Star Trek: Discovery The Vulcan Hello Review
Star Trek: Discovery: Season 1, Episode 1: The Vulcan Hello will madden diehard fans with its blatant deviations from established Trek canon but has a story and cast rich with potential.
For what it’s worth, the first episode works, both as an intro to the series and as a continuation of the iconic franchise it’s a part of. It gives us an idea of who our main character, First Officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), is without spending too much dwelling on her background and quickly establishes the show’s place in the Star Trek universe. I would not go as far to say it’s the best Trek pilot – in fact, I’d be hard pressed to identify any of the previous series’ pilot episodes as truly great – but it certainly fits into the world created by Gene Roddenberry back in the 1960’s.
Returning to Martin-Green’s performance, she has the unique opportunity to explore the Trekverse from the perspective of not a Starfleet captain but rather their Number One. As interesting as it would be to see the show from Captain Georgiou’s (played by the always pleasant to see Michelle Yeoh) point of view, seeing it from Burnham’s allows us to see Trek from a POV we’ve only had glimpses of before. Some might find the departure from longstanding series structure distasteful, but it’s wise to remember that previous iterations of the franchise all departed from their predecessors in different, sometimes equally-dramatic ways.
Martin-Green isn’t the only cast member to watch out for though: costume and makeup legend Doug Jones fills the role of the alien/nonhuman officer as the Kelpien Lt. Commander Saru, who has the uncanny ability to sense the approach of death. Although his soft voice resembles Brent Spiner’s childlike android Data, his snark and adversarial relationship with Burnham recalls Spock and the Vulcan science officer’s frequent bickering with Dr. McCoy. I must say that out of the three characters discussed so far that I find Saru to be the most compelling and look forward to seeing where they take him over the course of the series.
Where the episode comes short is the area where Trekkers are bound to be most agitated, and that of course is continuity with the rest of the franchise. Set a mere decade before the original series, the uniforms worn by the crew of the Shenzhou look nothing like the classic shirts and slacks worn by the cast members of The Original Series. In fact, they look more like the flight suit-type outfits worn in Enterprise, the events of which take place almost a century before Discovery.
Speaking of Enterprise, the explantation that series cooked up to explain why Klingons look more human in TOS than they do in other shows is completely disregarded in order to give us bald, modestly-ridged Klingons. The reason for this jarring break from series canon is… is the producers’ thought it would look cool, I guess. Neither of these things will break the series, but it will irritate hardcore Trek fans like myself even as we watch Star Trek: Discovery onwards.
Leave your thoughts on this Star Trek: Discovery review and this episode of Star Trek: Discovery in the comments section. Readers seeking more TV show reviews can visit our TV Show Review Page, our TV Show Review Twitter Page, our TV Show Review Facebook Page, and our TV Show Review Google+ Page. Want up-to-the-minute notification? FilmBook staff members publish articles by Email, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and Facebook.