Created by: Brian Fuller
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Sonequa Martin-Green
I’m reviewing the first two episodes of this new Trek series together because they really come together to create a complete thought. The first episode aired Sunday night on CBS as a teaser to try and get viewers and Trek fans to sign up for the network’s streaming app. Interestingly CBS is not releasing the entire season all at once to allow for binge watching ala Netflix. Instead the episodes will still be released weekly just as if they were airing on regular TV. Users of streaming services may not take to this plan well, but fans will be forced to subscribe for the duration of the season or wait until the season is complete then binge watch on the streaming service or Netflix. While this is annoying for those of us who like to stream, it may be a compromise between us getting the shows we want on the device we want at the time of day we want and the networks maintaining enough revenue to keep new shows happening.
The opening of the first episode sets the pace for an uneven pilot that sees the show attempt to find footing. The dialogue between the two lead characters feels a little ham fisted in that it so blatantly is sharing information about who is who and what they do to us rather than feeling organic to the story that is unfolding. The characters that are set up in the first episode are a mixed bag of compelling and formulaic with most of them actually being compelling.
This story takes place ten years after Enterprise but prior to captain Kirk’s era. The showrunners and writers have taken some liberties with canon but overall it feels right. We find a crew piloting an older starship on a mission to investigate damage to a space station communications array. At the same time, we meet this iteration of the Klingons, an empire in disarray fearing for their very existence, ready to lash out at anyone that challenges their individuality. While I do have issues with the way the Klingons look compared to canon I do feel that this version takes full ownership of the tribal nature of the species where other iterations just dipped a toe in. Almost immediately we see internal struggles with class and even race among the Klingons, giving these characters a lot of complexity and making them relatable, perhaps more so than ever before. It’s great to see Michelle Yeoh as captain of this ship. She’s commanding and compassionate, again complex. She actually gets much less character development than her Number One played by Sonequa Martin-Green. Her character spent the majority of her youth on Vulcan. Happily, she is not half Vulcan and half human, she’s just a human that found herself living among the Vulcans.
The first two episodes set up the major plot point that is sure to run the duration of the season, perhaps the duration of the series. A huge amount of the blame for tragedies to come galls on Number One. It should be very interesting to see her deal with the consequences of her actions. Other issues with the series may be due to budget. First thing is, for an old ship it sure does seem slick, fresh, and new. I’m not sure how much is actual set and how much is CGI but it all has that CG feeling to it. There needs to be a bit more detail in places, more depth. This comes into play heavily during space battles. More work needs to be done in this area because the tension just wasn’t there. On a positive everything seems very modern, in a good way, while still retaining some of what makes Star Trek such a successful franchise. The days are still early for this new series but by the end of episode two I was ready for more.