With ‘Discovery,’ ‘Star Trek’ Is Finally Moving Forward



In Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery, Michael Burnham and the rest of the Discovery crew have been transported into the far future of the Star Trek universe. Science fiction author Anthony Ha was intrigued by the new setting.

“Overall I thought they did a great job of setting up some really compelling mysteries around this idea called The Burn,” Ha says in Episode 449 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “The Federation has fallen apart, warp speed still exists but it’s much more difficult than it used to be, and there are all these civilizations that we recognize from previous Star Trek series, but now they are 1,000 years on from where we’ve seen in the other series.”

After years of prequels and reboots such as Enterprise and Star Trek (2009), Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley is happy to see Star Trek finally moving into the future with shows like Discovery and Picard. “When they first announced this show Discovery and said it was going to take place before the original series, I was like, ‘Do we really need to see this?’” he says. “So I was really excited by the prospect that they’re jumping a thousand years ahead into the future and we’re going to see something new.”

Fantasy author Christopher M. Cevasco worried that a 1,000-year jump might make Discovery too different from previous series, but was glad to see that Season 3 still features plenty of familiar elements. “While I think that they have done a fantastic job forging a new path forward, in terms of the ideas that they’re presenting, I do think that they did a perfectly fine job as well with fan service,” he says. “I also think they’ve done a great job of remaining true to some of the original intents of the show, which are to tackle social and political issues of the day.”

Some fans have complained that the Star Trek universe should have changed a lot more in 1,000 years, but writer Sara Lynn Michener thinks that introducing too many changes would be a mistake. “Star Trek has never been bound by it being hard sci-fi,” she says. “A couple of people have actually complained, ‘Why isn’t Star Trek more like The Expanse?’ It’s because they’re completely different shows, and one or the other would lose something if they were more the same.”

Listen to the complete interview with Anthony Ha, Christopher M. Cevasco, and Sara Lynn Michener in Episode 449 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

Sara Lynn Michener on Star Trek canon:

“[The writers] have to walk this delicate line of paying homage without creating a copy of a copy. We saw Star Trek, before the Kelvin years, before the J.J. Abrams reboot and all that, Star Trek was becoming a copy of itself, over and over again. It started with Voyager, and was definitely in full Dolly-the-sheep mode by the time Enterprise came around. And one of the reasons, I think, is that it became bogged down by its own canon. With a show like this, if you make it for the fans, at some point you’re actually just going to make this very incestuous thing. I think that you have to break rules, and you have to do new things, and you have to break canon, and be adventurous about it.”

Christopher M. Cevasco on secondary characters:

“I understand that the bridge crew is not the main focus of the storylines, but they seem like they’re supposed to be, because the camera lingers on them. It seems like we’re supposed to be somehow connecting with them, but I feel like a lot of them are blank slates. And other than Vance, I feel like the entire rest of Starfleet Command is just a blank slate. You meet one or two others, and you see some people standing in the background, but it’s like, ‘Is he just running this thing all by himself? Are there other admirals around?’ They mention one or two maybe. I understand it’s a much more shrunken version of the Federation at this point, but there’s a bit of a blank room syndrome in terms of the characters beyond the core storyline characters.”

Anthony Ha on the Emerald Chain:

“The idea that ‘We had to be these ruthless capitalists in order to claw our way back to some semblance of civilization’ I found really compelling, but for so much of the rest of the show, the Chain is just ‘We show up and we’re mustache-twirling villains, and we feed our incompetent nephews to aliens, and we threaten these planets with famine.’ So I thought there was a little bit of a missed opportunity. I thought this idea that the capitalists are the villains this season was compelling, but it was underdeveloped compared to the more traditional Hollywood villain stuff that came before it.”

Sara Lynn Michener on Burnham vs. Kirk:

“[Burnham] cannot help herself breaking the rules when she absolutely believes that she is right. She is exactly like Kirk in that sense, and a lot of the complaints on Twitter from angry fanboys are completely unable to accept that. … In the Kelvin films, Kirk was given a temporary captaincy, and he still technically hadn’t graduated from Starfleet Academy at that time, and had also been recently reprimanded. So this is something that we’ve seen over and over again, and I grow very tired of seeing these characters being treated to double standards by Trekkies, who are totally OK with these things when they happen to Kirk, when they happen to all these other characters, and are not OK when they happen to Michael.”

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