I’ve been eagerly awaiting the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery since plowing through the first two seasons last year. CBS All Access left us waiting in the wings for even a little crumb, such as an airdate, for the better part of a year. With Thursday’s premiere, I’m excited to be covering Discovery for you this season here on Fangirlish. It’s time to boldly go into the future with Michael Burnham and the whole Disco crew.
There are so many things to like about this season opener. I’m finding it difficult to condense my thoughts into coherent paragraphs, so here is a bulleted list of some things I love so far.
- GORN REFERENCE (giant lizard thing Kirk fights in TOS)
- BOOK. Goodness, gracious. BOOK.
- “You have a very large cat.” MORE CATS IN SPACE, especially gigantic Norwegian Forest Cats. I LOVE Grudge!
- Moving Discovery into the future means the writers are no longer bound by trying to retcon themselves into the TOS universe. This also means that they don’t have to lower the technology anymore and we get the opportunity to see new Trek tech. We’ve not seen that since Star Trek: Voyager ended in 2001 and only got a little splash of it in Picard. That’s nearly 20 years, people! It’s about time we got new Trek tech.
- This is the first time we’ve seen Andorians since Star Trek: Enterprise. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Orions as well.
- Drugged Michael is HILARIOUS.
- “It’s temperature-sensitive and really valuable, so probably ice cream.” THAT’S MY GIRL!
- Watching Michael shift between excitement, loss, then using her Vulcan background to take control of her emotions was a rollercoaster and I LOVE IT. It really demonstrates the tension and balance between her cultural duality and adds depth to her character. I love how Sonequa Martin-Green demonstrates all of this with just her facial expressions before she goes off with Book.
- Molly the Hypnotic Space Slug (trance worm)!
- “What is it like, feeling everything?” The deeply empathetic person in me FELT THAT.
- On a completely shallow level, as a lady with short hair, I LOVE Michael’s hair.
While it’s easy and fun for me to fangirl in a bullet list, but I think there’s much more to this episode than just my excitement over finally getting some new Discovery. There is one thing that I really love about this season opener that I want to touch on in more detail–the theme of hope.
Michael has landed in a seemingly “hopeless” situation. She has no idea where the Discovery is. She only has a minimal survival kit. The first person she meets starts to fight her and then trades her off to suit his own needs. I cannot imagine feeling more alone and more helpless than I would if I were in Michael’s shoes. And yet, to adopt the old adage, hope springs eternal. There is an interesting dynamic of hope and faith running through this episode, and I believe it may be setting the tone for the rest of the season.
Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, famously did not want any type of religion or faith represented in the Star Trek universe. After Roddenberry’s passing, Deep Space Nine actually chose religion as a major plot point to the show. While not a major plot point in other Star Trek series, religion has no longer been ignored in the Star Trek universe since Deep Space Nine.
While religious belief has only been touched on lightly in Discovery, I find it fascinating that Book and Michael both have a type of religious belief that drives their actions; they both submit themselves to a higher power of sorts, even if that is not a god or religious sect.
Michael’s belief in the mission of Starfleet, while not a religion, functions well in this role. Her belief in Starfleet is so unshakable that she cannot fathom landing in a world where Starfleet doesn’t exist or can be beaten. And even though she now lives in a world where the Starfleet she knew is gone, she still chooses to hope in the ideals of the Federation.
Book’s “praying,” which allows him to communicate and empathize with animals and nature (looks like we’ve got a druid on our hands, folks), is an interesting contrast to Michael’s unwavering belief in the Federation. While Book calls upon something outside himself to make the plant grow and to communicate with the animals, Michael stands firm in the idea that StarFleet can’t be defeated. It’s only slowed down for a little while. She is the embodiment of that hope. Even though she is not calling on something outside herself, she is submitting herself to an idea higher than herself. If that’s not a type of religious belief, I don’t know what is.
I found the words at the episode’s end especially poignant.
“Hope is a powerful thing. Sometimes it’s the only thing.”
I think we could all stand to have a little more hope right now.
The next episode of Star Trek: Discovery airs October 22, 2020 on CBS All Access.