Sunday, September 24 saw the rebirth of the classic television show, Star Trek. This latest version, Star Trek: Discovery, comes twelve years after the conclusion of Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005. The first episode, “The Vulcan Hello,” aired on CBS. Afterward, the studio posted the second episode, “Battle at Binary Stars,” on CBS All Access (their streaming service) and this is where you’ll be able to find all subsequent episodes. Don’t have All Access? There is a one-week free trial you can sign up for.
The question on everyone’s mind? Will Star Trek: Discovery boldly go where no Star Trek series has gone before? Let’s find out!
“The Vulcan Hello” opens with the introduction of T’Kuvma, a Klingon leader speaking to his fellow comrades about the oppressive threat of Starfleet. His goal? To reunite the 24 warring Klingon houses against their common and extremely dangerous enemy. T’Kuvma’s demeanor is akin to an impassioned religious fanatic calling for action from among his disciples.
The next two characters we meet are Commander Michael Burnham and Captain Philippa Georgiou. The pair are working to assist an alien race with a drought problem when a storm hits and returning to their ship becomes more difficult. It becomes obvious quickly that these two are close and resourceful in their own ways. While Burnham is quite skilled, Captain Georgiou’s years of experience and fast thinking are what ultimately result in their return to the U.S.S. Shenzhou.
Things pick up quickly on the ship. During a mission to investigate damaged Starfleet equipment, Saru, the lieutenant commander and chief science officer, discovers a suspicious object nearby.
Burnham eagerly volunteers to investigate and Captain Georgiou gives her permission to conduct a 20-minute flyby. Any longer and the radiation in the area would be problematic.
The mission starts off well, but the structure turns out to be Klingon and Burnham soon finders herself face-to-face with the warrior Rejac. While defending herself, Burnham inadvertently kills Rejac, but she’s injured in the process and her suit is damaged. Burnham is unconscious and suffering from radiation poisoning when she’s finally rescued, so the crew of the U.S.S. Shenzhou continue on completely unaware of the Klingon threat lurking nearby.
Here we learn a little more about Burnham’s past. While human-born, she was raised by Sarek, a Vulcan diplomat. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because he is also Spock’s father. We see Burnham as a small child answering questions in an education pod. She becomes rattled by a series of questions regarding a Klingon terrorist attack which resulted in the death of her parents. This flashback brings into question her motivation moving forward throughout the episode.
Waking with a start, Burnham ignores her medic and rushes to the bridge. Because she’s the only one to have actually seen a Klingon, it takes some convincing before Captain Georgiou finally agrees to raise the ship’s defenses. T’Kuvma uncloaks his own ship, but attempts to communicate with them are unsuccessful. While Burnham is convinced the situation is dangerous, much of Starfleet disagrees. captain Georgiou discusses the matter with Admiral Brett Anderson via the ship’s hologram system and he warns that making assumptions about the situation could cause undo problems for Starfleet.
Frustrated, Burnham excuses herself from the bridge and meets with Sarek via hologram in her room. He provides some much needed information regarding the 24 Klingon houses and the potential danger if a single figure were to unify the race. He also shares with her why the Vulcans have always had successful interactions with Klingons in the past: their shoot first mentality, or “Vulcan Hello,” has prevented countless confrontations between the two races.
Captain Georgiou isn’t impressed with this tactic, however, and accuses Burnham of insubordination. The two excuse themselves from the bridge to discuss that matter more thoroughly, but the captain stands firm.
Desperate, and possibly motivated by her past experience with Klingons, Burnham uses the Vulcan nerve pinch to incapacitate Captain Georgiou and assumes control of the ship. Just as she’s about to open fire on T’Kuvma’s ship, the captain enters and tells the crew to stand down. Moments later, the episode ends as 24 additional Klingon ships arrive.
“A Battle at the Binary Stars” opens yet again with T’Kuvma, who is searching for a replacement Torchbearer after Rejac’s defeat. He ultimately appoints Voq, who is perceived as lesser than other Klingons because he has no house. T’Kuvma sees something in him, however, and the two proceed to meet with the newly arrived Klingon leaders. T’Kuvma speaks of honor and unification and, while not all of the leaders are impressed, most decide they want to see how the situation plays out.
Meanwhile, Burnham is thrown in the brig and Starfleet reinforcements arrive. Captain Georgiou is finally able to communicate with T’Kuvma’s ship, but he uses her statement, “We come in peace,” to encourage the other Klingon leaders to open fire. And they do.
Things look dire for Starfleet, with many of their ships taking heavy damage. The U.S.S. Shenzhou is hit several times, resulting in huge chunks of the ship being destroyed. While Burnham’s cell remains intact, the room surrounding it is completely exposed to space and the computer confirms her death is eminent.
It seems the entire ship is going to go down until Admiral Brett Anderson saves it from using his ship’s tractor beam. He proceeds to propose a ceasefire with T’Kuvma, who seemingly agrees but instead takes the opportunity to uncloak his ship and literally cut the Admiral’s ship in half. This is a huge loss to Starfleet and deeply impacts Captain Georgiou.
Back in the brig, Burnham has yet another conversation with Serak, who reveals he is linked to her mind specifically. It’s taxing, but he can communicate with her without the use of a hologram program. His pep-talk encourages her to keep fighting and, after a very ethically logical conversation with the ship’s computer, she’s able to escape her cell and return to the safer portion of the ship.
She rejoins the crew on the bridge and, while she’s not exactly forgiven, Captain Georgiou is extremely relieved that she survived the Klingon attack. Together, they devise a plan to capture T’Kuvma rather than kill him, as killing him would make him into a martyr and rally more Klingons to his cause. The plan seems sound enough, but it goes horribly wrong in the end. Burnham and Captain Georgiou beam to the Klingon ship and put up a good fight, but T’Kuvma and Voq are difficult opponents to defeat.
T’Kuvma ultimately over powers Captain Georgiou and kills her just before Burnham is able to shoot him. Saru promptly teleports Burnham back to the U.S.S. Shenzhou and she’s forced to leave her friend’s corpse behind on the Klingon ship.
The episode ends with Burnham standing trial for dereliction of duty, assaulting an officer, and mutiny. She makes a good case for her actions, but is sentenced to life imprisonment anyway – which is an extremely interesting turn of events for the show.
Overall, I was very impressed with the direction in which Star Trek: Discovery seems to be headed. Captain Georgiou’s death and Burnham’s sentence were both unexpected and make me excited to see what other surprises the show has in store for us.
What were your thoughts on the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery? Please share your opinions and makes sure you tune in to All Access this Sunday to catch the next installment!