I love me some Star Trek. Some of my earliest childhood memories are watching Star Trek: The Next Generation in the living room and being in awe of the battles and warp drives and different worlds in every episode. Exploration isn’t a concept we get to experience much in our world where every nook and cranny has been claimed, so it gets at the explorer in me.
It took me wayyyyy too long to get into Star Trek: Discovery and I’m glad I finally took a break and watched the full series. First, the characters are strong and multi-layered, each presenting something unique. Following a crew member and not a captain shows an interesting side to the series, placing the science front and center. It’s full of emotion, hard decisions (both good and bad), and the desire to protect life at all costs.
Major props as well to the high budget visuals and graphics. So much of past series take place inside the ship (I assume to save money), and this series is rife with space landscapes, epic technologies and journeys.
As a quick note – I LOVE Anthony Rapp. He’s so great in the show, especially after he goes haywire and he gets loopy. He’s a brilliant scientist with an unstable personality, and it’s refreshing to finally see a gay male character in relationship within a science fiction series.
Below is my ranking of the Star Trek: Discovery episodes:
- Episode 2: Battle at the Binary Star
The most tragic episode of the series, with a startling death that shakes the main character to her core. We see thousands die at the hands of the Klingon, and a personal tragedy that rocks the ship’s crew and ends the main character’s career.
- Episode 7: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad
Rainn Wilson is absolutely brill in this episode – he plays kooky like a master. The story is akin to Groundhog Day and it makes for great television. Definitely deserving of the Hugo nomination. I also love the idea of space whales. Enough said.
- Episode 1: The Vulcan Hero
A great pilot episode filled with drama, battle, and a level foundation for the series to build upon. Watching the main character struggle between the leadership hierarchy and acting in the best interest of the ship provides a strong central conflict.
- Episode 12: Vaulting Ambition
The Emperor is a BADASS with a few extra s’s. We also have an alternate reality inside of the alternate universe, which just makes this more trip. There are some tragic scenes of lost love that I just can’t get over. And a HUGE reveal that explains soooo much from the series.
- Episode 8: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
The story introduces a beautiful planet – the first excursion on a world for the series. It’s magical in its beauty, with all of the systems working together to create actual music that can be heard from space. I’m also a sucker for a first kiss scene.
- Episode 11: The Wolf Inside
The alternate universe surprises keep coming – we’ve got a revolution and an unlikely alliance, along with a few mindblowers in the form of a crew member who is NOT who we think he is and an amazing cameo for the Emperor. I define this episode at “whaaaaaaaaat.”
- Episode 10: Despite Yourself
We’re getting into theoretical physics with this one, and it’s quite the ride as they discover an alternate universe due to a warp malfunction. Trauma is the central theme of the crew stories as they revisit PTSD from torture and sexual assault, and mental trauma in the warp core operator. There’s also a tragic death that made me yell at the TV.
- Episode 13: What’s Past Is Prologue
We’ve got a solid villain now and some major issues with the future of the universe. Epic fight scenes and intrigue abound. I’m officially obsessed with the emperor, even though she’s kind of evil. A wild ride back and a horrifying change to to the universe.
- Episode 6: Lethe
This is a fascinating look at the extent of the Vulcan mind and technological capabilities. We get a deep backstory on Michael (the main character), seeing how she came to be a part of Star Fleet. There’s a lot of trippy mind travel into her adoptive father’s memories. It’s definitely a unique way to navigate a character’s backstory.
- Episode 9: Into the Forest I Go
This was an exceptional mid-season finale. Great fight choreography alongside a well-paced story. A character’s PTSD is shown and examined, highlighting a very real issue many Star Fleet crew members would have in a time of war. It’s something often skated over, and it was covered with care.
- Episode 3: Context is for Kings
This one is hardcore science, going through a fascinating new technology that turns the stock Star Trek tech on its head. Introducing this new technology and a science mission in the middle of a universal war is an interesting choice, and it sets this story apart from its predecessors. We also see a slight redemption of the main character, which I applauded.
- Episode 5: Choose Your Pain
Kidnapping. Escape battles. Animal welfare. The story is all over the place, but remains exciting to the end, and adds an interesting aspect to the warp drive in the form of a human core. We’re also introduced to Rainn Wilson’s kooky character which is an added bonus.
- Episode 4: The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry
This has the new warp drive front and center as the crew attempts to get it working in spite of the failed experiments of a sister ship. Enter the enormous tardigrade, which is equal parts horrifying and cute. Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Klingon scenes, but this episode provides some interesting alternatives to their typically interchangeable scenes.
- Episode 14: The War Without, The War Within
Gone are the fun science days, replaced by pure war. Their original universe is somehow worse than the horror they just escaped from. How fascinating to actually see the good guys losing – it’s pretty uncommon. I wanted a bit more from this episode, but I’m expecting I’ll get all of that in the finale.
- Episode 15: Will You Take My Hand?
Honestly, I wanted more from the finale. I feel like the mid-season finale was more impactful, suspenseful and meaningful to the overall story. While there is some intrigue and interesting storytelling, it just kind of ended. Though I did appreciate the quick view of high-tech Paris.
Interested in more shows like Star Trek: Discovery? Check out our television reviews here.