In reply to Star Trek: Discovery Has Problems (& How They Can Be Fixed) (Trek News) by Bill Smith:
I agree with Smith’s assessment of Discovery. Each season, the stakes are bigger. In Season 4, they were literally extragalactic. Once you’ve broken the galactic barrier and made first contact with a species living beyond it, where else is there to go?
The race to solve the puzzle box is exhausting. The hyperfocus on serialization leads to a lot of intriguing threads being introduced and tied off more quickly than I would like. For example, in Seasons 3 and 4 we saw what looked like they were going to be mental health crises for Detmer (PTSD from the jump into the future), Tilly (depression related to existential crisis), and Culber (burnout). In Detmer’s case, I don’t recall being shown the road to recovery at all. Tilly seemed to have two episodes of feeling bad that were magically fixed by deciding to become an instructor. And Culber I guess just really needed a vacation?
I really enjoy Discovery. In fact, I enjoy it so much that I wish there were more of it so we would have time to devote a whole episode to each of these characters.
I love Michael Burnham. But I also love so much of the rest of her crew. TNG started with a focus on the bridge crew and especially Picard, but opened up to give us time to get to know O’Brien, Barclay, and more. I wish Discovery had the breathing room to do the same.
I especially agree with Smith’s point here:
One of the things that Star Trek: Discovery did exceedingly well in Season 4 was First Contact with Species 10-C, the originators of the Dark Matter Anomaly.
It was its own challenge in unlocking the mystery of the DMA and I thought that aspect was something that the show did really well. It took this concept of seeking out new life and new civilizations and put a 32nd-century spin on it.
Discovery really leaned into that first contact situation hard and it worked. For 56 years, Star Trek has taught us that the unknown isn’t always something to be feared, but we should always strive to understand. There isn’t always a “big bad villain” when the puzzle is assembled or, sometimes, we find out that we are the villain however unintentionally.
These are the types of stories that have always found their way into Star Trek—from Gene Roddenberry’s first script right up to today’s iterations of the franchise. These are Trek’s roots and when Discovery revisits them, it works brilliantly.
Watching everyone work together to make first contact with the 10-C was exhilarating. It had all the delight of Picard figuring out the speech patterns in “Darmok” with an added bonus of getting to see a bunch of different people work together, leveraging each of their specialties to shine. This is foundational Trek stuff and I love when Discovery puts a spin on it.
I hope the writers will go a little softer in Discovery Season 5, giving it room to breathe. I look forward to seeing what they do.
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