“Star Trek: Discovery” is a mess.
This is a real shame, as once upon a time, this series showed real promise – it has a fantastic cast, a wonderful design aesthetic, and some really impressive special effects.
Somewhere along the way, though (probably, let’s face it, about half way through the pilot episode), what could have been a triumphant return of a classic television franchise veered off into an unnecessarily edgy and stupid attempt to do to “Star Trek” what “Batman v Superman” did to comic book characters.
This is all incapsulated nicely in the story of the past two episodes, which perfectly highlight just how intentionally self-destructive and narrow-minded the writing on this show has become.
Spoilers abound from this point on, but to be honest, if you’ve already given up on caring about “Discovery” and its mess of a plot, you’re not alone.
First off, let’s pause for a second and take stock of where we are.
The crew of the USS Discovery have found themselves trapped in the mirror universe, an alternate dimension where all the heroes are actually villains. It’s a campy, silly idea from the original generation “Trek” that was always played for laughs, but is now apparently something that we’re meant to take seriously.
The moment the plot took this turn, a later plot twist seemed inevitable. Here’s a quote from Obsev’s own expectations for the series from a few weeks ago, and what might be in store for the character of Captain Lorca:
“Half the time, Captain Lorca seems to be acting like a villain anyway, so it’s hard to imagine that his dastardly counterpart will be any different.
“What if this isn’t the first time that a member of the crew of the Discovery has crossed between these dimensions? What if, all this time, we’ve been watching a Mirror version of a character, who found their way to the main universe and took the place of their more pleasant doppelganger?”
Hey, guess what?
Turns out this is exactly where the plot was going. Captain Lorca is, and has always been, his own evil copycat from another dimension.
We point out this early prediction not to suggest that anyone at Obsev has some kind of genius insight into television shows, but rather to note that if even ill-informed hack internet writers can guess the plot of “Discovery” correctly, it proves how inane and simplistic the writing is on this show.
Lorca’s true identity was horrendously easy to predict, and it also robs the character of anything approximating nuance or dimensionality.
From the start of the show, we’ve been meant to sympathize to some degree with Lorca; we’re supposed to believe that his motivations, while warped, are ultimately serving some kind of personal moral code and a desire to do the right thing in an uncomfortable situation.
Turns out, nope, Lorca isn’t a complex character. He’s simply Evil with a capital E.
What is the point of a show that tries so hard to seem edgy, realistic, and believable, when the writers are willing to explain away uncomfortable character motivations by simply stating that psych, they’re evil villains from an alternate dimension?
This lazy writing gives us ineffective plot twists and unlikeable characters for the sake of trying to get a few good gasps from the audience, but anyone who’s in this for the storytelling has long since clocked out mentally, if not physically.
It’s no wonder CBS wanted to hid this show behind a paywall – the network wanted to get everybody’s money up front because they knew that nobody would keep watching if they didn’t have to make a financial investment in the full series.
(Meanwhile, some of us live in parts of the world where Netflix picked up the distribution rights, so that “Discovery” is effectively free, and we still feel like we got ripped off.)
There is another season of this show in the works, and while Lorca is dead, it’s painfully obvious that he’ll come back again when the writers feel that they need another sudden twist. This is the benefit of killing off a character while also setting up the existence of a parallel-dimension alternate universe.
In true Mad-Eye Moody style, the show can have its cake and eat it, even though nobody will have any emotional connection to Good Lorca when he inevitably shows up in season two.
That is, if anyone actually bothers watching the next season of the show. Meanwhile, we’re stuck imagining a parallel Mirror Universe to our own plane of existence, in which our history isn’t entirely screwed, audiences aren’t so invested in edgy television, and “Star Trek” is allowed to actually be fun and enjoyable.