With “Battle at the Binary Star,” Star Trek: Discovery takes some of the pieces introduced in “The Vulcan Hello” and begins to move them into place for the next thirteen episodes.
It doesn’t hurt that “Binary Star” includes one of the best space battles that Trek has ever committed to celluloid in either a series or a movie.
It’s interesting to see Discovery has taken a different tactic to most of the other modern Trek shows with its two-hour pilot. Each modern Trek had everything in place by the end of the first two hours. At this point in Discovery, the only regular cast member we’ve spent significant time with is Michael Burnham. And we haven’t even seen her assume her new role on board her new ship. We haven’t even seen the ship that gives the series its namesake.
What we get is an extended flashback episode and a lot of groundwork put in place for the central character of this series. It’s interesting that Trek is choosing to follow a character that not only led a mutiny but attacked a commanding officer and has been the catalyst for a major interstellar incident. Much of the first two installments is spent setting up the give and take of Burnham and her commander, Phillipa Georgiou. Flashbacks show us that Burnham is heavily influenced by her Vulcan upbringing, even to the point of assuming and acting like her decisions are always correct because they have been arrived at logically. We also see that she has a bit of reckless streak and is willing to do whatever it takes to win the day or prove that she’s right – whether it’s Vulcan nerve-pinching her commander, targeting the Klingon ship in part one or escaping from the brig by convincing the computer that her plan is the best one simply because it fulfills the tenant of keeping her alive is better than her dying. (How much did that sequence feel like a page right out of the James T. Kirk handbook of arguing with a computer to get your way?)
It also helps us understand why Georgiou is willing to take Burnham with her on the attempted raid on the Klingon vessel. Looking to find a way to end the battle quickly, Burnham theorizes that taking T’Kuvma prisoner will force the Empire to bargain with Starfleet rather than engaging in all-out war. And destroying his ship only makes him a martyr for the Klingons to rally around.
Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned with both Georgiou and T’Kuvma killed in the attempt and Burnham left in disgrace.
And that’s where we leave things for episode three. Which I have to admit can’t get here fast enough because I’m eager to see where this all goes next.
I can’t help but wonder if Burnham’s quest for redemption might not find a parallel track with Voq, who seems to be seizing on the death of T’Kuvma to seize power and start this war with the Federation. Burnham’s actions certainly played into the plan of reuniting the Empire and now it leaves him and others to take advantage. I also can’t help but wonder if the Klingons might carry a bit of a grudge and refuse to let the war end until honor has somehow been restored by something happening to Burnham. I’m recalling the line from Star Trek VI that stated there would be no peace while Kirk lived due to his actions taken against the Klingon Empire.
It’s so good to have new Star Trek back on our tv screens.
You’ve got me Discovery. Now let’s see how this all unfolds.
- Speaking of cool moments, the sequence that the Klingon ship tore through the Admiral’s ship while cloaked was just cool. It also ups the ante when and if we see battles with Klingon ships as the season unfolds.
- Easter egg: One of the ships is called the Shran. Reference to a fan-favorite character for Enterprise, perhaps? If so, could we see Jeffrey Coombs show up as Shran at some point this year?
- I did find it awfully convenient that Burnham is able to communicate with Sarek using the mind-meld equivalent of Facetime. That may be my only big criticism of the episode, though.
- Still sad that we don’t get the title of the episode shown on-screen.
- In just two episodes, Discovery does one thing I wanted Enterprise to do. Show the characters making mistakes on the final frontier and having to live with them. I feel like Archer was a good character but they didn’t ever really allow his enthusiasm to get the better of him and explain why Starfleet would put procedures in place like the Prime Directive. And I always sort of hoped they might.