Originally Published on There Are Four Mics – A Star Trek Podcast
(We’re moving our Star Trek Discovery related content over here where it belongs)
The re-watch continues as the debut of season two of Star Trek Discovery inches ever closer. This time? It’s time for a Battle at the Binary Stars review. This title is just stupidly good. Wolf-359 had a pretty nice ring to it, but it has got nothing on Battle at the Binary Stars. After the first episode’s “The Vulcan Hello,” Star Trek Discovery is quickly establishing itself as a contender for best episode names. (Also, don’t forget to listen to the Star Trek Discovery podcast episode dedicated to it)
All that tension established at the end of the pilot is immediately picked up in this episode. This very easily could have been The Vulcan Hello Part 2, in the same way most modern Star Trek series have begun. I think their decision not to do that indicates the new storytelling mode that Discovery is embracing where every episode is a continuation of the story as related in previous episodes. Giving this one its own unique title staked that claim, and I wholeheartedly endorse it!
The previous episode of Discovery focused on themes of cooperation, exploration, and scientific discovery. This one is not that. This one is a defining point in Starfleet history where it shifts towards a much more military focused organization. It has echoes of Earth’s response to the Xindi attack in Enterprise, that saw the NX-01 shift its mission from exploration into a militaristic one. I think it is a disheartening turn, by its nature, but I do think this presents Discovery the opportunity to rediscover why Starfleet values are what they are. Especially in today’s political climate where it seems fashionable to trade in principles for an autocratic strongman. I don’t generally tend to enjoy the tear down and rebuilding process of a franchise (I’m looking at you Star Trek Into Darkness), but this series thankfully isn’t shaping up to be that.
It’s probably played out for everybody else, but I love a whole “trick the computer into setting me free using logic” gambit. Of course it seems unlikely that you’d have any computer access in the brig, but hey, it’s peacetime. The Shenzhou doesn’t need such measures yet. It’s mostly honor system. And Burnham is here to exploit it, and it’s beautiful. Definitely feel a callback here to Captain Kirk’s complete logical decimation of NOMAD back in “The Changeling.” I appreciate it.
An Episode of Goodbyes
I’m still recovering from the loss of Ensign Connor. Discovery lured me into a false sense of security with this guy. They featured Sam Vartholomeos pretty predominantly in the promotional materials for goodness sake! The last thing I expected was to see that poor confused science kid tumbling out into the cold vacuousness of space. Rest in peace, my sweet prince.
Okay, so the Shenzhou is dead. Georgiou is dead. T’Kuvma is dead. Everything I thought I knew about this show has just been murdered. This is amazing. I’m heartbroken to see all of these things come to an end because every single one of them is outstanding. And I would absolutely be willing to do crimes if it meant we got a seven-season prequel set aboard the Shenzhou. But this is some crazy storytelling and I find it ridiculously exciting. We’re through two episodes and we haven’t even see the titular ship yet! This show’s writers have courage to tell the story they want, and I’m pumped to follow them. They’ve earned it.
I’m not really digging that final sequence though. The war just started, but already Starfleet keeps its judges shrouded in darkness? It has a very Kryptonian from Superman: The Motion Picture vibe, and feels out of place in what seems like an organization that is on the up and up at this point.
Pick up all of season one on Blu-ray from Amazon here.
Or if you’re in the mood for a Star Trek Discovery podcast? Joe and Jason talk about “The Battle at the Binary Stars” over on Disco Night. It’s our sister podcast, so check it out and subscribe!