Sunday 25 February 2018

Rediscovering Yesterday's Enterprise

The season one finale of Star Trek: Discovery took us back into Star Wars territory, a Mos Eisley-esque trading post on Kronos, as the crew embarks on a daring undercover mission into the heart of the Klingon Empire, under the command of Captain Georgiou AKA Emperor of the Terran Empire, played with Machiavellian zeal by Michelle Yeoh.

The Mirror Universe story arc elevated the second Star Trek prequel into prestige drama and the season finale fell short of that deliciously dark high in the wake of Captain Lorca's (Jason Isaacs) demise. Whilst fun, it lacked the edge-of-the-seat excitement of the previous 4 episodes and the special effects weren’t all that... special. The Klingon fleet looked inert and in no position to threaten the Earth. That said, it did contain terrific character-driven moments, which are a hallmark of the latest spin-off, and a cameo from an actor fondly remembered for an iconic role in the original sixties series.

The bestowing of medals was absurdly out of place. The crew of the Discovery hadn’t destroyed the Death Star or did I miss something? And character arcs were too conveniently reset. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is pardoned, but Georgiou remains at large.

I’m going to pause and reflect on The Orville. Fox’s new sci-fi series from Seth MacFarlane has improved immeasurably since the misfiring pilot directed by the usually excellent Jon Favreau (Iron Man). Whilst the so-called adult humour rarely sticks the landing, The Orville is at its best channelling Star Trek in a way that appears to have pleased some diehard fans more than the latest official spin-off. Episodes are pastiches of The Next Generation’s finest moments and oftentimes provide sobering social commentary on our times.

With the cliffhanger appearance of the USS Enterprise, commanded by Captain Pike and with the prospect of meeting teenage Spock, Star Trek: Discovery cements its status as a series I treasure week in week out, and for that, I commend the series' showrunners.

The search for Prime Lorca begins…

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