Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 4 Review – The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry

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There’s an obvious parallel – obvious to the point of being heavy-handed, really – being drawn between the tardigrade and Michael Burnham in this episode.

The tardigrade is misunderstood; it’s believed to be dangerous, a predator, something to be feared. It’s responsible for the deaths of Starfleet officers, and it’s being drafted into the war – a weapon to be used rather than an individual to be understood. Burnham, of course, is much the same; when she comments that the creature “can only be what it is, not what you want it to be”, it’s an implicit rebuke of the prevailing perception of her. As she notes that the Discovery crew “judge the creature by its appearance and one single event from its past”, it’s a comment that is fundamentally about herself, and the way she’s now perceived.

Of course, it transpires in the end that the creature isn’t a weapon – it’s docile in its own right, and in fact its primary use to the Discovery ship is a scientific one. As the creature proves its worth, so does Burnham; it’s the same moment of triumph and of success for them both, allowing them to find a place on the ship. One can take it as something of a microcosm for Starfleet, really; an indicator of how, in the context of this war, they’re losing sight of what exactly they’re meant to be. When confronted with a new life, the response must be curiosity, rather than an intent to militarise; no doubt this is a thread that will continue across the rest of the series, grappling with the dichotomy between Starfleet’s true mission and the role it’s thrown into.

The excerpt from this review is a bit of Discovery analysis that, while I thought it was pretty obvious, I’ve not actually seen picked up on anywhere. Odd that.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 3 Review – Context is for Kings

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It’s not a unique observation, of course, but in a manner of speaking Context is for Kings is actually the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery.

The prior two episodes, The Vulcan Hello and Battle at the Binary Stars, form a prologue of sorts – the series finale of Star Trek: Shenzhou, if you like. Here, we’re picking up again with what’s almost a new pilot on its own terms, introducing us to the rest of our regular cast – Captain Gabriel Lorca, Lieutenant Paul Stamets, and so on.

Here’s my review of Star Trek: Discovery episode three, Context is for Kings.

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

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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!

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 1 Review – The Vulcan Hello

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Star Trek: Discovery is going to have to answer certain questions across the course of its run, that much is clear. Chief amongst them: What does it mean to be Star Trek in 2017?

It’s a good question. Indeed, an essential one; as a show with a legacy spanning half a century, Discovery needs to find an answer as to why it’s a Star Trek show at all – hopefully an answer that goes beyond the need to profit off a well-known franchise.

Does this episode offer an answer to that question? No, not yet. Undeniably, it posits a starting point, giving a diverse vision of Star Trek that entirely unlike any the show has offered before. With a black female lead, an Asian woman in the Captain’s chair, and the promise of a same-sex couple on the horizon, this is the show Star Trek has always claimed to be. Michael Burnham is exactly what the face of Star Trek should be in 2017, if not frankly earlier – with these characters, Star Trek: Discovery is at last able to realise the potential that the franchise has always offered but never fulfilled. It is difficult to overstate just how important this is, but it’s worth remarking on and emphasising it again, because Star Trek has finally joined the 21st Century.

Here’s the first of my reviews of Star Trek: Discovery – click the link to read the full review!

With hindsight, I don’t know exactly how, or even if, Star Trek: Discovery answered the question of what it meant to be Star Trek in 2017. It’s a difficult question, certainly – I’m not even sure I’d know what I’d want the answer to be. (Perhaps the answer was there and I just missed it; I’ll no doubt eventually rewatch the series and write about it again, so maybe I’ll divine the answer then.)

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All the Easter eggs and references you missed in Star Trek: Discovery’s first episode

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Star Trek is back after more than 12 years off our screens and it’s like it was never gone.

As we all look towards the future and the continuing adventures of Michael Burnham, there’s still time to take a look towards the past, because the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery is steeped in references to the franchise’s 50-year history.

Here are all the Easter eggs we could find from Star Trek: Discovery’s first episode. How many of these did you spot?

My Metro article on Star Trek!

I really liked this one. There was something really, really neat about knowing that I was being paid actual money to natter on about Kahless and the significance of the number 57 and redshirts and all that cool stuff for a big website as part of my actual literal job. Clearly, I’m doing something right.

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Despite a troubled production, Star Trek: Discovery lives up to the promise of the original series and then some

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If the original series can be said to have any resounding legacy, it’s in its vision of a utopian future. If you scratch the surface of the original series, though, it’s easy to see the limitations of that vision: from the episodes steeped in misogyny to the fact that the groundbreaking woman of colour character still only answered the phones, much of the purported Star Trek utopia is an invention of its fans.

Here, though, Discovery takes that vision and realises it properly for the first time; the two most senior officers on the ship are women and women of colour at that, and soon, the show will introduce the aforementioned same-sex couple, finally representing what has long been a blind spot for the sci-fi franchise. 

This is Star Trek as it was always meant to be.

One of my Star Trek articles for Metro. I was really pleased with Discovery; I think it’s absolutely great.

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