By Dave B.
I want to be absolutely clear: CBS is evil. Directly charging people money to watch a Star Trek television show is clearly against the spirit of Gene Rodenberry’s vision for Star Trek universe. Hell, he made the dominant society a post-monetary one. The world would be a better place if CBS lost the rights to Star Trek. That said, at times during its first season, Star Trek Discovery was likely the best show on tv.
Overall, the writing on Star Trek Discovery was strong and the acting was transcendent. Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh, Doug Jones, and Jason Isaacs all deserve special recognition for their performances (yes, that’s nearly half of the main cast, but it is what it is). The production value was extremely high. Higher in fact, than for any Star Trek series and most of the movies. Despite all of this praise, for this review, I’ll divide the 15-episode series roughly into thirds because it highlights the biggest problem with the show: its inconsistent, both within and between episodes and, especially, between story arcs.
I felt that the first third of Star Trek Discovery was generally strong. The characters were interesting, the situation was compelling, the villains were interesting. The criticism that many widely level at these episodes (and the series as a whole) is that its tone isn’t Star Trek’s traditional tone. I agree with that assessment, but I see it as a strength instead of as a weakness. There were a couple episodes that slightly missed the mark and some of the writers had yet to find their footing. Overall, the first third was solid, but not spectacular.
The second third of the season is an entirely different story. It was magnificent. It expanded upon all the strengths of the first third of the series and had none of the flaws. It was probably the strongest story arc in the history of Star Trek. Each week I ignored my annoyance at having to wait a week for a new episode and completely immersed myself in action, adventure, intrigue, romance, twists, and turns displayed at an elite level. The writing was spectacular, and the acting was often Emmy-worthy.
The final third was…well, if there is something that I can’t stand more than the ambiguous, unresolved endings of many French movies, it’s deus ex machinas ruining otherwise great entertainment. It’s lazy and unfortunately, the last arc of Discovery suffers due to that laziness. The final third wasn’t bad. It was just the weakest part of the series and immensely disappointing.
People have asked me several times whether I thought Star Trek Discovery was worth paying for (internationally, it can be viewed on Netflix). My answer is always the same: “Unfortunately, yes”. Everything changes, and to those who think that Star Trek should only be one thing ever, it’s my hope that you can see beyond your expectations and give this show a chance. Despite some issues with inconsistency and an ending that annoyed me, it’s a great show and the second season looks like it could be even better. I highly recommend. 8/10