Star Trek isn’t Game of Thrones, and it shouldn’t try to be

star trek discovery game of thrones mirror universe michael burnham sonequa martin green captain georgiou dr culber stamets fridging

What’s also particularly troubling is the – hopefully unintentional – trend that’s emerged as each major character is killed. The first was Captain Michelle Georgiou, a female character of colour. The second was Head of Security Commander Landry, a female character of colour (who was killed off fairly unceremoniously, and really only for shock value). In the most recent episode, it was Doctor Culber – another person of colour, and one half of Star Trek: Discovery’s gay couple.

It’s a series of deaths that’d be a problem for any show, but there’s something about it that feels worse with Star Trek: Discovery. A big part of the marketing for Star Trek: Discovery drew focus to its diversity – the fact that it saw the first black female lead, the first Asian female captain, and the first openly gay characters in Star Trek history. In a real and meaningful way, Star Trek: Discovery was going to realise the promise of the original series at last – finally, a vision of the future that genuinely was as utopian as it was meant to be. If the series gained any credit for that, it’s surely squandered a lot of it now.

Yet it does suggest that, at one point, there was an understanding of just what Star Trek is meant to be. While it hasn’t always lived up to its reputation, Star Trek is a fundamentally hopeful, optimistic series – an idealistic one that looks towards a better future. The deaths we’ve seen so far haven’t been in keeping with that – they were nothing short of cynical. You can see how they’ve been influenced by Game of Thrones; they’d fit right in there. Thrones, after all, is a much more pessimistic series – that’s not a slight against it, not at all, but it is one of the things that set it apart from Star Trek.

This is a very spoiler-y piece on Star Trek: Discovery – it contains discussion of various deaths that happened in the series.

This was an article that had been on my mind since, I think, the third episode of the series. In the run-up to Discoverys premier, showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg spoke about being influenced by Game of Thrones, and wanted to have deaths you wouldn’t expect throughout the show. It struck me as cynical at the time, even more so when watching the show itself.

The excerpt above admittedly doesn’t have a lot to do with that – it’s part of a digression about an aggravating trend that developed across Discovery – but the article as a whole tackles the idea that Star Trek should have lots of deaths in it, because… well, I’m not convinced. It’s kinda also part of the ongoing development of a theory about death in fiction and storytelling, because I’m becoming increasingly convinced that death is typically the least interesting storytelling choice available.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Star Trek Index

Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 2 Review – Battle at the Binary Stars

star trek discovery battle at the binary stars vulcan hello salute michael burnham sonequa martin green shenzou klingons review analysis bryan fuller

Star Trek has always been at its most interesting when it engages with the inherent imperialism of the Federation, taking a post-colonial view of an organisation, which is arguably just as much a space empire as that of the Klingons. For these Klingons to focus on their need for individualism in the face of this increasingly ubiquitous galactic hegemony immediately posits them as more interesting than they’ve ever been, adding a greater nuance to their status as a warrior race. 

Immediately, this presents a huge amount of potential, making it perhaps the most important reinvention the Klingons have underwent since The Next Generation; no longer are the Klingons confined to a simple “planet of the hats” mentality. Suddenly, this is an alien race with a vitality – they’re not fighting simply because their culture demands it, rather they fight to defend their culture. It’s a subtle distinction, but an important one; certainly, it’s dependent on further exploration of Klingon culture going forward, but I’ve little doubt that Discovery is willing to engage on that front.

Here’s my review of Star Trek: Discovery’s second episode, Battle at the Binary Stars – please give it a read!

Facebook | Twitter | Blog Index | Star Trek Index