We’ve purposefully held off on posting any of the ‘new’ news about Star Trek: Discovery that’s been coming out, because we were pretty sure SDCC (San Diego Comic-Con) would drop a lot of information. And we were right. And then EW did also, which means there is a fair bit to catch up on.
Where to start?
The first place would be with the new trailer that was released. It is… fantastic. Despite what some science fiction news sites have said. They haven’t said it’s bad, but one or two have given it a less than warm reception.
I’ve been really disappointed with some of the comments made by these sites, but on the up side I have been really impressed with the cautious optimism and enthusiasm coming from Trek-specific news sites.
When it comes to the new Star Trek show a couple of these online genre news outlets have an overly negative attitude going on, and appear to feel that unnecessary nitpicking is the way to go. One or two of their points have merit and some are downright ridiculous and poorly researched. Example? Gene’s vision of a future where Starfleet officers don’t argue or have conflict of any sort. This is true for the TNG era, but not for what came before it. In TOS and the first six films, there was plenty of conflict. Anyone remember Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country? Kirk was not happy with Spock for volunteering him and the Enterprise to escort the Klingon High Chancellor to Khitomer, and in TOS Spock and McCoy went at it almost every chance they got. For that matter, Kirk and McCoy could get pretty testy with each other now and again.
Another example of the nitpicking?
There was an article a couple of days ago on io9, one of my favourite sites, by my favourite writer on that site, taking exception to Kirsten Beyer asking Jason Isaacs to avoid saying the word “God” (in an ad lib) because Gene had envisioned a world where religion didn’t have a great deal of influence on human beings. Not a world/universe where there was no religion, but one where it’s impact wasn’t as wide felt. The writer of that article was annoyed by this, and said (I’m paraphrasing) that it was just another ‘thing’ she didn’t get about the show.
She kind of has a point, ad libbing in a “God” is a small thing, but then she went and ruined her point by citing Star Trek: The Final Frontier and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, saying the correction was silly because the “g” word had been used before in Star Trek.
In the fifth feature, Kirk doesn’t ask the question “what does God need with a starship?” because he believes in God, he asks it because if there was a God, he or she or it would not need a ship to get anywhere, and the line isn’t an ad lib, but an integral part of the story.
And DS9? For almost the whole seven years of that series, Benjamin Sisko fought against his appointment as The Emissary, and believed the Bajoran Gods were nothing more than wormhole aliens.
I might be wrong, it’s been a long time since I watched season seven of DS9, but I don’t think Sisko ever truly believed the wormhole occupants were Gods or a representative of God or a God. They were extra-dimensional beings with a command and understanding of space-time far different to our own.
Lorca is a Starfleet officer and is part of an organisation dedicated to scientific research and exploration (alongside a joint mission to defend and protect the United Federation of Planets). While many scientists are still people of faith in today’s world, and no doubt will be in the future, it’s not a big enough thing to nitpick about. I don’t know why Kirsten’s correction of an ad libbed line has earned her that journalists ire? My question is, do we know enough about the context of that conversation (between Kirsten and Jason) to be getting upset about this? Probably not.
Also, I really don’t know why this particular situation is another ‘choice’, apparently amongst many, that is hard to understand?
Some of the decisions the writers have made have been contraversial, but they’re understandable. The series needed to be updated if it was going to have a chance against the juggernauts of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. The creative team has made mostly cosmetic changes, and where things may upset canon have promised us an in-Universe explanation.
A lot of the snipes coming from these sites are silly and they are getting really annoying. Hundreds of thousands, if not more, Star Trek fans around the world have been waiting for a new series, and a lot of us are over-joyed and excited about this show and are holding out hope it will be brilliant. If you don’t want anything to do with the show or aren’t coping with the changes that have been made, keep your opinions to yourself unless they have some balance and substance.
Instead, focus on THE most diverse cast in Trek history and how that lives up to Gene’s vision, a vision he wanted to show but couldn’t while he was alive because of the resistance he faced over the years.
Don’t forget, his son, the keeper of Trek now that Majel has left us, is intimately involved with this series. Show some respect, and give this show a chance before ‘bagging’ it across the internet.
Sorry for that digression. Those two examples above are only some of a number of articles that have really irked me. But! Back to the trailer!!
If you’d like to watch it, jump over to the official Star Trek site here. The music is “I’d Love To Change The Workd”, by Jetta.
This show is, from the look of both trailers (the first one released and this newest trailer), aiming to be an intense and exciting, epic exploration of a time before Kirk and after Archer, and it’s trying to be a deep and thoughtful exploration of the ‘self’ and the journey we all go through on this roller-coaster ride we call life.
The over-arching story is starting to take shape thanks to the trailers and interviews we’ve seen, heard and read, but I have no doubt there will be more to the series and I also have no doubt that the creative team will throw us a few red-herrings!
What is that story? A war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. It’s been hinted at, but never shown, so now we may get some context around why the Organians were so insistent on implementing that treaty way back in TOS’s first season (2267), and ending that war.
A few days after the trailer hit, EW released some beautiful photos from a behind-the-scenes interview and photoshoot they did. Some of them are peppered throughout this article.
If, for whatever reason, you can’t view the trailer, below are some screenshots from it. Because I’m in Australia, I have only seen the Netflix version, and I have no idea how different it is from any trailer that was released by CBS or Space (in Canada).
When you see the release date screen grab pop up at the end, don’t freak out. In the United States and Canada Star Trek: Discovery will still air on the 24th of September, but in Australia and most other countries it will air on the 25th.
Here are the trailer shots, with a tiny bit of commentary. The trailer I saw had subtitles.
Warning… there are a LOT of images. Apologies for the quality, at times the internet was holding up beautifully, and at others it wasn’t. Australia is a great country, but our internet service providers and internet speeds are a joke.
Just a quick aside first. Some people have thought the Shenzhou leaves behind ‘graffiti’ on the desert world Georgiou and Burnham visit, in the form of a Starfleet Delta. I really doubt that is something that happens ‘in-show’, and I’m pretty certain it’s a creative effect by CBS. Time will tell if I’m wrong.
As I said above, it really feels like the creative team are setting up something thoughtful, and hopefully epic… “All life is born from chaos…” Those are portentious words!
It’s clear there’s some sort of battle, and it looks like the USS Shenzhou doesn’t come out of it in one piece – and it looks like that’s thanks to our old friends, the Klingons.
Throughout the trailer it’s insinuated that our lead character, Michael Burnham, makes a decision or is involved in a decision that starts a war with a fractured Klingon Empire.
It also seems like Burnham is reporting back to Sarek. It’s unclear if Sarek is an Ambassador at this time? I looked him up on Memory Alpha but it doesn’t talk about his career in the 2250’s so who knows what this legendary individual is up to at this point in his life?! Is it his handling of this affair which makes him an Ambassador?
Next we see a series of images that seem to depict the very beginnings of what becomes a war between the still relatively young United Federation of Planets (the UFP was founded in 2161) and the ancient Klingon Empire.
We don’t know who fires first, but from the first trailer where Georgiou says “Starfleet doesn’t fire first”, we can guess it’s the Klingons.
Then we get some random stuff. Space mushrooms maybe?
I don’t know what these shots indicate, but my guess would be it’s Michael Burnham exploring the Discovery after being assigned there.
If it’s not space mushrooms she’s seeing, then perhaps the Discovery is the first starship to have it’s own large garden area and she’s amazed and impressed by the sight?
Those images are quickly followed by more combat images and what seems to be the Shenzhou under attack.
As you can see, things don’t look good for the Shenzhou.
A lot of fans have been predicting Captain Georgiou doesn’t make it out alive and that Michelle Yeoh only guests for the first two episodes. I’m hoping against hope that isn’t true, because she’s an incredible actor and because it would be nice to see a competent female captain who doesn’t die in the first thirty-minutes of a Trek-show, other than Janeway of course, but I have to concede that those fans may be right in this case.
Following from the above, as you’ll see below, it looks like the Shenzhou doesn’t just get the crap shot out of it, it looks like she gets boarded too.
Rather than evacuating in escape pods, Burnham and some of the crew flee in a small shuttle craft of some kind.
Then we get random again, and the storyline hints at a mystery of some sort?
“What the hell is going on on this ship?” Burnham asks.
For those of you who don’t know, the fifth image of a young woman in bed is Cadet Sylvia Tilly. She bunks with Burnham and from interviews with the actor (Mary Wiseman) playing Tilly, she and Burnham become friends.
We get more images of people running, then Captain Lorca talking about the USS Discovery.
We finally get to see the first in-trailer image of the Discovery, though only very very briefly. The ship has longer nacelles than the original earlier design, which I like. She looks more graceful and powerful as a result.
We are shown how Sarek and Michael meet. In later interviews we learn that Sarek rescues Michael Burnham from a world that has been attacked, and he and Amanda adopt her when it’s discovered her parents are dead.
Yes. Michael is Spock and Sybok’s adopted sister.
Cue outraged fans.
Don’t worry, the creative team have said they will address this hiccup in continuity.
Then everything shifts again and we get our first look at Harry Mudd. He seems to be putting Burnham through some kind of obstacle course, and if she doesn’t complete it something goes “boom”! Either that, or he is rescuing her. Later on, there is an image that is either a jail cell or a section of a corridor on the Shenzhou that is protected from losing atmosphere by forcefields, and Burnham is trapped in that tiny space.
It’s unclear if these images are from the pilot, or the second, third, fourth or fifth episode filmed, but if Harry is rescuing her, he might be in the first two episodes.
The way the announcements dropped earlier in the year, it seemed like we wouldn’t see Harry Mudd until close to the middle of the 15 episode season… but this production has kept its secrets pretty well so Harry may be popping up early!
Then more images of destruction. Is the Shenzhou being side swiped by a Klingon vessel?
We also get another interaction with Mudd, with a dialogue exchange that is a little cheesy, but is guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of long-term fans.
We switch to Lorca talking to Burnham: “You chose to do the right thing…”
This is cut with images of Georgiou and Burnham beaming into what looks like a Klingon vessel. The fifth image is of poor quality, but it’s someone leaping out and tackling Burnham.
We get random again for the next images, but in them Lorca has a voice over where he continues on from his previous comment, saying to Burnham “…even at a great cost, to yourself.” The images end on Georgiou facing something bright on the viewscreen of her ship.
The “great cost” might be the death of this woman, who we have learned is very important to Burnham, or it could be the war Lorca mentions and the punishment Burnham received.
Here’s the image I was talking about earlier. Does that look like a futuristic jail cell in the second image? Or is it a sectioned off part of a ship that’s lost containment and she’s trapped in that area?
We see Georgiou standing in front of the viewscreen of the Shenzhou as something explodes.
In voice over, Lorca says: “You helped start a war.” In the next scene he asks her, in an almost Lucious Malfoy kind of way: “Don’t you wanna help me end it?”
The last image in this set is random. Lorca is touching a forcefield of some kind.
The last live action images show us escape pods ejecting from the Shenzhou, and Burnham in an environmental suit that is pretty badly damaged, spinning off into space.
Looks like that Klingon she faces off with (from the first main trailer) gets the upper hand.
This is a better trailer than the first one.
The first one definitely got me excited, but this one gave me chills and continues to every time I watch it.
As I said up above, some science fiction news sites have been dismissive of this new footage because being negative is ‘cool’, but a number of Star Trek news sites have been very excited!
Watch the trailer and let me know what you think. Depending on where you live in the world, you’ll see either the CBS version or the Netflix version. I wish I could tell you if there are any differences, but I don’t know. I’m sure a site will find a way to access both and do a comparison. TrekCore, for example, has correspondents in various countries around the world.
So what have we learned since the last update?
Here are all the major bits as dot points:
- As mentioned above, Michael Burnham is Spock and Sybok’s adopted sister, and was raised by Sarek and Amanda after losing her parents;
- The USS Discovery possesses a ‘new way’ to ‘fly’, so perhaps some prototype warp engine? In Star Trek: Enterprise a lot of fuss was made about the warp 5 engine, perhaps this is the beginning of the warp 8 engine we see Kirk’s Enterprise using?
- A couple of weeks ago, some news came out about Saru’s race – his species was one of the few things I had issues with from the first trailer, because they are apparently genetically designed to “sense the coming of death” and that didn’t make any sense to me. While chatting with EW, Doug Jones revealed a little more about his species: “On Saru’s planet, there’s a dominant predator species that constantly imperils another weaker species called Kelpiens. As part of the latter group, Saru has evolved with heightened survival instincts.” To read more about Kelpiens, check out the TrekMovie article here. We also learned that Kelpiens have hooves;
- We’ve been told that Harry Mudd is more edgy than the more mature version we see in TOS, which makes sense – he’s a younger version in Star Trek: Discovery, and perhaps his interactions with the Discovery crew ‘mellow’ him;
- We learned that Captain Lorca is not your run-of-the-mill Starfleet captain, and has “a lot of sharp edges.” This fits with his reputation as a tactical genius, and someone like that, you would imagine, would not always feel it was necessary to obey the standard social niceties;
- A new character was announced, and it’s a boyfriend for Lieutenant Stamets, the first openly gay character in Star Trek television. The new character is Doctor Hugh Culber, played by Wilson Cruz;
- The creative team behind Star Trek: Discovery went to great lengths to assure fans at SDCC that they are always mindful of canon, and that despite the fact it feels like a lot has changed (the uniforms, the look of the Klingons and the ship designs), a lot more than we might think is the same and is very Star Trek. A bit of a codicil was added to that, saying that one of the aims of Discovery is to excite existing fans while allowing the show to bring in brand new fans to ensure Star Trek‘s longevity;
- This new Trek is designed to be as much an emotional journey for the characters and us as the audience, as it will be a physical journey of discovery and exploration for the ship and her crew;
- The Klingons will speak Klingon when talking to each other, and those scenes will be subtitled for our benefit;
- The show has been designed with diversity in mind, and the casting choices have been purposeful. The best actor was always chosen for the role, but one of the aims of the show was to give as many people in the audience as was possible someone to relate to – and this has always been an important part of Trek. One of the greatest compliments given to Nichelle Nichols and Uhura was that people of colour saw themselves ‘in’ her, and thanks to that, saw a future for themselves. This diversity, of course, doesn’t just extend to people of different nationalities, it extends to people who are thoughtful, who are focused and driven, who are GLBTQI+, to people who are more action oriented in life, and to people who are experiencing difficult emotional journeys thanks to a mental illness – with one character suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Lieutenant Ash Tyler who is a former prisoner of war);
- The Klingons are no longer a proxy for the Russians, as they were when Gene originally envisioned the race. That’s not to disrespect Gene’s vision, it’s to do what Gene always did, try to reflect the times we live in – and the times we live in are full of isolationist rhetoric, an understandable and warranted fear of terrorism, and general paranoia. The Klingons are now a proxy for us, and what fear has and is doing in this world;
- One thing that has stuck out for me is the frequent mention of ‘being mindful of timelines’. Bryan Fuller’s original pitch, we have recently learned, was to have the show jump timelines each season – starting in the 2250s, hitting Kirk’s era, and then going to the TNG era and beyond. I don’t know if this is what is being referred to, or if another alternate timeline is being created?
- Space mushrooms just might save the galaxy!
- Not everyone is going to make it out of Season One alive.
So that’s most of the news that has dropped since the last time I did an update.
If you’d like to go into more detail on any of these items, visit the following sites to read every tiny bit of information that has been released to date on the new series:
That’s it for now!
We’re less than two months away from the debut of Star Trek: Discovery. We can expect more information to be released very soon, and most likely at Star Trek: Las Vegas, which starts on the 2nd of August.
This new series is shaping up to be very exciting and something that modern Trek needs. I hope you’re as excited to see it as I am.
Live long, and prosper.