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TV Review: Star Trek Discovery - Season 2

TV Review, Anson Mount, Science Fiction, CBS All Access, star trek, Star Trek Discovery, Doug Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Sonequa Martin-Green, CBS

SYNOPSIS: After answering a distress signal from the U.S.S. Enterprise, the U.S.S. Discovery welcomes aboard Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and begins a new mission to investigate the meaning behind seven mysterious red signals. Michael Burnham grapples with her past growing up on Vulcan with her foster parents and brother Spock.

TV Review, Anson Mount, Science Fiction, CBS All Access, star trek, Star Trek Discovery, Doug Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Sonequa Martin-Green, CBS

REVIEW: Star Trek Discovery's first season was met positively by most critics. I found myself a bit let down by the premiere episode which felt poorly paced with lackluster special effects. As the season progressed, I began to like the series more and more, especially the diverse cast of new alien species that populated the ship. With twists and turns that took the show from an espionage and war narrative to a familiar foray into the Mirror Universe, Discovery felt a bit all of the map (or galaxy, as it were). Still, by the end of the first season, the promise of the second year of the show teased the appearance of the USS Enterprise, bringing Discovery's tale in line with the Original Series. With the announcements that Anson Mount would be joining the main cast as Captain Christopher Pike and the eventual appearance of Mr. Spock, it seemed like the new showrunners were taking Discovery down a very different path.

The resulting second season premiere feels very different than Discovery's pilot episode and that is a very good thing. The best elements of Discovery's first season are still intact, including a sense of humor and a whole crew of three-dimensional characters. What we now have is a propulsive plot that kicks into gear from the very first scene along with much improved special effects and an engaging story. The first episode (the only one available as of this review) works incredibly well as a standalone feature with action sequences that are comparable to the recent feature films. Considering that this show is airing on CBS All Access rather than a traditional network, it is clear to see that the budgetary constraints of prior Star Trek shows is not holding Discovery back.

Replacing the Klingon war that served as a season-long plot last season, we now have Pike taking command to investigate a strange red signal that incapacitated the Enterprise. Anson Mount, previously of AMC's underrated Hell on Wheels as well as ABC's lamented Inhumans, is a perfect fit for the role of Christopher Pike. In many ways, Mount's performance echoes Bruce Greenwood's portrayal of the character in the Kelvin Universe movies. Mount has a playful demeanor and his characrer's slight drawl gives him a distinct aura that is very different from Jason Isaac's duplicitous Captain Gabriel Lorca. He and Burnham share a common relationship with Mr. Spock (Ethan Peck) who also serves as a gateway to learn more about both characters.

In the premiere episode, a hell of a lot happens over the one hour run time. Picking up immediately after the season one finale, we are given a couple of flashback scenes showing Spock and Michael Burnham meeting followed by the introduction of Pike. Pike's mission puts him in direct (albeit temporary) command of the Discovery, but of course there are going to be side quests along the way. Tracing the signals that crippled the Enterprise, the Discovery runs into a rescue mission amongst an asteroid field that features a thrilling sequence that echoes the free-jumping scenes in both STAR TREK and STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS. The quality of the direction here is a credit to Alex Kurtzman who has often been maligned for his work helming THE MUMMY and shows he and friend J.J. Abrams' share similar visual styles.

TV Review, Anson Mount, Science Fiction, CBS All Access, star trek, Star Trek Discovery, Doug Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Sonequa Martin-Green, CBS

On the mission, the team meet up with guest star Tig Notaro who is one of the more welcome supporting characters that this series has introduced us to. But, for each addition, there are multiple absences felt here. As the trailers have shown, we can expect to see the return of several characters from last season, but with Captain Gheorgeou, Lt. Tyler, and many others absent here, the premiere episode is able to focus on setting up the rest of this season. By the end of this first chapter, you will be hooked as it promises to take the Star Trek universe in a direction we have never seen before on the small screen.

What really helps this hour succeed is the non-stop adrenaline that pumps through the story and never lets it slow down. Still, even while jumping from scene to scene, it never feels jumbled or incoherent and works as well as you would expect from a feature film. If each episode can maintain this momentum, Star Trek Discovery is going to easily top the quality of the first season. Finding it's comfort zone, Discovery now feels like the most expansive and epic Star Trek series to grave the small screen and should please fans both new and old. So while we wait for an indefinite time for the further adventures of the Enterprise crew on the big screen, Star Trek Discovery more than makes up for that absence on your television.

Star Trek Discovery airs new episodes Thursdays on CBS All Access.

Source: JoBlo.com

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