Star Trek: Discovery, why can’t you be like this all the time? What’s Past is Prologue was a relentless, breathless, warp factor 10 ride through everything Star Trek should be every week.
For the previous twelve weeks, the reboot has muddled its way along – great ideas saving it from its terrible writing and poor execution but hell, it’s Star Trek, so it gets a pass. Lest you forget… every iteration, including The Original Series has had thrice as many awful moments as great ones.
At least Discovery looks and feels contemporary which The Next Generation never did. At least Discovery‘s direction contains some visual flair, instead of a camera being pointed at two characters talking.
Anyway, no spoilery recap and no real review so to speak of today, just a celebration because, despite plodding away at its normal pedestrian pace, characters delivering on-the-nose dialogue for its first half, the second half of What’s Past is Prologue had it all:
From phaser gun battles, complete with containment force-fields, Aliens-style machine gun cannon that Corporal Hicks would have been proud of, to explosions and enemy combatants hurtling through the air:
Instead of rolling my eyes at the weak-ass relationships, both universes came together as Emperor Philippa Georgiou and Burnham teamed up to take on Mirror Lorca. Michael Burnham even had a kung-fu fight with David Brent:
But it was after their showdown towards the thrilling end of this three-episode pod (or mini-series arc) that we truly hit warp factor.
For as The Discovery let slip the dogs of war upon The Charon’s spore drive, the real Star Trek we tuned in for finally arrived: For the first time, this felt like OUR crew teaming up to problem solve, the high tension of one of OUR separated crew-members in mortal danger, the stakes so high that ALL life in EVERY part of the multiverse would die if they didn’t make the ultimate sacrifice.
The sound designers made sure that the Discovery’s photon torpedoes sounded so familiar that it sent tingleberries down my arm. The jump to warp and riding the spore explosion like surfing on a wave, and the crew knocked off their feet by wobbling as sparks fall from the ceiling was all so perfectly Star Trek!
I’d even go so far as to say it was so James Tiberius Kirk or Will Riker! You can almost hear the latter’s alter ego, Jonathan Frakes shouting “8.7 on the Riker Scale!” from off-screen. But instead of cardboard, fake beards, sellotape and 64-bit characters rendered on a Vic 20, this audio visual bombardment of light, colour, sound and shape looked, sounded and felt so incedibly fucking beautiful.
The journey back to OUR universe was handled perfectly: Paul Stamets guided through an impossibly infinite number of wormholes only by memories of his dead lover or, to be more precise, by love.
And “if the map is to be believed“…
In episode thirteen, the fruits of twelve long, previous hours finally paid off. Let’s hope Discovery has set course for warp factor 10 filmmaking and every week is this intensely exciting!
Star Trek: Discovery continues next Sunday, 4th February. Long may it live and prosper.