Discovery-ing Season 3

After Star Trek Discovery decided to jump far into the future, my hopes for the TV show jumped equally high. Some parts of season 2 were already quite promising, so I figured the third season might do the trick.

Dark times

The beginning of season 3 is not the cozy utopian Star Trek future we might wish for, in 2021 maybe even more than ever before. After Michael quickly learns that the United Federation of Planets is gone, the second episode shows even more so a grim world, but at least the crew of Discovery is united again. Together they first figure out how to find the Federation, being only a fraction of what it was before, even some of its founding members are no longer part of it: Humans and Vulkans. Like a perfect allegory to current politics, humankind in the 32nd century just can’t get along with anyone. At least the Vulcans are re-united with the Romulans, something that probably even makes more sense after what happened in Star Trek Picard (it’s also a nice nod back to TNG in naming the episode Unification III). The show also starts to focus a little bit more on its other characters or let’s say they try to do that to some extend (that was also the good part in season 2).

The BURNing question

But to be honest, I mostly enjoyed the first half of this season. After the grim start, it quickly leads to some interesting developments and episodes. Of course, the overarching mystery is also quite intriguing: The Burn. A single event, destroying all warp-capable ships in the galaxy.

So let’s skip to the explanation for the biggest and probably most devastating event in Star Trek history: A stranded mutated Kelpien boy on a Dilithium planet (they even take approximately 75 seconds to explain the science behind it). I was kind of afraid that the explanation for the burn would be bad. The explanation works in a Sci-Fi universe I guess, however, an event of that magnitude would’ve probably deserved something a little bit more convincing. Maybe even something that leads to a bigger mystery, unraveled across many seasons to come. But for some reason – even 15 years after Lost – TV shows still can’t escape the confinements of single-season story arches.

Let me entertain you?

Even back in the 90ies, Star Trek started to run out of unique or overly fresh ideas. Telling the story of a war (DS9), a stranded ship (VOY), or the beginnings of human space exploration (ENT) where a mere variation of a formula established with TOS and TNG that ran its course. With this season, Discovery tries to continue a legacy, using some lore pieces of the past. It sometimes even succeeds in touching ways, when Sarus’s efforts to reunite the crew culminates in a movie night (something I see as a subtle wink to Star Trek Enterprise). End even the not so subtle attempts to embed this show in the greater Star Trek universe work for the most parts (ban of time travel, Vulcan-Romulan unification, etc.).

Even though Discovery continues to grow on me, it fundamentally stays an entertainment-product and not in the good Marvel cinematic universe way. Dull action scenes, cool CGI effects, and awful single-character heroics are no replacement for the values and ideas Star Trek once stood for. But I continue to have high hopes that Star Trek finds back to its utopian values and expresses those in new unique ways. It’s probably also something we all could need right now.

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  • Discovery-ing Season 3
    After Star Trek Discovery decided to jump far into the future, my hopes for the TV show jumped equally high. Some parts of season 2 were already quite promising, so I figured the third season might do the trick. Dark times The beginning of season 3 is not the cozy utopian Star Trek future we … Continue reading “Discovery-ing Season 3”

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