Star Trek: Discovery Review by John Keegan

Star Trek: Discovery 1.14: The War Without, The War Within

Star Trek: Discovery 1.14: The War Without, The War Within

Written By:
Lisa Randolph
Directed By:
David Solomon

The first season is drawing to a close, and while some plot threads are coming to a clear tipping point, others are remarkably open-ended and complicating the overall sense of continuity.  Opportunities to close some massive plot holes are avoided, even aggressively so, while others progress in ways that boggle the mind.  Yet it’s hard not to acknowledge that this second half of the season has been exploring the kind of philosophical ground that many fans hoped it would.



The writers explicitly set this as roughly a century after the adventures of Captain Archer in Enterprise and they even mention the fact that he interacted with the Klingons.  Which effectively makes all of the events of Enterprise canon within the timeline of Discovery, and that is increasingly hard to justify when the cold war between the Federation and the Klingons in the original series is mere years in the future.  Things are getting very hard to line up in any logical fashion.


I increasingly wish this series had been set in the Kelvin Timeline; given the fast and loose technological advancements in that continuity, nearly everything in Discovery would be possible and could even explain the state of the Klingon Empire in Star Trek Into Darkness.  If it wasn’t for the fact that they make a point of this supposedly being the Prime Timeline, it would make things a lot easier to swallow.



One thing that complicates the entire question of continuity is the inability of the writers to limit or eliminate the spore drive.  On the one hand, even if the spore network exists, it needs someone with the right DNA to pilot the ship, and right now Stamets is the only game in town.  So there are some limitations involved.  But when it comes to Trek, once something exists, there are tons of ways around such restrictions that tend to break the universe, so the best way to handle the situation is to wipe out the network entirely.  Instead, there’s now a new planet full of the spores!


Worse is the drama between Burnham and Tyler.  Tyler’s accusations about Burnham make absolutely no sense, given that he seems to be expecting her to overlook the fact that he’s not even sure about his own personality or stability and he can’t even say that he was definitively the same person when she was willing to open herself to an emotional connection!  Sarek’s discussion with Burnham was at least a bit more understanding, if oddly dismissive; Tyler doesn’t even seem to acknowledge that Burnham has any basis for conflict!



What works far better is the debate over what to do with Georgiou.  While Sarek’s hardliner stance doesn’t quite add up to the serene and diplomatic figure that we have come to know over the years, the debate over whether or not to use Empress Georgiou as something of a weapon against the Klingons is a good one.  I had long suspected that Burnham was being positioned more and more as the voice of reason against figures like Lorca, but this expansion of her role makes a lot of sense.


But the fact remains: fitting the apparent direction that the season finale will take into the larger context of Trek lore is going to be difficult at best, and it’s hard not to think about that when it feels like certain emotional and practical points are being forced along the way.


Our Grade:
The Good:
  • The debate over Georgiou strikes at the heart of Trek ideals
  • Things are building towards something very exciting
The Bad:
  • Everything about Tyler feels unearned and forced, especially with Burnham
  • It’s becoming very difficult to reconcile plot and character points with overall the Trek mythos

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 - 2/5/2018 1:41 PM468 views

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