About DiscoveryLaunched in the fall of 2017, Star Trek Discovery debuted with very mixed reviews. However, it's natural for a new show to take a few episodes, and sometimes even a few seasons, to find its way. The influence of the enormous and vocal Star Trek fan base can magnify early missteps, and the first season of Discovery definitely had some missteps with many Star Trek fans agreeing that the first season wasn't what a Star Trek series should be. Inconsistencies with established canon drove many fans nuts, but the fan interaction was a great resource for getting the new series on track.
The second season of Discovery, however, was arguably some of the best Star Trek ever made in the franchise's history.
The 5 Most Defining Star Trek Discovery Episodes (So Far)Much of Star Trek Discovery has its roots in the 2009 Star Trek film reboot by JJ Abrams. Every decade brings a new level of technological proficiency to Star Trek, and just as the Next Generation television show improved upon the sets and effects of the original series, subsequent entries into the franchise have continued to dazzle audiences with technical wizardry. Star Trek Discovery has a film look that gives even the 2009 reboot a run for its money.
Discovery is not a rehash of what has come before and is not from the captain-based perspective that we are used to. This perspective may be a different direction from all other Star Trek shows to date, but it represents a fresh direction and the willingness to evolve that is a Star Trek hallmark. That being said, there is a strong cast of characters that occupy familiar Starfleet roles, and the dynamics of interpersonal relationships and the distribution of power are fundamental components to the drama of the series. Discovery is still a young series, but if you're curious about exploring it, here are some of the most defining (we think) Star Trek Discovery episodes so far.
Season 2 Episode 1: BrotherOne of the fun things about Discovery is that it is set roughly ten years before the events of the original series. Fans of Star Trek know that the original pilot episode featured Captain Pike played by Jeffrey Hunter rather than William Shatner's Captain Kirk. Footage from the original pilot was aired as a two-part episode of the original series, titled The Menagerie. This episode gives a limited glimpse of what Star Trek might have been had Jeffrey Hunter continued in the role as the original captain. Discovery provides us with a welcome expansion on that concept.
In Brother, the crew of the USS Discovery joins forces with the Pike-led U.S.S. Enterprise and gives us a glimpse of Spock's developmental years. Pike is played by Anson Mount, who has more than a passing resemblance to Jeffrey Hunter, and Ethan Peck is superb as Spock. This episode sets the stage for reoccurring adventures featuring Spock and Pike and makes it a treasure for fans old and new.
Season 1 Episode 9: Into the Forest I GoBefore a new television series can start making waves with callbacks to a bygone age, it must first establish its new set of primary characters. Figures like Pike and Spock would be overpowering for a new series to start off with, so the producers were smart to create interesting arcs with their new characters before bringing in the big guns later on. Into the Forest I Go was the mid-season finale of the first season and has the kind of thrills that a series earns through good writing and superior storyboarding.
Tensions from a Federation/Klingon conflict escalate and provide plenty of action, drama, and intrigue in this top-notch episode. Jason Isaacs is familiar to most viewers as Lucius Malfoy from 'Harry Potter.' His Discovery's Captain Gabriel Lorca, though, is not like any character he has ever played and is not like any Captain ever seen in Star Trek. He is not above using the kind of sly tactics of manipulation and deceit that Picard would promptly discard without a second thought.
There's plenty of action to put you on the edge of your seat, and this is one of the early episodes that starts to suggest what Discovery is going to be about.
Season 1 Episode 11: The Wolf InsideBy episode 11, Sonequa Martin-Green's character Michael Burnham has been established as perhaps the most fascinating character from the Discovery cast. The Wolf Inside continues the exploration of the mirror universe established in episode 10: Despite Yourself, that shows Burnham in an alternate reality. Despite being almost the complete opposite of the reality she belongs in, it is, in many ways, less complicated.
This episode does a nice job of twisting reality back on itself, leaving the viewer with an overall sense of uncertainty. Burnham's inherent defiance sets her on a path of intrigue, but as the episode progresses, it's revealed that many characters are not as they appear to be in more ways than one. Overall, The Wolf Inside offers the opportunity for reflection on past mistakes, current reparations, and the inevitability of one's fate.
Season 2 Episodes 13 & 14: Such Sweet SorrowTo date, the two-part episode Such Sweet Sorrow has done the best job of combining new and old Star Trek concepts into something that pays respectful tribute to the past while serving to expand the borders of the franchise into something exciting and new. At the root of this two-part season finale are the concepts of family and development of interpersonal relationships that are always at the heart of great Star Trek.
After two years, writers, actors, and producers have had time to give life to their inspiration and see how it evolves organically as part of the creative process; and the results show. There are many tender moments between the primary characters in this episode, which are both true to the concepts of the characters and set up future drama in seasons to come. The Enterprise and Discovery prepare for battle against a computer-controlled tactical assessment system known as Control. The low probability of victory adds weight to all their interactions.
The second part of the episode has some of the best action and special effects ever seen in a televised episode of Star Trek and also makes a bold comment on the sacrifices necessary for war and the appalling cost of victory.
The ending of the season finds the Discovery and most of her crew 900 years in the future...Literally taking the franchise where it has never gone before for Discovery's 3rd season, which airs in early to mid-2020.
Star Trek Is In Good HandsThese defining Star Trek Discovery episodes capture the spirit of exploration and the camaraderie of the original series along with the fearlessness to explore big ideas that have made the franchise a cultural phenomenon. Discovery is a technological marvel with special effects and action sequences unrivaled by anything but the reboot films. But Star Trek has always been more focused on story and relationships than space battles, and Discovery brings some of the best science fiction to life that you can enjoy anywhere.
After only two seasons, Discovery has established itself as a ground-breaking series, and it has the potential to move even higher on the list of great science fiction shows as the missions continue. These Star Trek Discovery episodes give you a nice impression of what the series is about, but to get the full effect, we recommend starting from the beginning and strapping yourself in for a wild ride. For more articles and discussion on Star Trek, check out Mahannah's Sci-Fi Universe.