I’ve posted on this subject before and figured, now that we’re in “post-mortem” mode, I should mention a few thoughts at the completion of season 1.
- I still think the acting was great. Especially compared with previous outings like Enterprise and the first few seasons of Voyager, just about every actor in this season was top notch.
- The writing…faltered a bit as the season went on. Other posts from the internet illiterati harped on it to a degree that was a bit hyperbolic, in my opinion, but they do have a point in that the writing of this season dealt in a lot of fan service for the sake of fan service. Case in point in the final shot in the season, pictured above: the USS Enterprise shows up with Captain Pike at the helm. The series takes place 10 years prior to TOS, so yes, the Enterprise should be flying through the cosmos…but did we really need to see this? Doesn’t this invite all kinds of other questions (because, you know, Spock is on that Enterprise…and his sister we didn’t know anything about is on Discovery…soooooo…how are they gonna play that off??). At the same time, the geek in me says “ooooo, oooo, oooo, it’s the Enterprise!!!!!” I guess I’m cautiously optimistic, but the writers did this all season, from the appearance(s) of Harry Mudd to visiting the Mirror Universe. Revisiting old characters and environments rather than “braving new worlds, seeking new life and new civilizations”… It’s a “two steps forward, one step back” sort of problem.
- I liked the Mirror Universe arc. Again, it wasn’t entirely new in the annals of Star Trek, but I think Discovery kinda fleshed out an interesting place that really brings our current times (i.e. Trump) into stark perspective of where we humans could go in a few generations if fascism were to take hold.
- In the end, I think the writers did a decent job of “hanging a lantern” on the fact that this season has been pretty “dark,” as a whole. Burnham’s speech draws attention to this aspect and says “no, we’re better than that.” If anything, it provides a platform for a “re-set” for season 2 that allows them to move in a more hopeful, “Star Trekky” direction.
Ultimately, I was happy with the season. Would I prefer it be on network CBS or be on Netflix? Sure? But it was worth the extra money to pay for CBS All Access. Could the writing have been tighter? Yes, but they were serving quite a few masters this season, just to prove they could bring the audience (and by all accounts, CBS All Access gained viewership solely because of it).
If anything, I’m encouraged by the zeitgeist surrounding Discovery. Most of the news outlets I follow had a plot synopsis after each episode. Granted, the internet is a far different place from when Star Trek Enterprise left the air, but I just can’t see plot synopses being an important aspect of the internet just after airing back then. I feel like the world cared far more about this than any previous property since TNG. Even though fans wrung their hands at certain aspects of the season, the fact that they watched showed that people still care about Trek on television, rather than relegating it to the movie franchises.
I think that’s a “win,” all by itself.