This review contains spoilers.
1.2 Battle At The Binary Star
For obvious reasons, episode 1 was all about setup and introductions – introducing the characters, the threat, the world they inhabit – and episode 2 was all about knocking that down. Because it turns out, we weren’t watching the start of a new Star Trek series so much as the traumatic backstory that precedes it. Normally, someone would say “this officer was the best! But they screwed up and got thrown in jail. Now we’re pulling them out of retirement to go on one more mission!” and possibly describe some effects-heavy sequences. But this time, we actually get to see it! And feel it!
And man, do we feel it. That cool ship? Smashed to bits. Special guest Michelle Yeoh? Dead! And our hero, the vulcany-human Commander with the cool hairstyle? Busted down to prison. Personally I enjoy when Star Trek episodes end on an optimistic note, but I’ve got to admit, I haven’t seen one end quite as pessimistically as that before. And I can’t wait to see what happens next!
This episode also had what I’m confident in saying is the best ship-to-ship fight sequence since, probably, DS9‘s Way Of The Warrior. Not only was it full of new ships on both sides, it had huge stakes being fought for, and some incredible moments. When T’Kuvma drove his cloaked ship into the Europa, I was transfixed with a mixture of awe, horror and excitement. This is the kind of scale usually reserved for movies, and if it’s even a hint of what’ll be coming down the line, it’s going to risk making the movies even more unnecessary.
Speaking of T’Kuvma, I’m sad he died because he seemed like a villain that had real potential – though there’s absolutely no doubt that we’ll be seeing more of Voq, who turns out to be a bit more toadying than I’d expected. I do have my doubts about whether Georgiou was actually dead, though. I mean she looked it, but this is Star Trek, it wouldn’t take a huge leap of technology to bring her or T’Kuvma back in a believable manner. It’s too much to say I’m expecting it, but at the same time, I’m not certain it won’t happen.
And since I’m talking about Klingons, I should probably talk about the new design for them. It’d be a stretch to say I’m a fan, but at the same time, I’m not not a fan. They’re recognisably Klingons, and I completely buy the idea that Klingon society has fractured into a variety of distinct and borderline separate styles. And hey, it’s not like we haven’t seen redesigns of the Klingons before, from the Original Series to The Motion Picture, to The Undiscovered Country and the new movies – they’re all Klingons. We’re only a reboot away from someone putting all of the different versions of Klingons next to one another as if they exist in a single continuity. THEN WILL YOU BE HAPPY? Yes, probably, because I would be too.
Likewise, the level of technology on display doesn’t really bother me. If they try to worry about the specific continuity of technical developments within the Star Trek universe, you end up with Enterprise, where someone walks on screen going “I’ve created a new weapon, the Phased Laser, or as I call it, the Phaser” and it adds nothing to the story and makes you roll your eyes a lot. There’s a fine line to walk between respecting continuity and being a slave to it, and ultimately I don’t think any new Star Trek series – even if it’s pitched as a prequel – should be a slave to the production values of the 1960s.
Now, geeky spots.
A lot of the starships names mentioned – the USS Earhart, USS Europa, the USS Edison – have appeared elsewhere in non-canon work, though normally in timelines that preclude them from being the same ship. Starfleet has a history of keeping names in service, though, and only the Enterprise gets the distinction of a re-use signifier on its registration. So that explains that, I guess!
Meanwhile, there’s also a mention of the USS Shran, which is probably a reference to Commander Shran, a recurring Andorian character who appeared in Enterprise beginning with episode 1×07, The Andorian Incident.
At the start of the episode T’Kuvma references the battle at Donatu V, which was first mentioned in Star Trek 2×13, The Trouble With Tribbles. The system itself crops up a few more times throughout Trek canon.
T’Kuvma being hailed as “T’Kuvma the unforgettable” is an obvious reference to Kahless the Unforgettable, as mentioned in the previous episode. Keep up guys, jeez.
The Klingon House of D’Ghor, represented at T’Kuvma’s meeting by Dennas, is presumably the same house of D’Ghor mentioned in DS9 episode 3×03 – The House Of Quark.
The voice of the computer, who Michael has a classic Star Trek battle of wits with (watch out, those things usually blow up if you try to outsmart them) is provided by Tasia Valenza, who previously played the vulcan character T’Shanik in Star Trek: The Next Generation 1×19, Coming Of Age.
DSC WTF: Did Admiral Anderson start a holographic call from the Shenzhou WHILE he was a hologram? Because that’s some turtles-all-the-way-down thinking. Although I guess he could have been instructing his own comms officer and it just broadcast to the Shenzhou.
DSC LOL: I had to pause the episode for laughing when Captain Georgiou asked one of her officers for a damage report, only for the console to immediately explode in his face. That’s some classic Star Trek right there.
Time to meeting: 5:59. Once again, it’s T’Kuvma having a Klingon meeting. Although this one is a holo-meeting, which shows just how far meeting technology has moved on.
Mistakes and minutiae: Admiral Brett Anderson is presumably a descendent of real-life Brett Anderson from the britpop band, Suede.