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Star Trek: Discovery – Red Directive & Under the Twin Moons – Double Review

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And we’re back for one last ride. We could’ve, no – should’ve, had seven seasons of Discovery. It’s been an enjoyable ride with plenty of ups and downs, a scattershot reinvention of itself allowed it to course correct from a prequel into a sequel, flinging the crew of Discovery farther into the future than ever, but we’ve lost plenty of characters along the way and haven’t replaced them with people who’ve been as interesting. The ultimate characters of Michelle Yeoh’s Georgiou and Jason Isaacs’ Lorca, Mirroverse characters and all, have been hard to replace – leaving heavy shadows over Sonequa Martin Green’s Burnham to lead the way. But Martin Green has risen to the challenge, for those still complaining we don’t know much about the bridge crew of Discovery, this isn’t a show about the Bridge Crew, and that’s okay – not every Trek show has to feature them. Stamets and Culber’s dynamic has given the show a unique edge, the empathic Culber bringing a dynamic to the team that allows them to convey their feelings, and now this time out, the relationship, or lack thereof – between Burnham and Booker is back on the table.

Discovery is a show that dares its characters to have emotions and feelings. Michelle Paradise places an emphasis on talking at its core and at the heart of Red Directive, its’ the empathy that gives the show its strength. For all the big picture end of the world race to find a treasure hunt macguffin that feels a bit to similar to The Force Awakens and the structure of Series 4, it gives a mission directive for these characters – on the hunt for an 800 year old vessel being drawn into an epic chase. It’s another doomsday scenario that goes for the big draws – we have Battlestar Galactica Callum Keith on board, and the stakes are higher than ever. It’s a series premiere – there’s a lot of Star Wars about this. That’s okay, sometimes – the action works here. We see the Flux-esque opening credits draw us in, with Burnham doing some cowboy shit on a pirate vessel, before the four hours earlier, groan-worthy flashback that it is, gives us some context. It isn’t long before we establish what will be our villains for at least the first half of the season: Moll (Eve Harlow) and L’ak (Elias Toufexis), both treasure hunters who view it as them against the world. And they’re right. With Starfleet after them – there’s nowhere to run but to chase the macguffin to its bitter end, propelling it into a race against time with the crew of Discovery itself.

I really like the sturdy not-a-yes man presence that Callum Keith brings to the role. He’s old school, principled, and not afraid to do essentially, what Burnham did back in Series One, which there are plenty of callbacks here as the show – very much it’s aware its in final season mode, brings everything full circle. Rayner is no Shaw yet but he’s potentially capable of getting there, and the dynamic between Burnham and Rayner is amplified into initial hostilities when Burnham calls him out for his actions against the code of conduct of the Federation after being questioned, initially sticking by Starfleet honour code.

However, a bigger problem presents itself: Saru is leaving Starfleet, and after an emotional final mission where his life is put on the line to secure the next part of the puzzle, earning the name “Action Saru” – to give him an appropriate send-off for all his unorthodox ways for a Kelpien, we see Burnham turn back to Rayner for her new Number One. Not a yes man, someone bound to question Burnham at every turn – but also very much Burnham herself, who – when push comes to shove, chose the success of the mission ahead of Starfleet regulations. Their dynamic will no doubt be a key part of what is to come.

Star Trek has given us two excellent seasons over the past year – Picard Series 3 and Strange New Worlds Series 2. Can Discovery wrap up with one last hurrah? Early signs are positive, if not mind-blowing. It’s not quite back at the heights of the first two series, of which the first remains the highest point in what is a rare feat for the franchise. We get little bits of character moments that up the ante now – bits of Booker’s connection to Moll are explored, with her being the closest thing he has left to a family member, Moll being able to recognise Booker’s Federation training even though he was one of them in the past, and generally, Eve Harlow being badass. Saru’s decision to leave is accompanied by Tilly’s return, and what a joy it is to have Mary Wiseman back. Her presence has been missed on this show – and with it comes growth, missing her role at the Academy but also delighting being back solving problems on Discovery.

This is a season where everyone has lost their connections again and is learning to function without them, learning to let go, learning to move on – Adira from Gray, Michael from Book, and now, the crew of Discovery from Saru. We’ll see where this ride takes us from here, as we’re only just getting started.

Let’s fly. One last time.


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