As a consequence of her plan to safeguard the lives of everyone in the universe, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) finds herself in the far future and begins to seek out the Federation but she is shocked to discover that it is in ruins and that a disaster has eradicated all of the dilithium in the galaxy. Teaming up with roguish trader Book (David Ajala), as well as the crew of Discovery who have followed her into future, Michael sets about aiding what’s left of the Federation and to discover just what caused “The Burn”, but she soon finds opposition in the form of the Emerald Chain, a ruthless organisation which seeks to impose their will on all who cross their path.
As a Star Trek fan, I’m of course interested in the shows and films that take place in this particular universe and when it comes to Discovery, I’ve so far found it to be inconsistent as the first season turned out to be an overall worthwhile watch, even though it did have teething problems when it came to the introduction of the new crew as well as all the political goings on of the Klingons (though I didn’t take against all of that as much as many others seemed to), and the second series surely must’ve had its moments but I also recall that it was particularly technobabbly and that the plot, which concerned Spock, time travel, sphere data and mysterious space phenomena, was just a bit too confusing and alienating.
And considering this latest series, I would say that it too is inconsistent as it’s not a terrible series and it does admittedly have episodes that are good and respectable, but it’s also a series that I struggled to get genuinely excited about, believing the weekly episode viewings to actually be a bit of a chore, and though it may try its hardest, I don’t think that Discovery will ever be good enough to stand alongside the properly memorable incarnations that have come before.
Starting off with the positives, the third series actually gets off to an excellent start because it appears as though there’s far less technobabble this time around and that there’s a real attempt at lightening things up, including welcome humour and giving off the impression that this series won’t take itself too seriously. The series also shows off plenty of enviable visuals (which have been apparent ever since the fantastic first two episodes) and everything within the show looks impressively sleek and visually pleasing – a fine quality for a science fiction show to have.
The series arc is also an improvement over its immediate predecessor and since it takes place in the far future, further forward than any other Trek series has gone before, the series gets a chance to further the “Trek narrative” in its own way (though, if anyone wanted to change it, I’m sure they could bring in some wormhole or time displacement and make things go a different way) and it’s particularly interesting to see a universe without the Federation, with Michael and the crew having to ensure that it’s rebuilt properly.
The cast also do a decent job and, as before, Sonequa Martin-Green (sporting a new ‘do this time around) fully commits to her role and proves herself to again be strong, confident and complex, Doug Jones is as good as he’s ever been and, as Saru becomes captain, he makes his character more nurturing and authoritative, and Mary Wiseman also has more to do this time around as Tilly is given more responsibilities and even sits in the captain’s chair in several episodes.
But all of that aside, the series is still nowhere close to being top tier Trek and although the episodes aren’t bad, they’re also not particularly memorable and, as I said, I was never left eagerly anticipating the next instalment. I think the problem is that many of the characters, try though they may, won’t ever be mentioned in the same sentence as past greats such as Kirk, Spock, Picard, Riker, Sisko, Janeway and Worf (just to name a few) and additionally, the stories that we get aren’t as imaginative nor as smart as they could’ve been. I also get the feeling that the showrunners try very hard to be “progressive”, which is something that Trek has done so very well in the past, and although they take great steps towards greater representation – this year by welcoming a non-binary actor to the crew, as well as attempting to further strengthen their female characters – all of this is just a little to obvious for my liking and it’s clear that they’re trying a little too hard to prove that they’re being “modern” and inclusive, admirable though that goal is.