Star Trek’s Return to Television

In the picture, from left to right: Saru, Michael Burnham, and Phillippa Georgiou (photo credit:

Warning: Contains Spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery

After a twelve-year television hiatus, Star Trek returned with a bang on September 24th, with new and old characters alike. Set roughly ten years before Star Trek:The Original Series, this fifteen-episode series tells the story of a cold war between the United Federations of Planets and the newly-united Klingon houses. Star Trek:Discovery is on a separate timeline from the J.J Abrams rebooted Star Trek film series with decidedly less lens flares.

Bryan Fuller, one of the show’s creators, continues his tradition of giving female leads typically masculine names. The main character is Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green. In the first two episodes, Burnham, the First Officer of the USS Shenzou, is referred to as “Number One”, honoring the character of the same name portrayed by Majel Barrett in the original Star Trek pilot episode. The overarching premise of Discovery is the  Klingons’ finding of a messianic figure in the form of T’Kuvma. Following an ancient Klingon prophecy, T’Kuvma convinces his followers that the Federation’s goals center around usurping the individuality of Klingons, and that the ultimate goal of the Federation is to extinguish Klingon culture. Though T’Kuvma dies by the end of the second episode, his death (and Burnham’s actions) spark a cold war, indicating the beginnings of Starfleet’s militarization.

Discovery is one of, if not the most, diverse Star Trek casts to date. Many fans were thrilled to discover that Michelle Yeoh plays Captain Phillippa Georgiou, at the helm of the USS Shenzou. Georgiou is the first captain of Asian descent; Yeoh keeps her Malaysian accent for the part. Unfortunately, right as fans (myself included) fell in love with her, she was killed in the same skirmish that killed T’Kuvma. Many were incredibly disheartened at her death, claiming that she deserved better. However, I’m hopeful that Captain Georgiou will return. After all, Yeoh is slotted for the rest of the season. She could make an appearance in a  flashback— this is Star Trek— or return fully alive; the second episode makes it very clear that Georgiou’s body was never recovered. One of this season’s plots could potentially involve Burnham attempting to rescue her Captain  while keeping an all out war at bay.

Another highlight of the first three episodes was the preview of Burnham’s origins. Burnham grew up with three very familiar characters in Star Trek: Sarek, Amanda, and Spock. Sarek made an appearance in the first two episodes, to the excitement of many fans, especially at the end of episode three, it’s revealed that Amanda would read Alice in Wonderland to Spock and Michael. Some fans want to know more about Amanda’s relationship with Michael, and Spock’s relationship with her as well. Personally, I’m hoping to see more familial interaction. Furthermore, I’m interested in seeing the other ways Discovery plans on tying in with The Original Series, not to mention, why in the worlds the Captain of the USS Discovery has a tribble on his desk.

One character that caught my attention is Cadet Sylvia Tilly, played by Mary Wiseman. Tilly is very clearly coded as autistic, and many fans are rejoicing in an onscreen portrayal of autism, outside of the usual emotionless man. Tilly possesses a friendly and open demeanor, despite her inability to read other’s emotions well or take basic social cues.

Undoubtedly, Burnham is the star of the show. Although the first two episodes depict her her as a respected Starfleet officer, she eventually goes against Captain Georgiou’s commands in an attempt to prevent a war with the Klingons, becoming the first mutineer in Starfleet history. She is sentenced to life in imprisonment for her crimes and blamed for the start of the cold war with the Klingons. However, in the third episode, she’s granted a position upon the USS Discovery under a captain who’s made it clear he will do anything to stop the war. There are many different ways the season could go, but one thing is for sure: it’s going to have viewers on the edge of their seats, riveted to the TV (or laptop).


Elias Rosner is a Senior English/Creative Writing Major here at Goucher. When he's not stalking the Goucher woods seeking serenity, he's writing feverishly in the hopes something interesting will be said. He's always on the lookout for a good puzzle or story and is still not used to writing about himself in the third person.

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