Star Trek: Discovery has concluded its first season and it was incredible. Taking the entire season into account, once you can see the mycelial forest for the trees, the first Star Trek series in 12 years earned its commission as the best incarnation of Trek since the heyday of the franchise in the mid-1990's when The Next Generation had graduated to feature films while Deep Space Nine and Voyager carried the mantle on television. Now, Star Trek is truly back where it belongs, as a TV series, boldly going where it has never gone before. Discovery honors the venerable franchise's storied canon while launching Trek in exciting new directions.
No Star Trek series has ever been perfect. However, not since the first season of The Original Series in the 1960's (which is arguably its best) has a Trek series had a season one as strong has the Discovery's. The vaulting ambition of Discovery has earned Star Trek a place on the lofty plateau of Prestige TV occupied by Game of Thrones, Westworld, Breaking Bad, and the like. For its part, Discovery told an uncompromising serialized tale of war, loss, and the re-embracing of idealism that the franchise hasn't attempted to this degree since the latter years of Deep Space Nine.
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Discovery featured a flawed and conflicted lead character, Michael Burnham, who was Starfleet's first mutineer, and charted her difficult course to redemption. It maintained a breakneck pace full of action, shocking twists, and tragic death - the results were both thrilling and unsettling (certainly no one expected or particularly wanted so many casual references to cannibalism in Star Trek). Yet underneath it all was a glimmering spark of optimism - the spirit of hope at the very heart Star Trek - that fought its way out though the doom and gloom. This sense of hope shined brightest in the final episode of the season as Burnham ended the Klingon War she herself began by reasserting the core values of Starfleet.
True, the shakedown cruise of the Disco was occasionally plagued with missteps. Perhaps the most maligned were the changes to the Klingons. Discovery's reinvention of the revered warrior race was a tough pill to swallow for many fans accustomed to decades of the Klingons' history and culture being well-explored. However, it can be said that fans had grown so familiar with the Klingons that they had lost their edge as villains. Discovery's prequel time period required the Klingons to be the enemy, and the series succeeded in making them feel alien and other once more. (Just as Star Trek: The Motion Picture did when it first redesigned the Klingons in the 1970's.) Yet through L'Rell and Ash Tyler, by the end of the season, we witnessed the seeds of how the Klingons and the Federation will eventually come together to cooperate in a few decades - before becoming steadfast allies in the 24th century.
Here's how else Discovery broke the mold and boldly reinvented Star Trek for our times:
This Page: Discovery Is The Best Looking Star Trek Series Ever
The Best Looking Star Trek Series Ever
Discovery set out to match the visuals of the J.J. Abrams-produced movies and succeeded beyond expectations in bringing feature film-quality effects to television. No Star Trek series has ever looked, sounded, or felt so astounding, from the space battles to the costume and set designs, to the way the series was lit and shot. In leaving behind the hokey old 'made for TV' look of Trek, some fans groused that this prequel series was violating canon as they showcased technology like holograms and the mycelial spore drive that Starfleet shouldn't have in this era.
However, Star Trek is supposed to be a vision of our future and the series simply had to evolve to reflect the 21st century. The Original Series aired over 50 years ago and while it foresaw commonplace items like huge television screens mounted on walls, personal computers, and especially smart phones, it is now a sorely dated vision of the future. Discovery's tech evokes the design of TOS - phasers and communicators look very similar - but they also have to have tech we don't yet have but will someday. This creates a conundrum for sure: why doesn't the Enterprise-D set a century later utilize holograms on the bridge? (Season 2 promises to address some of these continuity issues.) However, at a certain point, we must recognize it will likely never be a perfect fit and that its best not to clutch onto decades-old canon so closely. Rather, accept that Discovery needs to look like our future and that has to mean going far beyond the limited means TV series from decades ago had at their disposal.
Certainly, Discovery has a precarious balancing act to maintain - especially with the shocking bombshell that ended the season as they came face-to-face with the U.S.S. Enterprise. When they eventually show the interiors of the Constitution-class starship, it will have to match the well-established design of the classic series while invoking the advances of Discovery's enhanced visuals. But from every dazzling moment of Discovery thus far, the series is no doubt up to the challenge of redesigning Star Trek so that it reflects its beloved look while still feeling like it's the future.
Most importantly, Discovery is a simply a feast for the senses. It's the most amazing-looking Star Trek series ever.