TL;DR – A great follow-up, showing up the direction the show is going to go, and the coming conflict.
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
So this is part two of our two-part opening entry into Star Trek Discovery, and if you want to know more about part one, you can read up on our review of The Vulcan Hello Here. Battle at the Binary Stars, not only has the battle that the title suggests, but it also takes the groundwork of the last episode and propels it forward. Now because we are starting to getting into the heart to the season just a warning that there will be [SPOILERS] ahead if you have not seen the show yet.
Now what I found interesting about these two episodes is that they almost feel like a prologue before the start of the season, like the Battlestar Galactica miniseries, but we don’t have to wait for the start of season one. This presents an interesting conundrum, because in part this feels almost like a superfluous add-on, like it was worldbuilding homework that we needed to get through before we could play with the season proper. Now while this could have been the case, there are several reasons why I think Discovery avoids this feeling and the first is Michelle Yeoh. She is a consummate professional, her story is that she has lived a life of loss, but she still chooses hope, and this is something we see in her performance. She gives us that hope that we could have a better future “we are Starfleet, we don’t fire first” and I could use a little hope at the moment.
As well as this, it has been such a long time since we got to see a real space opera brawl, in Star Trek terms, maybe not since the Tears of the Prophets in DS9. This was a really impressive battle sequence with phasers and disrupters blasting across the screen. But as chunks of ships were blown off we also got to see the realities of war, where people die, nice people who didn’t deserve to die, with their whole lives ahead of them in a war they didn’t start. This leads to some powerful imagery as we see ships destroyed and hull plates ripped apart. Given all the build-up in the previous episode, it was good that they didn’t squander all that potential, but it was also good that at all times they tried to have a diplomatic outcome before the phasers started to fly across the void of space. Also good luck to the good folks over at Memory Alpha who have to catalogue all these new ships and classes.
This is where we come to the Klingons, and in this episode, we get a glimpse into their worldview. T’Kuvma (Chris Obi) grew up in an empire that was once great but after a generation of infighting is in deep decline. So he is looking to recapture the past glory of the Klingons, bring back the purity of his great race, and so the plurality of the Federation with its many races working together for the betterment of the whole is a threat to his way of life. This is an interesting take on the warrior race, as it takes the notions of honour that we have seen in the past and twists them, and gee, it is not like we can see examples of that happening anywhere recently. But there are some interesting things that need to be addressed going forward, and one of them is the cloaking device. So in past iterations of Star Trek, the race that developed actually cloaking devices (your ship being invisible to both sensors and visual observations) was the Romulans, and they were given to the Klingons as part of a trade about ten years after Discovery is set, so that will have to be addressed at some point.
Also, it was nice to see the show continue with the small nods to past Star Trek with references to Donatu V, and the names of some of the Klingon houses. I like these little small details because as long as they don’t get in the way of understanding the main narrative they are not a hindrance to casual viewers understanding what is going on. However, for fans, it is a nice way of showing that you know the show and understand the weight, which is not something every past showrunner has understood.
While I did like the follow-up to the premiere there were a couple of small issues. Firstly, the very last scene in the episode is a judicial enquiry and it felt a bit odd for a couple of reasons. First, the framing of the scene has the judges cloaked in shadow, whilst Michael (Sonequa Martin-Green) is in a spotlight. While this is visually interesting, it feels out of place in the open and transparent Federation, it is a scene that you would expect to play out in say Cardassia. As well as this, the closing moments of life in prison feels more than a little hollow given we know she will be back next week, so it is a little moment of anti-climax at the end of the episode. Also, we are still two episodes into Star Trek Discovery, and we are still not on the USS Discovery. Finally, I don’t think I am quite on board with James Frain as Sarek just yet, but I think that is on me, because I keep seeing him in his Orphan Black role, I just think I need a bit more distance and that will be fine.
In the end, this was a strong follow-up, but it does still feel like we are treading water until next week when things start going to warp speed, or at least we hope so. In the meantime you get solid battle sequences, some questions raised about the future of the coming war, will it be hot or cold? It seems only time will tell, but I am all on board to see where this takes us.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you seen Star Trek Discovery yet?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Star Trek Discovery
Directed by – Adam Kane
Written by – Gretchen J Berg, Aaron Harberts & Bryan Fuller
Based off – Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry
Created by – Bryan Fuller & Alex Kurtzman
Starring in Season 1 – Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman & Jason Isaacs with Michelle Yeoh, James Frain, Chris Obi, Mary Chieffo, Rainn Wilson, Kenneth Mitchell, Rekha Sharma, Damon Runyan, Clare McConnell & Wilson Cruz