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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1

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The 15 Biggest WTF Moments From Star Trek: Discovery Season 1

On the strength of the opening episode alone, it was clear that Star Trek: Discovery was not going to be quite like the rest of the existing Star Trek canon. Sure, the core content of the various other TV shows in the franchise had always sought to examine the darker sides of life, with some pretty gruesome and horrific issues facing the intrepid crews of various Federation starships.

The fact was though that these issues, whilst usually referenced, did not actually tend to play out onscreen. Admittedly, on occasion they did, but due to the time-slots that the show was traditionally broadcast in, plot devices such as torture and murder were never allowed to be depicted in any particularly gruesome detail. Even in the cinematic outings of the various incarnations of the USS Enterprise, a slightly painful disintegration was usually the worst fate awaiting a doomed away-team member.

Discovery tore up that rule book within the opening episode, deciding that the only way to truly convey the hopeless and desperate situations that a Federation Officer could face, was to show them in show them in all their brutal and colourful glory. People died painful deaths. Planets died painful deaths. Relationships… Well, you get the idea…

This radical change of direction in the show’s format has been a complete game-changer. Critics who had been sat sharpening their knives, predicting yet another tired re-work of the show’s traditional format, have instead found themselves writing Five-Star reviews. A whole new generation of Trekkies has been born.

Star Trek: Discovery

Of course, It’s not just the sex and the violence that have made the show such addictive viewing. Since Star Trek: Enterprise aired its final (really quite disappointing) episode 13 years ago after four long seasons, the whole face of television has changed. Audiences are no longer satisfied by the same old storylines and character arcs. People want twists, and a show simply can’t survive without them.

Netflix in particularly has actively sought out new and exciting projects where the storylines assault the senses of audiences. The company has made it’s name by picking shows that will force viewers to engage with the material, question it; and then jump straight onto social media to discuss it afterwards. They took the Marvel franchise and improved on it, now they’ve gone and done the same for Star Trek.

The show’s debut 15 episodes were all of the highest quality, there wasn’t a single filler episode amongst them. Every individual episode was memorable for some reason, and a large number of them contained a twist or a narrative rug-pull that left viewers screaming “WHAT THE ACTUAL F-CK?” Into their screens.

There’s little doubt that the show’s already-announced second season will be just as visceral and entertaining fayre. So let’s relive the most mind-bending and unexpected moments that we’ve just witness in from Season 1:

15. Negotiation Tactics…

Admiral Brett Anderson Star Trek: Discovery
With the Battle Of The Binary Stars in full swing, the hastily assembled Federation fleet finds itself taking a good old kicking at the hands of the unified houses of the Klingon Empire. As any hope of victory starts to fade, salvation finally appears in the shape of the kick-ass Admiral Brett Anderson and his top of the line flagship, the USS Europa.

Anderson quickly takes charge of the situation, ordering the Klingons to cease fire and agree terms. As their leader agrees to ‘send somebody to negotiate’, a cloaked Klingon cruiser rams into the side of the Europa, carving it in half and violently detonating the warp cores on both vessels. Which most likely wasn’t what Anderson had in mind…

14. Not Part Of The Plan…

Burnham Georgiou Star Trek: Discovery
In a last-ditch attempt to try and defeat the Klingons, Burnham and Georgiou covertly transport across to the Ship Of The Dead in order to capture their leader, T’Kuvma. The entire plan hinges on taking him alive, with the resultant humiliation and dishonour forcing the Klingons into an embarrassing retreat.

Needless to say, the plan goes south as soon as they arrive. The resultant clusterfuck initially sees Georgiou killed, prior to Burnham dispatching T’Kuvma. Bearing in mind the writers had just spent two episodes bigging up the Klingon Torchbearer, and that killing him is entirely the wrong thing for Burnham to do, it’s pretty damn unexpected when she elects to blow him away with a vengeful phaser blast.

13. Rest In Pieces…

Philippa Georgiou Star Trek: Discovery
You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the character of poor old Philippa Georgiou was pretty doomed from the get-go. The showrunners devoted the entire first episode to emphasising the motherly/role model bond between her and Burnham. It was only going to end one way….

Georgiou’s death, we can deal with. It’s when we find out what happened to her body that things take a turn for the truly horrific. With Saru having forced Burnham to leave Georgiou’s body behind on the Ship Of The Dead, it’s subsequently revealed that the Klingons cooked, and then ate her remains. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t recall that ever happening in The Next Generation…

12. Red and buried…

Landry Star Trek: Discovery
If there’s one thing that Star Trek shows are notorious for, its despatching their Security Officers. Waking up in a morning and slipping on that bright red jersey is essentially the same thing as painting a whopping great big bullseye on your chest. And it didn’t take long for Discovery to follow suit. During the crew’s first away mission to the derelict USS Glenn, the entire security detail is killed by a giant cockroach, with only Burnham and Commander Ellen Landry surviving.

The show quickly established that Landry was exactly the kind of no-nonsense bitch that was too hard for a marauding alien nasty to kill off. And then immediately had her killed off five minutes later by the same captive marauding alien nasty, who she’d decided to pop down to the science lab and torture . I guess some things never change…

11. Further Negotiating Tactics…

Admiral Cornwell Star Trek: Discovery
If Season One of Star Trek: Discovery proved anything, it’s that the Federation High Command are bloody slow learners. Having received a message from a faction of Klingons that they now want to negotiate, Admiral Cornwell eagerly hurries off to a rendezvous with her security detail in tow.

The acknowledgment that THIS IS A TRAP is painfully obvious from the outset, but the manner in which said trap is sprung is truly shocking. As Cornwell steps out of her transport to greet the Klingon envoys, her captivity is signalled by the fact that her escorting officers immediately have their throats slit to the point of decapitation. Yowsers…

10. Jump Around…

Spore Drive Star Trek: Discovery
Now, not every WTF moment from this season involved somebody being brutally dismembered. I mean. Most of them did, but occasionally something kinda scientific happened that left you thinking, “Well, that’s new…”. These incidents were usually connected to Lieutenant Paul Stamets and his newfound warp-jumping abilities.

Arguably the most spectacular of these was the mind-bending series of mini-jumps he was forced to rattle out in order to destroy a marauding enemy cruiser.

Hammering out 133 micro-jumps in seconds, Stamets is able to map out the cloaking and shield frequencies of the Klingon ship, before Discovery blows it away.

9. Body And Soul…

Voq Ash Tyler Star Trek: Discovery
With Netflix having managed to keep the majority of Discovery’s production under wraps prior to the show’s release, and with the show-runners having opted for weekly episodes rather than a full season release, they were ultimately successful in terms of springing some absolutely huge rug-pulls on the viewers.

The first of these was the revelation that all-round nice guy and love interest Ash Tyler wasn’t all that he appeared. The months of torture he had undergone in Klingon captivity turned out to be something much more sinister. He had actually been killed at the Battle Of The Binary Stars, only for the Klingons to hollow out his body, using an experimental procedure to surgically graft one of their own warriors into his corpse.

8. Do No Harm…

Dr. Colbert Star Trek: Discovery
If the truth about Tyler’s true identity wasn’t shocking enough for the audience, then the manner in which it was revealed sure as hell was. Having trotted off down to sick bay, as he wasn’t quite feeing himself, he asks Doc Culber to give him the once over. With tragic consequences…

The show had spent the entire first half of the season establishing what a painfully nice guy Culber was. Essentially the ship’s social conscience, it came as something of a shock when the panicked Tyler promptly twisted Culber’s head through 180 degrees, instantly snapping his neck. Tyler then went even further, framing the dead doctor’s poor comatose husband for the crime. What a dick….

7. A Change Will Do You Bad…

On the subject of painfully nice human beings, Culber’s demise promptly opened the door for the writers to make bubbly Ensign Tilly the show’s most loveable character. Which also provided a handy way of highlighting the differences between the crew’s reality, and their parallel-dimension equivalents.

Having now found themselves over in the mirror-verse, Burnham sets about clarifying which of the crew still exist in this frightening new reality. It transpires that most of them do, and over here, the aforementioned diminutive and socially awkward junior officer is a ship’s captain. A notoriously vicious and ruthless captain who goes by the monicker of ‘Killy Tilly’. Yikes…

6. Double Trouble…

Stamets Star Trek: Discovery
Having barely survived the jump to the mirror-verse, Stamets (Anthony Rapp) promptly lapses into a coma. As the crew frantically try to find something to stop him from permanently slipping away from reality, his consciousness finds itself wandering around a strange ethereal environment between the two realities. And it turns out that he’s not alone…

It just so happens that his mirror-verse opposite is in exactly the same situation, and is on hand to update him about exactly the predicament he now finds himself in. It also transpires that mirror-stamets is kind of a douche, who happens to be slowly destroying all of reality. Ever. Which is seriously not cool….

5. Imperial Identity…

Emperor Georgiou Star Trek: Discovery
After their first couple of interactions with the mirror-verse, Burnham starts to research the history of the Federation’s sinister counterpart, The Terran Empire. And, of course, to have an Empire, you have to have an Emporer. It was fairly obvious from the start that the Emporer would be an evil new version of an existing crew member, but which one?

The Emporer’s identity arrives in the form of the annihilation of a whole planet, and a brief Skype Call explaining just how pissed off she was that she’d had to do the job herself. That’s right, it’s the return of Philippa Georgiou; which brings with it a whole lot of emotional upheaval for Burnham, and a whole load of problems for the rest of the crew.

4. Information Management

Emperor Georgiou Michele Yeoh Captain Burnham Sonequa Martin-Green Star Trek: Discovery
Of course, you don’t get to be the leader of the Terran Empire without doing some really nasty shit along the way. As if destroying an entire world wasn’t a good enough example of how Emporer Gerogiou likes to get things done, her reaction to he discovery of Burnham’s true identity sure as hell is.

Mirror-Georgiou chooses to interrogate Burnham in front of her Inner Council, determined to make an example of the ‘daughter’ who chose to betray her. On learning of the Discovery’s true origins, and without any warning, she immediately uses the real Georgiou’s emblem to slaughter all but one of her council, so this new threat to her power-base remains a secret.

3. Say What Now?

Lorca Star Trek: Discovery
In relation to the big ‘Ash/Voq’ reveal, the show-runners had already gone some way to stoking the flames of fan speculation via the use of a blatantly fake IMDB actor profile for the role of Voq. For their biggest and most shocking reveal, though, they successfully managed to turn the tables on the whole audience with very little in the way of earning.

A couple of determined internet speculators had indeed raised issue with Lorca’s conduct prior to the big reveal, but few had actually managed to successfully guess that he was in fact mirror-Lorca in disguise. Hints such as his eye condition, and the phaser under his pillow had been plain to see, but the strength of the script and Jason Isaacs’ amazing performance meant the reveal was the biggest WTF moment of this season.

2. And then…

Gabriel Lorca Star Trek: Discovery
In a somewhat familiar turn of events, though, within 40 minutes of having dropped the biggest plot bomb of the season, Lorca/Mirror-Lorca was then pretty much immediately killed off. Stabbed in the back (literally, not foguratively…) by the Emporer; he was then hurled into the throneship’s warp core, for an admittedly spectacular ending.

The show had spent its whole season building Lorca up into a massively integral character. First replacing Georgiou as Burnham’s mentor, then appearing as a salvation for a doomed Federation, he went from the biggest hero to biggest villain in an instant. It’s almost hard to see where the story will now go without him. Here’s hoping Cornwell’s passing comment about ‘my Gabriel’ having no chance of survival in the mirror-verse is a way of setting up the real Lorca’s return.

1. NC-1701

Star Trek: Discovery Enterprise
For the truly devoted Trekkie, this debut season was a veritable treasure trove of Easter-eggs and references to the previous shows in the franchise. There was a lot of pressure on the writers to cameo a character from the Original Series, and the presence of Sarek suggested that we’d be getting a glimpse of the young Spock prior to the closing credits of episode 15.

Instead, the show-runners chose to go a slightly different way. As Discovery sets off for Vulcan with the Kilingon War now at an end, they encounter a garbled transmission from a nearby Federation vessel. As the ship’s ID code comes through, it becomes apparent that the USS Enterprise has not only survived the war, but that Captain Pike has something of importance he needs to talk to the crew of the Discovery about.

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