This week I've set aside the books in order to catch up on Star Trek: Discovery. My hope was that the second season would be a little more focused than the first but, after just a handful of episodes, it seems that the purpose of this round of shows is to entertain teenagers with flashy lights and litres of tears rather than tell a story to adults. This is unfortunate, but not completely unexpected.
From the first episode, I thought that there would actually be some pretty interesting story telling going on. An unknown benevolent alien that appears in times of need. A mystery involving a galaxy-wide event1. Characters who appear to have career ambitions. This is the foundation of a decent story. By the third episode, however, things very quickly started going south.
There are certain things that should no longer appear in any Star Trek story, and here is a partial list:
- Section 31
- Captain Philippa Georgiou / The Terran Emperor
- Time travel
- Immortal characters
- More than 30 seconds of tears
I can live with the endless last-minute problems with the transporters. I can even accept the occasional bending of canon. What I am not at all impressed by is situations where nobody truly dies, the chain of command is a suggestion rather than a distribution of responsibility, and the same faux cross-double-cross-surprise-reveal cycles that seem to happen more often than one would find in the most recent instalment of Pirates of the Caribbean. If nobody dies and clandestine organizations are more visible a neon light in the desert and 20% minutes of every show involves people crying … then the story is pretty weak and probably needs to be reworked.
Discovery doesn't have to be a weak show. There is a lot of universe to explore. Unfortunately, it's just treading over the same track over and over and over like a NASCAR race involving one car driving at 50kph.
What struck me as odd about this is how the seven signals all appeared to happen at the same time despite the massive distances that would need to be travelled. This would mean that some of the signals were sent hundreds of thousands of years ahead of others and, by sheer happenstance, lined up to appear at the same time in this part of the galaxy. Sure, Starfleet has some pretty interesting tech, but you can't change the laws of physics.