Friday, May 27, 2022

Star Trek: Discovery - Kobayashi Maru

Our first look at Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) in the captain's chair offers a pair of risky adventures for the U.S.S. Discovery as well as introducing a new looming threat for the season arc. In the shorter opening segment, diplomacy gets a bit tricky for Michael and Book (David Ajala) with the butterfly people of Alshain IV which Michael solves with a risky proposition that ultimately pans out. Later she'll need to make similar calls when Discovery is sent on a rescue mission from a Federation Space Station spinning out of control after its encounter with some kind of spatial anomaly. Along for the longer mission is the new Federation President (Chelah Horsdal) who tags along to evaluate the ship's captain.

While the spatial distortion provides a larger threat to the season, one that will hit close to Book at the end of the episode, the crux of the main storyline is to judge Captain Burnham on her choices in a no-win situation where she manages to save more people that was probable, but still not all. In both the title and dialogue late in the episode, the show calls back the famous Starfleet command test first referenced in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan which only one officer has ever found a way to win. While impressed with Michael's bravery, the President obviously has some concerns with her bravery in her new role (although, if I had to bet, I think we'll see Michael up for the challenge).

While the structure of the episode allows the show to tie back into themes from earlier Star Trek history, the result of the episode is to downplay the skills of the character Star Trek: Discovery has built up over the last three seasons. The result raises questions, both on-screen and off, about Michael's fitness for command rather than the more hands-on first officer. It's certainly a choice by the show runners, although not one I would have made to cut the legs out from underneath the new captain so quickly. As for the larger space mystery, it feels like the show is just recycling through concepts already used at this point and even only one episode into the season, I already have a couple of guesses as to the cause of the universe's new threat.

  • Title: Star Trek: Discovery - Kobayashi Maru
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