This new Star Trek series is a lot more fast-paced than any of the series before, with the technological look of the starships tying in closer to the newer films than the older series, however TV itself has become a far faster medium in the recent wake of shows such as Game of Thrones. But don’t fret, we aren’t blinded by lens flare this time round. Watching these two episodes back-to-back certainly felt faster than watching a single of episode of anything that had come before, which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but it may feel wrong to those who may even prefer Trek‘s usual slower, cerebral pace. With this version of Star Trek debuting internationally on Netflix, however, it may have been designed that way to encourage binge-watching later on as well.
One of the best parts of this new show, however, are the movie-like battles that occur between multiple starships and birds-of-prey, with full shots full of phaser fire, photon torpedoes and disruptor cannons being exchanged in rapid bursts. While Star Trek has never been about big explosions, this does better show off the destructive capabilities of the Klingon race when compared to the more exploratory Federation.
As a fan of the Starfleet uniforms, I especially loved the new twist on the uniforms: a deep royal blue uniform with different coloured lining to represent the crew members department: gold for command and navigation, silver for sciences and bronze for operations. The uniforms are completely different to any previous version, but are striking and look official, without becoming military-like, which was always the charm of Starfleet uniform, although the later TNG film costumes suffered in that respect. Hopefully, we may see an eventual transition to uniforms seen in the original Star Trek pilot, “The Cage”, if Discovery manages to last long enough. Along with the new uniform came a new Starfleet badge, retaining the original engravings that pertained to the officers department, but adding a pip ranking system that appears similar to the Next Generation formula (i.e. 4 pips for Captain, 3 for Commanders, etc.).
By the end of these two episodes, we see Michael Burnham court-martialed and imprisoned in disgrace for her actions on the Shenzhou and a good portion of her former crew mates dead, setting up the next thirteen episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, which hopefully helps many new fans discover the magic of televised Star Trek. Along the way, we may also discover the reasons for what appear to be continuity errors in the show, such as the Klingon War Bird featuring a cloaking device, but I have faith that we won’t be left hanging.
Overall, this new Star Trek series is a bold return to television, which has been missing for thirteen long years, and has managed, rather successfully, from my point of view, to adapt the show’s formula into a new age of TV. It’s shinier, tighter and faster, but still holds on to what makes Star Trek, well, Star Trek and not some knock-off bearing the same name. It still tells a deeper character story, with parallels to today’s crises, whilst upping the action to help include a wider audience that may not be used to slower-paced television. I very much look forward to next week’s episode!