Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 TV Review

Plot: Season four of Star Trek: Discovery finds Captain Burnham and the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery facing a threat unlike any they’ve ever encountered. With Federation and non-Federation worlds alike feeling the impact, they must confront the unknown and work together to ensure a hopeful future for all.

Review: Star Trek: Discovery premiered in 2017 as a prequel to the classic Original Series. Taking place before Captain Kirk took the helm of the Enterprise, Discovery was the first truly serial Trek series and tried to do a lot without stepping on the toes of Gene Roddenberry’s classic show. With Spock a connection to lead Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), much of Discovery shied away from what we knew to tell a story about a traitor trying to redeem herself. With Klingons, alternate timelines, and an edge missing from other Star Trek shows, Discovery began as a very uneven entry but one with promise. Over the subsequent seasons, Discovery rebooted itself twice, once as a direct precursor to Star Trek complete with Spock and Christopher Pike as characters and then again a thousand years in the future. With Strange New Worlds set to continue the Pike/Spock side of the mythology, Discovery is finally able to boldly venture into a distinct era and tell a story unlike any other series in the franchise.

Over the first four episodes of Star Trek: Discovery’s fourth season, it becomes immediately apparent that the 32nd century permits this series the chance to finally enjoy the surroundings. Each of the first three seasons required a trial period for the story to find its footing, but with this season directly continuing the third, everyone is comfortable and ready for adventure. In the third season, the crew of Discovery were launched 900 years into the future to find the Federation and Starfleet shells of their former selves. After an event called The Burn wiped out dilithium across the galaxy, pirates and other factions took control. As we join season four, Burnham and the Discovery crew have solved the mystery of The Burn and are in the process of helping rebuild Starfleet. It is the first time in the run of this series that Burnham is in the Captain’s seat permanently and it finally affords Sonequa Martin-Green the ability to loosen her character’s Vulcan roots and have fun.

The premiere episode, titled “Kobayashi Maru”, opens with a sequence very reminiscent of the opening scene of Star Trek Beyond. Here, Burnham and Book are making first contact with a race of butterfly-like aliens who mistake their peace offering and chase them down. It is a fun and action-oriented scene with a fair amount of humor but doesn’t do much else to tie into the season aside from introducing the tone of this year’s narrative as a little lighter than we have seen before. We also learn the Federation has expanded, Starfleet Academy is reopening, and the new President has taken office. President Laira Rillak (Chelah Horsdal) is an intriguing new addition to the cast, a half-Cardassian who seems to be a foil for Burnham who has become something of a team player in this new hierarchy.

We also get time with Tilly (Mary Wiseman), Book (David Ajala), and Saru (Doug Jones) who is still back with the Kelpians after the events of season three. What was a little concerning this season is how many of the legacy characters who have been on the crew since the premiere are given short shrift in these first episodes. I enjoyed the additional time spent with Detmer (Emily Coutts), Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo), Rhys (Patrick Kwok-Choon), and the other crew aboard the ship, but they remain woefully underused. Adira and Gray (Blu del Barrio and Ian Alexander) continue to get dedicated sub-plots as do Hugh Culber and Stamets (Wilson Cruz and Anthony Rapp), but I wish we saw more of the overall bridge team for more than a line of dialogue here and there. There is still time for that to develop this season, but in these early episodes, the focus definitely is on the top-billed cast.

The most significant plot this season involves, yet again, an anomaly that poses a risk to the galaxy and Discovery must figure out how to stop it. This plot device, while I am sure will be explained in a distinct way from the others, is becoming somewhat cliche in this series. Anomaly is Trek-speak for a mystery but I was almost hoping the crew would be dealing with something more original this year. To be fair, the anomaly does introduce some intriguing elements, especially for Book who is the most tragically and directly impacted by events in the first episode. Last season, Book was the rock, and Burnham the variable, and that dynamic is flipped this season. It could be one of the more interesting elements this season. On the opposite side, Saru’s subplot is the one that feels the most out of place. But, based on the trailers, we know he will eventually rejoin his crew which should rectify any issues with the pacing with him away from the ship.

I am very glad to find that Star Trek: Discovery has found its place amongst the franchise and this season opens with the most solid premiere in the four seasons it has been on the air. It remains to be seen if the full season can keep up the level of quality but the balance of action, humor, and character development far outweighs any minor missteps I mentioned above. Star Trek: Discovery has broached stories about division, war, and strife and now has finally come back to the original vision of the franchise by imbuing a sense of unity, hope, and camaraderie that helps elevate this to be the best season of the show yet.


About the Author

5931 Articles Published

Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.