Looking Back at S1

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Discovery' started by Vger23, Jan 19, 2023.

  1. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    Location:
    Enterprise bowling alley
    So, I just finished a re-watch of S1 of SNW, and I thought maybe I'd take another look at S1 of DSC, which I haven't watched in several years. I was able to watch the first three episodes, and it was an interesting experience watching it with this much time past and now with 4 other modern series in the can.

    Being as objective as possible, here's my "looking back" impressions of the first two episodes, as t I've only watched 3 so far. I'll just kind of give a stream of consciousness reaction. These aren't really "episode reviews," just my own thoughts or notes about what worked, what didn't, and what I found interesting.

    "The Vulcan Hello"
    This episode looks amazing. Visually, it's stunning all around and it was a wonderful way to showcase what modern Star Trek could look like and offer to an audience in the streaming era. I'm going to say that Michelle Yeoh is far-and-away the gem of this episode, and I can very much understand why the producers did everything they could to try and keep her involved in various ways.

    The opening pre-credits scenes are a conundrum. They look amazing and are stylistic and unique...very cinematic. However, they are unbelievably awkward...particularly for trying to draw a new audience in. Listening to T'Kuvma drone on about "remaining Klingon" in subtitles was.....NOT a good idea to open the show with. It's confusing, unengaging and even a little off-putting. I remember sweating a little bit, watching it through my wife's eyes, and hoping the hell she'd stick with it when it first premiered. Then, we cut to Burnham and Georgiou walking around a beautiful desert planetscape, but the dialogue is unbelievably expositionary and unnatural. Like...worse than anything TNG ever dreamed of.

    Once we get aboard the Shinzhou, things settle in a bit better. Saru has excellent chemistry with Burnham, and there are some charming moments as they prepare for the spacewalk to the artifact. Georgiou is a captain that I really like and her style draws you in. She's an immediate favorite. The spacewalk is breathtaking, pure Star Trek.

    Once we get back to the ship, things get a little odd again. Burnham, who has some trauma that is somewhat awkwardly shown via flashbacks etc, becomes out-of-her-mind crazy. Looking back, with several years to consider things, I think her actions on the Bridge after her discussion with Sarek are borderline insane. It was admittedly not a great start for the character.

    Overall, there's a lot to love about this one, and a lot that makes you scratch your head. The stuff on the Klingon flagship is confusing and doesn't quite make sense. It's all edited weirdly, and it cuts back and forth at very strange times.

    "The Battle at the Binary Stars"
    So, Burnham gets thrown in the brig for most of this episode, which again is somewhat awkward. T'Kuvma summons the Klingon houses, who all somehow arrive at the exact same time as a very imposing fleet. Gorgeous ship designs, btw.

    Side note: I've never heard Starfleet commonly say "we come in peace" prior to these two episodes. It sounds more like a 1950's sci-fi cliche than something that was commonly said in Trek.

    The inevitable battle breaks out. It's interesting stuff, but it leaves me with the impression that it cost a shit ton of money, and it's really not much better than fleet battles we've seen before. I don't like the new visual effects for phasers and torpedoes at all (and these would not be consistent through the run of the series...which is a small but nerdy thing that drives me nuts). Georgiou continues to be fun to watch as a captain.

    Burnham has a weird "Katra link" to Sarek that is cool. That said, the flashback to her injury is confusing. Is this the attack that killed her parents? Something else? Of course, we find out later...but it is very strangely structured at this point.

    I can't understand how Starfleet (and Star Trek) is so confused about cloaking technology. First, the Suliban and others have it during ENT, set 100 years prior to DSC. Then, the Klingons have it in DSC, but it is treated like something brand new, and comes off like something T'Kuvma personally "invented" or something. Double weird since it was typically a Romulan technology long before the Klingons had it in TSFS. Then, Spock and Kirk are befuddled by it in TOS...and...aw hell you guys know what I mean. It's a bunch of nonsense.

    What is the cleave ship that blasts open the Europa? That ship also had a cloaking device? Was it there the whole time? Is it also T'Kuvma's? WTF is going on here?

    Anyway, Burnham escapes from the brig using a Kirk approach to out-logic'ing a computer.

    She convinces Georgiou to beam over and capture T'Kuvma to humiliate the Klingons and sue for peace...or something. They explicitly discuss the importance of not killing him, as this would mean that he will be martyred and the Klingons will fight to the last. Then, in the next scene, she kills T'Kuvma in cold blood. Sigh. After they kill off Georgeau... another sigh.



    So, these first two episodes are a mixed bag. Lots of great stuff. Lots of confusing narrative choices. And, I can see why people did not warm to Michael Burnham out of the gate. It's a very.....oddly written character and character journey in these two episodes. We open BATBS with a flashback to Michael first arriving on the Shenzhou. I thought at the time that this would be a continuing element of DSC, and we'd flash back to times earlier in Burnham's career as she developed as an officer and learned more with regard to balancing her human and Vulcan heritages. Alas, nothing really of the sort ever developed. She's established as an emotionally damaged person who makes some horrifically unsound decisions during extreme crisis situations. Again...risky but ultimately odd decisions to establish your series lead.

    I also think there was a plan...a concerted effort...to show something different and unique about the Klingon culture and point of view. Lots of stuff introduced here about the different houses, this "beacon of Khaless" (which is itself problematic and underdeveloped), etc...but it all seems kind of "out there" and not well developed in these episodes. Again, it's like they had massive ambitions, but couldn't pull off exactly what they were striving for.

    I found several comments from writers on Memory Alpha basically saying that the finished episode turned out very differently than what was scripted, due to major editing decisions. I do wonder very much what that means.

    Anyway, let me know what you think, if you have any retrospective view points on these episodes.

    I'll talk about "Context is for Kings" next.
     
    ananta likes this.
  2. drt

    drt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    My understanding is that the story for the first two episodes was originally going to be told via flashbacks taking place over the course of the season, which is perhaps why you noticed odd editing choices in them.

    I did like how there was an effort to give the Klingons a culture and make them actually alien, instead of coming across as a drunk biker gang
     
  3. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Location:
    The Wormhole
    Indeed. I think it was my fifth viewing (with assistance from online references and even discussions on this very forum) before I even realized what it was that T'Kuvma was even talking about. Having entire scenes (one of them the opening scene of the series) consisting of Klingon language monologues is one of the worst ideas this show has made. I remember snarky comments made at the time the episode originally aired that this was done to draw in the Game of Thrones crowd, and looking back on the Klingon scenes in season 1, as well as stuff from the Mirror Universe episodes later in the season, I can totally see it. They did seem to want to mimic Game of Thrones.
    That's a problem with much of the dialogue in these two episodes, it's either too expositionary, and/or it's obviously meant to be used in the show's trailers. Saru's line about having the ability to sense death and adding "I sense it now" is a perfect example.
    That's my understanding too. Though never officially confirmed, you can see the implication in many interviews done back in 2017.
     
    Vger23 likes this.
  4. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    Location:
    Enterprise bowling alley
    I had heard that too, and it would make some sense but not total sense. Revealing Emperor Georgeau, for example, wouldn’t have nearly the dramatic impact if we didn’t know she died. I guess it would depend on the timing and pacing of those flashbacks.

    Is everyone on like some kind of NDA about the production history of this show? It seems like there’s a really interesting story to tell here.
     
  5. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    Location:
    Enterprise bowling alley
    Good points all around. Saru’s line always felt kind of trailer-made to me as well.
     
    The Wormhole likes this.
  6. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2014
    Location:
    fireproof78
    Well, that's one effort to make Klingons more interesting.
     
  7. donners22

    donners22 Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2001
    Location:
    Australia
    I love the first season - it's my favourite of any Trek first season, and favourite season of modern Trek - but those first two episodes are weird outliers. It would have been a lot cleaner to jump in at Context is for Kings and tell some of the story later as needed, rather than frontloading the series with backstory. I tend to tell potential new viewers to start with Context is for Kings.
     
    Noah_23, burningoil and Vger23 like this.
  8. Dee1891

    Dee1891 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2022
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I have no problem with Season One of "Discovery". I saw no need for the first two episodes to be presented in the flashback format. It is the only season of "Discovery" that I truly enjoyed.
     
  9. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Location:
    The Wormhole
    IIRC, it's been reported Bryan Fuller's NDA prevents him from discussing the show until 2027. I would imagine everyone else, at least those involved in the first season are under similar restrictions.
     
  10. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    Location:
    Enterprise bowling alley
    Juicy. I don't think I can wait that long.
     
  11. Doctorossi

    Doctorossi Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2022
    2027?! :cardie:
     
  12. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2014
    Location:
    fireproof78
    Ten years. Pretty standard for such agreements. Trade secrets are considered highly valuable, even if competitors have probably already figured it out.
     
    The Wormhole and Doctorossi like this.
  13. XCV330

    XCV330 Premium Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2017
    Location:
    XCV330
    I love season 1, but it's flawed, very flawed. The first two episodes should have been flashbacks, or else inserted at some other point. Opening on broadcast TV with "Context is for Kings" would have worked so much better for Discovery. First impressions are, as Vulcan Hello demonstrated, kind of important.

    If you're going to have Yeoh as a star, focus on her or else leave her out of it until she can have her big moment. She had almost as much time being dinner as she did having any meaningful screen presence before the mirror universe.

    The T'Kuvma monologue was awful. I re-watched it recently too, and its hard to believe no one involved in decision making did not have the discipline to remove it. Watching TV should not be a chore.

    Like you said, the visuals were spectacular. I enjoyed the character of Saru from the get-go, but T'Kuvma sucked, Georgio did not last long, and Burnham's initial appearances left audiences divided at best. It was not a great time for some showrunner to try to achieve game points by deconstructing the very show people wanted to watch. But for all that, it was still really good, and got much better from Ep 3 on.
     
    Vger23 likes this.
  14. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Location:
    A type 13 planet in it's final stage
    Well I loved the subtitled Klingon stuff, and thought it worked really well and was unique. I'd take it over Martok blustering any day.

    I agree about ultra-clunky dialogue and exposition, but I just love the vibe of Disco S1. And I miss it.

    Plot-wise, the show's a bit of a mess and the season ends on one hell of a damp squib. And the Lorca thing I hated at the time but it worked better on a rewatch.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2023
  15. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Location:
    The Wormhole
    I actually find the Lorca reveal is worse on rewatches. It's bad enough the first time around, Lorca really is a great and entertaining character to watch and a truly unique one for the Trek franchise. A battle hardened Starfleet captain who has seen some stuff, and because of that he has no time for the usual head in the clouds idealism so commonplace in Starfleet. When people use the line that they joined Starfleet to be an explorer rather than a soldier, Lorca yells at them that they have no place on his ship. Then the reveal comes along and we find out the only reason Lorca is like this is because he's from the Mirror Universe and therefore Evil. It's worse on rewatches because while being enthralled by what a fascinating character Lorca is, I also know that he's not really a complex and nuanced individual. He's in fact an Evil douche from the Mirror Universe who wants to "Make the Terran Empire Great Again" (actual quote in an episode).

    Granted, many had the fact that Lorca was in fact Mirror Lorca figured out almost right away. Indeed, Mirror Lorca was a fan theory circulating a few months before the reveal. But at least back then I could delude myself with willful ignorance in that it hadn't been confirmed and therefore not canon. That's not possible on rewatches.
     
    Captain_Amasov and eschaton like this.
  16. Tuskin38

    Tuskin38 Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
    What's also funny with the Mirror Reveal, is some online publication released publicity shots of Issacs in the captain's chair, with the ISS Discovery Plaque still up, but it's barely legible in the images, but you can make out the upside down delta at the top. So in hindsight it's clearly the mirror plaque.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2023
  17. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    Location:
    Enterprise bowling alley
    "Context Is For Kings"

    As many, many people have pointed out...this episode is more like what they could have lead-off with. Unlike the prologue that is "Vulcan Hello" and "Binary Stars," this episode has all the foundational elements that would comprise the season to come, including most of the main characters, the ship, and the new mysterious "spore drive" tech.

    This is one of the best episodes of the season. It introduces a strange and mysterious ship, the titular USS Discovery, and a core selection of her eclectic crew. It starts of putting Michael in a very uncomfortable position, and shows that she is contrite and resigned to her fate. It's a much better setup for the character than we got in "Vulcan Hello," although that's just my opinion and I'm sure there are reasonable arguments to the contrary.

    Lorca is the highlight of the episode. This is a Starfleet captain the likes of which we have not seen before. It brings me back to that period in time, when these boards (and the internet in general) was buzzing with reactions and theories regarding Lorca. It was a compelling character played by a great actor. Tilly comes off as the next most intriguing character. She is charming and witty while being equal parts painfully awkward and annoying. It's a pretty brilliant performance. Stamets, who at first watch seemed overly prickly, now just seems justifiably irritated at his situation and with good reason.

    The scenes aboard the Glenn are taught with tension and really well done. I'm a little unclear as to what actually caused the accident, but it wasn't good. I think it was confusing to see mangled bodies due to the accident, more mangled bodies due to Ripper, and then some mangled Klingons. I'm not sure what that was all about or why the Klingon presence was even necessary to the story (and why would a Klingon ship drop off a boarding party, and then casually leave without a trace while the expedition they sent over gets killed?) Oh well, whatever. It gave us the "shush" moment, which was fun.

    The end scene where Lorca reveals what the big experiment is to Michael is brilliant. In retrospect, it's also a really good way to have thrown us off the trail of who he might really be, because he seems genuinely enthusiastic about the spore drive's application for exploration and discovery.



    So, this was a great episode. People criticized this show for being too dark etc, but there are plenty of light moments here with Tilly, Stamets, and ths "shushing Klingon." I think the mystery aspect played out really well, both with Lorca and with the ship. The scenes aboard the Glenn are intense. The twist ending is great ("here, kitty kitty...") and leaves you with a very ominous feeling about what is really going on.

    A few minor notes or questions:

    • Was it ever revealed what the deal was with the Section 31 badge that the prisoner so obviously points out? Was this an abandoned premise? Either way, it's 100% canon that there was an operative aboard the ship wearing that badge...and that whole thing just went away by the next episode.
    • Jason Isaacs performance here is nothing short of brilliant. Watching this again, and knowing his true identity and origin, it's so clear that he put little nuances into his performance that, when looked back upon, totally make sense. He's obviously brilliantly manipulative with everyone, especially Burnham. There's also a moment where Stamets is griping about "science vs. war" and Lorca has his back to him, and he makes a face like, for a brief instant, it's taking everything he has not to murder Paul. You don't notice it as much on first view, but it really hits a home run once you know the whole deal.
    • Unlike others, I find Commander Landry pretty interesting. She's obviously very enamored with / devoted to Lorca, and it's clear (again, with the benefit of knowing how things play out) that he's manipulated her into being a good little soldier for him.
    • Why does Lorca like to call Burnham by her full name so much?
    • It seems weird that this series goes out of its way to really trash on the poor Andorians in these first few episodes.
    • I always thought it was kind of annoying that 90% of the shots of the Discovery in space during S1 were all just static shots.
    • Was it ever established that bringing in familiar faces (like Saru and Detmer) was part of Lorca's plan to manipulate Burnham? Otherwise it seems a little too coincidental.
    • The vfx for photon torpedoes suck
    • The phaser props on this show are great...but the ones on SNW are better.

    Anyway...let me know what you think!
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2023
  18. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2014
    Location:
    fireproof78
    I wonder if it was used to set up Georgiou's eventual fate? Or, more thematically, the idea of a dark mirror to Starfleet Intelligence?
     
    Vger23 likes this.
  19. Vger23

    Vger23 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    Location:
    Enterprise bowling alley
    Also: Are we supposed to assume that the Discovery somehow "planted" the bugs to sabotage the shuttle? Was the Discovery also responsible for the death of the pilot when the tether line breaks? If so, how did Lorca get that past the crew?
     
  20. Tuskin38

    Tuskin38 Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
    Something to do with the spore drive bugging out, it spun and the crew didn't stay put. That's how I took it.
     
    Vger23 likes this.