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Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Review: Star Trek is turning into Star Wars

[[[[Ed. Note: A big spoiler ahead for the previous season Star Trek: Discovery.]

At the end of season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery, the crew of the titular scientific ship travels 930 years into the future in an attempt to prevent a fraudulent AI from destroying all intelligent life in the galaxy. It was a bold gambit for both the crew and the showrunners, pushing the series from a bit of nostalgic backstory to the original 1960s. Star Trek you encounter unexplored territory for Trek canon.

The first episodes of season 3 will probably feel as irritating and unpleasant for viewers as this jump is for the characters. Taking immediately after the climax of season 2, season 3 begins with Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green of Living Dead) getting out of the wormhole she made using experimental time travel technology. When it lands, it is in a completely different style of science fiction.

About 750 years after the events of season 2, a mysterious catastrophe known as Burning destroys most of the dilithium, the element that drives the propulsion systems of the base, making it possible to travel faster than light. The United Federation of Planets fell soon after, and the galaxy is now a smaller, more fragmented place that looks like Firefly or the rougher aspects of star Wars closer than anything Gene Roddenberry seems to have imagined. Starfleet has become something of a mythical force of law and kindness, similar to the Jedi of Star Wars: A New Hopeas some true believers hang on to their belief that it will return to bring them justice or purpose.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham stands in a group of aliens in

Photo: Michael Gibson / CBS

Michael ‘s first meeting was with the Cleveland “Book” Booker (David Ajala from Nightflyers and Super Girl), a hero similar to Han Solo, in difficulty for stealing a precious cargo. He reluctantly agrees to help her by taking her to Mercantile, a galactic swap shop that is definitely a miserable den of scum and villains. He also has the mysterious ability to summon medicinal plants and talk to animals, which he uses to save giant man-eating hypnotic worms from poachers. As Michael points out, he must save them, because without the Federation, “there is no one around to enforce the Endangered Species Act.”

The plot and character are a homage to the 1986 film. Star Trek: The home of travelmixed with a bit of mystique Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His theft of Maine Coon Grudge scenes also follows in the footsteps of Spot’s domestic cat Star Trek: The next generation. But even with those franchise touching stones in place, if Michael runs around with a space druid snapping people’s necks, it’s a shockingly strange turn for the show. The violence intensifies in the first two episodes of season 3, with many breakups and a particularly brutal murder that feels far from “Set the Phasers to Stun!”

The break is even bigger in the second episode, where Discovery lands on a planet and tries to get help from the locals. The classic division between guests and ships is downright strange when Starfleet idealist Commander Saru (Doug Jones of The shape of the water and The labyrinth of Pan) and a cheerful engineer, Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) take part in hostage negotiations with a murderous, slanted, spy-carrying military leader in a saloon, while the B-plot is in the much more familiar domain of Star Trek. assistance in carrying out repairs.

Star Trek: Discovery it is far from the first show to make this dramatic change. SHIELD agents travels through time in a post-apocalyptic version of 2091 in season 5 and the final season of Fringe took place in a dystopian 2036. In both shows, the main characters spend the entire season trying to make sure that the future does not actually happen. But the focus in Discovery season 3 it seems to be more for the best than a bad situation.

Sonequa Martin-Green sits next to a shirtless David Ajala in a barren landscape by the water in Star Trek: Discovery

Photo: Michael Gibson / CBS

In an impressive view of the lost, the Federation loyalist unfolds a version of the organization’s flag in the first episode and has only a handful of stars, not the crowded starry landscape, representing the interstellar union at its height. As Discovery works to find out what’s left of Starfleet and continue its mission of peaceful exploration, the third and fourth episodes of the 13-episode season settle in far more familiar territory. DiscoveryThe new season looks like Star Trek: Voyager,, but with a time-shifted ship, not blocked on the other side of the galaxy. The effect of both is to make the crews outsiders who can’t demand a powerful backup, forcing them to adapt quickly to their strange new environment.

There is certainly a lot of potential in this dynamic. Without any support from Starfleet, Sarah’s command of the Discovery was questioned by the former Emperor of the Terran Empire and Section 31 operative Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeo of A squatting tiger, a hidden dragon), who believes that her moral flexibility is an advantage in this darker world. The existence of time travel is widely known in the world of Star Trek, so the characters learning about the origins of the Discovery are not shocked, just as eager to get to the forbidden technology and rare resources that the ship has brought from the past.

The new setting also leaves showrunners Michelle Paradise and Alex Kurzman free to do whatever they want with the Star Trek canon, imagining a host of new possible alliances and crises without having to worry about how they could affect established events. . But that freedom is wasted when, instead, they try to release Star Trek on stories of resource scarcity and border justice that other popular science fiction works have already done better.

The best episode of the four, given to critics, includes the condition of Trilla and their symbionts, which have been used to tell subtle strange stories in past incarnations of the series. DiscoveryNow showrunners are using them to bring the first big trance and non-binary characters and actors in the series, with Ian Alexander’s Gray and Blue del Barrio’s Adira continuing the franchise’s enduring focus on presenting through a powerful plot the challenges of finding your true self.

This is reasonable for Discoverythe writers want to make their way, but have left too many of the characteristics of previous seasons. The conflict in the relationship between astronomy commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and medical officer Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) reached a sudden solution in the finale of season 2 and has not been resolved since, while Michael largely abandoned Vulcan Logic, which was raised and became a much more general girl for action.

Anthony Rapp, Michelle Yo, Mary Wiseman and Sonequa Martin-Green on the Discovery Bridge in Star Trek: Discovery

Photo: Michael Gibson / CBS

The Discovery crew faces an identity crisis in Season 3. Separated from the organization to which they have dedicated their lives, along with almost everyone they knew, they struggle to find a new goal and connections. “We’re in unexplored territory and they know it,” Hugh told Sarah as he assessed the crew’s mental state. “Discovery may disappear tomorrow and will not cause a ripple. We will not miss or complain about anyone. “

Fans endlessly discuss the comparative merits of Star Wars and Star Trek, but the two iconic franchises feel closer now, with parts of this season on Discovery resembling The Mandalorian. While Discovery has a full crew, not a lone wolf and a charming doll, and both series follow the remnants of a fallen organization trying to continue living by a strong moral code as it travels through a broken world. The end of an evil Galactic Empire and a benevolent Federation of Planets left power vacuum filled with brutal opportunists, giving the characters enough room to make a real difference among all the scrawlers and fraudsters who are just trying to cope.

For both franchises, going into unexplored territory, away from the defining stories of heroes and villains, gives writers the freedom to tell new stories. As annoying as it is, the presentation of such a new future for the Star Trek world fits in well with Starship Enterprise’s original mission: “boldly go where no one has ever gone before.”

Star Trek: Discovery premieres of CBS All Access on October 15. New episodes come out on Thursday.

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