TV Round-Up: Star Trek: Discovery: Context is for Kings

context-is-for-kings-star-trek-discovery-saru-burnham-1506732203935_1280w“I believe you feel regret but in my mind you are dangerous.”

One thing that’s interested me so far about Star Trek: Discovery is that while the title of the episode doesn’t flash on screen (I promise, I’ll try and get past it at some point!), it’s been incorporated in dialogue in each of the first three installments.  Maybe the title is supposed to be an Easter egg for fans in the same way as the tribbles we see in Lorca’s ready room.

Speaking of Lorca, he does get quite an introduction.  It’s not quite as visually dramatic as the back-lit entrance of Kirk into Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but it was still effective and may be telling about the character.  Burnham’s first meeting finds Lorca shrouded in shadows in his ready room, claiming that an accident has left his eyes sensitive to sudden changes in light levels.  His hiding in the shadows, observing Burnham after his manipulating events to bring her to Discovery makes for a fascinating scene.  It also makes me wonder a bit about just how highly placed in Starfleet Lorca really is.  If he can somehow get Starfleet to look past Burnham’s mutiny to bring her on board the ship to help with the top secret project, what else can he do?   Is it simply as he states to Burnham that Starfleet has placed enough emphasis on winning the war with the Klingons that he can get them to overlook her record (though she’s not been pardoned yet and I think that’s important) and bring in her mind to work on this project.

context-is-for-kings-star-trek-discovery-burnham-lorca-1506732203917_1280wThe scope and nature of the project is one that I don’t think we’ve actually seen all of it just yet.  I believe that the goal of the project is to research the warp drive system that Lorca wants to use that will (apparently) allow a starship to instantly warp from one point in space to the next. Given the nature of the technological edge the Klingons appear to have with a cloaking device, this research could be a way for Starfleet to level the playing field as it were.  But I can’t help at wonder just what Lorca is leaving out of the equation.  Is the creature from the other ship that is kept behind a force field at the episode’s end a part of this?  Could there be a connection?  Is the creature needed to somehow allow the manipulation of  the fibers of the universe to make starships move so quickly.

If so, that could explain why this tech isn’t around or in use when we get to the TOS era and beyond.

This technology and the story so far have left me wondering something.  So far, I don’t see anything from Discovery that necessitates its place ten years before TOS.  While we know that Starfleet and the Klingon Empire become allies by the TNG era, there’s nothing to say that relationship couldn’t break down in a time jump forward fifty to eighty years.  It would certainly make sense from the standpoint of developing this new tech for greater starship movement.   I’m going to have to trust that Discovery will eventually reveal why it’s chosen this setting.

Meanwhile, the series seems to be one about establishing and building characters as well as the technology.  Three hours in, we know a bit about Michael Burnham – who she is, what motivates her.  In the first three hours we’ve seen that she’s willing to bend or break the rules when she thinks she’s right (the mutiny in the first two installments and her breaking into the secret room in engineering here).  In both cases, her move is the apparently logical one based on the facts presented to her and her own curiosity.  The first time it landed her in a lot of hot water, but this time around it felt almost like Lorca wanted her to break into the room.  It feels like he’s testing her to see just how far she’s willing to go to get answers.

context-is-for-kings-star-trek-discovery-1506732203941_1280wAs for the crew of the Discovery, beyond Saru we don’t have a lot of time to meet many of them.  We get a cursory introduction to Lorca, Tilly and Stamets and how each one reacts to Burnham.  I’m interested to see how these characters will be developed in the coming weeks, especially the overly enthusiastic Tilly.  Will Burnham’s stream of apparent recklessness wear off on the eager young officer who wants to someday command a starship of her own?  (It’s especially ironic to hear her talk about this based on statements made in TOS’s “The Turnabout Intruder” by Janet Lester about Starfleet’s willingness at this point in the timeline to put a woman in command of a ship.)

With “Context is for Kings,” Discovery has settled in for the long haul and given us a lot to chew on for the next dozen or so installments.

Now, for a few random thoughts:

  • It won’t shock me in the least to see the people on the ship with dark chevrons somehow be connected to Section 31.
  • In fact, it wouldn’t shock me if this whole black alert thing and the research tie into Section 31 somehow. This could also help explain why this tech isn’t around come the time of Kirk and Spock.
  • Interesting to see how far Lorca is willing to go to get Burnham on board – aka the sacrifice of the shuttle pilot. I can’t help but wonder how far his “the ends justify the means” attitude will play out across the series.  And could this lead to a situation down the road where Burnham will be forced into another choice about following her commanding officer’s orders or doing what she perceives as the right thing?  And could that be what ends the war with the Klingons?
  • Loved the reaction of everyone to Burnham. I have a feeling she won’t be making a lot of friends on board the ship anytime soon.

Well, that’s it for now.  With all these pieces in place, it should be fascinating to see where the series takes us.

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Filed under review, Star Trek, Star Trek Discovery, TV review, tv reviews, TV round-up, tv roundup

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