Setting aside my confusion over nobody at CBS’s marketing department having a second look at a show abbreviated as STD, I’m cautiously optimistic about Star Trek Discovery. I’m very cautious in my optimism. In fact, one might go so far as to suggest my caution borders on abject paranoia.
All I wanted was a Ken Burns-style ersatz documentary about the Four Years War between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, culminating in the Battle of Axanar. A smart little 90-minute fan-production. Was that too much to ask? Apparently, yes.
Let’s talk about Captain Georgiou. I don’t think there could be a better choice than Michelle Yeoh to be a Starfleet captain. A woman who is also a person of colour, particularly given Hollywood’s problems with erasing or marginalizing Asian characters, is a great choice. Naturally, this means Captain Georgiou is going to die. What, don’t look at me that way. The show is called Discovery, not Shenzhou. The writing is on the wall.
Consider how Commander Burnamn is framed in the trailers as being ready for her own command. Yet somehow she is going to end up with Malfoy Dad as XO of the Discovery? Seems a wee bit suspicious, wouldn’t you say? Why would a Starfleet officer on track for command leave her patron to serve with a captain who seems to hold her in contempt?
Then there is the Sarek angle. The gossip says Burnham is Sarek’s adopted daughter. However, Sarek saying things like, “Your tongue is too human to learn Vulcan,” makes one wonder if Spock wasn’t right to forsake his father. Then again, I can’t imagine Mark Lenard ever uttering such a crass line. Also, I’d like to point out how illogical it is for a parent to belittle their child. It’s probably as illogical as a Vulcan trying to motivate through evoking an emotional response.
Even before the first episode has aired we can see Burnham as embracing the Vulcan way of life, burying her emotions and focusing on logic and duty. There was probably talk of Burnham undertaking the Kolinhar until Georgiou took her on as first officer. Georgiou becomes both mentor and (ugh) surrogate mother for this wayward Terran. I know, I know. I didn’t invent the trope, I’m simply calling it as I see it.
Now if I wanted to take a stoic character and give them a long-arc amid a series that has promised to kill off its main characters a la Game of Thrones, my first move would be to kill my protagonist’s mentor as a means of turning her emotions up to 11. Georgiou dies, and Burnham’s Vulcan facade shatters amid a desire for revenge. For his part, Captain Lorca is content to give it to her. Hell, Lorca delivers an almost literal call to adventure with his, “You helped start a war, now help me end it.”
Imagine the inner turmoil as Lorca fuels Burnham’s rage with Sarek showing up as holographic space dad to give her lessons on finding a better way. It sounds great except for the part where Federation values are reduced from lived ideal to vague aspiration.
Actually, Adam, Michelle Yeoh is slated to be in the entire first season according to IMDB.
Wow. You got me there. Bravo, Holmes. Because go there’s no way a hack writer could get around that by using flashbacks, memories, and holograms.
That seems unlikely, Adam.
Any more unlikely than Dwight Shrute showing up as a menacing version of Harcourt Fenton Mudd? More unlikely than Jonathan Frakes directing an episode of Discovery set in the mirror universe. I mean really, the mirror universe? A show with Doug Jones as a death sensing alien in the prime timeline needs to take a trip to see the Terran Empire?
Then there’s this.
What sort of asshole would phaser a Starfleet delta into a moon?
Finally, a word on Klingons. I don’t give two shits if the Klingons are scraggle faced or non-scraggle faced. Modern TV shows have budgets, and Discovery should certainly add quality to the production while working to honour elements of the original aesthetic. My beef is with something Kenneth Mitchell, who plays Klingon warlord Kol, had to say about his character:
“Really, whether someone is good or bad is all about perspective, and it’s about understanding that culture. You’ll get to know the Klingons on our show, and then people can decide if we really are the villains.”
Go fuck yourself, Obi-Wan.
The Klingon Empire is a hegemonic, slaving, expansionist, xenophobic collection of assholes. There are not bad hombres on both sides. There is no #NotAllKlingons rationalization. The Klingons of the mid-23rd century, at least before the Organian treaty of 2267, are not an allegory for Cold War Russia. Think of them as space Stalinists, purging and homogenizing every system that they deem to be within their sphere of influence. And now one of the actors is asking the audience to see both sides of the Klingons? Even Rick Berman would look at such a clumsy morality play and shudder.
I am just as hungry for good Star Trek as the next nerd. Sometimes I think about playing Star Trek Online for the slightest taste of Prime timeline Trek. Believe me when I say I want Discovery to be good. I want to open up my laptop on Monday and eat a whole pile of crow. Instead, I fear we are going to end up with the kind of action-adventure bullshit that turned Picard from scholar into cut-rate action hero. Even worse, the stars point to a course for adventure that begins with space fridging Captain Georgiou.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope that the Shenzhou doesn’t die in the first episode, taking Georgiou with it. I want to be wrong; I don’t think I am.