Star Trek: Discovery revisited

Discovery

Last year I wrote about the first season of Star Trek: Discovery. To summarize: I hated it with a vengeance. Then season two hit Netflix.

Wait, you actually watched it?!

Why would I watch the second season of a show that I hated? Honestly, I wasn’t planning on it, and it was only after the season finale had already aired that I even took notice. I read raving reviews online about how the show had changed. The trailer didn’t look half bad.

So, I convinced my wife to give the first episode of the new season a chance. And… it wasn’t terrible. Nor was the next episode. Or the one after that.

What changed?

Characters

One of the biggest changes from the first season to the second quickly becomes clear… other crew members actually get to do something. There’s actually a scene where the crew introduces themselves to the new captain. Yes, all those people milling around the bridge actually get names.

In the first season it sometimes felt if there were only a few people on the Discovery with a lot of puppets surrounding them. And those few actual characters were barely real. Season two changes that. Tilly and Stamets were always the stars of the show, but Ash Tyler and Michael Burnham actually develop something of a personality. I hated Mr. Saru in season one, but he actually becomes more of a person in the second season.

And then… gasp… there’s banter. And jokes. People are actually shown to have fun.

Story changes

Discovery season one was all about a desperate war against the Klingons, about betrayal and redemption. This season does away with a lot of that. It goes back to the roots of Star Trek. The stories of the show are more about exploration, about exotic life forms and cultures and how the Discovery should interact with them.

There is an overarching plot, but that isn’t the sole focus of the show, and that’s a good thing. Carrying a single story across a dozen episodes is hard and if the focus is solely on that overarching plot shows often suffer. Both Agents of SHIELD season two and several seasons of Supernatural were worse for it. So, Discovery returns more to its roots and avoids the trap of the overarching plot in one swoop. Nicely done.

The bad

Of course, the show still isn’t the pinnacle of perfection. The science is still glaringly far-fetched at times. The writers have still tried to wedge in more Star Trek lore than was good for the show, and they’ve still burdened Michael with the non-personality of a Vulcan and the emotional peaks and valleys of a manic depressive.

However, there is hope. The show is starting to pick up momentum, and it’s already better than most of Star Trek Voyager and the first seasons of Deep Space Nine. And I won’t even speak of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Conclusion

Depending on the reasons you hate season 1 for, you might want to give season 2 a try.

If you haven’t seen the show at all, and you like scifi, I suggest you read a summary of the first season 1 online and skip to this second season immediately.

I’ve only just seen the first half of the season, but I read the finale is very good. I honestly look forward to watching it.

Author: Martin Stellinga

I'm a science fiction and fantasy writer from the Netherlands

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