STAR TREK: DISCOVERY – Episode 3 Review

By M. Pilon

Preamble – finally something worthy of our attention

Last week, after getting over my disappointment (more on that below) at realizing that this story is not dealing with two women of colour in command of a star ship, but that this highly-touted scenario was mainly used as a staging platform for the real story, I came across something called Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Trailer. What brain-dead moron decided that this iteration needed a prequel.

Here’s the thing CBS. All you had to do to ensure a mad dash to your streaming service by everyone even remotely interested in Star Trek was to show this trailer right from the start and not say another word. The fans would have been busy discussing THE STORY and not be tripped at every turn by your hopefully-unintentional miss-directions, miss-steps and back-pedaling with the resulting polemic and division that left so many people with a bad taste in their mouth if not outright antipathy towards this iteration. We were delivered a master class on how NOT to handle a launch that should have been a no-brainer! And it would have spared me the above-mentioned disappointment.

Where the premiere should have started
Where the premiere should have started

Those decision makers should have taken a lesson from The Vulcan Hello – hit ‘em with the best you’ve got right from the start and you’ve got ‘em. Instead we got a trickle of mostly nonsensical and/or outright misleading stuff (region locked to boot) which got a lot of fans on the warpath instead of on the path to promoting this series within their circles and purchasing the streaming service in places that were not lucky enough to get it on Space (Canada) or Netflix (everywhere but USA and Canada).

And to divide the world this way is doubly ludicrous. Star Trek is about one world – the Earth. You, CBS, could have boldly and truly gone where no one had gone before (excluding Dr. Who) and streamed it to the world at the same time on the same platform in its entirety. Seriously, when will commercial and corporate entities realize that, even though their antiquated financial structures, capitalist mindsets and corporate greed can’t handle it, we are already one borderless world. And to ask potential viewers to pay for yet another separate streaming service, to watch a show that should be about one united planet where money has been made redundant is, at best, profoundly ironic.

Context Is For Kings…

…and for the rest of us who are not royals, it’s the Charge of the Light Brigade – “Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.” And I have to admit that, as I started to watch this episode, I was still seething from the fallout of Episodes 1 and 2 so I was subconsciously set to find fault with Episode 3.

Well, OK, there were some serious problems – one of them being Captain Lorca’s mumbling delivery of his lines with his Southern draaawl, y’all. I’m going to have to watch this episode a few times to catch all the dialogue, though I had no problem with anyone else’s delivery. The other being that extensive parts of this episode bore more of a semblance to a reboot of Doom – the Movie, than a reboot of Star Trek, with some of the dialogue sequences feeling like glitzy cut scenes within an online FPS.

First Officer Saru
First Officer Saru

I’m still not buying Saru as a First Officer and, from his conduct on the Shenzhou, I absolutely didn’t buy him as a First Officer that would have been picked by Lorca. His cruel putdown of Burnham was totally unnecessary and downright mean and bullying in a passive-aggressive way. Not endearing himself to me.

The Right Stuff

However, two elements in this episode got me, and I have to admit that this was in spite of myself because, as I mentioned above, after the betrayal I felt following the first two episodes, I was not happy. The first of these elements was Lt. Stamets’ statement to Burnham about physics and biology being the same at the quantum level. I found myself yelling YES! at the TV. The other being Lorca giving Burnham a taste of what they’re working on via spores – a new way to fly. This harkened back to my favourite ST:TNG episode appropriately called, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” about The Navigator. I am pleased and may, in time, forgive this iteration for that awful bait and switch beginning.

I really liked how the USS Discovery was introduced and I also really liked the starry-eyed first appearance of Captain Lorca. Almost felt like a war-weary Odysseus looking for a way home.

Something else was unexpected for Star Trek and a bit of fun. There was a brief exchange between Captain Lorca and Security Chief Landry that hinted at a relationship à la Mirror, Mirror with Landry firmly ensconced as “the Captain’s woman.” Hmmm. Or this being the 24th century, I’d rather look at it as Lorca being the Chief Security Officer’s man. Mirror, Mirror indeed.

And I’m looking forward to more displays of Vulcan Martial Arts.

A Tired Old Trope

So, not a bad episode for something that started off with the tired old trope of a head-strong woman who blows all her training and does something unforgivably stupid and needs to be rescued and given another chance by a white male. Dress it up any way you want (she’s not blonde, she’s a woman of colour) – this is the premise of the series as presented so far. I’m sick of this trope and I certainly wasn’t expecting it to resurface as a starting point for a reboot of Star Trek. Seriously – Star Trek!

Captain Lorca rescues Michael Burnham in 3rd episode of Star Trek Discovery
Captain Lorca rescues Michael Burnham in 3rd episode of Star Trek Discovery

War Is Not A Game

And this is the other thing I have an issue with – the mention of “we have to win this war” throughout this episode and the scene that has been included in the trailers. Burnham and Lorca are walking in a corridor and Lorca asks her what they need to do now. She responds with, “We have to win.” He’s pleased and tells her, “That’s the spirit!” Other than that’s what Rutger Hauer tells Harrison Ford after the latter tries to kill him with an iron bar, this is game and sports talk, it’s them vs. us talk. In real life, actions meant to save lives and make the world a better, more peaceful place are not regarded as part of a game or a sport but rather as a mission, a sacred duty. It’s not a question of winning or losing, it’s more that we cannot fail. No pasaràn! (look it up). It’s a different mindset. It’s a Star Trek mind set. And I’m not seeing it here.

OK, despite the massive fail that were Episodes 1 and 2, and the resurrection of that tired old trope, they’ve got me hopeful with Episode 3. I’m looking forward to Episode 4.

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About M Pilon

M Pilon is a retired TV Producer, Director and Writer who now spends her time developing and writing her own projects, satisfying her curiosity and trying to do her part to make this a better and more inclusive world. M Pilon credits TOS with influencing the course of her life, like thousands of other kids of her generation. She's maintained an interest in the franchise.