STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, 1.3 – “Context is for Kings” (Netflix Review)

Streaming on UK Netflix from: Monday 2nd October 2017

Story by: Bryan Fuller, Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts

Teleplay by: Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts and Craig Sweeny

Directed by: Akiva Goldsman



“Sometimes down is up, up is down. Sometimes when you’re lost, you’re found.”

For the second time in its first three instalments, Star Trek: Discovery has a ‘pilot’ episode, as 1.3 shoots forward six months from the USS Shenzhou’s clash with the Klingons and Captain Georgiou’s death, following Michael Burnham’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) heavily-contested and unorthodox efforts to save the ship, her captain and crew. Now, the woman who will not reply to “Mickey” is a silent, resigned, person-adverse prisoner being transferred to do mining work to help the Federation’s war effort.

However, before the opening titles can roll, Burnham’s shuttle is knocked off course and beamed aboard the titular starship, which finally makes its on-screen debut. On board, an edgy Burnham is introduced to an equally wary crew – among them embittered Lieutenant Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), nervous natterer Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) and sparkle-eyed warmonger Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) – all of whom are marked by their refreshing imperfections.

“I believe you feel regret, but in my mind… you are dangerous.”

Also on the Discovery is now-First Officer Saru (Doug Jones), who is postulating somewhere between being unable to completely forgive Burnham, yet incapable of negating her obvious skillset, which sees the infamous “Mutineer” part of her first boarding party entering the crippled USS Glenn. Here, “Context is for Kings” sharply alters course, changing tone to all-out horror movie, replete with bloody, deformed injury detail, flickering lights, malfunctioning doors… and a monster even the Klingons cannot defeat!

Image result for star trek discovery context is for kings

This second beginning for the new series is markedly very different to its preceding two parts (which I reviewed HERE and HERE). For long stretches it doesn’t feel like typical Trek at all (in fact, I initially got a strong Rogue One vibe). However, all the “piss” and “shit”s are eventually counterbalanced with some in-universe callbacks (Jeffries Tubes, Romulans, etcetera) and some classical real-world references (Alice in Wonderland and The Beatles).

For all their faults, Stamets, Tilly and Lorca are intriguing new players; the mystery surrounding not only the science vessel’s “Above Top Secret” spore project but also Lorca’s somewhat cloudy motivation has me suitably intrigued for more. Discovery is Star Trek, but not as we know it – and I’m really excited for this half-century young franchise’s brave new direction.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 4-stars

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