For a little while now we’ve been given only drips of Star Trek Discovery, but the new trailer gives a real taste of the new show’s direction. Let’s take a look and then delve into some predictions.
Star Trek Discovery takes place ten years before James T. Kirk and Spock commanded the Enterprise, so around 2265 and in the midst Federation and Klingon Empire cold war. The short-lived conflict between them takes place in 2267, so we might see more than just the lead-up to it.
This also places the show exactly one hundred years after Star Trek: Enterprise, which was set in 2151. In that series, humanity was just asserting its independence from the Vulcans. In Discovery, I suspect we’ll be seeing the formation of a humanity-driven Federation that controls the “present day” Alpha quadrant.
This is also a time where interspecies relationships and cooperation between cultures are becoming the norm, and the development of new technologies is helping the Federation become the diverse peace-keeping force. Tractor beams and replicators are just a few examples of technologies that will be incorporated in the coming years.
There’s also mention of the need for a great unifier who will rally others behind a single cause. This could be the expansion of the Federation, rallying people to defend Earth against the Klingons, or perhaps have to do with whatever is sucking up energy from that star in the trailer.
It’s an interesting time and gives us a glimpse into the world before the blue, red, and gold shirts of Star Fleet. It’s also before major peace throughout the Alpha quadrant, so you can expect there to be a lot of fighting alongside the discovering.
I wrote a piece a little while back on the characters we might see and really didn’t get any of my predictions right. What we’re seeing now is a lot of real-world and in-universe diversity. There’s an Asian captain (who I’m pretty sure is destined to bite the dust), a half-Vulcan first-officer, a new alien whose sole biological function is to sense death (seems kinda useless), and a whole bunch of other characters.
The most notable character is Michael Burnham, seen above. Burnham appears to be half-Vulcan and under the tutelage of Spock’s father Sarek. She’s been under the command of Captain Georgiou for about seven years and achieved the rank of commander, according to the trailer. She’ll be getting her own command within the first few episodes too.
It’s also good to note that she’s technically working alongside Spock in Star Fleet as he entered into service in 2250, so perhaps these two paved the way for many more Vulcans. There’s also T’Pol to consider… but I try not to think about her too much.
It’s possible she’s of Vulcan origin, but was born and raised on Earth. It would give her a dynamic much like Commander Worf from Next Generation. He’s torn between his two cultures, although his attachment Klingon is much stronger. It’s clear that Burnham has emotion, so she hasn’t gone through rituals like the Kolinahr. She’s also unable to speak Vulcan, but this could just be Sarek disparaging against her attempts to recapture her culture. Vulcans are kind of dicks.
There’s a possibility that she’s half-Romulan like Simon Tarses from Next Generation episode The Drumhead. Vulcans and Romulans share a common lineage, and perhaps she think that she’s Vulcan due to the Federation’s lack of contact with the Romulans. Even two hundred years later in Next Generation, the Federation still doesn’t know much about them.
Burnham could also be suffering from kind of ailment being seen in a large, yellow chamber in a medical bay. This could easily be her captured and being scanned by an alien race, so guess we’ll know more later.
Already I’m starting to sense that the show’s story will be continuous rather than episodic, which is a bit of a bummer.
The repeated focus on Klingons seem to be directing us toward the start of the Federation-Klingon War. There’s more evidence of this over at the IMDB page with Kol, a Klingon commander, being in 13 out of 15 episodes. I have a feeling the two sides will be at loggerheads for most of the show, but there’s also a chance Kol could just be along for the ride and brought on as an ambassador.
I think the major conflict will have to do with whatever is inside of that asteroid belt. There seems to be some kind of unknown object, weapon, or power source there that requires Burnham to use a spacesuit to approach. She also has to face off against a Klingon wielding a Bat’leth, so they’re willing to kill for whatever is in there.
Although I think the show will have a bit of a laser-driven McGuffin driven story… that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t latitude to have side stories. Deep Space Nine had a continuous plot with the Dominion War, but they were able to explore a lot of different themes.
However, I always think back to season 3 of Next Generation and The Best of Both Worlds, which gave us the first major conflict between the Federation and the Borg. There was a bit of build up to the fight, but the entire plot took place over the course of three episodes (plus more more if you include the second episode of the fourth season). The rest of the season was dedicated to the same exploration of themes that makes Star Trek such a special show.
Next Generation’s structure just seems a bit too old school for viewers today. As well, I remember there being some mention that Discovery could take place in multiple time periods, so there’s a good chance the show will jump around. Burnham is half-Vulcan after all, so there’s a good chance she’ll have a life as long as one too.
I really hate IMDB, but the site can produce some pretty interesting insights into upcoming shows. For instance, James Frain, who plays Sarek, is only slated, for now, to appear in one episode. His character might just set up Michael Burnham or perhaps he’ll appear in later seasons.
IMDB also shows that the crew will be encountering Harcourt Fenton Mudd, portrated by Rainn Wilson. Mudd was a con artist who appeared in the original show and is a pretty minor character (correct me if I’m wrong, I’ve never watched the original series…). He’s featured in 9 episodes, so he’ll either be a part of the crew or come in later on in the season to stir up trouble.
Episode appearances also show us that some of the crew might be picked up after the first few episodes of the show. Lt. Stamets who is a science officer only appears in 13 out of 15 episodes, which either means he joins the crew later on or is killed by the end of the season (I’m guessing the former).
There’s also some interesting information about the return of the command structure. Admiral Anderson and Commander Landry don’t seem to appear in this first trailer, but what it does tell us is that the ship will have contact with Star Fleet. This throws out the theory that the ship might be sent to another quadrant or be put into a situation like Voyager. It also tells us that they’ll have a constant presence in the show, which might actually be kind of annoying considering how much characters like Alynna Nechayev and William Ross started to grate on me. The consistent second guessing and fight against the command structure is only interesting for so long.
There’s also the question of Captain Lorca played by Jason Isaacs. According to a story featured in Vanity Fair, it’ll likely be Burnham who will be leading the show and the main focus.
Given that there are three captains listed in the show and that they appear in most of the episodes, I suspect that we’ll be seeing a bit of a flotilla kind of situation (did you know I’m writing a series of science fiction short stories of that name… linkydink). There might be three ships with the Discovery being in the lead. It’s really the only way I can think of three captains existing in the same show.
We can’t know what the show will really be like until it debuts and those online saying they already love it or hate it have to temper their expectations. Trailers can be pretty misleading, so what might seem problematic right now might be super trivial when the final show arrives.
I think it’s important to look back on the first seasons of Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager when the first season of Discovery arrives. The first season of Next Generation was so awful that I actively avoid it, but as time went on and writers changed the show improved.
Discovery is setting itself up to give us a new look at the Star Trek universe, but it has really big shoes to fill, especially with the influx of new fans of the series from the recent films. Their expectations are far different than people who grew up watching Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager as are the expectations of people who appreciate the original series.
I’m excited though! Also excited to know it was filmed in Toronto too!
I got to say that I am a bit worried about the new series for several reasons.
I remember what the Stargate franchise did with SGU, trying to make a darker and grittier show and I felt it fell flat on its face. SG Atlantis I found was really good and it adhered to the episodic formula decently. I really hope they don’t go in that direction here, that is just not what Star Trek is all about. Starfleet and by extension star trek were are their best not just being a “humanitarian and peace-keeping armada” as movie Pike would have you believe, but when they were adventuring and discovering. Also, the episodic thing was done with a purpose, the original were parables as Roddenberry designed them to be. Want to tell a story about the problems of contemporary racism or colonialism but don’t want to get the backs up of network execs, do it with aliens.
Also, the Klingons don’t look Klingon, I know there is the whole, virus thing from enterprise…..still. I do hold hope for the new series. I worry that if this one does poorly, it will likely be another decade or two before the next one. Just please no Riker and Troi cameos making this series all in a dream…..
Yeah, I’m hoping they keep things light on conflict and heavy on exploration in this new series. I’m worried they might just follow one, serious narrative in this series. Part of what made TNG so good was the mixture of fun and serious episodes, so here’s hoping they’ve taken note of that here in this new series.