Wow, totally unexpected. I'm loving the tone of this incarnation of Star Trek, it's new, dark and smart. I'm not entirely sure how this fits in with the Star Trek universe as a whole, seeing this is 10 years before TOS, but i'm looking forward to the ride. This show has been much better than I expected it to be before I went in
[8.4/10] Origin stories can be tedious. Even when done well, there’s a great deal of heavy lifting that must be done to establish your world and your premise that can get in the way of good old fashioned storytelling. It’s a big reason why a myriad of second installments like The Empire Strikes Back or The Dark Knight are widely considered improvements on their well-liked originals. Once the audience already knows what all the toys in your sandbox are, you can just get in there and play.
Maybe that’s why “Context Is For Kings” feels like such a marked improvement on the already solid two-part premiere of Star Trek Discovery. The one-two punch of “The Vulcan Hello” and “Battle at the Binary Stars” is essentially Michael Burnham origin stories. They provide a ninety-minute window into who Michael Burnham was before the war, before her fall from grace, before her mentor died in front of her eyes, and before her life was completely changed.
The balance of the season, then, seems likely to be about what it’s like to have experienced that fall, how it will be for Michael to climb out of that hole and assuage her guilt. And once Discovery jumps six months in the future and shows us a Michael Burnham with that guilt and disgrace weighing heavily on her mind, it’s off to the races.
“Context Is for Kings” is less of an origin story and more of a pilot. What’s the difference? Well for me at least, a pilot is about telling you the story of how a protagonist became the person they are. Think Iron Man learning the impact his weapons sales have had on the world in first MCU film, or hell, think of Chris Pine as Captain Kirk in 2009’s Star Trek going from being a no-good punk to the captain of the Enterprise. Pilot’s are as much, if not more, about building what your show is going to be on a weekly basis. That means hinting at the larger issues that will linger through the show, introducing the essential conflict your series will grapple with, and perhaps most importantly, introducing the full cast.
Discovery’s third episode embraces that last element with vigor. We meet Cadet Tilly, the motor-mouthed, chipper, awkward but adorable new roommate for Michael on her new ship. We meet Commander Landry, the chief of security, who cuts the figure of a tough-as-nail product of the more militaristic side of Starfleet. We meet Lieutenant Stamets, the lead researcher on a secret project whose annoyance and superiority is a bit overwritten, but still enjoyable. And last but not least, we meet Captain Lorca, the charismatic if unorthodox head of the ship, whose goals seem admirable, but whose philosophy seems antithetical to the Federation's ideal, and who, like nearly all characters played by Jason Isaacs, seems to have a lurking dark side.
But it’s also a reintroduction for Michael Burnham. While the headstrong go-getter version of the character in the series premiere could grate a little bit, the haunted, humbled version of the character is far more complex and compelling. Perhaps it’s the mere presence of Jason Isaacs, but there’s something Harry Potter-esque about Burnham here, as someone who has not only fame, but infamy, that they don’t really want. Burnham is too shiny for her fellow convicts, and too sullied for the Starfleet officers she’ll now work with, to where her non-reaction to the prospect of her prison transport shuttle running out of oxygen says all you need to know about how she feels about her new life.
The most promising thing about the first episode of what feels like the series proper is how it explores that infamy. The world, or at least the Federation portion of it, views Burnham as having started the war, in addition to the ignominy and spectacle of being Starfleet’s first mutineer.
It gives Burnham a chip on her shoulder, a shame she cannot escape no matter where she goes. But it’s especially pronounced on the Discovery, where she’s subject to stares and whispers. Burnham is the poster child for the way the peaceful, exploratory mission of the Federation turned into an endless battle, and that makes her the target for the ire of everyone who’s lost someone or whose life has been changed by it, even if no one feels the weight of those losses and that change more than Burnham herself.
It also positions Burnham to have the proverbial angel and the devil on her shoulder. The angel is Saru, who’s now a first officer on the Discovery and who shares a few awkward moments with his formerly superior officer. Saru patronizes Burnham, and fears what she’s capable of, but in his own way seems to care about her, and certainly thinks highly of her abilities. The devil is Captain Lorca, who seems to care less about Burnham personally than about what she can do for his war effort, who isn’t afraid of her decision-making like Saru is, but sees it as an asset.
That raises the most interesting aspect of the episode, and the one that gives it its name. The way you can tell Lorca is ultimately going to be a villain, or at least a morally compromised figure (aside from the casting) is how he embraces a philosophy that runs counter to the high tenets of the Federation.
Being in Starfleet means not firing first, seeking a peaceful alternative at all costs. Lorca believes that calculus changes when you’re in a war, that more utilitarian concerns come into play. He offers Burnham what we can surmise is the only bit of praise she’s received for the actions that weigh on her, and also the chance to atone for them, to make her former captain’s death mean something. That’s a lifeline for someone who’d seemingly resigned herself to paying for her sins in quiet ignominy.
Of course, “Context Is for Kings” throws in the series’ first away mission -- an Aliens-inspired affair with haunted house imagery and a daring escape. It throws out a classic Trek mystery -- just what is happening on The Discovery? -- and includes a nice swerve that it’s an experimental means of travel rather than a biological weapon. And it even gives us a name-check of Spock’s mother, Amanda, with some nice understated implications that the memories of her adoptive mother are one of the few nice things Michael still holds onto in her demoralized state.
But apart from the nuts and bolts elements that make the third episode in the series a step up -- improved acting, less exposition, better character work -- what sets it apart is how it feels like our first glimpse at what Discovery is really going to be. It’s a show about war, about redemption, and about the central principles of the Federation, all explored through the lens of the individual who brought those things into focus. When Star Trek is done setting the table, it’s exciting to get to sit down and dig in.
I'm liking the fact that this a "Darker" version of Star Trek. Wow frikkin great!!!!!
It´s a different kind of Trek that is for sure. And I´m not saying this as a rating of any kind. I learned my lesson with TNG to not judge it from the get go but give it room to develop. It is still very early and hard to see where the writers want to go.One thing I wonder after this episode is how the continuity within the Trek universe will play out.
Sooo, it would seem that this whole series will actually be a close perspecive on Section 31's early days, because all the hints and easter eggs point to that. Not that I mind, I find it refreshing and perfectly linking the Star Trek of older series with new trends. However I believe all this is definitely not what mr. Roddenberry had in mind when developing Star Trek premise
Black alert? Starfleet officers being mean and sarcastic? I'm having some trouble getting used to 2017 Star Trek... When they boarded the Glenn I even felt as if I was watching a scene from "Doom" (the video-game), instead. I do like the darker tone (as I often enjoy things darker), but it takes some time getting used to it, considering the Star Trek roots. At least I liked Michael a LOT more in this episode than in the previous two.
This is Star Trek updated for a new generation (no pun intended), and thankfully it doesn't seem to lean on the later movies that much. It's doing its own thing and, as weird and strange and unfamiliar as it seems right now, it looks like they're taking this show through a well planned and solid route. I'm definitely curious for what's coming ahead.
Also, Discovery is still one fugly ship.
I love the new introduced characters, as well as how they revisit the familiar characters, after they meet again. Rich variety, all with reasonable and believable traits.
Quite a change in tone from the two-episode "prologue" that we saw last week, and I really like it. This introduces us to the main characters we didn't get to meet previously, and especially the titular starship. Discovery is definitely an odd place and overflowing with secrets. My initial thoughts went in the direction of Section 31, but this could equally be something completely different given its scientific leanings.
It's delightful, at least for me, to see Star Trek finally being able to be an adult show. Of course this is never going to approach the level of Game of Thrones, etc., and it probably shouldn't, but there's no reason we can't have violence and natural vulgar language. The gore was actually quite restrained and gave us just enough to get an impression of how nastily these people had been killed, so I found it very effective. There was also a great atmosphere of dread across that whole sequence, and of all things to be reminded of it actually made me think of Doom 3 ...the creature itself was very reminiscent of the "pinky" demon.
Also, the fight in the mess hall may be the most realistic and well choreographed fist fight in Trek history. No more palm punches and double-fist thumps! It finally feels like people are actually hurting each other.
Cadet Tilly is adorable. I immediately love her nervousness and positive outlook. She brought levity to what was otherwise quite a moody episode and it was very welcome. Not to mention that she looks like Merida from Brave with her hair down! Lt. Stamets is a bit harder to like given how aggressively confrontational he was with Burham the whole way through, but he made the sarcastic Beatles joke, and I can always appreciate a good bit of sarcasm. I was also really pleased to see that Saru is still a part of the crew, as he was probably my favourite character from the opening episodes.
Captain Lorca is an interesting one. He's referred to as a "warmonger" and it's difficult to get a read on him through the episode. It would be easy to dismiss him as a shady captain with an evil agenda, but the end of the episode turns that around quite nicely and reveals him to be in the pursuit of science, not weapons, and wants a quick end to the war. I still get the impression that he may be willing to go to extreme means to reach that end, but I'm glad to see that the show hasn't pigeonholed him into a preset and obvious role.
I felt like we didn't get anywhere near enough of an explanation of exactly what is going on onboard the Discovery, though. The dialogue was fleeting and at times difficult to understand (thank you, subtitles). Something to do with spores being used to jump anywhere in the galaxy in an instant? Very reminiscent of the Iconian gateways. I didn't quite follow that, nor the strange floating-water effect of the black alert situation.
I'm not sure if I was supposed to, but I laughed when the shuttle pilot flew past the window. I think it was meant to be dark humour, of which there was a fair bit in this one (especially likes the shushing Klingon).
In a freeze frame on a screen Michael is working at, you can see some Stuxnet code. I get it! If the Star Trek franchise was the Internet, Discovery would be its Stuxnet. A fault confessed is half redressed :-D
I didn't like the idea of Transwarp spores and I even less liked the "Half Life 2 rhinoceros". Why? Just Why? Star Trek is science fiction and not... My Little Pony magic stuff.
I watch it, I confess. I will continue watching it, I confess. But it's like an accident where you can't look away. Or an Asylum movie, just with a whole lot more budget.
It's got to be said I smell a little Equinox in here. But the difference is... their story was a sad-one. A lose-lose-situation. Lost in the Delta Quadrant without Antimatter, Dilithium, food or a drive capable of more than Warp 6-ish. They committed crimes because they didn't see any other way. That's the sad thing. Later, they lost themselves completely. That was even more sad. But they knew they were wrong.
Michael doesn't consider being wrong at any given time. And so doesn't Captain 31. He seems to be the kind of guy who does things just because he can, not because he doesn't have any other way left.
I also smell a little bit of "Renegades ft. Axanar". The outcast of starfleet saves the federation from the war with the Klingons...
Yeah, I can see what you're doing here. Does the end justify the means or doesn't it...
And in a few episodes, it'll be shown Michael is more starfleety than Section 31.
In between, there'll be a little bit of "they do good" and a little bit of "they do bad". And a lot of weeping, crying, compunction, and asking daddy for instructions. Maybe Captain 31 even does something altruistic at some point. But an episode later, he'll be "back on track".
By the way, why is it mentioned every ten minutes Michael was a great officer? Why do they keep mentioning that in every f... situation?She is not a great officer. I haven't seen ANYTHING that would justify this. She's good at the phaser... yeah, but so is every other redshirt...In earlier days, nobody had to mention that Chakotay, Crusher, Scotty, LaForge, Reed, Torres or whoever was a great officer. We could see it!
I even dare to predict Michael will mutiny again in the season finale. It's just a shot in the dark, but I wouldn't be surprised if I was right.
This episode hasn't revealed anything that I hadn't guessed by the teaser. Michael gets on the Discovery because she's "sooo special", they've got some special equipment onboard and we see a few known faces there.
The revelations in this episode were as thrilling as the question who the murder was in an episode of Columbo.
i don't get it.
Discovery is supposed to be years earlier from the original series.why the technology is so advanced?
they can communicate without using communicator (scene: michael chased by the creature in the air duct)
they can do intra-teleport (scene: captain and michel transporting to the lab)
and there's a plothole in the badge (insignia). in the original series, every ship has different insignia.why personnel in Discovery has the same badge as of Shenzou's?
So far, so good, please continue in this good path
I freaking love this show! Can't wait for the next episode.