Star Trek: Discovery (season 1)
|Star Trek: Discovery (season 1)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||15|
|Original release||September 24, 2017– February 11, 2018|
The first season of the American television series Star Trek: Discovery is set roughly a decade before the events of the original Star Trek series, and follows the crew of the USS Discovery during the Federation–Klingon war. The season is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Secret Hideout, Roddenberry Entertainment, and Living Dead Guy Productions, with Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts serving as showrunners, and Akiva Goldsman providing producing support.
Sonequa Martin-Green stars as Michael Burnham, first officer of the USS Shenzhou, along with Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, and Jason Isaacs. The new series was announced in November 2015, and Bryan Fuller joined as showrunner the next February. After disagreements with CBS over the direction of the show, and struggles with other commitments, Fuller left the series; Berg and Harberts took over day-to-day production using a mythology and broad story arc established by Fuller. The Klingon species was redesigned for the season, and its culture and biology was greatly developed.
The season premiered on September 19, 2017, at ArcLight Hollywood, before debuting on CBS on September 24. The premiere episode was also made available on CBS All Access, where the rest of the 15-episode season streamed weekly until February 11, 2018. The season's release led to record subscriptions for All Access, and positive reviews from critics who highlighted Martin-Green's performance, the series' production value, and its new additions to Star Trek canon. A second season was ordered in October 2017.
- 1 Episodes
- 2 Cast and characters
- 3 Production
- 4 Marketing
- 5 Release
- 6 Reception
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||1||"The Vulcan Hello"||David Semel||Story by : Bryan Fuller & Alex Kurtzman |
Teleplay by : Akiva Goldsman & Bryan Fuller
|September 24, 2017[a]|
|Investigating a damaged satellite near a binary star system on the edge of Federation space, the crew members of the USS Shenzhou discover an object obscured from their sensors. After First Officer Michael Burnham volunteers to investigate the object, she finds an ancient, carved vessel. She is attacked by a Klingon, and when trying to escape, she accidentally kills him. A group of Klingons mourn the death of their soldier, dubbed the "Torchbearer", before the outcast Voq volunteers to take his place. The Klingons, led by T'Kuvma, reveal themselves in a cloakable ship. T'Kuvma preaches to his followers of the Federation's attempts to usurp the individuality of the Klingons and their culture, and plans to fulfill an ancient prophecy by uniting the 24 great Klingon houses as was once done by Kahless. Voq activates a beacon that summons the Klingon leaders. Burnham, desperate to prevent a war, attempts to fire on the Klingons first, against the wishes of Captain Philippa Georgiou. Burnham is arrested for mutiny.|
|2||2||"Battle at the Binary Stars"||Adam Kane||Story by : Bryan Fuller |
Teleplay by : Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts
|September 24, 2017|
|T'Kuvma convinces the majority of the Klingon leaders that he can lead them to victory over the Federation, as reinforcements for the Shenzhou arrive. Georgiou offers to resolve the situation peacefully, but the Klingons immediately open fire. Starfleet Admiral Anderson arrives and again offers peace to the Klingons, but his ship is rammed by another cloaked Klingon vessel. Anderson has his ship self-destruct, destroying the Klingon ship as well. Starfleet retreats, leaving the Klingons to collect their dead. In the remains of the Shenzhou, Burnham escapes her cell after encouragement from her guardian Sarek via a telepathic connection. She convinces Georgiou to try to take T'Kuvma prisoner, and they create a distraction by sending an explosive into his ship with a Klingon corpse. Boarding the vessel, Burnham overpowers Voq. Georgiou attempts to capture T'Kuvma, but is killed. T'Kuvma is fatally shot by Burnham, who is transported to safety. Voq promises that T'Kuvma's legacy will live on. Burnham is later sentenced to life in prison for her mutiny.|
|3||3||"Context Is for Kings"||Akiva Goldsman||Story by : Bryan Fuller & Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts |
Teleplay by : Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts & Craig Sweeny
|October 1, 2017|
|Six months into her sentence, Burnham is on an unexpected prison transfer when an emergency forces her shuttle to be rescued by the USS Discovery. Spending several days on the ship, Burnham is ordered by its captain, the mysterious Gabriel Lorca, to assist with a scientific assignment. Burnham overhears Lieutenant Paul Stamets, an astromycologist who is leading the assignment, discuss an upcoming experiment with a colleague serving on another starship; Lorca is soon informed of an incident on the Discovery's sister ship, the USS Glenn, that has killed the entire crew. Stamets leads a boarding party to investigate and finds the dead crew hideously twisted and malformed, as well as a group of Klingons killed by an unknown creature. Lorca later asks Burnham to work for him, despite her sentence, explaining that he organized the circumstances that led her to him so she could help develop a new spore-based propulsion system that could win the war she started by killing T'Kuvma. He also secretly has the creature transported aboard the Discovery.|
|4||4||"The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry"||Olatunde Osunsanmi||Jesse Alexander & Aron Eli Coleite||October 8, 2017|
|Lorca assigns Burnham to study the creature from the Glenn, dubbed a Tardigrade, to find a way to use its biology as a weapon. Starfleet orders Discovery to the dilithium mining colony Corvan II, which is under Klingon attack. Stamets is reluctant to make such a long jump using the spores, and when the drive is activated the ship nearly collides with a star. Lorca sends Commander Landry to keep Burnham's research on track, and she attempts to sedate the Tardigrade (that she names Ripper) to cut off its claw; it kills her. Burnham believes that Ripper was acting in self-defense, and is drawn to the spores. Stamets and Burnham transport it to Engineering, where it connects to the spore drive and interfaces with the navigation system. The ship successfully makes the jump to Corvan II and saves the colony. On T'Kuvma's stranded ship, Klingon leader Kol earns the loyalty of T'Kuvma's desperate followers, and leaves Voq to die in the wreckage of the Shenzhou. L'Rell, secretly loyal to Voq, promises a way for them to win the war for the house of T'Kuvma.|
|5||5||"Choose Your Pain"||Lee Rose||Story by : Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts & Kemp Powers |
Teleplay by : Kemp Powers
|October 15, 2017|
|After a month of successful operations, Lorca is ordered to protect the spore drive until it can be replicated for other Starfleet ships. As he returns to the Discovery, Lorca is taken captive by the Klingons. Burnham has grown concerned with the toll that the drive has taken on Ripper. Along with Stamets' partner, medical officer Hugh Culber, Burnham convinces Stamets to find an alternative to run the drive. Lorca is imprisoned with captured Starfleet officer Ash Tyler and human criminal Harry Mudd, and in discussions Lorca reveals that he killed his entire crew during an earlier battle to spare them from the Klingons' torture, but escaped himself. Lorca is tortured by L'Rell, who wants the secret behind Discovery's new form of travel, but Lorca and Tyler escape before the Klingons learn anything. For the final jump needed to escape the Klingons, with Lorca and Tyler on-board, Stamets connects to the spore drive himself using Ripper's DNA. Later, Burnham frees Ripper, while Stamets' reflection does not walk away from a mirror when he does.|
|6||6||"Lethe"||Douglas Aarniokoski||Joe Menosky & Ted Sullivan||October 22, 2017|
|On his way to broker a peace deal with renegade Klingon houses, Sarek is injured when a "logic extremist" attempts to assassinate him. Burnham senses this, and Lorca agrees to rescue Sarek. Admiral Katrina Cornwell questions this decision and others that Lorca has been making. Burnham searches for Sarek in a shuttle with her roommate, Cadet Sylvia Tilly, and Tyler. Burnham attempts to connect with Sarek's mind, and finds him remembering the time that her application for the Vulcan Expeditionary Group was rejected. She learns that the VEG would only admit one of Sarek's children, and he chose Spock, his half-human son. Spock ultimately chose to join Starfleet, rendering Sarek's decision futile. Burnham helps him regain consciousness and activate a locator beacon. Lorca and Cornwell sleep together, but she is concerned by his paranoid behavior and plans to remove him from command of Discovery. With Sarek unable to meet the Klingons, Cornwell takes his place; however, the peace talks are actually a trap, and she is taken captive.|
|7||7||"Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad"||David M. Barrett||Aron Eli Coleite & Jesse Alexander||October 29, 2017|
|While attending a crew party, Burnham and Tyler are called to the bridge to deal with an endangered space creature that the Discovery has come across. When the creature is brought on board, it is revealed to be carrying a person: Harry Mudd. He plans to kill Lorca and sell the ship to the Klingons, but when he is caught he blows up the ship instead. Time returns to the party earlier, with Burnham and Tyler called to the bridge again. They are intercepted by Stamets, who is aware that they are in a time loop due to his interactions with Ripper. Over several time loops Stamets works with Burnham and Tyler to find a solution to the problem while Mudd gets further in his plan each time. They eventually convince Mudd that he has won, and he ends the time loop. Preparing to receive a boarding party of Klingons, Mudd is instead confronted by his "beloved" Stella and her father, from whom he had stolen her dowry. They take Mudd away. Stamets reveals to Burnham and Tyler that in one of the time loops they had danced together and kissed.|
|8||8||"Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum"||John S. Scott||Kirsten Beyer||November 5, 2017|
|Coming to the aid of another Federation ship, the Discovery is unable to prevent its destruction by a Klingon ship with cloaking technology. Desperate for a way to detect these ships even when they are cloaked, Burnham, Tyler, and Saru are sent to Pahvo, a seemingly uninhabited planet with a naturally occurring crystalline transmitter that broadcasts the planet's vibrational frequency into space. They hope to use the transmitter to create a sonar for the hidden Klingon ships. They discover that Pahvo is inhabited with indigenous life that introduce Saru to their higher understanding of peace, and he attempts to force Burnham and Tyler to remain with him on the planet forever. Burnham is able to fight off Saru and broadcast the new signal. However, the Pahvo lifeforms adjust the signal to contact the Klingons as well, hoping to end the war. Kol receives the signal, after sentencing L'Rell to death: she had tried to help Cornwell escape in exchange for protection from Kol, leading to L'Rell apparently killing Cornwell to try save face with Kol.|
|9||9||"Into the Forest I Go"||Chris Byrne||Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt||November 12, 2017|
|Lorca is ordered to flee before the Klingons arrive, but disobeys orders to protect the lifeforms on Pahvo and their chances of detecting the cloaked ships. When the Klingons arrive, Tyler and Burnham transport to their ship and plant sensors that will help create an algorithm for detecting the cloaked ships. They find an alive Cornwell hidden with L'Rell, but encountering the latter sends Tyler into shock due to PTSD from her torturing and raping him. Lorca has Stamets make 133 micro-jumps in order to provide a three-dimensional reading of the sensors, while Burnham distracts Kol by challenging him to a fight. The jumps are completed, though not without trauma to Stamets. When the algorithm is calculated, Burnham, Tyler, Cornwell, and L'Rell (who wishes to defect) are transported back to the Discovery and the Klingon ship is destroyed. Stamets volunteers to make one more jump to safety, but tells Lorca it will be his last. However, Lorca changes the coordinates and they jump to an unknown destination surrounded by debris from Klingon ships.|
|10||10||"Despite Yourself"||Jonathan Frakes||Sean Cochran||January 7, 2018|
|Discovery's crew determines that they have arrived in a parallel Mirror Universe, with Stamets now unconscious and unable to power the spore drive. Tyler confronts L'Rell, and she attempts to use a verbal cue to trigger something within him, though he fights this off. From a data core from a wrecked Klingon ship, they learn that this universe is ruled by the human Terran Empire, who are fighting a resistance that includes species such as Klingons and Vulcans. Here, Burnham is the former captain of the ISS Shenzhou, presumed dead after an attack by the fugitive Lorca. The ISS Discovery is captained by Sylvia Tilly's counterpart, so she and the crew pretend to be their Mirror selves. They deliver Burnham and Lorca to the Shenzhou, under the ruse that Burnham had been hunting Lorca since her presumed death and had now captured him. Tyler accompanies them, after first killing Culber when he informs Tyler that he appears to have undergone major surgical modifications. On the Shenzhou, Lorca is tortured while Burnham assumes command.|
|11||11||"The Wolf Inside"||TJ Scott||Lisa Randolph||January 14, 2018|
|The ISS Shenzhou is given the coordinates of the resistance leadership, and ordered to kill them all. Burnham and Tyler travel as a landing party themselves and instead surrender to the resistance in hopes of learning how the Klingons of this universe have learned to work with other species; they find that the Mirror Voq is the leader. Burnham offers to give the group time to escape before their base is destroyed, and Mirror Sarek confirms she can be trusted after connecting to her mind. Listening to Voq triggers Tyler's programming, and he has to be restrained. Back on the ship, he reveals to Burnham that he now knows he was once Voq, and that he underwent surgery to appear human and infiltrate Starfleet. She has him beamed into space, where he is picked up by the USS Discovery. Saru and Tilly imprison him, having earlier found the body of Culber, and apparently failed to heal Stamets using spores. Burnham is reprimanded for not killing the resistance leaders immediately by the Emperor—the Mirror Georgiou.|
|12||12||"Vaulting Ambition"||Hanelle M. Culpepper||Jordon Nardino||January 21, 2018|
|Burnham and Lorca are summoned to the ISS Charon, the imperial flagship. Georgiou sends Lorca to a torturous agony booth, and has dinner with Burnham. Stamets finds himself within the mycelial network with the consciousness of his Mirror counterpart, learning that the network has been corrupted by the Mirror Stamets' experiments. Stamets encounters a representation of Culber and accepts his loss, before waking up to find his spore collection infected. Georgiou laments allowing Lorca to become a father figure for Burnham, only for the pair to fall in love and plot to overthrow her. She plans to execute Burnham, who reveals the truth about being from another universe. Explaining how they had crossed over, Georgiou trades the spore drive's schematics for information on alternative ways to cross between universes, which leads Burnham to realize that the Lorca she knows is actually from the Mirror Universe, and has been manipulating events to get close to her and back to the Mirror Universe. Lorca escapes from the agony booth.|
|13||13||"What's Past Is Prologue"||Olatunde Osunsanmi||Ted Sullivan||January 28, 2018|
|Lorca frees his old crew, who have been tortured since his disappearance, and with the help of Mirror Stamets they are able to kill those loyal to Georgiou and usurp her throne. She goes into hiding, while Burnham also evades capture and contacts the Discovery. They agree to a plan in which Burnham lowers the containment field around a large energy source originating from the mycelial network. The Discovery will then arrive to destroy the energy source, causing an explosion which they can ride into the mycelial network through which Stamets could navigate them home. Georgiou agrees to help Burnham, and they attack Lorca's group. Rejected and defeated by Burnham, Lorca is killed by Georgiou, who offers to sacrifice herself to allow Burnham's escape. The latter instead takes Georgiou with her as they are beamed to the Discovery, and the Charon is destroyed. Back in their own universe, the Discovery crew learns that they have arrived nine months after they left, and in the meantime, the Klingons have nearly won the war.|
|14||14||"The War Without, The War Within"||David Solomon||Lisa Randolph||February 4, 2018|
|The Discovery is boarded by Cornwell and Sarek, who explain that the Klingon houses remain divided, and fight between themselves to see which can destroy more Federation assets. The only safe refuge for Starfleet beyond Earth is now Starbase 1, and they warp there with Cornwell assuming command. After emergency surgery performed by L'Rell, Tyler now has his personality back, but can still access Voq's memories; Burnham is unable to forgive his actions as Voq. The crew finds Starbase 1 conquered by a Klingon house, and the remainder of Starfleet's command withdraws to protect Earth. Georgiou tells Burnham that she defeated the Klingons in the Mirror Universe with a surprise attack on their homeworld of Qo'noS, and Cornwell agrees to replicate that now. To jump into Klingon territory, Stamets terraforms a desolate moon to grow a new crop of spores so they can use the spore drive. Georgiou tells Sarek and Cornwell of other essential information she has, and they have her pose as Captain Georgiou to lead the mission.|
|15||15||"Will You Take My Hand?"||Akiva Goldsman||Story by : Akiva Goldsman & Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts |
Teleplay by : Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts
|February 11, 2018|
|Tyler suggests that a drone enter the dormant volcanic system beneath the surface of Qo'noS through an entrance beneath a shrine, from which it can search the planet for targets. Discovery jumps to a nearby cave, and a party of Georgiou, Burnham, Tilly, and Tyler pose as traders. Tilly discovers that the volcanic system is active, and that the "drone" Georgiou has is a hydro-bomb. Burnham confronts Cornwell, who admits that detonating the bomb in the active volcano will annihilate all life on Qo'noS, winning the war. Burnham insists that Starfleet not commit genocide, and convinces Georgiou to give up the detonator in exchange for her freedom. They give the detonator to L'Rell, who uses the threat of mass destruction to unite the Klingon houses under her leadership and end the war. The Discovery crew are hailed as heroes, and Burnham is issued a full pardon and restored to the rank of commander. Tyler chooses to remain with L'Rell. As Discovery warps to Vulcan to pick up its new captain, it receives a distress call from the USS Enterprise.|
In March 2018, a "secret scene" was released depicting an alternative ending to the season finale. It features Mirror Georgiou being approached by an operative of Section 31, a storyline that is further explored in the second season of the series.
Cast and characters
On November 2, 2015, CBS announced a new Star Trek television series to premiere in January 2017, "on the heels" of the original series' 50th anniversary in 2016, to be developed specifically for the CBS All Access on demand service. In February 2016, Bryan Fuller, who began his career writing for the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, was announced as the new series' showrunner. Fuller had publicly called for Star Trek to return to television for years, and when he first met with CBS about the series, the company did not have a plan for what the new show would be. He proposed an anthology series with each season being a standalone, serialized show set in a different era, beginning with a prequel to the original series. CBS told Fuller to just start with a single serialized show and see how that performs first, and he began further developing the prequel concept. In June, Fuller announced that the first season would consist of 13 episodes, and a month later, at Star Trek's 50th anniversary San Diego Comic-Con panel, he revealed the series' title to be Star Trek: Discovery, and confirmed that it would be set in the "Prime Timeline" of the previous Star Trek series.
At the end of July, CBS hired David Semel, a veteran television procedural director who was under an overall deal with the studio, to direct the pilot for Discovery. This was a decision that Fuller was not happy with, believing that Semel "was wrong for the job". Fuller wanted a more visionary director, and had personally reached out to Edgar Wright to direct the pilot before CBS hired Semel. As development and pre-production on the series continued, Fuller and Semel "clashed" on the direction of the show. The series was also starting to overrun its per-episode budget, while Fuller was attempting to both design new sets, costumes, and aliens as well as heading the series' writers and also spending considerable time addressing his commitments as showrunner of another new series, American Gods. This caused frustration among CBS executives that were pushing for a January 2017 debut, a date that others believed was unrealistic. By August 2016, Fuller had hired Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts, who he had worked with on Pushing Daisies, to serve as co-showrunners with him. A month later, Fuller and Kurtzman had asked CBS to delay the series' release so they could realistically meet the high expectations for the series, and the studio announced that the series premiere had been pushed back to May 2017. The pair said that "these extra few months will help us achieve a vision we can all be proud of."
A few weeks after the delay, Fuller met with Sonequa Martin-Green about portraying the series' lead, a character that had been surprisingly difficult for the production to cast. Fuller "felt he found the crucial piece of the puzzle", but the actress would not be released from a contract at AMC until her character's death on The Walking Dead which was not set to air until April 2017, meaning Discovery would have to be delayed again if Martin-Green was cast. At the end of October, CBS asked Fuller to step down as showrunner. They announced that the production was being restructured to keep Fuller actively involved with the series but not on a day-to-day production level as he shifted his focus fully to American Gods: Berg and Harberts were made sole showrunners, working off of a broad story arc and overall mythology established by Fuller; Kurtzman and Fuller would continue as executive producers, with Fuller still helping the writers break stories; and Akiva Goldsman would join the series in a supporting producer role, similar to the role he held on Fringe alongside Kurtzman, to help the showrunners and other producers "juggle the demands of the series". In a statement, CBS reiterated that they were "extremely happy with [Fuller's] creative direction" for the series, and were committed to "seeing this vision through". However, some elements of the series that came directly from Fuller were dropped, including some "more heavily allegorical and complex story" points and some of his designs. Fuller later confirmed that he was no longer involved in the series at all, which he said was "bittersweet ... I can only give them the material I've given them and hope that it is helpful for them." By the end of the year, Martin-Green had indeed been cast as the series' lead, and in May 2017, the episode order was expanded to 15. That June, CBS announced a new premiere date of September 24.
—Executive producer Akiva Goldsman on approaching the Federation-Klingon war from both sides.
Fuller wanted to differentiate the series from the previous 700+ episodes of Star Trek by taking advantage of the streaming format of All Access and telling a single story arc across the entire first season. He and the writers had completed this arc by the end of June 2016. The story arc revolves around "an event in Star Trek history that's been talked about but never been explored", 10 years before the events of the original series, which was revealed to be the Federation-Klingon cold war. Fuller elaborated that the original series episode "Balance of Terror", one of his favorites, would be "a touchstone" for the season's story arc.
Because of the season's focus on Klingons and their culture, the producers decided that members of the species would speak their own language with subtitles throughout the show, which Berg said was "very important for us ... They have their own pride. They have their own interests and talent. It's a very fascinating culture." Noting that the Klingons historically represented the Soviet Union, becoming friendlier with the protagonists of Star Trek as the Cold War ended, Harberts stated that in Discovery they and Starfleet would represent different factions within the modern United States, explaining that "what we really wanted to do too is understand two differing points of view and really explore it ... making sure they aren't just the enemy. And then finding a way to come together. How do we bring everyone back together? [That] is what season one is all about." Berg elaborated that "one of the themes we are exploring is universal and is a lesson I feel like as human beings we have to learn over and over again—is you think you know 'the other,' but you really don't. You have to sort of cognitively re-frame or break or deviate from your own point of view to really understand. You have to forget what you knew before. One of the big steps in that journey is how to understand yourself. You have to understand yourself before you can better see others. The show is called Discovery and it is called Discovery for a reason, because our characters are on a journey."
Goldsman said the story of the Klingon War would cover only the first season of the series, ending with the creation of the Neutral Zone, something Goldsman said is "sufficiently inexact that we can now fill in how we got there." He noted that the season is set in a time period that has been mentioned a lot in Star Trek previously, and that has been widely covered by previous Star Trek novels, and explained that the writers considered those novels to be non-canon, "but we are aware of them. And, we are going to cross paths with components that Trek fans are familiar with". Discussing some of the characters' relationships, the showrunners noted that previous Star Trek series revolved around the relationships between central male characters, but Discovery focuses more on female characters with a "friendship structure" that goes from Captain Georgiou to First Officer Burnham, and from Burnham to Cadet Tilly. They also explained that the two main Starfleet captains in the series, Georgiou and Lorca, are "metaphors for how people and institutions act in times of conflict and desperation", with Georgiou responding to war as would be expected of a Starfleet officer from previous series, but Lorca "represents a more mysterious, complicated version of a Starfleet captain who can almost only exist during a time of war".
Rather than begin the season with Burnham boarding the USS Discovery and revealing her backstory through flashbacks, which a more traditional series may have done, the writers wanted to have a prologue that explored Burnham initial actions and her relationship to Georgiou. Feeling that at least "two hours" were needed to convey this, the first two episodes of the season (released as the two-part premiere of the series) cover this prologue, with the season's main story beginning with the third episode, which was considered to be the series' equivalent of a pilot episode. It begins six months after the prologue episodes, which was inspired by film sequels that begin with significant events having transpired since the previous installment such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The third episode reveals that the season's story involves the development of a new form of space travel that could win the war for the Federation. When it was noted that this form of travel is not known in the previous Star Trek series (set later in the canon), actor Jason Isaacs stated that the writers were aware of this, and were "very clear, in not a cop-out way, to both incorporate this stuff which is exciting and very visual, to make sure that it didn’t rankle canon." The season's story is split into two "micro-arcs", covering the first nine episodes and then the rest of the season, with a break in airing between the two. It ends with the end of the war, which comes down to an agreement between two characters. The negotiations are made entirely by female characters, which was an intentional choice that Kurtzman felt was justified by the Me Too movement. The writers felt this was true to the spirit of Star Trek, and allowed them to move beyond the war storyline that Fuller had established for the show. The story for the next season is then set-up with the appearance of the USS Enterprise, with Harberts explaining that the writers knew they would have to acknowledge that the Enterprise was co-existing with the Discovery at some point, and after Fuller left the series they decided to just "tell this story now" with the second season.
In addition to Martin-Green as Michael Burnham, the series also stars Doug Jones as Saru, an alien lieutenant commander; Shazad Latif as Ash Tyler, a former prisoner of war; Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets, an astromycologist; Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly, a cadet; and Jason Isaacs as Gabriel Lorca, captain of the USS Discovery. Not all of the show's characters are introduced immediately, with the writers taking advantage of the streaming, serialized format to take their time introducing each character and spend time with them as they are introduced. Tyler is revealed to actually be the Klingon Voq disguised as a human; Voq was initially credited as being portrayed by the invented actor Javid Iqbal, named for Latif's father, to hide the fact that Latif was portraying both Voq and Tyler.
In November 2016, series' writer and consulting producer Nicholas Meyer mentioned that Michelle Yeoh had been cast in Discovery, and she was soon confirmed to be portraying Captain Georgiou of the USS Shenzhou. With Latif's initial casting in December 2016, Mary Chieffo was cast as the Klingon L'Rell. In April 2017, Kenneth Mitchell was cast as Kol, the character that Latif was originally cast to play before he was given the role of Tyler. That July, Rapp revealed that Wilson Cruz, whom Rapp had previously worked with on the musical Rent, would portray Stamets' love interest Hugh Culber. Jayne Brook also has a recurring role in the season, as Admiral Katrina Cornwell. Additionally, appearing throughout the season are Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer, Ali Momen as Kamran Gant, Chris Violette as Britch Weeton, Romain Waite as Troy Januzzi, Sara Mitich as Airiam, Oyin Oladejo as Joann Owosekun, Ronnie Rowe Jr. as R.A. Bryce, Conrad Coates as Terral, and Patrick Kwok-Choon as Rhys. Tasia Valenza and Julianne Grossman voice the computers of the Shenzhou and the Discovery, respectively.
Fuller said in August 2016 that "once we get through this first season and establish our own Star Trek universe" and characters, the series could look "to open up to more familiar characters and how they can feed into the [show]." He did express interest in including the character Amanda Grayson, saying, "there's much to be told about that". She was later confirmed to be appearing in the season. By January 2017, James Frain was cast as Grayson's husband Sarek. Rainn Wilson was cast as another original series character, Harry Mudd, that March. In September, Harberts revealed that Mia Kirshner had been cast as Grayson. Katherine Barrell portrays Mudd's wife Stella. Clint Howard, who appeared in several previous Star Trek series, has a role in the season finale as an Orion drug dealer. The role was written specifically for Howard, who is friends with Goldsman.
The design of the USS Discovery is based on an unused Ralph McQuarrie design for the USS Enterprise from the unproduced film Star Trek: Planet of the Titans. The USS Shenzhou was designed to look older than the Discovery, and was described as being closer to a submarine from The Hunt for Red October than previously seen Star Trek spaceships. The Shenzhou is a Walker-class starship, a new designation created for the series that is named for test pilot Joe Walker. Sets for the Shenzhou and the Discovery's interiors were built for the series, described as a "tangle of corridors and rooms". Because the bridge of the Shenzhou is on the bottom of that ship, the "massive" set for that room was built 12 feet (3.7 m) off the ground and upside down, and became a challenge for the crew to work in. In some cases, such as the transporter rooms and corridors, the same sets were used for both ships, though dressed differently with alternate lighting, graphics, and paint. The "turn over" process took up to a week.
Mark Worthington and Todd Cherniawsky served as initial production designers for the series, with Tamara Deverell taking over around production on the sixth episode. She is the first female production designer for the Star Trek franchise. During production, the network told the series' writing staff to write an excursion to a planet for an upcoming episode, which became the visit to Pahvo. Deverell had 10 minutes to pitch a design for the new sets, and came up with the idea of a yurt consisting of membranes based on a mathematical structure. This set was then placed in a forest through visual effects. For the second half of the season, Deverell had to redesign the Mirror Universe, a classic location from previous series in the franchise. Rather than how it was previously portrayed where designers "just slapped a logo on the wall", Deverell's team created a multi-dimensional version of the Terran Empire logo and then augmented sets with new mirrors. For the Terran flagship ISS Charon, Deverell used a "monolithic, Brutalist, concrete form" for her designs.
Fabric for the Starfleet uniforms seen in the series were custom-dyed in Switzerland; the costumes were cut and assembled in Toronto by costume designer Gersha Phillips and her department. For officers in combat situations or hazardous away missions, jumpsuit-versions of the main uniform are paired with armored vests. Also designed for the series was a Starfleet long haul space suit, which was built in the United Kingdom from sections of high-density foam that were then covered in fiberglass. Phillips designed traditional Vulcan robes for Sarek which were meant to reflect his devotion to logic and "serious intellectual pursuits". Vulcan pendants celebrating "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" were 3D printed and hand painted. For Harry Mudd's costume, primarily made of leather, Phillips was inspired by Adam Ant.
Fuller had "really, really wanted" to redesign the Klingons, which he felt had inconsistent designs throughout the franchise's history. He wanted to portray the race as "sexy and vital and different" rather than "the thugs of the universe", and spent months working with prosthetics designer Neville Page and production designer Mark Worthington on the new look. Page noted that changing the look of the Klingons would be controversial with Star Trek fans. The idea was to "create a high level of sophisticated detail—for a race that had long been perceived as brutal, one-minded, and simplistic—in order to breathe new life into the Klingon race".
They first designed a generic, realistic Klingon skull, based on real biology. The different Klingons were developed from that base in a "practical evolutionary" way. The skull design assumed that the Klingons are "an apex predator" and have heightened senses, "specifically extra sensory receptors running from the top of their heads to their backs." Page explained that because of this, it made more sense for the Klingons to be bald "because of these heightened senses on the top of their heads." He added that the Klingons being bald was a "mandate" from Fuller. Different designs for the Klingons clothing, weapons, and armor were then created for the 24 different Klingon houses. It was important to the producers to show diversity within the Klingons as well, so the series depicts both light and dark skinned members of the species. Elaborating on the differences between the houses, Glenn Hetrick, co-founder of Alchemy Studios with Page, said, "The [Klingon] empire is very big. They don't all grow up on Qo'noS. They don't all live on the same planets and certainly those different planets would have different environments. So how would the cultures have evolved differently?" Armor and weapons were created by Hetrick and Page using 3D printing, as well as hand carving models of weapons to then be cast from aluminum. Some props, such as helmets, were also designed to be augmented with CGI. Weapons like Klingon ceremonial blades and gun-like "disruptors" were reimagined versions of props from The Next Generation and other Star Trek films and series, with the overall design for weapons, helmets, and armor being based on the culture notes created for the Klingons in the original series, which included influences from Middle Eastern, Mongolian, and Byzantine culture. Recurring design elements for the Klingons' weapons and armor include their skull and vertebrae, "Klingons poised to thrust themselves into the honor of battle", and "a Klingon sacrificing himself for the honor of battle" which harkens to the emblem of the Klingon Empire.
Phillips and Larlarb created the clothing worn by the Klingon T'Kuvma and his followers, inspired more by "ancient Klingon ways" than the costumes seen previously in Star Trek. T'Kuvma's wears a tunic created from three different types of leather and a chest plate made with 3D printed beads, decorated with Swarovski crystals. Costumes for his followers were created with individually stained, painted, modelled, and hand-pressed pieces of leather, with each suit taking ten costumers 110 hours to complete. Different colored leather was used to differentiate males and females. A notable set of armor created for the season is the Torchbearer armor, which is part of a sacred ritual to unite the Klingon houses, and consists of a hundred individually 3D printed pieces. When first describing the Torchbearer armor, Fuller referred to baroque and samurai styles. For Kol, a member of the house of Kor that previously appeared in the original series, his look is much closer to that of previously seen Klingons, wearing "more leather and a different set of armor". US$3 million was spent on a "massive" ship set for T'Kuvma's house, designed as an alien cathedral. Known as the "Klingon sarcophagus ship", it had "to be a church, a ritual space, and a functioning bridge for the Klingon Empire." The outside of the ship is covered in coffins, "some are 300 years old, some are just two days old. Downstairs is the death room, where they prepare their dead; then the coffins get raised up and put on the outside." The set is 40 feet (12 m) tall, 100 feet (30 m) long, and 50 feet (15 m) wide, and includes multiple levels, mezzanines, and cantilevers. The set also includes Klingon text and glyphs inspired by the novel The Final Reflection, from which the designers also took details such as the strategy game Klin zha and Klingon bloodwine cups. Research was done on how written languages evolve to accurately depict the ancient form of Klingon written on the ship. Instead of physical displays like the Federation ships, the sarcophagus ship uses holographic displays created with visual effects.
The Klingon homeworld of Qo'noS is visited in the season finale, though the town depicted is an Orion outpost. The production team attempted to reuse existing sets given any new sets would potentially not be reused. The graveyard chamber from the sarcophagus ship set was turned into an Orion sex cabaret, with other sets including a Klingon drinking tent and street stalls. The Orion elements were inspired by Indian architecture, with fabrics from Morocco and other "far east" countries, as these were the inspirations for the original Orion designs in previous Star Trek series. Deverell described the sets as "lush like a bordello in the 1800s. We were allowed to go crazy."
Filming for the season began at Pinewood Toronto Studios on January 24, 2017, with cinematographers including Guillermo Navarro, working on the pilot, and Colin Hoult. Set construction had initially been set to begin within a month of June 2016, for a filming period of that September to around March 2017, but by that September, production was not expected to begin until November. After Fuller stepped down as showrunner, set construction was expected to be completed by the end of 2016, with filming to begin "shortly thereafter". By mid-May 2017, filming for scenes set on an unidentified planet had taken place on location in Jordan. Some of the series' sets took over six weeks to create, and new sets were being built up until the end of production on the season. Some episodes for the season were filmed solely on existing sets, making them bottle episodes, though Harberts said the series would not do anything "as bottle-y as 'everyone is stuck in the mess hall!'" Filming for the season concluded on October 11, 2017.
Robyn Stewart, an expert in the Klingon language, and linguist Rea Nolan worked closely with the Klingon actors to ensure they could both speak and understand their lines in the language, having the actors practice while their makeup and prosthetics were being applied, which took three hours each day. They would first rehearse their lines in English, and worked to "inhabit [the lines] emotionally". Chieffo felt that "it makes sense that when we are speaking to each other we are speaking in our native tongue and really adding a fluidity and nuance", while Mitchell said, "It's an incredibly complex language ... it feels alien. Because it is incredibly difficult and I don't speak the language it takes a lot of muscle memory to memorize each separate syllable over and over and over." For a sequence where L'Rell and Tyler are shown having sex, Chieffo required full-body prosthetics which took four hours to apply. Though these are only seen for around 30 seconds in the episode, Chieffo felt it was important to do and for her to be the one in the shot rather than a body double to accurately tell the story and convey the character's movements. Chieffo chose to wear only the prosthetics on set for the day rather than cover herself with a shirt, explaining, "I’m pretty free. I’m not walking around topless normally, but I’m very comfortable with whatever you need to do to get the job done."
The season has 5000 visual effects shots, which visual effects supervisor Jason Zimmerman described said was similar to one feature-length film. He said that the department was aiming for "high-end" effects, similar to those seen in films, and that the number of visual effects in each episode was always driven by the story.Pixomondo is the primary visual effects vendor for the series, with Spin VFX and Crafty Apes also working on the show. The shot that went through the most iterations during the season was a simple composite of computer screen graphics onto an on-set monitor, with the graphics going through 146 different iterations.
Composer Jeff Russo wrote several themes for the series, in addition to the main title theme, but not necessarily for the different characters in the show as would often be done. Instead, Russo wanted to focus on the emotions of the characters over the story beats, for instance "even when you are shooting, you’re still feeling, so why not play that as opposed to 'Oh my god, he’s got a gun,' or 'Oh my god he’s got a phaser.'" Like the rest of the series' departments, Russo's aim was to make the score feel cinematic as well.
For the Kasseelian Opera that Stamets talks about later in the season, Russo did not want to attempt to make a "futuristic opera", believing instead that "opera is opera and that it should have the same style as what is heard now. For the seventh episode, source music from Wyclef Jean is used which Russo compared to people in the current day listening to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Singer Ayana Haviv recorded arias for the opera, and in a "moment of inspiration" Russo asked her to sing the vocal section of the original Star Trek theme. Russo and Kurtzman responded positively to her rendition, and Russo arranged the theme for the series' 74-piece orchestra to play over the end credits of the season finale after the USS Enterprise appears. Haviv altered her voice for the final recording to match the original 1960s style of the theme.
A soundtrack album for the first chapter of the season was released digitally on December 15, 2017, by Lakeshore Records. Another, for the second chapter, was released digitally on April 6, 2018. CD versions of both albums, along with a vinyl release featuring selections from each, are being released in 2018. All music composed by Jeff Russo
|Original Series Soundtrack: Season 1, Chapter 1|
|1.||"Main Title (aired Version)"||1:33|
|2.||"We Come In Peace"||1:22|
|3.||"First Officer’s Log"||1:09|
|5.||"The Day is Saved"||3:10|
|10.||"What Did You Mean by That?"||1:05|
|11.||"I Can’t Dance"||1:53|
|16.||"Watch the Stars Fall"||1:59|
|20.||"The Charge of Mutiny"||2:08|
|21.||"Main Title (Extended)"||2:10|
|Original Series Soundtrack: Season 1, Chapter 2|
|1.||"Burnham Take Over"||1:31|
|2.||"I Can’t Rest Here"||1:22|
|4.||"Tell Me the Truth"||6:29|
|5.||"The Rebels Haven’t Completed Their Evacuation"||1:50|
|6.||"I’ll Take It from Here"||2:09|
|8.||"The Lorca I Knew"||2:38|
|9.||"212 Days of Torture"||1:27|
|11.||"Come in Discovery"||2:30|
|12.||"Safe to Drop out of Warp"||4:26|
|13.||"Lorca is Finished"||2:26|
|16.||"Qo’nos Bar Source"||2:54|
|17.||"Not a Lot of Humans Here"||1:57|
|18.||"I’m No Good"||2:36|
|19.||"War is Over"||4:48|
|20.||"I’ve Never Been to Vulcan"||0:55|
|22.||"Theme from Star Trek (Discovery Episode 115 End Credits Version)"||1:02|
With the announcement of the series' title in July 2016 came a promotional video giving a first look at the USS Discovery. The video did not feature final designs, as the producers had "three weeks to throw that together. We wanted to show fans ... The concepts of the ship are totally what we're going for and they'll be honed up until, I think, the day we deliver". In January 2017, a YouTube video presented by Alcatel was released, using 360° technology to showcase digital models of previous Star Trek ships. The first full trailer for the series was released in May 2017. Chris Harnick of E! News described the trailer as "gorgeous" and "truly cinematic", and because of the appearances of Sarek and the Klingons in the footage, "this is the Star Trek you know and love." Aja Romano at Vox called the trailer's visuals "sumptuous" and "modern, but still very much in keeping with the aesthetic of previous Trek series". She continued, "What gets short shrift in this trailer is the series' overarching plot".
In July 2017, Discovery had an "extensive" presence at San Diego Comic-Con, including a panel featuring Martin-Green, Isaacs, Jones, Latif, Wiseman, Rapp, Frain, Kurtzman, Berg, Kadin, Harberts, and Goldsman, and moderated by Wilson. Footage from the series was screened at the panel, with a new trailer released online soon afterwards. CBS also created a "fully immersive" art experience at the Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts Gallery, featuring the USS Discovery's captain's chair and other props, costumes, and sketches from the series, as well as limited edition posters for the show and a shop selling item exclusive to Comic-Con. Pedicabs inspired by the series will give free rides through the Gaslamp District, while a '#TrekDiscovery Challenge' competition will see fans have to take pictures with "authentically costumed Trek ambassadors", one each representing the crews of the five previous Star Trek series, as well as the captain's chair at the art gallery, and post them online with the hashtag #TrekDiscovery to be eligible to win a Roku streaming stick and a subscription to CBS All Access. At the convention, Gentle Giant Studios revealed that they had just picked up the license to create mini-busts and statues based on the series, and planned to particularly focus on the series' Klingons. At the beginning of August, an afternoon of four panels at the Star Trek Las Vegas event was dedicated to the series, featuring producers and writers, actors who were not present at Comic-Con, creature designers, and writers involved with related books and comics.
By the beginning of September, promotion for the series was taking place around the world: Isaacs was involved in the launch of the Blackpool Illuminations festival in the UK to promote Discovery; cast and crew promoted the series at the Fan Expo Canada; a USS Shenzhou-themed photobooth, that took pictures of fans as Klingons, was in operation at the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin; and an outdoor campaign of posters and billboards was underway for the show, including a large billboard on the roof of an LAX Airport building. The night before the series premiered on CBS, a model of the USS Discovery was flown above the Hudson River on Manhattan's west side. Created by Remarkable Media, the 50 feet (15 m) rig consisted of a truss skeleton covered in LEDs, and was suspended from a Black Hawk helicopter. On October 7, panels for the series were held at both the PaleyFest television festival and at New York Comic Con.
Star Trek: Discovery premiered at the ArcLight Hollywood on September 19, 2017. The first episode aired in a "preview broadcast" on CBS in the United States on September 24, and was made available with the second episode on CBS All Access. Subsequent first-run episodes, making up the first chapter of the season, were streamed weekly on All Access through November 5. The second chapter streamed from January 7 to February 11, 2018.
CBS Studios International licensed the series to Bell Media for broadcast in Canada, and to Netflix for another 188 countries. In Canada, the premiere was broadcast on September 24, 2017, on both the CTV Television Network and on the specialty channels Space (English) and Z (French) before being streamed on CraveTV, with subsequent episodes just broadcast or streamed through Space, Z, and CraveTV. In the other countries, Netflix will release each episode of the series for streaming within 24 hours of its U.S. debut. This agreement also saw Bell and Netflix acquire all previous Star Trek series to stream in their entirety.
After reviewing the episode "Choose Your Pain", Space chose to air it uncensored despite its use of the word "fuck" and depictions of violence. The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council received an official complaint about this given the channel aired the episode before 9 pm, after which series intended for adult audiences should be shown according to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Code of Ethics and Violence Code. The Council found Space to have breached these regulations in not censoring the episode, and required the channel to air an announcement stating as such twice during the week following April 19, 2018. At the time, Bell Media accepted the decision and agreed to comply with the ruling, but did not indicate any intention to change their approach to broadcasting future seasons of the series.
Ratings and viewership
According to Nielsen Media Research, the CBS broadcast of the first episode was watched by a "decent" audience of 9.5 million viewers. The premiere of the series led to record subscriptions for All Access, with the service having its biggest day of signups, as well as its biggest week and month of signups thanks to the series. According to "app analytics specialist" App Annie, the premiere of the series also caused the number of downloads of the All Access mobile app to more than double, with revenue from the app for CBS doubling compared to the average in-app revenue during the previous 30 days.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an 82% approval rating with an average rating of 7.07/10 based on 64 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Although it takes an episode to achieve liftoff, Star Trek: Discovery delivers a solid franchise installment for the next generation—boldly led by the charismatic Sonequa Martin-Green." The average rating for each of the series' individual episodes is 87%. Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 72 out of 100 based on reviews from 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Matt Zoller Seitz of Vulture praised the series' premiere, feeling it "stands tall alongside the best-regarded incarnations of the Trek franchise... with an almost entirely new slate of characters... and casts them with actors you can't help but like even when they're getting on your last nerve." Writing for Vox, Todd VanDerWerff noted "the best thing about Discovery is that Michael Burnham, played beautifully by Martin-Green, does stuff. She gets in trouble. She breaks rules. She violates Starfleet protocol. She has emotions that get the best of her, even as she knows they shouldn't. She is, in other words, very human". Overall, he declared that "Star Trek is best when it's hopeful, but hope shines brightest amid horror. On some level, Discovery knows both of those things".
Writing for TVLine, Dave Nemetz graded the episode a B+, saying, "the nail-bitingly tense premiere delivered a cracking good action story, eye-popping special effects and a number of gasp-worthy twists" that was worth the wait. Maureen Ryan of Variety, after watching the first two episodes, said the series "has yet to prove itself a worthy successor to The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine. But there are reasons to hope that Discovery will be a promising addition to the Trek canon". Chaim Gartenberg for The Verge also criticized the "extended prologue", but called the two-part premiere "surprisingly satisfying". He praised the uniqueness of Burnham in comparison to previous Trek protagonists, saying, "She's a far more rounded, human character than any of the previous captains, with some serious trauma from a Klingon attack in her youth that's left her predisposed to hate the warrior race. And while Star Trek has plumbed the 'main character has demons' well in the past—most notably with Sisko in Deep Space Nine, and Picard in the later films, when it comes to the Borg—Burnham feels far more compelling for not being a flawless human being in other respects, as her series-protagonist predecessors were."
Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Darren Franich gave the two-part premiere a B grade, praising Martin-Green's performance as the lead and the production design as well as commenting on the "undeniable appeal" of the "introduction of a new ship, the revelation that we're watching that ship's final voyage, the cliffhanger possibility that our new hero is a fallen angel." However, he felt that the series' third episode retroactively made the two episode prologue "feel even more overextended". Patrick Cooley of cleveland.com criticized the first two episodes for having "bad dialogue, poor storytelling and wooden, bewilderingly stupid characters." Brian Lowry from CNN called the first three episodes "Star Trek Lite", missing the interplay between characters, criticizing the bridge crew and lore, and further calling them an "unspectacular addition to the existing fleet of Trek-branded series [that] makes for an awkward liftoff, one perhaps most notable for its commercial mission, which is to entice new subscribers to CBS All Access."
Discussing the season as a whole, Gartenberg criticized the writers for over-using science fiction tropes, repeating plot elements, inconsistently portraying characters' attitudes, and for being unsubtle with the values of Starfleet in the finale. He was optimistic for further seasons though, feeling that the end of the season left "the entire slate of the show ... wiped clean for whatever comes next."
The season was ranked fourth in a list of the top series to watch as a family on Netflix in 2017. Martin-Green was named TVLine's Performer of the Week for her performance in "The Wolf Inside", in which Burnham is "put through the emotional wringer with a barrage of jaw-dropping twists, giving Martin-Green an opportunity to deliver her finest performance of the season."
|2018||Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode||Jason Michael Zimmerman, Aleksandra Kochoska, Ante Dekovic and Mahmoud Rahnama for "The Vulcan Hello"||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Episode||Phil Prates, Rex Alerta, John Dinh and Karen Cheng||Nominated|
|Costume Designers Guild Awards||Excellence in Sci-Fi / Fantasy Television||Gersha Phillips||Nominated|||
|ICG Publicists Awards||Maxwell Weinberg Publicist Showmanship Television Award||Kristen Hall||Nominated|||
|Empire Awards||Best TV Actor||Jason Isaacs||Won|||
|GLAAD Media Awards||Outstanding Drama Series||Star Trek: Discovery||Nominated|||
|Peabody Awards||Entertainment||Star Trek: Discovery||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Actor on a Television Series||Jason Isaacs||Nominated|||
|Best Actress on a Television Series||Sonequa Martin-Green||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor on a Television Series||Doug Jones||Nominated|
|Best Guest-Starring Performance on Television||Michelle Yeoh||Nominated|
|Best New Media Television Series||Star Trek: Discovery||Won|
|Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation||"Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad"||Nominated|||
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