DSC and the Star Trek philosophy

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Discovery' started by Sarxus, Jul 31, 2019.

  1. Sarxus

    Sarxus Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Aug 7, 2018
    So, I'm coming from my first full rewatch of DSC's season 1. As someone who liked the show a lot right from the start and who also loves the old ST shows, I kinda tried to watch it keeping in mind the numerous critics that it hasn't to do anymore with Star Trek and the typical ST philosophy whatsoever. After I just finished the last episode, I come to the same conclusion than after my first run through season 1, and I felt like sharing some of my thoughts and my point of view on that matter. Please note that this isn't meant to be an attempt to convince anyone who doesn't regard DSC as typical or classic Star Trek, it's just my two cents on that issue.

    I mean, yes, DSC is different from the old ST shows. It's overall much darker than the optimistic and adventurous touch of, say, TNG or even TOS. And it tells a coherent story, even though many episodes, especially in the season's first half, also have their own episodic story arc. Yet, you probably wouldn't come up with the idea of watching three or four random DSC episodes, as you can easily do with TNG, TOS, DS9 and so on. But I personally don't agree that DSC lacks typical Star Trek issues and philosophy. It actually starts out with moral debate: Do we go against our principles and shoot first if it gives us the chance to prevent a war, or do we stick to our principles no matter what? The fact that this question is raised and discussed fits definitely into Star Trek. They also could have gone the easy way of just starting an epic and mindless space battle without any discussion about principles etc., but they didn't.

    I could name more examples, but in order to not overstretch it, I think the last episode shows it perfectly: The crew rejects the order to win the war through genocide, because this doesn't go along with Starfleet principles and ethics, and ends the war with an absolutely non-violent situation. If THIS isn't the spirit of Star Trek, then what? It's not meant as an offense, but sometimes I honestly wonder if people, who claim that DSC doesn't have Star Trek philosopy in it, have actually seen the last episode.

    My personal interpretation is that season 1, among other issues that are touched, is a big story about fear and the danger of fear bringing you to the point of rejecting your very own principles.That's also where the Terranean Empire from the Mirror Universe gets important: It's explained that the Terraneans are what they are because they are driven by constant fear, and the DSC crew as well as the whole Federation shall not become like this Hence the core message of DSC season 1 is in my opinion that you have to stick to your principles and overcome your anxiety. And in my opinion this is a message fully in the spirit of classical Star Trek.
    ScottJ85, NeoStar9 and antinoos like this.
  2. Jadeb

    Jadeb Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 11, 2017
    When I’m feeling charitable, I would believe they set out to tell a serialized story that is, at its core, very Star Trek: A lost soul finds her way back to the traditional Trek values. That requires starting, or at least detouring, into a dark space that isn’t very Trek, and I could have rolled with that. But the show was too timid to make its lead wrong, never really establishes a moral stance on what she does, and then fails to sufficiently establish what causes the change-of-heart that is the dramatic crux of the season. The storyline is so botched that the “Trek values” stuff feels like trite lip service tacked on at the end.

    In general, though, I’m not particularly inclined to that reading because, at a meta level, the show doesn’t practice what it preaches. It flirts around with rape when it has absolutely nothing to say about that topic, and it wants us to cheer the funny quips of a cartoon mass murderess. It indulges in an ugliness of spirit that is designed to appeal to the audience’s base impulses — the exact same impulses Trek traditionally argues we can overcome. In that sense, it fits perfectly into the current pop culture landscape, but it also makes the season feel generic and shallow, IMO.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  3. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 19, 2013
    Containment Area for Relocated Yankees
    I've just finished watching Season One and am halfway through Season Two. I really think that the first season is more like the movies than the series, and in that spirit, the philosophies and ethics are present in the broadest sense.
  4. Serveaux

    Serveaux The Man Premium Member

    Dec 30, 2013
    Always seeking new and better distractions
    The writing is so bad that if they had any points to be made they bungled them.
  5. cultcross

    cultcross We truly were a song of ice and fire Moderator

    Jul 27, 2001
    The Small Council
    Modified copypasta from something I've said before:

    DSC has set out down a lot of really interesting paths. We’ve had PTSD, we’ve had sexual assault (on a male by a female), we’ve had imperialism, brinksmanship, torture, tribalism; we’ve had racism, we’ve had trust and betrayal, we’ve had ‘do the ends justify the means’, we’ve had inter arma enim silent leges, we’ve skirted the edges of populism. But we just can’t seem to close the deal on many (any?) of these. The main arc with Burnham’s attitude toward her ‘enemy’ is resolved, and in a pretty Treky way too. “Who you thought was your enemy is not once you get to know them” goes all the way back to The Corbomite Manoeuvre, especially coupled with “we have to be who we say we are”. Choose Your Pain had a Devil in the Dark/The Quality of Life storyline about the tardigrade which again went to the Trek formula. But that’s about it. Most other threads are left as just that – threads. We were missing the perhaps lower key episodes where they took one of the issues and really tore it apart like TNG’s The Drumhead or DS9’s Cardassians. Imagine if you will an episode which had addressed whether T’Kuvma’s criticism of the Federation – that they were essentially the British Empire with a Smile – is in any way valid. Or one that looked at what happened to the real Tyler charting the experience of a prisoner of war. That could have been really interesting.

    Season 2 continued this tendency to skim the surface of important issues instead of plunging into the depths. It introduced faith in a rational world, situational ethics, leadership, the nature of a parent, the impact of childhood on our development, the risk of handing political and decision making control to algorithms, and more, but didn't land any of those issues either.
    EddieLiu, saddestmoon, BillJ and 3 others like this.
  6. Rainard Fox

    Rainard Fox Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Mar 17, 2019
    Have some words to say about 1st season. My first opinion was "GoT in space!" and now I'm ready to formulate it more logical / less emotional.
    Star Trek is great for me because it shows a future world, where only a personality makes the sense and only a service to society gives the power. No one can gain power and authority in Federation by the money, by the deception, by the force or by the intimidation. Can't inherit it from the family, take it by sexual or matrimonial relations, or get it by quota. It means, writers have to drop to trash most of common scenarios and create new. Deal with it, because it makes Star Trek great. It's not 'utopian' or 'too optimistic', - it's another model of society which based on the economics and not on the philosophy.
    So, there's no matter good or bad script is written, if it uses 'prehistoric' motives again.

    Upd: One of the most shocking things to me was they sacrificed the honest names of Prime Lorca and Prime Georgiou to keep the secret of Mirror Universe. The noble memory is the only privilege the dead heroes have, so it was a betrayal.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019
    In Thy Image likes this.
  7. Mr. Low Frequency

    Mr. Low Frequency Ensign Newbie

    'I, Borg' expresses the same line of thought. It serves as a pretty good example of the kind of Star Trek storytelling being reflected in DSC. One could even go back to TOS with episodes like 'The Devil In The Dark' to see this theme thread throughout the franchise. I also don't think it's just mere coincidence that 'I, Borg' seems to be the seed which 'Picard' was developed from.

    I'm pretty excited for the future of Trek because of these similarities and the desire to go beyond the Berman era wallpaper plots that were increasingly employed after the end of TNG. I've gotten tired of the 'Khan' model of needing a personal adversary, an evil mirror doppelganger if you will, as well. One which can only be defeated through individualism, superior organizational tactics, and then be blown up. It's just the kind of story that I don't get much out of. Fun sometimes, sure, but ultimately, for me anyway, this led to the Borg being defanged as any kind of in-Universe threat or interesting antagonist to watch.

    If my beliefs and preconceived notions aren't being challenged by a Star Trek show then it doesn't really feel like Star Trek to me. I may disagree with the premise and conclusion of any one episode but anything that makes me think and feel is a good thing.