I’ve heard some Internet backlash about the newest Star Trek show, mostly centering around it being too dark. However, since this is my first Star Trek experience (besides the J.J. Abrams movies), I found it really interesting and exciting.
It is, definitely, dark. The first chapter of this show centers upon the Federation’s war with the Klingons, with the ongoing question of what sacrifices are worth making in pursuit of victory. This includes animal cruelty, genetic modifications, and personal health sacrifices. There is also the darkness inherent in acts of war. Some of these, like a plot about sexual assault against a male victim, felt fresh and worth telling. Others, like a throwaway line about what happened to central character’s corpse, went too far for me.
But this show isn’t all darkness. Its characters are explorers and scientists who have been thrust into a war – they are still broadly optimistic and in awe of the world’s wonders. While it does take a couple episodes for the U.S.S. Discovery’s crew to trust each other, they eventually become a really lovely team of diverse friendships and relationships.
Speaking of diversity!! Star Trek: Discovery continues the franchise’s desire to show a better future world in AMAZING ways. We begin with two female leaders of color, one Asian and one black, and it is a delight to watch them be smart and support each other. Although one is soon replaced by a white man, it is worth noting that he is…the only straight white man in the cast? At one point, I was shocked to see two straight white men sharing a scene together because that was such a rarity in this show, and then I later realized that one of them is actually of Pakistani descent. It is so incredibly amazing to see such gender and racial (and alien) diversity played entirely normally. That our show is led by a black woman is an incredible gift.
This first chapter is only nine episodes long, and each one is better than the one before. If you are at all interested in the new series, I strongly suggest committing to this chapter in its entirety. If you still don’t like it by the end of episode 9, it is not for you. But for those that are turned off by the darkness of the first episodes…keep going. I think you may come to love it as I did.