Star Trek: Discovery Review by John Keegan

Star Trek: Discovery 1.03: Context is for Kings

Star Trek: Discovery 1.03: Context is for Kings

Written By:
Bryan Fuller, Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts, and Craig Sweeny
Directed By:
Akiva Goldsman

The first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery were an unusual beast.  While on the one hand they were essentially a pilot for the new series, the format and relatively self-contained aspects of the story made it feel like an expensive TV-movie that would be followed up by the series proper.  It introduced some important characters and the overall status quo between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, but it felt oddly discordant with the rest of the Trek Prime timeline in which it is meant to reside.



As a result, this episode is more of a pilot than the premiere installments, considering that this is the first we get to see of the titular USS Discovery and its crew.  It uses the supposed mutiny of Michael Burnham as backdrop to some character conflicts, and Starfleet is trying to figure out how to deal with the Klingon threat, but beyond that, there’s not a lot of connection to the premiere.  In fact, one could see this episode rewritten slightly and serving as a perfectly capable introduction to the series.


As far as that series goes, it remains somewhat unnerving.  While there are still winks to the familiar Trek continuity that so many know and love, the overall tone and content runs contrary to many established items in the “canon”.  The end of this episode, for example, introduces a mode of travel that would be revolutionary well after the TNG era, let alone making any kind of sense for a Starfleet merely a handful of years past “The Cage”.  Never mind that the Discovery is essentially the Starfleet version of a black ops project; one could see Captain Lorca being a key member of Section 31.



Considering the serialized nature of Star Trek:Discovery, there’s every chance that this apparent continuity contradiction is actually a plot point.  After all, one can see the story progressing in such a way that this theoretical “spore” concept turns out to be a horrific mistake, killing just about everyone or sending them into an unknown location from which they never return.  It would be an interesting commentary on how the militarization of science, in the name of ending a war as quickly as possible, can end badly.


That tension is all over the episode, either stated plainly or informing scene after scene.  It’s not quite the same military/civilian conflict that drove Battlestar Galactica, but it has a lot of the same flavor.  A better callback might actually be some of the concepts in Wrath of Khan, which makes sense, given the involvement of Nicholas Meyer.  It’s fairly interesting, especially when there are decisions being made with an “end justifies the means” mentality.



If there is one thing that continues to bother me about Discovery, it’s how some important plot points are often glossed over with the wave of a narrative hand.  How is Lorca’s decision to commission Burnham remotely kosher?  It’s as much of a head-scratcher as why Burnham did about half of what she did in the premiere, which is a concerning sign.  It really feels as though the writing for this series needs to tighten up now that the preliminaries are essentially over.


Our Grade:
The Good:
  • We finally get to see the Discovery
The Bad:
  • Plot and continuity holes appear to abound, which can be frustrating for Trek devotees

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Star Trek: Discovery by - 10/2/2017 9:10 AM121 views

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