The first half of Star Trek: Discovery's season 1 has already flown by at warp speed. The first Star Trek television series in over a decade, Discovery has dazzled fans with visual effects that rival the J.J. Abrams-produced Star Trek feature films. Set in 2256, a decade before the events of the original Star Trek, Discovery has blazed its own unique creative direction while still honoring the mission of exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new civilizations that is the essence of Star Trek.
Discovery's first 9 episodes comprise the first half of season one before the series returns with its latter 6 episodes on January 7, 2018. As the series jumps into its hiatus during the holiday season, here is a captain's log of the characters, conflicts, and voyages of the U.S.S. Discovery so far.
There's never been a lead Star Trek character like Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). Infamously known as Starfleet's first mutineer, Burnham is a human who was raised on Vulcan by Ambassador Sarek (James Frain), the father of Spock. When she was rejected by the Vulcan Expeditionary Group because of her humanity, Sarek sent Burnham to Starfleet, where she served on the U.S.S. Shenzhou for seven years under Captain Phillipa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh).
Burnham's metroric rise to become the Shenzhou's first officer came to a tragic end when she turned on her captain in hopes of preventing a war with the resurgent Klingon Empire. Instead, war commenced and the initial conflict, dubbed the Battle of the Binary Stars, claimed the life of Captain Georgiou and saw the destruction of the Shenzhou. Burnham was court martialed for mutiny and sentenced to life in a Federation penal colony. 6 months into the war, Burnham found herself unexpectedly brought aboard the U.S.S. Discovery.
Burnham now has a chance for redemption by servicing as Discovery's Science Specialist. She has been instrumental in the perfection of Discovery's greatest weapon, its mycelial spore displacement drive. Though she has made a few friends - her roommate Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) considers Burnham her mentor - and she is valued by her new Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), Burnham struggles with living life once more aboard a starship and is haunted by her mistakes. She dreads her eventual return to prison to serve out the rest of her sentence once the war is over.
The father of Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and the husband of the human Amanda Grayson (Mia Kirshner), Ambassador Sarek's fondness for humans has made him a target of Vulcan logic extremists. Sarek nearly died until he was rescued by Burnham and a team from the Discovery. This was thanks to a special bond between Sarek and Burnham: when she was a child, Sarek shared his katra (or Vulcan soul) with Burnham to save her life. Sarek's katra allows him to communicate with Burnham and share emotions, especially distress, even across the galaxy. At this point in Star Trek history, Sarek exhibits a closeness to his adopted daughter he doesn't share with his son Spock, who is currently serving aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike.
Captain Georgiou and the Shenzhou
The warm-hearted and courageous Captain Phillipa Georgiou mentored Michael Burnham for seven years, grooming her to one day command a ship of her own. Burnham's mutiny was her attempt to save the life of everyone aboard the Shenzhou when she realized the Klingons were feigning peaceful overtures but actually looking to start a war.
Despite Burnham assaulting her with a Vulcan nerve pinch, Georgiou eventually heeded Burnham's hunch about the Klingons' true intentions. Together, they beamed aboard the Klingon Sarcophagus ship to fight their new enemies. The Klingon leader T'Kuvma (Chris Obi) killed Georgiou in battle; Burnham in turn killed T'Kuvma but was beamed back aboard the Shenzhou, leaving Georgiou's corpse behind to a grisly fate.
Months later, Burnham would receive an inheritance from Georgiou's last will and testament on board the Discovery; her mentor left Burnham her prized telescope.
The Klingon War
The Klingons have been the most controversial aspect of Discovery. The fearsome warrior race has been radically re-imagined to bear little resemblance to the Klingons fans know and love. In Discovery, the Klingons were a divided empire until T'Kuvma, styling himself as successor to the Klingon messiah Kahless the Unforgettable, sought to unify the 24 Great Houses and conquer the Federation.
T'Kuvma's death at the Battle of the Binary Stars eventually saw Kol (Kenneth Mitchell) assume the leadership of the Empire. With the Klingon sarcophagus ship under his control, Kol now has cloaking technology, which he gave to the Klingon houses who pledged loyalty to him. The ability for Klingon ships to cloak have been a decisive weapon against Starfleet in the war.
Other Klingons of note are L'Rell (Mary Chieffo) of House Mo'Kai, a Klingon dynasty of spies, and Voq (Javid Iqbal), T'Kuvma's torchbearer. L'Rell and Voq left aboard the derelict wreck of the Shenzhou by Kol, but L'Rell mysteriously reappeared later, serving under Kol. Little does Kol know, L'Rell hopes to defect to the Federation, which she revealed to Starfleet Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook), a prisoner of war, after she kills Kol and ends his rule. Instead, Kol saw L'Rell's ambitions and took her prisoner. As for Voq's whereabouts, there is a popular theory among fans about him... (See Lt. Ash Tyler's entry.)