Star Trek: Discovery, why can’t you be like S01E13 all the time? Taking its name from a quote from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, What’s Past is Prologue was a relentless, breathless, warp factor 8 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 under par writing and often poor execution but hell, this is Star Trek, so it gets a pass. Lest you forget… every iteration, including the beloved original series and TNG have had thrice as many awful moments as great ones.
At least Star Trek: 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 like TNG’s Falcon Crest-esque soap opera feel.
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:
WHAT MADE WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE SO GREAT?
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 blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kung-fu fight with Ricky Gervais.
But it was after their showdown towards the thrilling end of this three-episode pod (that’s what we’re calling the mini-series arcs that this show and Agents of SHIELD do so perfectly) that we truly hit warp factor nine.
As The Discovery let slip the dogs of war upon The Charon’s spore drive, the Star Trek series we tuned in for finally arrived: For the first time, this felt like OUR crew teaming up to problem-solve. We felt 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. This is what Trek should be!
The sound designers made sure that the Discovery’s photon torpedoes sounded so familiar that it sent tingle-berries 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 incredibly fucking beautiful.
What’s Past is Prologue’s 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 the next four weeks and the already-commissioned season two are this intensely exciting!
After a brilliant, breathless What’s Past is Prologue, Star Trek: Discovery continues next Sunday, 4th February.
Long may it live and prosper.