back to the future already). But I feel like even if it fails they won't learn the right lessons. "

Of course they won't.

Robert, I think it is safe to assume that Star Trek as we know it is over. There's no point in either fighting this trend or forcing ourselves to go along with it. The Trek we loved for nearly 40 years is dead, and it is never coming back.

So what do we do? First, take a really deep breath. Second, we wait for a viable alternative (which will most certainly *not* be an official Star Trek series) to fill the niche that Trek used to fulfill.

And I have a feeling you won't be waiting for this very long, either. There are millions of classic Trek fans who feel exactly like you and me, and some of them have both the knowhow and the connections to make it happen.

Indeed, you'll probably have a few different options to choose from. This could really become the golden age of optimistic sci fi, once the Trek monopoly on this topic has been broken.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 10:51am (UTC -5)
@Chrome
"I'm not a big fan of Enterprise, but I can't imagine hopping onto every episode thread just so people can hear my piece about it. I have better things to do."

Me too.

The problem is that some people are actively starting discussions on this topic over and over. When people start with rants like "and you call yourselves fans?" and "all that interests you is stupid canon" it is really *really* difficult to just ignore it.

It's even more difficult when people actively ask you questions. I always feel that ignoring such questions, even if they're asked somewhat mockingly, would be rude.

But none of this matters, really. A Starfleet officer from Roddenberry Trek won't accept "difficult" as an excuse. We should strive to better ourselves and go beyond our limits, so I'll try harder.

Robert
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 11:09am (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

I think this is the last page that is appropriate to discuss this on, because in essence, this is the true pilot. Which is why I said my peace here before heading out. There's really no need for me to keep chatting about it on future episode threads. I think some of this discussion belongs here though.

"Second, we wait for a viable alternative (which will most certainly *not* be an official Star Trek series) to fill the niche that Trek used to fulfill. "

I can get behind this plan. Orville seems to be coming close and it won't be the last.

@Del_Duio

If that ends up being the case I will reconsider watching this at the end of the season. LOL. If they fix most of the canon issues with a time ship I'm in!
Dick
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 11:29am (UTC -5)
"Context is for Kings" worked well enough on its own terms, but the premise of the show is antithetical to everything that pre-2009 Star Trek represents. Everyone on the Discovery is stern, secretive, and/or cynical (except Tilly, who's just a goofball). Can't we have at least one normal, well-adjusted Starfleet officer on this ship?

I get that the war with the Klingons has taken an emotional toll on the crew, but even in the darkest days of the Dominion War the DS9 crew maintained their moral center. Episodes like "Paradise Lost", "Inquisition", and "In the Pale Moonlight" worked because they showed characters and institutions that we knew and trusted thrust into impossible circumstances, yet the characters never lost their moral center. They bent but did not break. How does Discovery grapple with Trekkian ethical quandaries when every single character is already compromised?

It's still early in the series run, but we need a reason to like these characters other than the arrowhead insignia on their shirts.

Random thoughts:

-Lens flares galore in the first beauty shots of USS Discovery. Can we retire this cliché already?

-Presumably the Discovery went back and rescued the hapless pilot of the prison shuttle. She should have been just fine in that EVA suit.

-People like the tribbles. Yes, we get it. How many times did tribbles appear on Star Trek during the 40 years from 1966 to 2005? Five times including the animated series. (Memory Alpha says there was a tribble in Generations, but I've never noticed it in a dozen or so viewings so it doesn't count.) Since 2009, tribbles have appeared in 2 out of 3 reboot movies and now in the 3rd episode of DIS. I like the little buggers, too, but they don't have to be in every single iteration of nuTrek! I propose a tribble moratorium.
Robert
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 11:39am (UTC -5)
@Dick

SoHvaD ngaq maH
BZ
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 11:41am (UTC -5)
Two of those tribble appearances are voted to be the best episodes of their respective series (TOS and DS9). Tribble cameos are the last thing I'd be complaining about.
Mark
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
I still can't get past the Contrived Mutiny in episode 1. It's a stain on the whole series for me, a complete plot contrivance on par with "Well, we had to give the Night King a dragon somehow." In fact it's a lot worse. The zombie dragon on Game of Thrones was just one aspect of a huge upcoming war story, while Discovery's entire narrative will be based on Burnham's mutiny.

And if you don't believe that mutiny for a second, what else is there to do but stop watching?

Birddoctor
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 3:38pm (UTC -5)
> I propose a tribble moratorium.

Jim, this man's a Klingon!
JPaul
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
"@JPaul Why is knowing the Beatles here any different than us knowing the works of Shakespeare or Bach or who Cleopatra or Julius Caesar are?

If anything, with advanced tech (we already see this), historical figures/literature/etc. are amazingly preserved for continuing consumption."

@WTBA
Expecting someone raised on Vulcan to understand a reference to an Earth rock band that had it's peak of popularity nearly 300 years in the past is pretty ridiculous, but maybe that was the point? In any case, it just seemed like one of The Orville's constant stream of 20th/21st century references inserted for no reason, probably the biggest thing I don't like about that show.
Cosmic
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
@Mark

Uh.... you probably shouldn't post spoilers about an unrelated TV show in order to get your point across. Just sayin'.
Chrome
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
@JPaul

There was actually a jukebox playing songs from another 1960s musician (Roy Orbison) presented to the Vulcans at first contact, so it wouldn't be surprising at all if they caught some Beatles songs. It's probably an homage to TOS's birth era.
kapages
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
Idolwild
well said.

a) people forget that even TNG Federation was not full of Picard clones even inside his ship. I remember dick Admirals appearing more often than not to remind that Enterprize was the ethical flag ship. Not the average. And we are many many decades before his time. More than the decades between us and the first TOS episode. Therefore its stupid to cry for canon regarding tone, policies (such as Prime Directive), attitude etc.

b) Regarding the transfer spors. Its too early to tell what they are and why Federation could not use them in the future. Nevertheless, TNG races (Iconians maybe? had instant travel through doors). Its not contradictory to Trek Universe.

c) Georgiou is the female Picard with female 1st officer.

d) we have different ship with a dark captain on a specific mission. The captain sets the tone, his ship is radiating to his personality. These are Picard's words.

Just relax and enjoy an alternative story. We 'll see how it goes. So far everything seems normal. and interesting.

Ruth
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
I thought this episode was good. My prediction: Burnham will lead another mutiny, this one with you know other members, and a bit more thought through, and it will be successful. I thought before, and this has more plainly spelt out, she's absolutely driven by morality. Not Vulcan logic and not starfleet LAWS but the good principles of starfleet and well most good people in general.

Saru's a good man, he won't stand for this crap for long, but he's also firmly established as a coward. I don't know how hard it will be to get the redhead from the first ship on board, she was rude to be dodging Burnham when she was there and knows she's not the war starter she's made out to be, and she doesn't have the background as a coward Saru has, but she's not shown to be horrible or anything. She knows Burnham, the good captain liked her, I think she'll come around quickly

New characters: the roommate wants to be a captain and seems nice, i.e. she should embrace proper starfleet morality if someone models it for her. The science guy: he was well pissed off with starfleet warmongers before his friend and colleagues were killed, and he was even ranting about the captain to Burnham. He trusts her even though he's envious of her intellect. He's rude but not evil - he was nasty to her but also chucked her his phaser when she asked. He'll side with her. I can imagine that might begin next episode when she apparently finds their little friend from the sister ship - assuming she tells him (she didn't tell anyone when she first saw something on that ship, did anyone else notice? That's taking not feeling chatty to a new level!)

The soldier woman is as evil as the captain. Almost everyone has commented on her super unstarfleet opinions on animals, vulcans and prisoners. She looks like she's in love with the captain too? But she'll turn, this is all to make it extra dramatic when she sides with them against him

Obviously his whole show for Burnham was fake fake fake. Watch her crying. He was playing her like a fiddle. She knows he's not right, that's why she had to check the experiment room, and he knows she knows it. But I don't think she knows he knows that. Come on Michael! You're smarter than that

I'm hyped!!! I really thought I'd hate discovery but I really don't!
Canjobear
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 7:18pm (UTC -5)
The most serious complaint about this episode and Star Trek: Discovery more generally is a lack of joy. While Star Trek has dealt with dark themes and we've seen bad and grim times before, there has always been a sense of adventure and fun, even if it's adventure put on hold. Think of the moments at the end of various original-series movies when they ask Kirk where to fly to next, and he says something like "second star to the right and straight on 'till morning" with a twinkle in his eye. Or think of the emotion evoked by the TNG opening music. It's hard not to see moments and feelings like these as core to Star Trek.

I am a big fan of Discovery, but I'm not sure I see the joy yet. We saw a bit of it in the interaction of Georgiou and Burnham. Captain Lorca tries to evoke it in order to convince Burnham that the spores can enable new voyages. But mostly it's pretty dark and serious.

I think when people complain this "isn't Trek", this is what they're getting at. It's not the same as hopefulness and not the same as characters having ethics. It's a basic sense of underlying joy, even if that joy has to be put on hold in order to fight a war or save the world. There's lots of sci fi where people are in tough situations, in wars, fighting monsters in dark corridors, but Star Trek has always had a strong element of fun exploration that has set it apart (though it isn't unique in this regard).

Discovery may have these qualities: we're only 3 episodes in. I haven't seen a lot of evidence for them yet, but I trust that the writers know what they are doing.
WTBA
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
@JPaul Good points. Still, I suppose thinking John Lennon's (and/or The Beatles') legacy makes it to DSC's time is more believable than that baseball (or lounge singing) hang on to our DS9 crew. Though, with baseball, it seems more Sisko (baseball) specific, yet they play a whole game with Vulcans(!) in the holosuites.

That brings up a discussion that I have had with others in the past (not here though). Namely why the vast majority of the pop culture references are modern day (or older things), like Shakespeare or the content of Paris' or ENT's movie nights. Obviously, the out-of-universe reason is the shows were/are written in the present day.

There are some references to in-universe pop culture, i.e. 2200s/2300s Earth folks, but also some non-Earth folks are quoted (mostly Klingons?).

I guess it comes down to what works better: mentioning something from 20th century Earth (and it seeming out of place) or something 23rd/24th century (which the audience has no reference for, as it is fictional for the purpose of exposition/script).

As for The Orville, I have not seen it (and am not planning to watch as of yet). I imagine given Seth's penchant for references in his animated comedies and his movies, it would feel forced on a sci-fi show, even a lighter one as The Orville seems to be. I am not sure though. The main criticism I have heard of it is that jokes (and references) are forced into otherwise serious/interesting scenes.
Sidney
Tue, Oct 3, 2017, 10:45pm (UTC -5)
Now we're getting somewhere. This could have been the pilot. The characters, like the overall plot, are interesting if not lighthearted and friendly. Even the dark interior gets an explanation (Lorca's eyes. They like zooming in on eyeballs don't they). Is it Trek? Should it look and sound like every other Trek before it? It would have been nice to have costumes that looked similar to those worn by Pike and co, but again, just because we didn't see it before doesn't mean it couldn't have been these blue and gold/silver outfits. I think the one major difference this show brings is that it's truly serialized and therefore there will be no fuzzy and warm wrap up at the end of each episode. There are some logic gaffes (one pilot for four prisoners? did the pilot die? No one even asked about her). But overall I don't know what's going to happen next, and that at least I find interesting.
Skuppie
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 12:17am (UTC -5)
Why didn't they just transport over to the Glenn? I know the room with the equipment was shielded, but nothing else was. So why take a shuttle? Transport to right outside the room, drag the stuff out, transport back and that's that. And why not transport back to Discovery, or at least back to the shuttle when they found the giant killer monster thing? No, let's just run around foolishly and let someone die, then tease it and crawl through a tunnel reciting Alice in Wonderland instead before dropping into the shuttle like Luke Skywalker. Makes perfect sense.

And the visual communication between the two gay guys looked horrible. At least with Skype nowadays you can actually see the person instead of some semitransparent floating glowing head. How is that better?

And I'll mention the transparent computer screens again, because it annoys me so much. Stop with that already! Mike was working on the program thing and she can't even see half of it because of bright lights in the background. Again, how is that better?

That autistic girl grates on my nerves. Every time she's on screen I want to tell her to shut the hell up. 'I'm gunna be a captain someday!' ugh.

Lorca says to Mike - 'You chose to do the right thing, over and above what was sanctioned, even at great cost to yourself, and that is the kind of thinking that wins wars. The kind of thinking I need next to me. Universal law is for lackeys. Context is for kings.'

In other words, you wanted to break the Prime Directive, and so do I, so let's team up and do whatever we want. Who cares about Starfleet regulations?

This is looking more and more like Section 31. Who allowed for 'extraordinary measures to be taken in times of extreme threat'. They are basically the black-ops of Starfleet, which also fits in with all the black badges and black alerts and secrecy, etc.

And why did they blow up the Glenn? Why not tow it back? Seems like a waste of a starship when they are at war and just lost so many.

I'll wait and see what comes of the transporting spores (transpores?) or whatever they are.

3/4 of the episode was a big con game on Mike, the other 1/4 was finding piles of goo and running from a scary monster.

Still better than the first 2.

2 1/2 stars.
Trent
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 4:20am (UTC -5)
Off topic, but I'd just like to thank Jammer for all the work he's done. I enjoy reading his reviews and the thoughts and comments of others under them. I've never rewatched or watched a Trek series without consulting his episode writings and the writings of the fans below. So cheers Jam Man.
Trent
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 4:38am (UTC -5)
Check out the symbol under Lorca's window:

https://i.imgur.com/2c7rRYH.jpg

Seems Discovery is really mapping the inception of Section 31.

Robert
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 6:47am (UTC -5)
"I'll wait and see what comes of the transporting spores (transpores?) or whatever they are. "

Just throwing this out there....

If you all are right about Section 31, rewatching the DS9 section 31 episodes certainly makes it seem as though Sloan comes and goes as he pleases. Right up to being killed in front of Bashir and yet easily teleported away.
Robert
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 6:50am (UTC -5)
"Though, with baseball, it seems more Sisko (baseball) specific, yet they play a whole game with Vulcans(!) in the holosuites. "

That's still Sisko specific though. The Vulcan captain has a strange grudge against Sisko and aims to train his crew to beat him at his own game. I doubt baseball is going to start catching on with Vulcans.
Chrome
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 9:49am (UTC -5)
Wow, if that turns out to be true, can I get some Trek nerd credits for saying this:

"Chrome
Wed, Sep 27, 2017, 11:15am (UTC -5)

On the other hand, Section 31 could make a marvelous operative out of her at this point. It's up to Burnham from here on out whether she still embraces the path she took in "The Vulcan Hello"."
Chibby
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 10:46am (UTC -5)
So far, the characters are not very likeable. It is going to be an uphill battle to match up to Picard, Worf, Sisko etc..
Idolwild
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 10:54am (UTC -5)
Someone said this on io9, and I think it rings true. I think Burnham is our moral anchor for normal Star Fleet behavior (despite what she did), and this show is going to explore the dichotomy that has always existed in Star Fleet between its charter of exploration and its duty of defense. The journey the show is going to take us on is getting from where we’re at (losing a war against an overwhelming foe and doing whatever it takes to win) back to a an organization that Does The Right Thing. But, you can DTRT if you don’t exist anymore, hence the central conflict. Things aren’t quite right on Discovery, nor are they intended to be. This is a very common literary motif, and has even been used in ST before in the Dominion War of DS9, but given the context I think it’s still an interesting story to tell on the broader scale of all of Star Fleet. In DS9, we examined personal moral conflict in Sisko and the compromises he had to make in such eps as “In the Pale Moonlight”. Now, scale that up to moral compromise on an organizational scale. How far is too far? What is a species willing to do when their very survival is at stake?

No, it’s not bopping around as the goody two shoes Federation meeting new civilizations and generally being cool to people. But, story needs conflict, and conflict can be seen in most every Trek episode if you look hard enough. I know a lot of people miss the cohesiveness and lack of conflict amongst the Fed crew, and I’m not even saying Roddenberry’s vision is outmoded - it’s just not *this* show. Another one might come some day. Until then, some of you have a choice to make...
Mal
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 11:17am (UTC -5)
Mal’s review after Jammer’s...

Star Trek: Discovery season 1 episode 3, “Context is for Kings”


“It’s just a ship”

- Captain Lorca, on the destruction of their sister ship. He is not a sentimental man.

I didn’t want to like this episode, but then Jammer gave it three stars, so I watched it again, and it was better. Does that mean we have a small glimmer of hope for the new Trek? Well, the first episode after the two hour pilot for TNG was the Naked Now, which was a shitty rehash of a shitty original (kids, the STD word of the week starts with the letter S), but the third episode of DS9 was Past Prologue, which not only introduced Garak (plain simple Garak) but also forced Kira to test her loyalties and her terrorist past, with a very special cameo by the Duras sisters.

I guess TPTB were instead going for something like the horror vibe of ENT’s third episode (Fight or Flight) or Firefly’s third ep, Bushwhacked (where we meet the Reavers). But Bushwhacked ends with the most beautiful and sad destruction of a haunted ship, set ablaze to the tune of a southern fiddle. So compared to that, what is there really to say for STD #3, “Context is for King.”

I guess it was ok. But what a waste.

Why bother with long-form story telling if you’re just going to skip ahead 6 months? Even nBSG waited till the end of 3 seasons before it pulled this crap. At least give us one episode featuring Michael’s prison life, before you thrust us back into the doom and gloom that is this particular version of the trek verse. Voyager had the decency to give us 30 days with Paris in the brig (VOY’s “Thirty Days”). And DS9 had a whole lota prison hijinks in the "torture O’Brien" episode “Hard Time.” Kassidy went away and did her time. How long were various cylons locked up in nBSG - hard to even keep track - fuck, some were in so long, they got pregnant and others gave birth! Roslyn did her time. Gauis did his. And boy did he come out a changed man. Lord knows Tom Zarek did his time. I know STD is supposed to be some CBS All Access version of Game of Thrones - so how about Ned in jail. Or Cerci. Or Tyrion (how many times does he get locked up?). And perhaps the best prison episode of all was on Babylon 5, season 4, “Intersections in Real Time.”

See, if you want to show that someone is different after time in the slammer, you probably want to show time in the slammer. Show. Not tell.

But “Context is for Kings” tries to get away with a quick and dirty version (sans context, if you will), by staging a prison food fight on Discovery. Oh yeah, we’re on Discovery. Probably the first starfleet vessel I wouldn’t want to serve on. And neither, it seems, does the crew (engineer says quote: ahhh, get me outta here!). Except for Rekha Sharma, who’s banging the bossman, as usual.

Now speaking of the bossman, Lorca seems pretty interesting. Starfleet has had its fair share of messed up Captains. Jellico was kind of an ass in Chain of Command. And the Captain of Equinox (VOY) was basically running an asylum. Still, even the kid in charge of the Valiant (DS9, red squad, hoorah) was a far cry from the Admiral Cain we see here captaining Discovery. Not as loveable as Georgiou, but I’ll take it.

I’ll just close by noting how wonderful Cadet Tilly is - so effervescent. As I understand it, the only other main character left is supposed to suffer from PTSD, so Cadet Tilly is probably all the happy we are going to get. Yes, I get it, STD is “dark.” But this tone is likely to get old pretty fast. Man cannot live by space battles alone. To quote a phrase, we must win the war. But that’s just the beginning.

I hope so.

Love,
Mal
Chrome
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 12:40pm (UTC -5)
@Idolwild

Thanks for your comment, and I agree that pragmatism versus moralism is definitely going to be explored on DSC. I'm not sure if Burnham is going to be the moral anchor of the show, though. At least no more than Sisko was of his show (Odo comes out with the highest moral ground in most episodes). Not that a protagnoist need be a moral anchor anyway.

Take the movie "The Wolf of Wall Street" where the protagonist is anyone but someone you'd want to root for and it turns out his attorney (of all people) is the moral center of the film. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy the angle at which a character, however imperfect, struggles with big moral questions. It's just important that the moral questions are addressed, and surely there are enough good officers like Saru who question S31-like black ops activities, that we will get these ethical discussions.
BZ
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 2:43pm (UTC -5)
Can we please stop calling it STD? Talk about bad associations. And anyway, it wasn't STV for Voyager or STE for Enterprise
Dom
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
@Idolwild, I generally agree, but what bothers me is how quickly the conflict comes. We never get to see the Federation and Starfleet in normal times in STD. We never get introduced to Roddenberry values or even the Prime Directive (despite the reference in the first episode, it's never explained). Thus, as an audience member I don't really feel as invested in these characters or this incarnation of the Federation. I don't know what they're losing or the stakes of the conflict.

Contrast that to DS9. DS9 allowed us to get to know the characters and Federation values before upending them. "Pale Moonlight" works so well because we know who Sisko is and we care about the outcome of the struggle for his soul. Section 31 seemed like such an outrage because we had become accustomed to Starfleet behaving a certain way after watching Picard and Sisko for years.

If Discovery really wants to do the idealism vs. pragmatism conflict, it needs to do a better job setting up Starfleet/Federation values (especially for new viewers). Unfortunately, Michael Burnham isn't it. She tried to commit a mutiny and assaulted a superior officer.
mosley
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
i was surprised about how much i liked this. there had been so much negative hype about this series, and i frankly wasnt very impressed with the first two episodes, largely because i didnt know the rather dull captain was just cannon fodder.

this now feels much more interesting, much more nuanced, and it feels like it does want to go somewhere. i also cant say how much i appreciate that they hint at not being too bound to continuity - to me, the fact that this is yet another prequel (technically the third in a row now) is by far the biggest weakness, so, the more freedom they take, the more i expect to be surprised and thus entertained.

id still rather have a post TNGDS9VOY star trek that finally gets back to just tell any story they like and move the big picture and the state of the federation in any direction they want.

but until then, this at least seems to not repeat the mistakes of enterprise and not bore us to death by being so scared of breaking continuity that they forget to tell interesting stories in the process.

and the main cast seems very good. weird decision to risk the first impression of the series by not showing them for 2 full episodes.
SlackerInc
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 6:28pm (UTC -5)
I see people who like all three episodes so far, and I see people who didn't like the first two so much but really like the third.  Am I really the only one who liked the first two but went sour on the third one?  (@OmicronThetaDeltaPi, notice though that this has got us back in alignment!)

@Robert: "I feel like whomever decided this needed to be a prequel isn't the person who is writing it and whomever is writing it resents those shackles..."

Great observation.  I think you're right.  Even the cool bridge sounds we heard in the pilot, matching TOS, seem to be gone.  :(
Eight of Nine
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 8:01pm (UTC -5)
I am one of those who liked (not loved) the first two and disliked (not hated) the third. I thought the Klingons and their motivations were interesting but now they're gone, replaced by a snarky and unlikeable crew and a conspiracy theme which could be in any sci-fi show.

I also didn't like the smaller scale and feel of the episode - I know it's meant to be a more personal journey of one crewmember, but it seems the opposite to the expansive style of Trek. I feel that following Burnham everywhere will get tiresome after a while. Maybe if she were a brilliant actor... but she's clearly not.
Trent
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 10:06pm (UTC -5)
Dom said: "In DS9, we examined personal moral conflict in Sisko and the compromises he had to make in such eps as “In the Pale Moonlight”."

I never got the impression that DS9 wrestled with anything. Section 31 was always shown to be right in DS9, none of the dark episodes hand follow-up consequences, and Sisko's enemies were always such a cartoonishly large existential threat that the series basically manipulated you ino accepting war crimes, false flags, genocide, chemical weapons and so on. DS9 is basically someone smugly saying: "oh, you're above torture? Well what if the target is Genghis Hitler and he has the disarmament codes for the bomb that will destroy the universe? Huh? wouldntcha torture him? Course ya would!"

But the conclusion to this old trick (it's why old cowboy movies always had settlers sympathetically outnumbered by hordes of murderous savages) is always based on rigged premises.

In DS9's case, I've always felt like the whole conflict could have been easily avoided by simply respecting Dominion borders. And if the Dominion approach the wormhole with a fleet, just collapse the corridor with a genesis device or something.

Thus far, Discovery's handling of war seems better to me than DS9's Dominion arc; DS9 was WW2 in space and so covertly pro war. Discovery, however, IMO seems to be setting up something more radical.
Rahul
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
Made a notable difference watching this episode for a 2nd time just now -- picked up on a few things from my 1st viewing.

That being said, the criticisms I had are still intact: 3 annoying characters (Stamets, Tilly, security chief), the ridiculous spore/bio/physics transportation thing, and that I feel I'm also watching X-Files/Alien.

As an old school trekkie, I'm coming around to the new style of Trek that DSC is. As a comparison, for being in a state of war and the effects on the crew, I look at the alternate timeline in the TNG classic "Yesterday's Enterprise" -- much darker, edgier etc. Initially in viewing "Context Is for Kings" I thought we were in the mirror universe. Also, as some characters don't seem to speak clearly (Lorca/Stamets), watching it a 2nd time helped catch the dialog.

Overall, I like the episode more than I did the 1st time around. I have a better understanding for Stamets and his unhappiness under Lorca which he takes out on Burnham. Without being clear on his situation, he would just come across as an asshole. He still does, although less so.

But I really liked Lorca a lot more -- the exchanges (or playing of mind games) with Burnham was intriguing to watch. We're not clear on his ultimate motives and just how closely he is following Star Fleet's orders/mission.

Upgrading my rating from 2 to 2.5 stars for the better appreciation of the characters but the story/premise is still a bit dubious. While I can appreciate the different take on Trek here with the darker atmosphere and surly characters, the part that I don't like is the X-Files/Alien nature of some plot elements.
Michael
Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 12:13am (UTC -5)
The first episode had me worrying - as I thought, all this botox in the female characters faces is going to spoil this series. Human emotion cannot force its way through a chemically induced frozen face. Interesting writing and character development cannot make up for a face that doesn't move!!!!! I'm thinking of the female captain as well as Michael to degree. MOVE YOUR FACE!!! I was relieved when I saw we we were going to get a much more interseting face to watch - Lorca. I loved the visuals and I liked the scare factor. Another vanilla star trek would probably have me swtich off. I know, for others they want that formula to remain. Well, that isn't going to happen from the looks of things. I think if Michael stops botoxing her face that we might get some interesting facial communication from her. The writing is complex but this is NOT showing on her face.
Del_Duio
Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 10:06am (UTC -5)
"Can we please stop calling it STD? Talk about bad associations."

I think this is up to the individual watching it, and how the perceive the show to be. Ex. if they think it's bad they'll call it STD and if not they tend to call it DIS / DSC.

I was mad it was a prequel, then mad it got delayed forever, was mad they changed the Klingons for no good reason and etc, so I used to call it STD. Now that I've watched the show a bit, I like it more so I'm starting to call it DSC (though they should have made the Klingons something else maybe).
Chrome
Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 10:46am (UTC -5)
@Del_Duio

{ I was mad it was a prequel, then mad it got delayed forever, was mad they changed the Klingons for no good reason and etc, so I used to call it STD. Now that I've watched the show a bit, I like it more so I'm starting to call it DSC (though they should have made the Klingons something else maybe).}

You know, I'd like a TNG era Trek too (It's my favorite Trek, after all!), but I don't want them to do it because they're pandering to fans, I'd want them to do it because a writer has a sincerely good vision for a show during that period. Maybe the DSC screenplay was the best submitted so they decided to roll with it. I'm sure they'll come up with a good TNG-era story another time, the demand's sure there.
Shannon
Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
Let's look at the history of all Trek series. TOS will always be number one, because they got this whole thing started, and the tri-fecta between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy was classic. However, they had plenty of bad stories like The Man Trap, Mudd's Women, Spock's Brain, The Alternative Factor, The Apple, Catspaw, and much of the 3rd season.

Now fast forward to 1987 and the launch of TNG. Loved the series after 7 successful years, but they did NOT start out strong. Encounter at Farpoint was just okay, The Naked Now kinda worked, and then there was the beyond stupid Code of Honor (zero stars!). The rest of the first season was mediocre, with a smattering of abysmal episodes like Justice, Angel One, When the Bough Breaks, and Skin of Evil (seriously, THAT is how you kill off a main character!!!). But by Season 2 they found their footing and started producing some great stories.

Fast forward now to DS9. I remember the reaction when this series was announced. There was a LOT of trepidation around how good a series could be if it's based on a space station. Talk about a radical departure from the Trek formula! But look at the result, a great series that kept getting better year after year. They made smart additions when they added The Defiant and brought Worf on board. The Dominion War was brilliant!.

Unfortunately Trek peaked with DS9. Voyager lasted 7 years, but it struggled to find it's footing. Got better when they brought Seven of Nine on board, as that allowed for some great stories. But you couldn't center an entire series on one character, and the series once again returned to mediocre.

Ah, Enterprise! So much promise! Brannon and Berman assured us this prequel would be different, that it would have "an edge", and that they wouldn't be afraid to take the story lines to dark, lots of gray in the middle places. Well, that didn't happen! (Side note: It happened on the re-imagined BSG, which is why they should have paid Ron Moore whatever he wanted to run Enterprise). Bannon and Berman stuck to the same formula, kept total creative control to themselves, and put forward bland stories that were uninspiring, including that entire "temporal cold war" garbage that just didn't work. I don't blame the actors, they did what they could with the very weak scripts they were given. That's not to say they didn't produce some great stories. Dear Doctor from Season 1 was terrific, as was Cogenitor from Season 2. Season 3 had promise given it's storyline thread, and they produced 3 episodes in a row that were amazing: Azati Prime, Damage, and The Forgotten. The season ended on stupid note, with alien Nazi officers, and Season 4 started off with that terrible storyline. The rest of Season 4 had promise, as they were FINALLY telling stories about how the UFP was eventually founded. But it was too little too late, and they lost much of their audience. Berman blamed UPN, stating fans couldn't find the show. News flash for Ricky: 12.5 million viewers watched the pilot!!!

Now we have Star Trek: Discovery! Would I have preferred that a prequel take place 10 years after Enterprise, to tell stories about the early years of the UFP? Absolutely! But they made the choice they did, and I accept that. As for the first 3 episodes, I agree with Jammer, 3 starts across the board. This series has a lot of promise. I don't buy this notion that it's "not Star Trek". They said the same thing about DS9. I like the direction they are taking the storyline, and I think Michael will be an interesting character as she deals with the ramifications of her decisions while working with this crew on the new Discovery. Let's give it a chance and see where it goes!
Peter G.
Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
I'm starting to get what's going on with Discovery. They wanted to promote a Trek show where they didn't have to do Trek. They wanted to do a prequel where they didn't want to be stuck with prequel canon. In other words, they wanted to do whatever the heck they wanted - i.e. a reboot that still nurses on fandom from old shows, to have their cake and eat it too. In other words, a marketing ploy. Notice how the show seems conveniently to be set on a Section 31 ship? Or at least, it's run by a 31 Captain. That gives license for the entire crew to be un-Starfleet, because the rogue Captain took various misfits and threw them together because he could use them. It works on a plot level, but also acts as an excuse not to have to bother making any of them act appropriately as Starfleet officers. And it's not like they are being duped either; black alert? It basically screams black ops, and everyone seems in on it, even the green roommate. From that standpoint, the episode pretending that it was a 'normal' vessel is B.S. from every standpoint. They're not putting one over on Michael, or on the viewer. It's also a reboot in terms of tech levels. And that's ok too; having a reboot (or original) sci-fi show isn't objectionable; well it is, but wouldn't be a ground for critique of the quality of the product. We're seeing biotech that at first glance appears to be far in advance even of what the Voyager had. They could have set the series 30 years after VOY, just as some fans wanted, and introduced this spore drive, and it would have been accepted without question. But they call it a canon prequel and instead it looks bogus. That's on them. I don't object to that tech on principle, I think it's cool. It's just garbage for it to exist in 2250. Or maybe Lorca is lying about what it really is. I guess that could be it.

Speaking of Lorca, is this going to be a future Captain Garth? You heard it here first, he'll change his name at some point or we'll learn that Lorca is a code name. It may as well be Garth. "Context is for kings"? I get that, coming from a Section 31 agent. It also sounds like the kind of crap we saw over and over in TOS by rogue Captains who had a god complex. Are we having a show starring one of those? I really like Isaacs, but you know what? I'm not rooting for this guy. I could admire a Garak because he had principles and patriotism of a sort; not human principles, but you could respect them. Lorca sounds more like Dukat, and I'm actually not looking forward to having a show featuring a Captain with a god complex. It's everything the Federation is against, and I'll be the first to hope everything he ever tries to do fails. It's one thing to have Section 31 intruding on the main story; it's another thing for it to *be* the main story. It may just be the flipside, but there's a kind of hopelessness to having to watch the black ops in all the gory details.

Speaking of hopelessness, I notice that all of the people in this show share a characteristic with the characters on the Orville: they seem to speak and act like modern people. There's nothing 'futuristic' about them, or more advanced. They seem to have all the language, snark, bad attitude, and foibles of modern people. How is that worthy of a Trek show? The Trek series allowed people to see a brighter future, to have something to hope for. It's not just about good popcorn stories. Maybe the show is deliberately going to move from a dark crew to a good one over time. So we'll see about that one. But either way it seems that the writers basically don't have to bother wondering what more advanced people would be like. They can just write them however they want and it can be hand-waved away by "Section 31 ship!" In the end that's how you do a reboot without doing a reboot. Say it's a rogue ship so that anything un-Trek going on can be attributed to that rather than to the writing, and da-dah! Instant context for why continuity is disposed of. Oh, well, maybe continuity is for kings too.
Peremensoe
Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
Rahul: "Initially in viewing "Context Is for Kings" I thought we were in the mirror universe."

I think we're kind of supposed to. Not literally; this isn't "the" MU, though the Alice references recall a DS9 MU title. But there are so many nods to differences of perspective in this young series. The Klingon versus Federation views in the prologue. Vulcan versus human. Starfleet as scientists and diplomats, versus soldiers. Truth and deceit. Ends and means. Scenes shifting back and forth between actual darkness and light.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
@Peter
"I'm starting to get what's going on with Discovery. They wanted to promote a Trek show where they didn't have to do Trek. They wanted to do a prequel where they didn't want to be stuck with prequel canon. In other words, they wanted to do whatever the heck they wanted - i.e. a reboot that still nurses on fandom from old shows, to have their cake and eat it too. In other words, a marketing ploy."

Exactly. I've been saying this for like months and months.

They should have simply called it a reboot, just like the Abrams films did. As a creative reboot, actually, I think Discovery is far better than the Abrams films. At least Discovery is doing its own thing and telling its own story. Personally I may not like the direction it is taking Trek, but that's my problem and not theirs.

In short: They're doing a new thing and basically trying to attract a new audience. Fine. That's cool. Just don't lie to your loyal old-time fans and treat them as if they are stupid while you're doing it.

BTW I think it was an incredibly stupid marketing decision. I doubt there's a single fan of Discovery who would be put-off by TPTB calling it an official reboot. So why not be honest about it? Why the deceit? Sure, CBS managed to fool many people right up to the premiere, but by episode #3 the cat is out of the bag. By now, the people still onboard are precisely the ones who couldn't care less about reboots and canon and continuity.

So what - exactly - was the point of this "brilliliant" marketing ploy? I'm trying to get into CBS's marketing team state of mind, and completely failing.
SlackerInc
Thu, Oct 5, 2017, 9:28pm (UTC -5)
I know it's a bit off topic, but since so many people are talking about how they wish for more of a TNG-style show, I've got to say that "The Orville" is really scratching that itch for me. I haven't seen tonight's episode yet, but I thought the fourth episode about the colony ship was pretty close to four stars (with only one glaring flaw at the end), up there with some of the best "Trek".
Jason R.
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 7:03am (UTC -5)
Am I the only one who got a distinctly Resident Evil vibe from this episode? Has Starfleet been co-opted by Umbrella Corporation? It's either that or Event Horizon - space fungus opens the gateway to HELL!!
Jason R.
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 7:07am (UTC -5)
Wow you know I just forgot about the whole Alice in Wonderland reference which is the same in the Resident Evil films. Holy smokes they really are ripping off Resident Evil!
XanderW.
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 2:25pm (UTC -5)
Terrible. Just terrible.
I want to like this show, I really do. I want it to succeed and I want to enjoy
and support the franchise that has been an important part of my life ever since
TNG aired. But this? This has nothing which makes it Trek, apart from cosmetics
and the 'wink wink, nudge nudge' references.

I had hoped that this episode would return to what Star Trek really is about, if
only a bit, and that the action-packed premiere was just there to draw in new
fans. Instead, this episode leaves little doubt about the new course they've
set: action, horror, and dumb drama just because everyone is a prick. I could
write a long text about everything I did not like, but I will just refer to
Hank's first comment which sums it up perfectly.

I hope that other people can enjoy this show -- from the comments here it seems
like plenty do -- but for the first time in my life I just do not want to watch
another episode of Star Trek. And that makes me really sad.
karatasiospa
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 4:30pm (UTC -5)
@Peter
"I'm starting to get what's going on with Discovery. They wanted to promote a Trek show where they didn't have to do Trek. They wanted to do a prequel where they didn't want to be stuck with prequel canon. In other words, they wanted to' do whatever the heck they wanted - i.e. a reboot that still nurses on fandom from old shows, to have their cake and eat it too. In other words, a marketing ploy."

That's exactly what they did.
Cosmic
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
@XanderW.

"I hope that other people can enjoy this show -- from the comments here it seems
like plenty do -- but for the first time in my life I just do not want to watch
another episode of Star Trek. And that makes me really sad."

Look on the bright side - there's already over 700 episodes of Star Trek out there for you to go back and watch. I just watched all of Enterprise for the first time this past year and actually enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. If Discovery isn't working for you, then maybe go back through and see what else you've missed within the franchise.
The River Temarc
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 9:38pm (UTC -5)
>The first mention of Spock is of his mother reading him Alice in Wonderland with a sister we (and apparently he) never knew he had?

Please tell us where Spock said he never had a sister.

>Tilly is the best theoretical physicist in star fleet?

Why is this so unbelievable to you? Because she's a woman? A redhead?

>Quantum fungus and biology=physics instantaneous space travel 10 years before Kirk's 5-year mission? Forget astrometrics. Seven should have grown some special shrooms in hydroponics. Poof! Back home in no time.

Assuming that the experiment works. Which we've no proof it will. Remember the "soliton wave" episode of TNG?

>If Burnham was raised Vulcan, why is she not even remotely embracing logic? Her moods and rationale change as quickly as the temperature in the Vulcan desert.

Because she's a human with post-traumatic stress syndrome of a terrible incident in her youth. It's the same reason why in BATMAN, a sophisticated, business-savvy scion of high society dresses up as a bat by night, rather than mingling at the country club.
The River Temarc
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
"However, that again does not explain the blame everybody keeps placing on her. She was attacked, that is, the Klingon was hostile first. Not much she, or anyone else in that situation, could do to prevent it. "

1.^I agree that by and large, Burnham isn't responsible for the war. But that doesn't necessarily stop people from looking for a scapegoat.

2. It is possible that without the death of the Torchbearer, the 24 Klingon houses would not have rallied around T'Kuvma.
Vulcan-Like Logic
Fri, Oct 6, 2017, 11:16pm (UTC -5)
Hank wrote:

I even liked the first Abrams movie, even though it was just mindless popcorn cinema, at least it was entertaining. This was not. If they said it was a reboot, fine! Sure, do that. Then half or more of the problems I have with this would just vanish."

Now, lemme get this straight.

You first say that DSC is not "entertaining."

You then proceed to say that you'd be fine with it if it were a reboot. Which implies either (1) that you really *did* find it entertaining , or (2) that you'd watch a non-entertaining reboot.

Since (2) is absurd, what I think you're really saying is that you liked it, but you can't bring yourself to admit that Star Trek can change over the course of 20+ years.

Apart from that, on you other posts: dude, try decaf.
Angela
Sat, Oct 7, 2017, 1:51am (UTC -5)
So much hand wringing! Yes, Discovery is dark and Abrams-ish and not as strong on crew chemistry as Trek of yore (so far, anyway). But the writing and production values are good enough to indicate they're taking this seriously and I think it's worth keeping an open mind through the season. I'm convinced enough to keep my All Access subscription, in any case. Maybe I'll catch up on Family Ties too.
Trekker
Sat, Oct 7, 2017, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
I agree with the assessment of other fans, this is most likely the prequel story for introducing Section 31's activity in the 23rd century, basically retconning them. Perhaps we will see the Omega particle experiment that was mentioned in Voyager around this period as well.

Still, I disagree with Jammer's review and praise for this show. Don't get me wrong I love Alias, The Wire, and many shows involving complex "things we must do for greater good", but this is Star Trek after all.

Gene Roddenberry's vision was of a time when humanity would be able to solve our own problems and reach out into the Stars, seek out new life and civilization, and boldly go where no has gone before.

Star Trek isn't a Sci-Fi intrigue show with mysterious plots, cool tech, and morally ambiguous characters. Humanity was meant to be exalted for our virtues, not made grey for our modern issues. Instead of looking into a future beyond partisan bickering, religious issues, and perceived human racial differences, we're moving back into territories that would work for most modern TV Shows.

At the heart of it what does this say for us as viewers and the public at large, if this is what Star Trek has become, what we have become, when we can no longer look towards a future of hope and potential.

In the original DS9 episode, we got the shades of grey, but it was matched by optimism of Dr. Bashir, who represented the better parts of humanity in contrast. In Enterprise we had Johnathan Archer, who while not as strong as a acharacter, was still an idealist with hopes for a better future.

We had good contrast when introducing Star Trek's shadowy Section 31, Michael just doesn't show that same level of contrast. Furthermore, the plot lends itself to far too much darkness than hope, I mean what hope can be seen in the depths of war with the Klingon Empire.

My issue is one of philosophy on this point.

There's also plot contrivances that I did not really like in this episode, like the whole "criminal being unguarded schtick" that allowed Michael to wander freely on the ship, then the whole Sci-Fi horror sequence.

2 out of 4 in my book, I know what they're going for, but it's not really Star Trek. It's "Derivative Spy/Secret Organization thriller, A star Trek show" in the vain of "Rogue One, A Star Wars Movie". There's a difference between the real deal and its ancillary productions.
James
Sat, Oct 7, 2017, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
I don't understand the argument that they needed to change things to bring in a new audience. Bringing in a new audience and attracting modern viewers is not a good goal if it ruins a unique series. There are many other Sci-Fi shows out there in this style and we a poorer without the regular style of Trek.

The thing that made Star Trek unique was its cerebral aspects. It dealt with philosophical issues like no other TV show did. It inspired hope in humanity and showed us the beauty that life could become. I feel that reviewers like Jammer never saw this aspect of ST and simply wanted it to be good TV (and you can see this in his reviews over the years where he would completely miss the point of many episodes. E.g. his review of Nemesis, Voyager). Whereas there are some of us who understood ST and understood what questions it wanted to ask and what thoughts it inspired.
Peter G.
Sat, Oct 7, 2017, 10:26pm (UTC -5)
@ James,

How can you be sure that Jammer wasn't aware of those aspects of Trek, and instead decided to focus on the technical elements of the episodes he was reviewing? Don't forget that a reviewer may set as his task to assess the objective merits or demerits of how an episode was constructed, rather than to go into the meta-philosophy that the show may suggest. Go read almost any film review and you'll see them discuss things like humor, pace, structure, interest level, characterization, and things like that. Almost zero professional film reviews will ever deconstruct the philosophies or human perspective of the film. They know very well that those can be subjective, and also that it's better to leave each viewer to get what they can from them rather to impose the reviewer's personal interpretation of the deeper meaning. Don't be fooled into thinking that the lack of mention means they missed it. People who frequent this site are free to post interpretive comments; people like William B do so and generate discussion. But that's not a review, it's analysis. Very different operations, those.

If Jammer sounded like he was citing demerits for products like Nemesis and Voyager, maybe you should give him the benefit of the doubt and surmise that he simply felt they were technically flawed in certain ways. It doesn't mean he missed the philosophy that may also be present; but the meta-narrative tends to be lost anyhow if the literal narrative is full of holes. The latter is what a review is meant to tackle. I can't speak for Jammer, but I hope this helps clarify what the difference might be between an interpretive analysis and a review.
SlackerInc
Sat, Oct 7, 2017, 10:28pm (UTC -5)
@Trekker, "Derivative Spy/Secret Organization thriller" indeed! Well put. I personally have gotten tired of that shadowy intrigue type stuff.
Skuppie
Sun, Oct 8, 2017, 9:18am (UTC -5)
@Trekker

'Perhaps we will see the Omega particle experiment that was mentioned in Voyager around this period as well.'

I 100% thought that the Omega particle would come up at some point. I even googled it after this episode to see if it had something to do with spores. Lol. (It doesn't as far as I can tell). I'm still thinking it will show up though. It sounds like the perfect thing for Section 31 to do (if that's what's actually happening that is).

And I haven't been too kind to this show so far, but it has some promise. So I'll wait and see what unfolds. I'm not giving up on it yet, like some people. And I don't understand why they are, tbh. It's not great yet, but it may be.

Iceman
Sun, Oct 8, 2017, 10:08am (UTC -5)
@James-So you think the reason Jammer didn't care for Voyager was because he just didn't 'understand' it? Not that it was forgettable, mediocre science fiction? Give me a break.
Chrome
Sun, Oct 8, 2017, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
I’m not sure I can take a comment regarding the cereberal aspects of Trek using ST: Nemesis as an example. Nemesis was just another entry of Picard-turned-action-hero dumb popcorn Trek. If I wanted that, I’d just watch the much better scripted “Starship Mine” TNG episode.
Skuppie
Mon, Oct 9, 2017, 12:49am (UTC -5)
As far as the show being about Section 31, there is another big clue.

I didn't even realize it at first, but do you know what the registry of Discovery is?

NCC-1031

hmmmm....
SlackerInc
Mon, Oct 9, 2017, 4:07am (UTC -5)
@Iceman: "Voyager" has dozens of really good episodes, even a few great ones. It just has two or three times as many that are, as you say, mediocre, forgettable, sometimes downright bad. But if you curate carefully from those seven seasons, you can find a lot of gems--enough to make a few 13-episode "seasons".
Thank you
Wed, Oct 11, 2017, 1:11am (UTC -5)
Coming here after each episode is always a delight. Thank you for keeping this going for all these years.
JohnTY
Wed, Oct 11, 2017, 2:42am (UTC -5)
Better. This would have been a more interesting Pilot, as some have mentioned.

3/4.

Kira Nerys
Thu, Oct 12, 2017, 2:40am (UTC -5)
Ok, this episode was a bit better than the first two, but this show still barely manages to hold my interest for 40-odd minutes. That's my main beef with it - it's simply not interesting.

Granted, it's a visually very beautiful show, the tech looks amazing and the entire ambience just sucks you right in. But that's the best thing I can say about it, unfortunately. I find the show to be all style, without any substance.

First of all, where is the plot? Absolutely nothing in the first three episodes has managed to capture my interest. Ok, so the Klingons are up to...uh, something...but I really couldn't care less about what it was. These new Klingons look ridiculous and talk like they're retarded, and their segments of the show are by far the worst part of the series so far. I'd rather watch an entire episode of Martok and Worf singing Klingon drinking songs :/

Second, what's up with the characters? They make the crew of Battlestar Galactica look like a downright chipper and good-natured bunch...not to mention that BSG had far more interesting stories. I really don't get this fixation on creating ˝dark˝ and ˝flawed˝ characters, because ˝flawed˝ doesn't necessarily imply interesting. I really wish that somebody on that crew smiled for once, or at least did anything remotely amusing.

The other plot elements don't really capture my interest either. I don't care whether Michael will be redeemed or not, or what Lorca's little pet monster actually is. Not to mention that those spores are simply ridiculous.

I'll try to give the show another chance in the hope that something of consequence will actually start happening, but I'm not keeping my hopes up. What I don't get is why they, out of the whole host of things they could have done, decided on this. The tech looks great, but why not put the show in the future and really run away with all the tech possibilities, instead of breaking continuity like this? Also, if they were already so intent on doing ˝dark˝, I would have much preferred to see a series about a crisis in the Federation of the future...each race with its own agenda and a whole lot of conspiracies and intrigue...counterbalanced with the brave effort to keep the Federation in one piece. Something like DS9, but with the benefits of 2017-era visual effects and sweeping plot and character arcs from the beginning to the end of the show. Ah, one can only dream...




Scotty from Detroit
Thu, Oct 12, 2017, 11:22am (UTC -5)
Jammer, THANK YOU for rocking out both Discovery and The Orville. I really enjoy reading your reviews.

I'm writing this after watching the first four episodes, and so far "Context is King" is my favorite. A new Star Trek TV series is exciting, and there's a lot to adjust to. I don't get why they didn't just put the series 20 years after TNG, it would have explained a lot of the new look and feel, but I'm willing to give them a lot of leeway. I don't expect a TOS prequel to look like TOS. Klingons don't have to look like TOS or TNG Klingons and I'll give them some space there for having Star Trek be "fresh" and modern.

I don't like that I have to buy a streaming service. As of right now I plan to keep up-to-date with Season 1, but if there is a Season 2 I will consider just getting the streaming service when ALL the episodes are out and binge it.
Nic
Fri, Oct 13, 2017, 7:51am (UTC -5)
As others have mentioned, there were moments in this episode where I almost forgot I was watching Star Trek. If this series was set in the 25th Century, maybe it wouldn’t be so jarring, but I find it extremely difficult to believe that we’re 10 years before TOS.

By mentioning Amanda, Michael confirms what we already suspected: she is Spock’s foster sister, and yet we’ve never heard of her before. Groan.

I like Tilly. In fact, she and Saru are the only ones I find interesting so far; Burnham’s speech about doing the right thing was nice, but it doesn’t adequately explain her actions in the pilot. The others are just jerks (for now). This is definitely not the bridge of the Enterprise, or even DS9’s Ops. Those places were casual and agreeable, places where I would actually want to work.

I’m glad we quickly found out that Lorca was up to something, because it was obvious from the get-go anyway, especially during his monologue about a new propulsion system that’s never been mentioned in the other series.

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