Star Trek Discovery: Season 1
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Star Trek Discovery: Season 1

For over half a century one television series premièred that would expand at an exponential rate until it transcended cult classic to become an integral part of the collective consciousness not of a generation but pervaded the very society. Of course, was ‘Star Trek,’ currently referred to ST: TOS, Star Trek: The Original Series. The need for this designation is the myriad of spin-off series., movies, books and most possible forms of entertainment. Understandably, throughout such a prolonged time the popularity of the current series may fluctuate, the franchise remained one of the most influential forces affecting the course of technology, sociology, and interpersonal interactions. After a hiatus of several years, Paramount developed a new series to bring a new generation of fans the experience of a weekly, televised series. By all accounts, the time was ripe for such a move, a director of impeccable reputation had just rebooted the characters of the original series. The result was ‘Star Trek: Discovery.’ From the first moment the news hit the convention circuit, the controversy began to encase every conversation of the new show. This is expected considering the well-known zeal that fans of the franchise are notorious for their insistence on continuity on the most minute level feasible. Axiomatically, fans of such forms of entertainment are ardently averse to change in any form. Such fans place the creative minds in a conundrum, retain the popular elements responsible for the franchise success while providing dome fresh and new. It is the definition of a no-win situation.

Both of showrunners/creators have been quite involved with the science fiction community, Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman. Mr. Kurtzman is involved with most recent film reboot of the original series by J.J. Abram. Mr. Kurtzman worked with him on many of his groundbreaking programs including ‘Alias’ and ‘Fringe.’ Likewise, Mr. Singer has an impressive list of accomplishments encompassing brilliantly crafted stories related to extremely innovative visual stylings. His resume boasts such revolutionary programs as ‘Pushing Daisies’, Wonderwall’ and ‘True Blood.’ Individually, each man pioneered strong narratives seamlessly integrating crafting entertainment expanding into new frontiers. The potential downside to this collaboration is neither of them is prone to submit to the visions and standards previously established. The new series is certain to be a wonder of innovative visuals but, there was little guarantee the\original look and feel will be retained. Fan expectations regarding familiarity and continuity were heightened, amped up beyond the usual furor associated with the avid franchise enthusiasts. As the eventual leaks from the set and costume design department controversy quickly went from a squall to a tsunami. Initially, glimpses of staple alien races and technological level indicated a paradigm shift in exceeding expectations. Considering the artistic styles for both men are highly visual it came as no surprise that the term, retcon, was gong become a significant theme in any discussion, review or analysis. At the opening of the season, the setting for the narrative is the USS Shenzhou, with the highly respected Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) in command. Her First officer, Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). She was born on Earth and after both her parents were killed in a Klingon raid, subsequently adopted and raised on Vulcan by Sarek (James Frain) and his wife, Amanda Grayson (Mia Kirshner). This provided the most substantial connection to the franchise through her adopted brother, Spock.

Despite the disadvantages inherent in her human physiology, Michael excels in her Vulcan training. This becomes evident when she became the first non-Vulcan to graduate the Vulcan Learning Center. Michael chose a path in life like her adopted brother, Spock by enrolling in Star Fleet on the fast track to the bridge. Her Vulcan training infused her with the standard social imperatives relying on intellect, reason, and logic. The ship’s science officer, Commander Saru (Doug Jones), the first of his race, the Kelpie, to be accepted to Starfleet. Physically very tall, over two meters, they have hooves rather than the usual feet. On their homeworld there are only two species, his and another that regards them as prey, the principal source of food. One of the primary themes driving the narratives has been a fan favorite since ST: TOS continuing through several other canonical series, the alternate or ‘Mirror’ universe. Remaining faithful to the established convention, this is a significant plot device to explore a darker, draconian variation of the principal characters. In that universe, the Kepler is bred for servitude or livestock for food resulting in extraordinarily disconcerting junction when faced with having to consume their Saru or be revealed as an impostor yielding lethal repercussions, one of the emotionally satisfying story arcs is the development of the relationship between Michael and Saru. Throughout the season they inexorably move from a semi-adversarial one to a relationship founded on mutual respect.

While investigating a binary star, the Shenzhou encounters the Klingons. This happens to be a sacred site for the Klingons where they're honored dead. The revised appearance of this iconic race that permeates the franchise has been the subject of heated controversy throughout the devoted fan base. The new look is hairless, with pigmentation ranging from almost golden to deep ebony. An attempt at reckoning the canon has implied that the changes were due to mutations, dovetailing with the virus infection first explored in Star Trek: Enterprise. The language appears to be significantly different d=but due to inexperience in the language I will defer comments to those fluent in Klingon. Socio-politically, the Klingons were not a unified empire but rather two dozen distinct noble houses constantly fighting among themselves. The dramatic elements contributed through the Klingons was an attempt of consolidation under the banner of a prophet, T'Kuvma (Chris Obi). A major conflict between his forces and the Shenzhou ignites an all-out war leaving Michael convicted of mutiny. She is stripped of rank and sentenced to life imprisonment. During the battle, Captain Georgiou is killed and eaten during the Klingon victory celebration. Superficially, the inclusion of this ritualistic celebratory fest may seem to have been included for sheer shock value, but there are several reasons thematically critical to the redefinition of the alien race. The Klingons have been perennially depicted as clan oriented warriors since the timeline defining the series predates the Klingon reconciliation with the Federation as well as exploring the events that ultimately created the unified Klingon empire. Without the events transpiring here, one of the most dangerous and influential political forces in the Alpha and Beta quadrants. It is understandable that many dedicated fans would concentrate on the obvious visual changes, overlooking the great impact made by plot points that define the altered presentation of the narrative. The frequently subtle plot points expanded several often overlooked within the established canon. The slice of the timeline featured here covers the decade before the ‘five-year mission of the NC-1701’ that redefined the zingiest of several generations.

While one of the primary dramatic points driving the story pertains o the imitation of the franchise, the Mirror Universe, several components series have contributed to the collective mythos of the alternate universe, the events that transpired here contributed to the cohesiveness of its components. Details relating to the hierarchy of the upper echelon command structure, details of its infrastructure and examples of their routinely excepted draconian tactics are provided. The differences in principle characters entertain and enlightens. Michael’s roommate, Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman), is among the most intense. In the prime universe, Sully is awkward and frequently as lacking the image of control as her massive tangle of reading hair, pulled into a tight bun while on duty. The Mirror Tully wears her red locks straightened, in a flowing cascade. She has also contrived, betrayed and killed to advance her career.

Primarily the discovery is an advanced research vessel whose sole purpose is to develop a groundbreaking new drive that employs a type of spacefaring fungus whose spores form a network throughout the universe. Initially, incorporating the biologically based technology exhibited great promise although the range and control remained too limited for practical use. Eventually, they discovered a creature, resembling the microscopic terrestrial animal, a tardigrade. Our version is virtually indestructible, able to survive under the harshest conditions. This creature can form a symbiotic relationship with the mycelium spores, focusing them on navigating instantly to their destination properly. When deemed as inhumane the interface was removed. Ultimately the research scientist is in charge Lt. Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), an astromycologist, serving as the chief engineer. He is also married to the medical officer, Lt. Cmdr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) M.D. one point of pop culture trivia, Mr. Cruz plays the first openly gay teenager on the classic cult series, ‘My So-Called Life,’ back in 1994. When it discovered that Tully has a knack for this niche in engineering, she is assigned to assist Stamets. She became Michael’s roommate when the ship’s Captain, Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), insisted her sentence be commuted, and she would be assigned to his crew as a specialist. At first, this appeared to be incomprehensible, but throughout the season the covert details are released in a highly well-crafted narrative,

The reason’s behind the mystery is inexorably entangled with the Mirror Universe story arc. During a spore drive jump, referred to as ‘Code Black,’ they are trapped in that alternate reality. Consistent with the details established in ST: TOS. The principal characters have doppelgängers. With Georgiou, her double has risen to the highest echelon of the prevalent militaristic culture as the Emperor. The combination of political acuity and military expertise made her a formidable, unbeatable adversary in her attainment of that ultimate position of power. Their Michael was also the protégée of Georgiou but in this instance, also her adopted daughter. The story includes action, politics and emotionally driven drama as it careens to a fast-paced conclusion. While there are a significant number of detractors in the community, ultimately this is a new twist on a perennial staple for a new age.

Posted   11/10/2018

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