Title: Star Trek: Discovery – Season 1 Episode 3: “Context Is for Kings”
Air Date: October 1st, 2017
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, Drama
After a rocky, but promising start to the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, I was hopeful for the third episode in the series, “Context Is for Kings.” Yet, despite there being more things that caught my attention, I found myself spacing out, rather than paying attention to the plot.
In all honesty, this episode is essentially a second, exposition-filled pilot, as Michael Burnham arrives on the Discovery (roll credits) six months later to an uncomfortable welcome for the now ex-Starfleet member. While the ending to last week’s episode certainly established that Burnham was to be branded a mutineer, all the hate towards Burnham feels forced and manufactured.
Yes, she is the first mutineer in Starfleet history, so that should carry a stigma. Yet, for the viewer, this is the third episode we have even seen her in. Are we supposed to have already made a connection with this character and sympathize with her, when she hasn’t even really been given enough time to be made a likable character? I wasn’t a big fan of the mutineer plot as it was introduced last episode, nor the fact that they are already at war, simply because it’s so aggressive. A few exposition laced flashbacks are not going to help that situation either.
It’s certainly not impossible to make me want to root for a character quickly though, I am already rooting for Lt. Saru, Lilly, and Captain Isaacs, I literally only just met the last two. I’ve found that I enjoy these three characters more than Burnham so far because, despite spending a majority of the time with Burnham, her character still feel like a Mary Sue. He traits simply feel like that of any other lead character in a series that is against all odds. My hope is that we get to see more interactions with her and Lilly, as the two actually have some genuine chemistry.
Before any of that can happen though, Star Trek: Discovery’s plot needs to get things in order. There were plenty of contradictions and cliche’s in “Context Is for Kings” that I found my head in my hands more often than not. Burnham is supposed to be confined to her quarters whenever she is not working, yet she is easily able to get into the engineering without anyone noticing. She doesn’t want to cause any trouble, but within minutes goes out of her way to break into engineering. On top of that, despite Senu calling her dangerous, he also recommends she go with the boarding part when asked by Isaacs?
While I did like the build-up to the boarding party sequence – especially the shh Klingon – it eventually played out like any jump scare horror movie. A chase scene occurs, someone unimportant (no redshirt at least) dies, and then the hero is able to outwit or outrun the monster and escape. Alongside that, we get the unnecessary attitude from other characters in the situation, as well as the ever so helpful and informal, Run! Shoot it!
It’s just like I said about the last two episodes, the show is called Star Trek: Discovery, but so far everything is focused on action. An immediate war is ignited. Fight scenes, Chase scenes. That’s not what I want out of this series. Give me more scenes like the one with Captain Isaacs showing Burnham the wonders of the spores. More interactions like Burnham showing Alice in Wonderland to Lilly and Lilly stating she wants to be captain one day. Don’t make the same mistakes that the J.J Abrams movies have made with taking the easy way out and settling for mediocrity with action-heavy stories.
This show is beautiful and is so well done is so many areas, but the ones that count in the long haul are far too half-assed. If you are going to make a television show about Star Trek, where you are given an hour each week to build and mold the characters and the story, don’t follow the same structure as most action-filled Sci-fi’s that oversaturate the market already.
Verdict: “Context Is for Kings” is frustratingly flawed, giving glimpses of brilliance, then relapsing into laziness. It’s plagued by boring action sequences, questionably plots, and cliche dialogue and interactions. I am nowhere near giving up on the series based on this, but it will be really hard to stick with it for the long haul if these problems persist, especially with so many other great shows like The Expanse and The Orville to fill the science fiction void.
Feel free to share your own opinions about the episode below. Be sure to check back next week for the fourth episode of the season, as the review will go up immediately after the show concludes on CBS All Access at 8: 30 PM EST.
- Saru, Tilly, Issacs
- The spore sequences
- Mutineer plot tension is forced and rushed
- Make me care about the lead character
- Plot is all over the place
- Less action-oriented content