Reviews | Written by Iain Robertson 06/12/2021

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY SEASON 3

Let’s be honest, Star Trek Discovery was always a bit of an odd fit with its 23rd Century setting. Giving the show’s aesthetic a radical makeover, as well as updating the futuristic technology to be more in line with a modern-day extrapolation of 23rd Century technology was to an extent a necessary update for a modern audience. However, it was one that made no sense in the context of Trek’s long-established continuity (lest we forget, The Original Series with its now quaint 1960’s take on futuristic tech, is set a few years after Discovery). Then there’s the continued bumping up against problems with established canon (hello spore drive!) and you could almost suggest that setting it around the time of The Original Series was a stupid idea to start with.

So, the show’s jump forward in time to the 32nd Century made perfect sense, solving a lot of problems (even if the reason for jumping forward was, well, rubbish). The season picks up immediately (from our perspective anyway) after the end of the previous season, with Michael Burnham (the always excellent Sonequa Martin-Green) in her Red Angel suit, arriving successfully in the late 32nd Century and finding that a) she’s saved life as we know it yet again (considering they destroyed the galaxy-threatening AI before they even left and therefore had no actual reason to go, no big surprise there, but hey-ho), and b) Discovery, which was meant to be following her to the future, is nowhere to be found.

Not to worry, because in arriving in the 32nd Century, she immediately pretty much crashes into a ship (turns out that space is really, really small) piloted by Cleveland Booker (David Ajala – a great addition to the cast) who handily brings her up to speed on the future. And basically, it’s not good.

Around 100 years ago, an event known as “The Burn” instantly destroyed most dilithium in the galaxy, along with any ships currently using it. Besides making warp travel impossible, Starfleet was largely destroyed, being reduced to a handful of ships, and the Federation has been reduced to a shadow of its former self, with even Earth and Vulcan (or Ni’Var as it’s now known) having left.

This being Discovery, there’s only one person who can save Starfleet, The Federation and find the cause of The Burn, and yes, it’s Michael Burnham. Fortunately for her, Discovery does eventually turn up, arriving both in episode two, and a year after Burnham (giving her a year to have some offscreen adventures and a bit of a personality makeover). Now captained by Saru (Doug Jones), Discovery should be an antique in the 32nd Century. But having a spore drive that can take it anywhere is a major asset in a future where interstellar travel is virtually impossible.

Between them, they set out to find the now-reclusive Federation and start rebuilding. Along the way, they pick up some new crewmembers, including Trek’s first-ever non-binary and trans characters (Blu del Barrio (very good) and Ian Alexander (not so good)), say goodbye to a few old friends, have an unexpected cameo from an iconic Original Series character, and run into this season’s big bad, an organization known as The Emerald Chain – easily the weakest part of the season.

Moving the show into the 32nd Century was a smart move, and one that over time will hopefully allow it to solve some of the constraints it placed on itself in its first couple of seasons. But it’s still a show that places spectacle over storytelling, and people talking about their feelings rather than anything intelligent (you can’t imagine Kirk or Picard ever allowing all the hugging that goes on aboard Discovery, or crewmembers constantly telling each other how much they love each other). Oh, and three seasons in, we’d still struggle to tell you a thing about most of the bridge crew, including their names. Even Sulu and Uhura got more character development than this lot, and that’s saying something.

The blu ray set is decent, if not spectacular. The show looks and sounds gorgeous (one thing about Discovery it’s impossible to find fault with are its production standards), and there’s a solid set of extras. Chief among these are some fun video logs from executive producer Michelle Paradise during the Iceland location shoot for the first two episodes, and a surprisingly touching profile of recurring guest star Kenneth Mitchell, who suffers from ALS.

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY - SEASON 3 is out now on Blu-ray