When DC Comics solicited the Superwoman comic spinning out of DC Rebirth, it was solicited with Lois Lane as a new superhero dubbed, Superwoman. The comic, however, saw two Superwomen, with Lana Lang also getting powered up, and creating a Superwoman Red and Superwoman Blue team.
Until, at the end of the future, Lois Lane died. Oh, she was replaced with another dimensional non-powered version of her, and the comic continued with Lana Lang in the lead. It was one hell of a bait and switch to pull. Some people haven’t forgiven Phil Jimenez.
But Star Trek: Discovery on CBS/Netflix pulled off a remarkably similar trick and have created a new kind of Star Trek show. To date, every Star Trek, while an ensemble piece, has had at its focus the decisions and actions of the captain of the ship. Kirk, Picard, Janeway, Sisco, Archer. Star Trek: Discovery is discovering something else.
The first episode started with a strong female double act, Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and first officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), being discussed for her likelihood of commanding her own vessel. That was before the big Klingon set piece that showed that Michael had a very different way of doing things to Star Fleet, and through the second episode’s events leading to the death of her captain – a new wartime procedural reality for the Star Trek universe – and Michael being arrested by her fellow Star Fleet officers. The future promised sees the show focusing on her journey, through prison, to being recruited Suicide-Squad-style. All we know about where her this journey goes from there is that she’ll be reunited with her Shenzhou crewmate Lt. Saru (Doug Jones) aboard the Discovery.
This is now the soldier’s story rather than the captain’s log. It also means that Star Trek: Discovery can be a far less predictable show, no monster or anomaly of the week, and no guarantee the crew or the ship will survive – it’s not about that anymore. We can expect that Michael will survive to tell what is her story, but it is likely she will have extreme challenges along the way. And everyone else on the show is utterly expendable. Actors, yes even Jason Isaacs playing Captain Lorca, check your contracts.
In science fiction terms, it feels much closer to Give Me Liberty or Bill The Galactic Hero. The future, as is suitable for Star Trek, can be anything. It’s just a surprise it has taken over fifty years to get this far.