A 930-year time jump allows this talented cast to escape the franchise’s convoluted mythology and focus on rich, resonant storytelling.
Sometimes you just need to get away from it all.
This seems to be the main motivation for “Star Trek: Discovery” to advance 930 years from its 23rd century to the distant year 3188. And although no one involved in the production has explicitly said it, it seems that it is. Creative Choice was fueled by the desire to have a blank slate to do whatever the producers of this CBS All Access show want with this hugely talented cast. Until now, “Discovery” was a prequel, set 10 years before “The Original Series” and more than a little bogged down by the limitations of having to weave an original story in a time when so many franchise myths have already taken place.
Some of the arguments from fans over the show’s first two seasons have undoubtedly been silly. “Why has Spock never mentioned having a sister?” went one, referring to series chief Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), a human raised by Spock’s parents on Vulcan alongside the future corporate science officer. This myopic question was asked by fans who completely forgot that Spock also had a secret brother, revealed in one of the movies. “Why are Klingons so different?” went another. CBS All Access wanted to go in a different design direction, okay?
The prequels are fun, but they have the potential to be more about recontextualizing the characters and events we already know about than creating new terrains for the original characters. The remarkable thing is that, through all this bureaucracy of the franchise, Martin-Green has imbued Michael Burnham with an extraordinary life – and given him one of the clearest arcs of any frontman in the series. “Trek” ever had, from early Vulcan restraint to human emotions. in full bloom the last time we saw her. With a time jump to the 32nd century at the end of Season 2, she truly feels liberated. It doesn’t matter how something fits into the existing canon anymore. All that matters is good storytelling.
And good storytelling is what we get in the first four episodes of “Season 3” that have been made available to critics. Burnham truly finds himself in the unknown. Landing on a desolate, granite-gray planet of high dunes and still seas, she is all alone. Remember, she had to fly in an Iron Man-type suit through a wormhole to clear the way for the USS Discovery to follow her into the future and out of the 23rd century where they had become impossible to stay. At the start of the Season 3 premiere episode, “That Hope Is You,” Burnham and the crew are separated. We won’t reveal what actually happened to her ship just yet, but Burnham has to adjust to 3188 largely on her own.
Although this granite gray planet is a strange alien world in the show, in our world it is actually Iceland. With Jordan in the pilot episode of “Discovery”, this is one of the very few times that a “Star Trek” show has been filmed outside of the United States and Canada. And there, it shows. “This Hope Is You” is one of the most beautiful episodes of any “Trek” series, showing massive wide-angle helicopter shots from director Olatunde Osunsanmi, who quickly became a “Trek” MVP.
Before landing, Burnham crashed into a ship piloted by a smuggler, or “courier,” named Book (David Ajala). Sorry to cross the franchises, but he’s a type of Han Solo, a daring thug who could betray you at any time – but truly has a heart of gold and a deeply felt mission. However, Han Solo was never a feline person. The book is.
It will be interesting to see how Book evolves over time. Much of his role in the first episode is to provide exposure to this strange new galaxy that Burnham finds himself in. Apparently, the Federation had suffered a cataclysm more than a century ago: suddenly, in all its part of space, the dilithium has just exploded. For those of you who didn’t keep a “Star Trek: Ships of the Line” calendar on your wall as children, dilithium is the crystalline material that keeps the chain drive working. This devastating event, known as The Burn, made space travel a possibility for far fewer people. The Federation has retreated into a tiny rump state, with hardly any of the influence it once had.
Book is joined in later episodes by a few other new additions: Blu del Barrio’s Adira and Ian Alexander’s Gray, whose presence is another welcome step forward in what has always been an inclusive franchise, but also provides some of the biggest emotional fireworks of the season. 3 first episodes. Book, Adira, and Gray are all characters trying to do the right thing in an upside down universe where they don’t even know where to start doing the right thing. Seems familiar?
The expansive visuals of the first episode begin to recede into more familiar territory, but the emotions eventually rise even higher, especially at the end of Episode 4. What is intriguing about this whole new world of storytelling possibilities is that It’s that, unlike “Star Trek: Voyager”, which plunged a Starfleet crew into equally unfamiliar terrain, these characters don’t necessarily go on “a journey home.” No, they made the choice to be in 3188, and it looks like they’re going to stay there. What matters is not so much to come back where they came from as to bring their values with them in this new uncertain present. And it could lead to other emotional adventures to come.
Quality: B +
“Star Trek: Discovery” Season 3 premieres Thursday, October 15 on CBS All Access.
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