Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Premiere Feels Like Classic Trek
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Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Premiere Kicks Off Another Universe Shaking Event

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BY January 25, 2022

Whenever the story of Star Trek, the original series is told, it always starts with how it was a failure. The first pilot was not what folks wanted, but Lucille Ball (of all people) believed in the series and gave them another go. Star Trek: Discovery was the first modern Trek series, and it too did not emerge from warp fully formed. Last season Discovery hit its stride, and was finally able to present the Federation the way we all want it to be. Thanks to Sonequa Martin-Green’s Michael Burnham and the rest of the Discovery crew, Starfleet once again symbolized hope, compassion, and, well, discovery. The season 4 premiere of Star Trek: Discovery finds (now) Captain Burnham doing the good work of a Starfleet captain. Meaning, trying to do a good thing and ending up running from your life from the planet’s natives.

We will get into spoilers below, but if you have been on-the-fence about Star Trek: Discovery, the season 4 premiere is a great episode to choose in order to give it another chance. This series is the furthest into the Star Trek future that we’ve ever gone (for an extended stay, at least), and it’s great to be a on a real ‘frontier’ again. In a way, Star Trek: Discovery builds on the promise of Enterprise, in that we get to see the Federation in a formative, less-dominant state. It’s a great way to make the ideals of the Federation central to the narrative. It also gives Burnham the chance to show how good people can be better than good policy. Kirk, Picard, and all captains worth their salt buck Starfleet orders from time to time.

Light spoilers to follow.

The Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Premiere Has All the Elements of Classic Trek

Star Trek Discovery Season 4 premiere episode Episode 401: “Kobayashi Maru” Pictured: David Ajala as Book and Sonequa Martin Green as Burnham of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/ViacomCBS © 2021 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved. Image by Michael Gibson via ViacomCBS

From the misunderstanding with the new species in the First Act to the near destruction of Discovery to save every last person, this is all classic Trek. There is the sub-plot about the destruction of Kwejian that will drive the story this season. But everything else could have come right out of the Roddenberry era. There is no denying that, whatever you think of the show or the characters, this series feels like Star Trek. Along with that, the cast really has grown into their roles. It’s not uncommon for high-concept sci-fi series like these to take a season or two to find their space-legs. But Discovery has hit its stride as the flagship series in this new era of Trek.

Like all seasons before it, the premiere makes it clear that Star Trek: Discovery will tell a big story. Yet, the premiere feels episodic. Part of the problem this show faced was people wanting it to be something it was not. Still, the first few acts made me wish for a world where we got see this cast and crew go on weekly adventures. (Maybe a Discovery spin-off animated series? There is precedent for it.)

The highlight of the episode is Martin-Green’s performance as Burnham. This character was always meant to be in charge. However, now that she’s finally in the Captain’s chair, she’s having a hard time letting go of her old way of thinking. See, the Captain does a lot of the talking on Star Trek, but Burnham is used to doing something. The captain asks a lot of questions, and Burnham is used to giving answers. Martin-Green really blends this discomfiting circumstance with Burnham’s natural affinity for command.

It’s Still the Same Show Though, Things Are Going to Get Dark

Star Trek Discovery Season 4 premiere episode Episode 401: “Kobayashi Maru” Pictured: Chelah Horsdal as President Laira Rillak of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/ViacomCBS © 2021 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved. Image by Michael Gibson via ViacomCBS

From the Star Trek: Discovery trailer for this season, we knew there was an anomaly that threatened to destroy everything. We see its devastating potential in this episode. It destroys the home planet of David Ajala’s Book. This is going to play a big role in the season, and with Burnham both the captain and his partner, there will be emotional drama. Yet, where this season may differ from the first or second is that the writing team definitely knows how to balance stakes, grief, and threat with the things that make Star Trek fun to watch. The sets, the VFX, and especially the costumes all look fantastic this year, too. If this is the level of quality we’re getting, we should all hope that Star Trek: Discovery runs for a long, long time.

Focusing just on this year, the crew of the Discovery faces a truly impossible problem with a captain still finding her groove in the chair. Yet, Burnham is finally in a place where she can be the beacon of hope and resolve that Star Trek crews (and the audience) needs from their captain.

Star Trek Discovery Season 4 premiere episode Episode 401: “Kobayashi Maru” Pictured: Blu del Barrio as Adira and Mary Wiseman as Tilly of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/ViacomCBS © 2021 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved. Image by Michael Gibson via ViacomCBS

Star Trek: Discovery premieres new episodes on Thursdays on Paramount+.

What did you think of the season 4 premiere episode of Star Trek: Discovery? My favorite bit was the opening caper. Tell us your favorite moments, your thoughts, and theories about what’s come in the comments below.

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Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book of superhero short stories, Tales of Adventure & Fantasy: Book One is available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon.

          

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