TV Show Review

TV Review: STAR TREK: DISCOVERY: Season 1, Episode 2: Battle At The Binary Stars [CBS]

Star Trek Discovery Michelle Yeoh

Star Trek: Discovery Battle At The Binary Stars Review

Star Trek: Discovery: Season 1, Episode 2: Battle At The Binary Stars is a loud follow-up to the quieter pilot that builds on the political analogies its predecessor drew.

Picking up where the first episode left off, Battle portrays the result of First Officer Burnham’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) plan to greet incoming Klingons with the Vulcan Hello: you guessed it, a battle. While war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire was a given, the way in which the show depicts the initiation of hostilities is surprising.

Although we are clearly supposed to view the Klingon upstart T’Kuvma (Chris Obi) as being in the wrong for egging the numerous houses of the Empire into war, Burnham is shown as being equally responsible for convincing Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) into trying to bluff their way to peace by making it seem like the Discovery is prepared to fire on the Klingons’ vessel. What makes this take all the more unexpected is the fact that the previous episode ended with Burnham seemingly vindicated by the arrival of the Klingon fleet, portraying her as a lonely Cassandra warning about the spacefaring barbarians at the gates. Instead, she comes across as a more reckless version of Captain Kirk, engaging in the kind of life-risking gambits that the Enterprise chief habitually indulged in but lacking the dumb luck necessary for them to work.

In another strange connection to earlier installments of the franchise, it’s easy to read the episode’s political set-up as an inversion of the sixth Trek film, The Undiscovered Country. But whereas Undiscovered saw doves amongst the Federation and Klingons foil the machinations of their respective sides’ hawks to make their space cold war go hot, Discovery sees the hawks triumph, with the galaxy being plunged into a devastating conflict that The Original Series repeatedly referenced but never depicted. Considering that Star Trek VI came out just weeks before the Soviet Union collapsed, it’s telling that the program has returned to portraying the Klingons as the black hats just as commentators and politicians talk up the notion of a renewed Cold War with Russia.

As if the whole “increasing tension between two ideologically-opposed superpowers” wasn’t on the nose enough, the episode doubles down on the obvious analogy between T’Kuvma’s “Remain Klingon” credo and Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” ideology. With his talk of preserving the unique character of the Empire and defending it from foreign interlopers, it’s not hard to tell who T’Kuvma is supposed to be a stand-in for and how we’re supposed to receive him or his real-life inspiration. Regardless of where one falls on political spectrum, the episode is pretty solid and leaves viewers looking forward to more from Star Trek: Discovery.

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About the author

Reggie Peralta

An aspiring writer, longtime film junkie, and former UCLARadio.com disc jockey (where I graduated with a BA in Political Science), I’ve made the jump from penning book reviews and current events editorials for HonorSociety.org to writing movie and TV news and reviews.

When I’m not working towards my certificate in Radio and Television/Video Production at Fullerton College, I enjoy reading (horror, science fiction, and historical/political nonfiction are particular favorites), participating in my school’s TV and theatre clubs, attending movie screenings, plays, concerts, and other events, and trying to come up with pithy things to say on social media. Believe it or not, there are occasions where I find time to write for my own leisure.

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