Star Trek: Discovery season 2 is on the verge of making the same mistakes as its first season. The CBS All Access show got off to a shaky start, with a polarizing first season marred by behind the scenes drama. Season 1 showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg were dismissed from the show midway through production on season 2 due to allegedly abusive behavior, somewhat ironic for the duo who so openly acknowledged the influence of Game of Thrones on their version of Star Trek.
But season 2 of Discovery has been a marked improvement in virtually every way. The ensemble cast has come into sharper focus, the stories no longer hinge primarily on war with the Klingons, and Captain Pike has proved to be the missing element that ties together everything about the show that works - though it will have to do it without him in season 3, as Anson Mount will not be returning.
And yet Star Trek: Discovery season 2 seems poised to make the same sort of mistakes the show made in the back half of its first season, which may speak to a deeper problem with the show than previously acknowledged.
- This Page: Where Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Went Wrong
- Page 2: How Discovery Season 2 Is Making The Same Mistake
Star Trek: Discovery Season 1's Big Mistake Was Playing Its Themes Safe
Star Trek: Discovery's first season was met with much criticism for its violence and seemingly grimmer worldview than what had come before in the franchise. But darkness was never the season's fatal flaw; plenty of Star Trek has gone to incredibly bleak places thematically, and even marinated in war for an extended period - over half of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine took place in the middle of the galaxy-spanning, incredibly bloody Dominion War. That series explored the limits of the Federation's morality in stark, sometimes shocking ways.
Discovery very clearly aimed to explore similar territory, but that moral quandary was severely undercut by the season's worst decision - the origins of Gabriel Lorca. Initially presented as a once-upstanding Starfleet officer whose mind and soul had been compromised by war, he was a fascinating foil for Michael Burnham, whose own life had been turned upside down by the same war. Yet instead of earnestly grappling with the horrors of conflict and maintaining one's values in the face of unthinkable adversity, Lorca turned out to be a Mirror Universe refugee, a boring mustache twirler bent on universal conquest. Lorca died a villain's death, and when the war ended, there were very few ramifications for any of the series' key players. Admiral Cornwell's eleventh-hour threat to destroy the Klingon homeworld felt more like a thin excuse for the Discovery crew to reclaim the moral high ground, but it was a largely unearned moment, and one the show has curiously chosen not to address again. The notion of the Federation seriously contemplating genocide - even in the face of its own extinction - bears more rumination than what it got.
This was always the main problem with Star Trek: Discovery season 1 - for all the dark posturing and allusions to serious, gritty prestige television, the show lost its nerve when it came to the big, existential questions about humanity and moral flexibility, sidestepping them in favor of a more cartoonish adversary.