Michael makes for a compelling protagonist in the latest take on Gene Roddenberry's conceptNETFLIX

Star Trek: Discovery is the new Netflix series of the famous sci-fi franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. Star Trek is finally back in its natural format, TV episodes, after many years – the last series was Star Trek: Enterprise with four seasons (2001-2005) – and three films overseen by J.J. Abrams. It was clear since the beginning that Star Trek: Discovery would have brought some interesting novelties: for the first time the protagonist is not the captain of a starship, but a member of the crew. This is Michael Burnham, a human woman who lost her parents and was adopted by Sarek, Spock’s father, on Vulcan.

Michael makes her first appearance as first officer of Captain Philippa Georgiou against whom she commits an act of mutiny. Despite being sentenced to prison for life, she is recruited as a scientific specialist by Gabriel Lorca, captain of the USS Discovery, in order to develop new strategies in the war against the Klingons. From that moment on, Michael Burnham starts a journey of self-redemption, trying to put an end to the war she caused and avenge all the victims of the conflict, including Captain Georgiou. The particularity of the character, her fragilities and strengths, the inner conflict between her human nature and her Vulcan education, reveal to be the most intriguing element of the new series.

“We can only hope that the series maintains high standards and originality”

Star Trek in the sixties was a real television revolution: for the first time on TV, during the Cold War, men and women of different nationalities and backgrounds cooperated on the same ground to the development of peace and cultural progress. Special effects were not essential, nor do they look particularly beautiful after fifty years; the greatness of the show stood in the concept itself. Important issues were brought before the audience, they regarded values as tolerance, respect, equality which still today we need to preserve and guarantee.

Even though Star Trek: Discovery is not concerned with “strange new worlds, new life, and new civilisations”, we can say that it explores what is inside each of us, rather than what is around us. Never before in history has it been so difficult to define ourselves and find our place in the world than in contemporary society. And maybe in fifty years’ time someone will say that Star Trek: Discovery was the most innovative series after The Original Series.

Trailer for Star Trek: DiscoveryYOUTUBE

While Michael Burnham strives to reintegrate herself among the crew and gain her colleagues’ trust, she fights another intimate conflict when the USS Discovery finds itself in the ‘Mirror Universe’. This appeared already in The Original Series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Enterprise, but it was never given such an importance as it is here. This parallel universe is characterised by the fact that everything is the exact contrary of what happens in the actual universe.


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The tolerant, peaceful and inclusive Federation is replaced by the cruel Terran Empire, ruled by a merciless emperor. The human beings are not a knowledgeable race which extinguished every conflict, but an intolerant people, blinded by the thirst for power and personal success. In order to bring the Discovery back to the normal universe, Michael Burnham infiltrates on ISS Shenzhou, the Imperial starship which she commanded in the Mirror Universe.

While performing her Terran counterpart, she questions how long one can keep a façade up until one actually becomes something they initially were not. How thin is the line which divides the best and the worst parts of us? Star Trek: Discovery employs the ‘Mirror Universe’ to explore the darkest aspects of human nature and how difficult is to repel them, even with a strong will.

The first season of Star Trek: Discovery is approaching its end: the last episode will say much about what we have to expect in the second season. Perhaps the war against the Klingons will reach a conclusion and the next season will be more about ‘strange new worlds’. Whatever the producers have in mind, we can only hope that the series maintains high standards and originality

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