Is Star Trek Discovery STAR TREK?
When I google Star Trek: Discovery, the first thing I’m prompted with is: “Why is Star Trek Discovery so bad?” Is it the algorithm force feeding me what it thinks I want to read? Or is Discovery the most hated sci-fi show of the moment?
Star Trek has been around for decades, almost six in fact. It’s fanbase devout. Every new incarnation inspires vitriol. Much like another series with “star” in its title…
I got into Star Trek from the Voyager episode scorpion. I first saw it when I was twelve. Two years after it came out. I watched it on VHS at my uncles unit in Sydney, I was visiting over school holidays. He took me through a Star Trek crash course. The course opened with Scorpion.
Then ventured into TNG: The best of both worlds, and of course first contact.
That was it, I went home a Trekkie.
Over the next year, on my parents account at Video Connection in Byron Bay, I rented every single Star Trek VHS they had. To my parents’ credit, they never really said a word. And to the video shops credit (rest its soul) all they said as I placed a pile of returns on the desk that stacked up over my head:
“Now that’s a Star Trek fan.”
I lapped up Enterprise as it was released. Video connection stopped stocking Star Trek, along with every other video shop in the area to their shame. It was the early 2000’s and I discovered torrents and started pirating it. It was the only way I knew how to experience the stories I loved.
Enterprise ended far too soon, and we entered the first “uncertain” Star Trek period of my generation. We were spoiled. We had TNG, DS9, Voyager running almost concurrently, and Enterprise started up right after. There had been twenty years between the original series and Next Generation. And in twenty years I got four series.
Spoilt, like every Star Trek fan of my generation.
As a spoilt Star Trek child, the ten-year wait was too long, Discovery was always going to be a tough sell. How could it live up? But it was a tough sell. From the first episode, I couldn’t help but say aloud, this doesn’t feel like Star Trek. It was a trying too hard to be cool. Conflicted with so much of what preceded it.
There were so many little things early on that bothered me, the Klingons, a race that got warp travel by taking it from another, wouldn’t board the Shinzo? They seemed to lose their warrior spirit. Like it was more in vouge now to have them be sensitive warriors than what they have always been.
I love the story of a mother and daughter, but why have the stupid time suit in season 2?
I love complicated characters that but heads (Janeway and Seven.) But why all the insubordination and back chatting? Is Starfleet a professional organisation or a BuzzFeed brainstorm session. It was like the writers thought everything is a race now. A race to have the darkest character who doesn’t cross the line. Every writer is tiptoeing up to some invented line, before retreating in fear. Forgetting Star Trek is meant to be a beacon for our future.
I’m a conservative. To me, Star Trek has always been about seeing the other point view. Even if you disagree with it. And for the first time since I started watching, I felt a true juxtaposition. On one hand I had the Klingons, who were a warrior race subdued because they weren’t cool. And Lorca, who was on the same ticket.
Perhaps I liked the Lorca so much because of how well he was portrayed. Or because there was no character I could identify with. Or the fact that an evil man, pretending to be good, makes an exceptionally bad ass Starfleet officer.
With all the intrigue season three opened with, it did go off with a bit of a whimper. And there still was no character I could relate to. I know the go to line. There are plenty of characters in other stories for me to relate to. True, but I’m now a twenty plus year Star Trek veteran. And the flagship show doesn’t have a character I can relate to? That is a problem.
Having said that, even when season three was at its worst, I couldn’t help but still feel a form of resonance. And that bounces back all the way to season one.
The idea of destiny. What is it? How the mirror universe has permeated star trek for decades now. The same people rise to the top in both universes. Reminds me of the Riverworld series. Well, what oversees it? Is it god, elitism, or something else. Lorca might have been right in season one. “The strongest argument I’ve ever seen for the existence of destiny”. That’s where Discovery nails it. Ideas that can only be properly explored in science fiction. It’s what still resonates with me. The heart of science fiction.
I can still feel the beating heart of Star Trek alive and well.
Does that answer the question?