Created by Bryan Fuller, Alex Kurtzman
Starring Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman
Season two required a significant course change from Star Trek: Discovery, leading to an at times rocky road for the series. However through good scripting, some fantastic pieces of casting (both for the season one crew, and the additions for season two), and an over the top approach to sci-fi action, Discovery made it through any sort of sub-space turbulence to firmly set itself up as a strong contender in the Star Trek universe. Better still, it has retained some of the positive qualities of the first season; with the diverse cast, a season based arc, and the predominant focus on one key central character, granting it a distinctive quality from its shipmates.
This season focuses on the USS Discovery’s attempt to find the origin of seven signals, that demonstrate a power beyond the beleaguered Federations’ ability, and perhaps a threat. Captain Pike (Anson Mount) is placed in command of Discovery, while his own ship (our beloved USS Enterprise) undergoes an extensive repair procedure. Indeed the key to these mysterious signals may lie in a creature referred to as the Red Angel, and the key to this being may be a link that the new captain and Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) share. Her estranged brother, and Pike’s science officer – Spock (Ethan Peck).
Through both the introduction of Pike and the prominent role of Spock, this season threads Discovery closer to the original Trek timeline and traditional feel, something Discovery seemed to have broken away from due to its radical design aesthetics and feel during the first season. This is helped by Anson Mount’s charismatic performance, creating a captain that is as competent, and occasionally as cavalier as Shatner’s Kirk. It’s a slight shift in attitude, but certainly a notable one as the team follow the breadcrumbs of the red signal to their source.
As a season, it also explores one of the main themes embedded in Discovery, that of family. Whether it be the one that you are given by fate or the one that you make yourself. Obviously, Burnham’s back story and her relationship with her brother Spock are explored in detail here, but it’s an aspect that stretches through all of the crew and their various relationships. It allows Discovery to deliver some great emotional punches throughout the series and increases the stakes in the final two episodes.
OK, time to sound a “red alert”, as we move into possible spoiler territory. By the end of the season, Discovery achieves what no other season of Trek has done (even during the Dominion War arc of Deep Space Nine), it has introduced significant, long-lasting consequences to the show. Too long Trek has skated by on the re-establishment of homoeostatic balance by the end of the episode, give or take the occasional Red Shirt (or Tasha Yar… or a Dax). As the final credits roll on Such Sweet Sorrows part 2, we are offered a game changer, that will significantly alter the show going forward. It is an embrace of modern long-form storytelling on a series borne down by decades of canon and implied traditions. And it’s staggering: boldly going where no Trek has gone before.
A few early missteps aside (Spock’s dyslexic… really?), this series really does nail the dismount, bringing something special to the small screen. It manages to walk the line creating something that is certainly in the spirit and tradition of Trek, but capable of providing a much-needed modernisation of the property. Here’s hoping that this is one iteration that will live long and prosper.