Some thoughts and feelings halfway through the first series.
Ok, there has been much discussion and Glenn and Valerie have done their half time episode and I have had time to ponder and digest a bit. So here goes...
1. The Feel of the show.
When the show runners announced that the show would have someone other than the captain be the protagonist of the show what I did not appreciate was that they would portray the action from the emotional viewpoint of Burnham.
At the start of the Disco episodes Burnham has been shanghaied by Lorca. She is deep in the throes of regret and self loathing and she is in a new place. The new captain is very different from the only captain she has known, he is seemingly uncaring and brusque. Her crew-mates fall into two categories the first those who served with her on the Shenzhou who feel betrayed by her on a very personal level and the second the rest of the crew who know her by reputation and gossip as a traitor and mutineer. She herself has no rank or standing a fact that the show points out when she replicates a uniform when it states the uniform has "No Rank". As such even the newest junior crewman outranks her, even her room mate. This gives us a viewpoint of fear, trepidation, disappointment and rejection. This has changed over the first half of the season, as she integrates, makes friends and shows her worth to her crew members, her treatment by them changes and her feelings towards her situation alter and thus by this point the feeling and impression of the ship is much more positive and warm. This sets us up nicely as Burnham now feels at home and part of something and perhaps feels that there is some possibility of redemption.
2. Klingons and the War.
The war seemed to be the focus of the plot in the run up to the start of the series and for the first few episodes. It has become less so since then. The War has become a backdrop, a means of injecting urgency and introducing plot threads without itself becoming the major topic of the show. Klingons, they look and sound great to me. I am not a great one for nostalgia, I don't want a modern programme to look like the 60's so to me it does not matter if they don't look like the Klingons of old. Kol is dead, a power vacuum now exists in the empire, L'Rell is on the Disco, where is Voq? There are theories that Voq is somehow implanted in Ash, that the "Rape" scene may in fact have been a Voq/L'Rell interaction. If this theory is true then Voq may indeed have "given up everything" and be a hitchhiker in Ash's skull. This opens up a few possibilities as Ash and Voq fight for the body. L'Rell plays a big part in this if Voq is in there. If he is not then the possibility is that Voq is elsewhere and able to have an effect on the Klingon power structure. It also means that L'Rell has some form of control over Ash which could cause some trouble. Either way there will be some Klingon shenanigans going forwards I am sure. I think the war will be touched on at times but will remain a background issue.
3. Spore Drive
As I have indicated in other threads here I believe the spore drive is a one off never to be repeated experiment. It killed the USS Glenn, tortured the tardigrade and has seriously messed with Stamets. The chances of Starfleet adopting this technology for general use is zero. The reversion to standard warp engines is a certainty. The effect on Stamets is not fully explained yet. There is a temporal aspect to the Mycellium and this may have the possibility of Stamets having viewed himself on many alternate timelines and times and so allowed him to express himself as a more pleasant as a person. The question is if that is a real change or a facade he is erecting. I believe he is addicted to the drive either for the euphoric effect, the feeling of power or the perceived need to be able to see the alternate timelines as a guide to his actions (almost Dune like prescience is addictive). Either way I fear that the end result of this experiment will be bad for him and not repeated by Starfleet.
4. Section 31.
I find the Section 31 arguments given on other sites about this to be a little out there. It seems to me that the secrecy of their organization and the building of a major warship, there for all to see, is not likely. The number of crew and transfers on and off Disco would result in rumors and leaks without end. I really don't think everyone on board or who visits Disco is 31. If they were really involved there would have been indications. I am not saying there are not some classified experiments going on aboard but they are likely restricted to a very small number of people. If the clandestine section 31 goes around wearing black badges for everyone to see then it will not remain clandestine for long. Has there been some input or direction maybe even manipulation by section 31, possibly, all it would require is that Lorca is working for them and sneaks in some of their wishes along the way where he can when he is following the orders of Starfleet. It is obvious he is not independent of the normal command structure and so cannot be working solely for section 31.
5. Where are We?
We don't know and neither does the Disco crew. Is it a different part of space, a parallel universe, a different time in their own universe? Well who knows, guess we will find out as we go on that. I find it interesting to think on how they got to wherever it is they are. Valerie's catch of the Spore drive override by Lorca is interesting as was the Lorca/Stamets conversation which we may not have heard all of and may have had a different meaning to them than to us. So we have several possibilities for how they got to where they are and these seem to be:-
Lorca sent them somewhere as Cromwell will recover soon and relieve him off his command and he wishes to avoid that.
Stamets sent them there because he does not want to be separated from the drive and/or his partner.
Lorca and Stamets colluded together to send them somewhere where both their aims would be realized. Lorca keeps his ship and Stamets keeps the drive.
Any of the above plus some sort of accident or problem with the drive or Stamets.
Whichever of these, or some other set of happenstance I have not thought of, turn out to be the reason it puts us in a situation where the war may be rather less of a pressing need. It is almost Voyager like with the difference that Lorca/Stamets may not want to get back home. In any case it opens up the possibilities of a more episodic format and new and interesting plots that can introduce things not previously seen in the canon.
So far I have enjoyed the series, I approached it with no preconceptions and no fanaticism for Star Trek or it's canon. I like it's modern effects and style, the ability to take risks and not be the sickly sweet moralistic tales of old. I like the way they use the visual tone and pace to put us in the same emotional position as Burnham. I like the way they have included and treated sensitive subjects (Same sex couples, PTSD, Rape, survivors guilt). I am looking forward to the return with hope and eagerness. What do you think?
Thank you Glenn and Valerie for your insight and analysis, which coupled with your knowledge and humor is delightful. Thanks to the other forum members for your thoughts and theories, it is great brain food.