Star Trek: Discovery (DIS) launched in 2017 on the streaming platform CBS All-Access (an ironic name if ever there was one). I waited until it came out on DVD then, to kill time waiting for season two (to be released on DVD), I watched all of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), Deep Space Nine (DS9), Voyager (VOY) and the fourth season of Enterprise (ENT). By this time, DIS season three is out on DVD and I have yet to watch season two. Frankly, I wasn't all that impressed with season one... at least not as the prequel it is purported to be. As a reboot of the franchise, I liked it fine, yet the showrunners insist it is in continuity, despite the fact it seems to violate canon in a major way. I came to the show knowing that there would be no visual continuity with the original show and I was prepared to accept that, but I did expect there to be story continuity. (When I say "visual continuity," I am referring to the ships and uniforms, not the Klingons.) Honestly, I could have gotten to this discussion much earlier, I really just didn't care to. I am told that season two takes steps to reconcile the continuity differences. We shall see. I plan to start over with season one. Here's a look at what's ahead.

SEASON ONE:

1. The Vulcan Hello

2. Battle at the Binary Stars

3. Context is for Kings

4. The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry

5. Choose Your Pain

6. Lethe

7. Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

8. Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

9. Into the Forest I Go

10. Despite Yourself

11. The Wolf Inside

12. Vaulting Ambition

13. What's Past is Prologue

14. The War Without, the War Within

15. Will You Take My Hand?

SEASON TWO:

1. Brother

2. New Eden

3. Point of Light

4. An Obol for Charon

5. Saints of Imperfection

6. The Sound of Thunder

7. Light and Shadows

8. If Memory Serves

9. Project Daedalus

10. The Red Angel

11. Perpetual Infinity

12. Through the Valley of Shadows

13. Such Sweet Sorrow

14. Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

SEASON THREE:

1. That Hope is You, Part 1

2. Far From Home

3. People of Earth

4. Forget Me Not

5. Die trying

6. Scavengers

7. Unification III

8. The Sancuary

9. Terra Firma, Part 1

10. Terra Firma, Part 2

11. Su'Kal

12. There is a Tide...

13. That Hope is You, Part 2

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THE VULCAN HELLO: I watched this episode for the second time last night. I enjoyed it well enough, but I still haven't decided how to approach the series on this thread. I can either be pedantic and point out why it can't be part of the established continuity, or I can simply ignore the showrunners' assertions that it is, and look at it as a reboot. On the one hand, the technology is so far in advance of what was shown on TV in the '60s that it's difficult to willing suspend my sense of disbelief that the Shenzou is so much more sophisticated than the "contemporary" Enterprise. Also, the Klingons (Ogrons, more like) are so different from the ones seen on all other versions of Star Trek, movies and TV, set before and after, that I can only conclude they are of a different species. On the other hand, if I look at Discovery as a reboot, then those types of differences don't matter. 

Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) plays Captain Philippa Georgiou and Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead) plays Commander Michael Burnham, second in command and adopted daughter of Sarek of Vulcan (another "retcon" difficult to overlook). they have served together for seven years as the story opens. Burnham is the only human to have attended the Vulcan Learning Center and the Vulcan Science Academy. She was adopted by Sarek after Klingons killed her parents on a raid. When the Shenzou encounters the Klingons, Burnham's advice is to fire on them first, to earn their respect (the "Vulcan hello"). When Captain Georgiou refuses, Burnham neck pinches her (out of view of the rest of the bridge crew) and assumes command. The Captain regains consciousness and has Burnham confined to the brig just as several Klingon ships drop out of warp.

So far, so good...

Just from reading your review, I'd say it has to be another continuity.    Of course, I never accepted ST;TNG as being in the same continuity as the original series.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

THE VULCAN HELLO: I watched this episode for the second time last night. I enjoyed it well enough, but I still haven't decided how to approach the series on this thread. I can either be pedantic and point out why it can't be part of the established continuity, or I can simply ignore the showrunners' assertions that it is, and look at it as a reboot. On the one hand, the technology is so far in advance of what was shown on TV in the '60s that it's difficult to willing suspend my sense of disbelief that the Shenzou is so much more sophisticated than the "contemporary" Enterprise. Also, the Klingons (Ogrons, more like) are so different from the ones seen on all other versions of Star Trek, movies and TV, set before and after, that I can only conclude they are of a different species. On the other hand, if I look at Discovery as a reboot, then those types of differences don't matter. 

Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) plays Captain Philippa Georgiou and Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead) plays Commander Michael Burnham, second in command and adopted daughter of Sarek of Vulcan (another "retcon" difficult to overlook). they have served together for seven years as the story opens. Burnham is the only human to have attended the Vulcan Learning Center and the Vulcan Science Academy. She was adopted by Sarek after Klingons killed her parents on a raid. When the Shenzou encounters the Klingons, Burnham's advice is to fire on them first, to earn their respect (the "Vulcan hello"). When Captain Georgiou refuses, Burnham neck pinches her (out of view of the rest of the bridge crew) and assumes command. The Captain regains consciousness and has Burnham confined to the brig just as several Klingon ships drop out of warp.

So far, so good...

I decided very early on that I would stop worrying about whether I could reconcile continuities, and decide whether I enjoyed what I was watching. I did. And I enjoyed it more over time. In part because I was bonding with characters (Team Tilly!), and in part because the show was starting to figure out what it was.

I'm sure you are familiar with DC's "Tangent" and Stan Lee's "Just Imagine" series of one-shots. If not, they are comic books which take concepts and characters such as "Superman" and "Green Lantern" and reimagine them as if being presented for the first time. Star Trek: Discovery is like that. It's as if the showrunners were told, "Star Trek has spaceships. Starfleet personnel wear uniforms. The Federation has enemies called Klingons, and they have spaceships, too," but they weren't given any sort of visual reference, or very little.

Take the Shenzou, for example. It is said to be one of the older ships in the fleet, yet the bridge has floor-to-ceiling windows which encompass 180 degrees. Ship-to-ship communications are not handled via viewscreens, but rather interactive holograms (projections which are seemingly "there" and can turn their heads to see "behind" them and which can walk around). The time period is about ten years before TOS. I'm going to have to treat this series as a reboot or these inconsistencies will drive me nuts.

BATTLE AT THE BINARY STARS: The episode opens with a flashback to Sarek escorting Michael aboard the Shenzou and her meeting Captain Georgiou for the first time. Then it flashes forward to where the previous episode left off. By this time many Federation ships have arrived. Burnham is confined to the brig and rightly so. She committed mutiny, no doubt about it (as well as assaulting an officer and one other charge as well). I felt the same way the first time I saw it, but one thing I didn't pick up on until the second time through is this: even if she had managed to fire first on the Klingons if Georgiou hadn't stopped her, it wouldn't have made any difference.

All 24 houses were already amassed against the Federation, one ship representing each house. It's unlikely the Klingons would have changed their plans at this point, even if they understood Burnham's "Vulcan Hello." (That incident occurred 240 years prior, anyway.) The Federation is said not to have had any contact with the Klingons for 100 years, yet Burnham's parents were killed during a Klingon raid...? 

Anyway, Burnham "logics" herself out of the brig and joins the captain on the bridge. they embark on an away mission to disable the Klingon fleet, the two of them, and Georgiou was killed in the process. the Shenzou couldn't get a lock on the captain's dead body and had to leave it behind. The Kilingons and the Federation are now at war, and Michael Burnham finds herself sentenced to life in prison. 

I don't know if I'll be able to explain these episodes very well to someone who hasn't seen them. I didn't do extensive plot synopses on previous Star Trek discussions, but I figure people on this board are more likely to have seen those shows than this one. 

CONTEXT IS FOR KINGS: This episode picks up six months after that last. The first two episodes are like the series finale of a show that was never made, and the rest of the season is like a spin-off of that show. As the story begins, Michael Burnham is being transferred on a shuttle with three other prisoners. There's some trouble, but the shuttle is rescued by the U.S.S. Discovery. On board she she's some familiar faces, most notably Saru, whom she served with aboard the Shenzou. Saru is from a planet that doesn't have a food chain, just two races, and his was the prey. He is first mate about the Discovery. 

Burnham has been "recruited" by Captain Lorca for a mysterious mission. She has been quartered with a cadet named Sylvia Tilley who has a "go get 'em" attitude. The crew knows who Burnham is, and no one really likes her. She is assigned to work in engineering under Lt. Stamets, a real horse's ass. One thing I am being to remember about this show is that there is absolutely nothing resembling a chain of command. Junior offers are insubordinate, it's just a mess. Can we all just agree that Gene Roddenberry would have hated this show and move on? 

Burnham later breaks into Stamets lab and finds it filled with plant specimens and spores. Discovery's sister ship is reported destroyed, and Burnham is on the away team assigned to recover some top secret equipment. The crew were all "twisted inside out." After that happened, a Klingon boarding party who came for salvage were killed by some sort of monster which is still aboard. Not all of the away team makes it out alive. Lorca invites Burnham to join the crew. She refuses but he eventually convinces her that the experiments are not in biological warfare, but for some biologically powered transwarp propulsion system and she agrees. She doesn't see his lab, however, which is a shop of horrors, including the monster from the other ship. 

I'll just mention a couple of anachronisms  before I close. Site-to-site transport is used within the ship; hand phasers can be set to fires energy pulses rather than streams. I'll also mention that Captain Lorca's eyes are extremely sensitive to light (which may account for why the ship is so blasted dark). 

Ooh, this really un-sells me on this show.  The last thing I would want to watch is the adventures of a shipload of Hawkeye Pierces.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect a crew to be unquiestioning drones - I don't imagine that any good captain would want that - but no military organization (and pace Roddenberry, Starfleet is a military organization) worth its salt would tolerate constant insubordination.

Also, wasn't Burnham done for mutiny?  I'm no military expert, but I'm reasonably certain that mutiny is one of those things that militaries DON'T. EVER. FORGIVE. How can Lorca just "recruit" her? WHY would Lorca recruit her?  "She mutinied against her last capatain, but I'm sure she'll never mutiny against me!"



Jeff of Earth-J said:

One thing I am being to remember about this show is that there is absolutely nothing resembling a chain of command. Junior offers are insubordinate, it's just a mess. 

"Ooh, this really un-sells me on this show."

I hope it doesn't un-sell you on this discussion. Yours are some great questions and comments.

"I don't expect a crew to be unquestioning drones..."

Funny you should say that. The episode's title comes from something Captain Lorca says to Michael Burnham while trying to convince her to join his crew: "Universal law is for lackeys. Context is for kings."  More on that in a minute.

"No military organization worth its salt would tolerate constant insubordination."

"Insubordination" may not have been the right word, but the Discovery has no esprit de corps and no discipline, not at all the optimistic, benevolent and cooperative Star Trek envisioned by Gene Roddenberry. For example, Lt. Stamets is against his work on the "spore drive" being used for military purposes and, behind the captain's back, refers to him as a "warmonger." In addition, several of the officers refer to the prisoners as "animals" and "waste,"  and one of the prisoners uses a racial slur in reference to an Andorian.

"Also, wasn't Burnham done for mutiny?  I'm no military expert, but I'm reasonably certain that mutiny is one of those things that militaries DON'T. EVER. FORGIVE. How can Lorca just 'recruit' her?"

There is no question that Burnham has been given a chance that she realistically wouldn't deserve (even Michael herself doesn't want it), but the Federation is at war and the unconventional Captain Lorca has been give carte blanche to do whatever he feels is necessary to win, and that includes recruiting a mutineer. 

"WHY would Lorca recruit her?"

This question gets at his whole "Context is for Kings" philosophy. (Lorca was even behind her transfer and being on the shuttle in the first place.) His reasoning is that he wants an officer who is willing to think and make decisions on her own, not blindly follow Starfleet directives, but he really has to sell her on it. she herself doesn't think she deserves this chance and accuses Lorca of wanting an officer who has already demonstrated a willingness to break the rules. That's not exactly it (I'm not explaining it very well), but the scene in which he convinces her to join Discovery is the best of the episode. There is also more to Lorca than meets the (I recall from my first time through season one), but I don't want to get ahead of the discussion.

" 'She mutinied against her last captain, but I'm sure she'll never mutiny against me!' "

My favorite supporting character so far is Saru. He clearly hasn't forgiven Burnham for her mutiny, but he nevertheless demonstrates a high level of respect for her. At one point, he says to her something along the lines of, "I intend to do a better job protecting my captain than you did yours." 

"Team Tilly!"

As I recall from my first time through, Cadet Tilly is the only likeable character in the crew from the entire first season. She is awfully annoying, though. She talks too much and is a conflicting mass of self-confidence and insecurity. She aspires to a command of her own one day, but at this point it's difficult to imagine her in command of anything. I expect her character arc to be the most dynamic over the course of the series.

I encourage Darin to continue to participate in the discussion and JD to join. (I know I can count on Bob.) 

This question gets at his whole "Context is for Kings" philosophy.

This reminds me that there were severl episodes in the original series that involved Starfleet captains that went rogue or even just plain nuts.

"Patterns of Force," "The Omega Glory," "Bread and Circuses"...

But Lorca isn't rogue; his actions are sanctioned by the Federation.

That's even worse.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

"Patterns of Force," "The Omega Glory," "Bread and Circuses"...

But Lorca isn't rogue; his actions are sanctioned by the Federation.

"That's even worse."

Agreed.

Absolutely. 

That's why I can't accept this series is part of the established continuity.

That's also why I wasn't too thrilled with the Picard series. 

Also, what about this "spore drive"? It is ridiculously fast. The other ship that was fitted with it made it to the Beta Quadrant, 90,000 light years, in three point something seconds. That's practically the speed of thought (if one is a slow thinker). Even if something is going to happen that prevents its further development, is it realistic that it is not even mentioned in shows later in the timeline? I'll bet Captain Janeway would have killed to have a spore drive. 

THE BUTCHER'S KNIFE CARES NOT FOR THE LAMB'S CRY: Well, that's a cheery title, isn't it? Let's see if we can un-sell Bob on the show even more. You know the phrase "Not your father's [in this case] Star Trek"? I think it would be safe to say, for most of the members her, "Not your Star Trek."

In this episode. Burnham officially joins the crew with no rank. Everyone treats her as if she personally is responsible for the Federation/Klingon war, but she is not. She committed mutiny in an attempt to fire first, but her attempt failed. As I speculated yesterday, I don't think the war would have been averted in the first place had she succeeded. I haven't mentioned T'Kuvma yet. T'Kuvma was the Klingon leader who led the Battle of the Binary Stars. He was also the "Torchbearer", some sort of messiah figure. Back during the battle, Burnham pointed out that killing T'Kuvma would only serve to make him a martyr. she suggested capturing him instead, and that's the mission during which captain Georgiou was killed. (T'Kuvma was killed an became a martyr, anyway, so the whole thing was a wash.) We find out in this episode that the Klingons ate Georgiou's  body.

Captain  Lorca assigns Burnham to weaponize the creature which destroyed the Glenn. The creature has been nicknamed the "Ripper". The security chief, Landry,  escorts Burnham to the lab. Landry has made some borderline racist comments about Vulcans to Burnham before, and now she wants to sedate the creature and cut off one of its claws for closer examination. When she tries, the Ripper kills her. Burnham observes that the Ripper has some sort of connection to the spores. Furthermore, she speculates that the creature is not aggressive by nature. She tests her theory by opening the cell and putting a container of spores in with the Ripper, which it promptly consumes.

Meanwhile, Discovery receives a distress call from a dilithium mining colony under attack by the Klingons. Discovery could get there in time to save them, but only via the spore drive. They try and fail, ending up lightyears off course. Burnham observes the ripper's reaction to the use of the spore drive, and presents her finding to the captain, who orders the Ripper transporter to engineering and physically hooked up to the spore drive. (Remember the Doctor Who with the giant "space whale"? Like that.) Discovery successfully utilizes the spore drive and arrives in time to save the colony, but Burnham feels remorse that the process obviously causes the Ripper physical distress. 

Also, there's a lot of "Klingon" politics going on that I haven't been paying much attention to. (I put  "Klingon" in quotation marks because I still can't accept these hairless, reptilian things as Klingons.) T'Kuvma named Voq, an albino, his successor (for whatever reason), but the Klingon forces don't accept him and he is quickly overthrown. Before he is put to death, L'Rell suggests a better fate would be to "consign him to the grave of their enemies" or some such. They beam Voq over to the wreck of the Shinzou, which has been abandoned. Just before the Klingons depart, L'Rell beams over and reveals he suggested this banishment to save Voq's life. They get the ship running and depart for parts unknown.

Early in the episode, Burnham receives a suitcase-size package, her in heritance from Captain Georgiou. Just as she's about to open it, Tilly walks in, interrupting. Michael is reluctant to open it in the first place, under the circumstances. she still has not done so by the end of the episode. Tilly enters their quarters again, gives her a little pep talk, then leaves her to her privacy. Michael uses her palm print to activate the holographic message from her former captain, mentor and friend. (It is highly ironic, as one might suspect.) The case opens to reveal a telescope which has been in Georgiou's family for hundreds of years.

Technology: Crew cabins are equipped with holographic "mirrors" which create a 3-D duplicate of whoever's using it.

When the spore drive is engaged, the ship spins on its axis like a cartoon before taking off. Regarding the sip itself, the central bridge section is separated from the rest of the disc section, and the disc spins around (at times) like a giant pizza cutter. 

Characters: The ship's doctor is Hugh Culber, who seems to have an antagonistic relationship with Stamets. (I know there's more to it from having watched this season previously, but we'll leave it at that for now. Speaking of Stamets, he throws a little public hissy fit in front of the Captain about weaponizing his spore drive. The Captain suggests he leave, to which Stamets replies he'll take his spores and his drive and his research with him. As one might expect, Captain Lorca points out that all that belongs to Starfleet. Tracy likes this character (she hasn't been reading these posts), but I still think he's an ass (although I do remember he softens up a bit as the series progresses). 

Saru's race has evolved "threat ganglia" on the back of their necks, which extend when they feel themselves in danger. In a scene early in the episode, they extend when Saru is alone in the elevator with Burnham. Later in the episode, she brings Saru into the lab with the Ripper to test her theory that it is non-threatening unless attacked. Saru does not appreciate it. 

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