New Alien Species Galore
Before his departure from the show, Bryan Fuller teased an alien-heavy bridge crew, as well as plenty of new and classic species to marvel over. After watching the first Discovery trailer, it's obvious he wasn’t kidding. Lt. Saru (Doug Jones), whose race's biological imperative allows him to “sense death," is only one of the several new species introduced. The Shenzhou’s crew also features a human or humanoid with what appears to be cybernetic headgear, while another officer sports blue skin – with a visage similar to a Bolian, aside from a black and silver affectation, mark, or accessory on his cheek and forehead.
Strange new world enthusiasts are also treated to a brown creature with tendrils or tentacles dangling over his face, although he may be hostile. True, some of the new aliens aren’t the complete and utter departure from the nose wrinkles, spots, or forehead ridges that cause mild ridicule, but several new species are unique enough to raise an eyebrow or three.
In addition to their alien menagerie, Star Trek: Discovery also employs a few non-organics or enhanced humans, or so it appears. One such curiosity is a nautilus-shaped construct with a bright blue forward display. Could this be a shipboard robot? The clip is short and not particularly in-depth, so it's difficult to tell what it is. The droid-like object could simply be an elaborate helmet, a pre-holodeck virtual reality helmet, or a piece of medical or life-support gear.
The Shenzhou also seems to have a resident cybernetically-enhanced officer. The crewman looks a little bit like Lando Calrissian's cyborg assistant, Lobot, from The Empire Strikes Back. At the same time, the crewman's wrap-around unit might assist his visual or auditory processing, similar to the way Geordi LaForge’s VISOR worked on The Next Generation, or even a translating device. Were it a computer-aided implant, though, Discovery could start to connect the artificial intelligence dots between the 23rd and 24th centuries.
Classic Communicators Return
Anachronistic or not, few aspects of Star Trek are more iconic than the flip-phone inspiring communicators from The Original Series. Since the latest saga occurs ten years before Kirk and crew took the bridge, a few throwback technologies and tonal similarities are only appropriate. What better way to tie Discovery into TOS than for Captain Philippa Georgiou to flip open her communicator and request to be beamed up. In all honesty, the latest series already displays a number of technological discrepancies from its predecessors, like any long-running science fiction property can fall prey to, seeing as progress marches on. In spite of our need for believable, futuristic items, everyone can get behind the comm system that started it all.
New Warp Drive?
Technically, the warp engines on the Shenzhou aren’t different than any other ships from the period. Instead, the special effects themselves got an upgrade. Para-light speed on Trek is often represented with a field of stars that blur into solid lines. Over the years, each show concocted its own variation on the theme. For instance, '80s films represented warp as strobing rainbow streaks, while later Trek flicks used smears of colorful light. Most of the TV shows on, however, used more linear representations of warp speed travel.
In an effort to innovate the look and feel of the warp drive, the J.J. Abrams’ decided to use a shaky, through-a-tunnel effect, eventually showcasing a warp-bubble effect in Star Trek Beyond. Discovery takes a slightly different approach, instead, creating a rippled warp drive effect and blending it with a more traditional approach – both referencing the admittedly jarring warp sequences from the Kelvin Timeline and the trans-warp look of shows like Voyager and Enterprise.