Author Topic: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****  (Read 18124 times)

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Offline The E

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Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
After months of delays and reports of behind-the-scenes difficulties, hot opinion pieces about how this show is going to be the worst based on the design of its hero ship and other drama, Star Trek Discovery has finally launched.

The first two episodes are up on Netflix right now (outside of the US, that is; Americans, in a unique move, are getting the worst imaginable distribution method for this show), and let me tell you: This is the good ****. Yes, the pilot episodes does have the seemingly unavoidable ten minutes of expospeak. But once we're past that (and once you get past the fact that this show avoids translation convention), this is probably the best Star Trek ever since the high days of TNG and DS9.
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Offline Mongoose

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
I recorded the premiere episode that they actually deigned to air on TV, but I'd never so much as heard CBS's paid streaming service until they started advertising the garbage for this.  Hey, remember when cable-cutting was supposed to save people money by cutting out content you weren't interested in?  Now you get the privilege of paying for 7 or 8 disparate services per month at a similar combined cost!  Progress!

  

Offline The E

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
I am fairly certain that Discovery will see a renewed interest in VPNs and torrents.
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Offline Black Wolf

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
Wow. I strongly disagree.

Assume spoilers from here on out, I'm not going to use the tag.

 It felt like it was made by people with no real understanding of why Star Trek works, and no respect for the setting or the universe. Had it been in the Abramsverse, that would have been one thing, but given they made such a big deal about how it was in the prime universe, I was deeply disappointed with the very little effort they made to ground it in a franchise with a half century of history. They made bizarre decisions like having a blue guy on the bridge who clearly wasn't Andorian, and then explicitly mentioning Andorians later. Why make up a new species? Take your throw away chances to ground yourself in the universe. The federation trial at the end and the portrayal of Klingons were particularly out of character - why didn't they have hair? Why make them klingons if they're not going to look like Klingons? Or at the very least, improve the look - the new klingons look more complicated, and the quality of the makeup is better, but they're so complex that you can't really see the actor under way all the makeup, so they not only can't emote to the audience, but it's hard to tell them apart because your brain can't see the faces properly.

Even aesthetically, nothing looked even vaguely like it was ten years before ToS. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a purist. I don't want it to look like it's straight out of the sixties. But some nods would have been nice - some physical controls instead of touchscreens, some indication in the klingon ship design, anything.

Even if you just try to forget about all the previous Trek iterations, it's a struggle to care about any of the characters. The only two that had any impact on me were Michelle Yeo and the Admiral who turned up in episode two, both of whom were dead by the end of the episode. And as far as the main character goes... if anyone thinks Sonequa Martin Green's character made any sense through the episode... I just don't get it.

The Klingon bad guys motivations were unclear, but what they did manage to get across was that the empire was in disarray, and that unifying would be difficult... Except it wasn't. It basically took zero effort besides turning on that light thing, and a 2 minute speech, and by the end of the episode 23 of the 24 were basically committed to the martyr guy. Sure, give me a complicated, internally divided antagonist faction, or give me a monolithic, unified faction. But don't pretend to be one, then just flip to the other and claim to have told a story.

Some reviews suggest it picks up after episode three. I'm hoping. I'll grudgingly accept the aesthetic stuff if they tell a good story. But I'm not hopeful off that start.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2017, 09:15:33 am by Black Wolf »
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Offline The E

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
It felt like it was made by people with no real understanding of why Star Trek works, and no respect for the setting or the universe. Had it been in the Abramsverse, that would have been one thing, but given they made such a big deal about how it was in the prime universe, I was deeply disappointed with the very little effort they made to ground it in a franchise with a half century of history. They made bizarre decisions like having a blue guy on the bridge who clearly wasn't Andorian, and then explicitly mentioning Andorians later.

I mean, that could've something to do with Andorians not being actual Aliens? In ENT, which is where they got most of their characterization, they were basically slightly more easily enraged humans. Saru fulfills the Data/Spock role here, observing humans from the outside, and that perspective would be invalidated by having him be of a species we know is fundamentally similar to us.

Quote
Why make up a new species? Take your throw away chances to ground yourself in the universe. The federation trial at the end and the portrayal of Klingons were particularly out of character - why didn't they have hair? Why make them klingons if they're not going to look like Klingons? Or at the very least, improve the look - the new klingons look more complicated, and the quality of the makeup is better, but they're so complex that you can't really see the actor under way all the makeup, so they not only can't emote to the audience, but it's hard to tell them apart because your brain can't see the faces properly.


Hmm. That is a good point. After all, we know that everyone on Earth looks like americans, right. It's totally inconceivable that an entire species has factions in its culture, or develops in some way. I wonder, do you have similar objections to the way the TNG and Movie Klingons looked? Because those certainly didn't look anything like the ones in TOS...

Quote
Even aesthetically, nothing looked even vaguely like it was ten years before ToS. Don't get me wrong, I'm it a purist. I don't want it to look like it's straight out of the sixties. But some nods would have been nice - some physical controls instead of touchscreens, some indication in the klingon ship design, anything.

It didn't look anything like ten years before TOS, no. It does look like something ten years after ENT, though.

Quote
Even if you just try to forget about all the previous Trek iterations, it's a struggle to care about any of the characters. The only two that had any impact on me were Michelle Yeo and the Admiral who turned up in episode two, both of whom were dead by the end of the episode. And as far as the main character goes... if anyone thinks Sonequa Martin Green's character made any sense through the episode... I just don't get it.

I do, AMA.

Quote
The Klingon bad guys motivations were unclear, but what they did manage to get across was that the empire was in disarray, and that unifying would be difficult... Except it wasn't. It basically took zero effort besides turning on that light thing, and a 2 minute speech, and by the end of the episode 23 of the 24 were basically committed to the martyr guy. Sure, give me a complicated, internally divided antagonist faction, or give me a monolithic, unified faction. But don't pretend to be one, then just flip to the other and claim to have told a story.

"Unclear motivation"?

Have you seen both released Episodes? Because the motivation is very clearly spelled out: T'Kuvma wants to unify the Empire against the Federation, which it sees as encroaching on klingon space. He believes that the Federations multicultural outlook, despite its successes, is something that will eventually kill the klingon identity if it isn't fought against. He is a nationalist/identitarian/religious fundamentalist who believes that racial and cultural unity must be preserved.
Let there be light
Let there be moon
Let there be stars and let there be you
Let there be monsters and let there be pain
Let us begin to feel again
--Devin Townsend, Genesis

 

Offline Luis Dias

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
Watching Orville right now. If I have time maybe I'll watch STD later.

 

Offline Black Wolf

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
I mean, that could've something to do with Andorians not being actual Aliens? In ENT, which is where they got most of their characterization, they were basically slightly more easily enraged humans. Saru fulfills the Data/Spock role here, observing humans from the outside, and that perspective would be invalidated by having him be of a species we know is fundamentally similar to us.

I'm not talking about Saru. If they want to put him in as a member of new species, fine. My problem is that they have made a show that is aesthetically and technologically out of step with the established universe (that holographic communication tech, for example, is a big plot point as new technology in DS9, and the ability to project holograms in only specific parts of the ship was a recurring theme throughout TNG and especially Voyager). Having done that, you'd think that they would take their chances to say "Yes, we know we're changing things, but this is still the Trek you know and love". They seem to have done that with things like the door sounds and the flip communicators, but when they get these small opportunities to nod towards established continuity, like by making up an extra in blue as an Andorian instead of "generic blue alien" they aren't taking them, and they're doing their own new thing instead. If you wanted to do that, why make a Star Trek at all instead of a generic sci fi? It would have been popular - shows like The Expanse prove there's an appetite for well made science fiction outside of a massive established franchise.

Hmm. That is a good point. After all, we know that everyone on Earth looks like americans, right. It's totally inconceivable that an entire species has factions in its culture, or develops in some way. I wonder, do you have similar objections to the way the TNG and Movie Klingons looked? Because those certainly didn't look anything like the ones in TOS...

Yep. I read the same pre-release stuff you did. That's why I was paying attention when the holograms of all the other Klingons showed up. They all look the same, not a TNG or TOS style Klingon among them.

And I never cared about the TOS -> TNG change, mainly because TOS means almost nothing to me (I'd be lucky if I've seen half the episodes). That was essentially a budget and technological limitation. Fine. But the look of the species was essentially established over, what, thirty odd years where they had the budget and tech to make it look a certain way - why is this new way better? Does it help the actors portray their characters emotions? Does it give new storytelling opportunities? Or did someone just decide "It's cooler this way!"? That's the most likely scenario, and again, it's evidence that the creators don't really care about the universe they're working in, that they'd probably rather have created something completely new.

It didn't look anything like ten years before TOS, no. It does look like something ten years after ENT, though.

Does it though? Really? Or does it look like a modern day futurist is imagining what things are going to be like 100 years from now? Again, that's fine, and it works when you're playing in your own sandbox (I keep coming back to it, but I love the similar aesthetic in The Expanse). But these guys are supposed to be creating Star Trek. They're supposed to make something that works with the rest of the franchise. They didn't.

Quote
Even if you just try to forget about all the previous Trek iterations, it's a struggle to care about any of the characters. The only two that had any impact on me were Michelle Yeo and the Admiral who turned up in episode two, both of whom were dead by the end of the episode. And as far as the main character goes... if anyone thinks Sonequa Martin Green's character made any sense through the episode... I just don't get it.

I do, AMA.

Well, we disagree on that.

"Unclear motivation"?

Have you seen both released Episodes? Because the motivation is very clearly spelled out: T'Kuvma wants to unify the Empire against the Federation, which it sees as encroaching on klingon space. He believes that the Federations multicultural outlook, despite its successes, is something that will eventually kill the klingon identity if it isn't fought against. He is a nationalist/identitarian/religious fundamentalist who believes that racial and cultural unity must be preserved.

Sure, he more or less made sense, but the rest didn't, and yet again, they decided to kill off the one antagonist who the audience might actually have cared about or understood. What was all the cult stuff about? Why did all the rest of the Klingons just show up when that light went on, and so suddenly change their minds from thinking T'Kuvma was crazy (or at least not powerful enough to be worth listening to) to fighting alongside him in mere moments of speechifying? Why did they help him at all? And the albino guy looks like he's going to be a major character, but why was he there if he as apparently disliked by the main guy so much he had to burn his hand to prove his loyalty? Or, based on the way they were talking during the death scene, had they actually known each other since they were kids? If so, why did he have to prove himself?

I'm sure the writers know the answer to most of these (even if, in the case of the Klingons changing sides, it's because it's just easier that way, and makes the rest of the series work better). There's the kernel of a good story in there, but it's hidden under bad storytelling and the building up of too many characters who all just die and wont impact the storyline from here on out (except as memories, where I'm sure they'll all be significant).

It's just not well done, and it feels like part of the reason is that the creators didn't really want to make Star Trek. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe things will pick up. But based on the two episodes that we have to judge it on, it's not a well made Star Trek show yet.
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Offline The E

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
I'm not talking about Saru. If they want to put him in as a member of new species, fine. My problem is that they have made a show that is aesthetically and technologically out of step with the established universe (that holographic communication tech, for example, is a big plot point as new technology in DS9, and the ability to project holograms in only specific parts of the ship was a recurring theme throughout TNG and especially Voyager). Having done that, you'd think that they would take their chances to say "Yes, we know we're changing things, but this is still the Trek you know and love". They seem to have done that with things like the door sounds and the flip communicators, but when they get these small opportunities to nod towards established continuity, like by making up an extra in blue as an Andorian instead of "generic blue alien" they aren't taking them, and they're doing their own new thing instead. If you wanted to do that, why make a Star Trek at all instead of a generic sci fi? It would have been popular - shows like The Expanse prove there's an appetite for well made science fiction outside of a massive established franchise.

Except for the minor thing where the holograms here aren't comparable to the "holograms" we see in TNG and beyond. Yes, sure, this is a departure from what was shown in previous shows - but I would argue that a simple video phone call isn't futuristic anymore. Yes, this is "out of step" with the established universe. But it is a step I for one am willing to take if it means selling the idea that this is a future universe gets easier.

Quote
Yep. I read the same pre-release stuff you did. That's why I was paying attention when the holograms of all the other Klingons showed up. They all look the same, not a TNG or TOS style Klingon among them.

And I never cared about the TOS -> TNG change, mainly because TOS means almost nothing to me (I'd be lucky if I've seen half the episodes). That was essentially a budget and technological limitation. Fine. But the look of the species was essentially established over, what, thirty odd years where they had the budget and tech to make it look a certain way - why is this new way better? Does it help the actors portray their characters emotions? Does it give new storytelling opportunities? Or did someone just decide "It's cooler this way!"? That's the most likely scenario, and again, it's evidence that the creators don't really care about the universe they're working in, that they'd probably rather have created something completely new.

The changes between TOS and the movies and TNG was much, much larger than the changes we see here. The klingons in TOS and TNG act nothing alike, not only do they look differently, they act differently too. In Discovery, the klingons are recognizably klingons, their cultural touchstones are taken straight from the worldbuilding done in TNG and DS9.
Yes, there is a "it's cooler this way" factor at play. The klingons do look alien in ways that they haven't before; in a sense, the fact that the TNG klingons look more relateable is a plot point here. Those are klingons that we do know and understand, the Discovery ones are not. This is a storytelling opportunity, and definitely not just a choice taken for the sake of doing something different.

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Does it though? Really?

Yes. ENT ended in 2005, and its set and costume design was informed by what we took as normal in that timeframe. The flatpanel screens, general utilitarian set design that looked very much like a reasonable interpretation of what a spaceship bridge might look like.... Discovery, with its touchscreens and holographic projections and heads-up displays takes the same approach, only using the tech we are currently accustomed to as base.

Quote
Or does it look like a modern day futurist is imagining what things are going to be like 100 years from now? Again, that's fine, and it works when you're playing in your own sandbox (I keep coming back to it, but I love the similar aesthetic in The Expanse). But these guys are supposed to be creating Star Trek. They're supposed to make something that works with the rest of the franchise. They didn't.

Like the ENT design team? Star Trek has always reinvented itself to some extent to accommodate updated aesthetic sensibilities. There is no clear way to go from the NX-01 with its battleship blue surfaces and flatscreens to the glowy crystals, primary colours and static displays of TOS. During Star Trek's most consistent era (TNG through DS9 and VOY), yes, designs stayed very close to each other (although they did seem to switch uniforms every couple of years), which I think is what most of us started out with, we got used to a specific style of what we think Star Trek looks like. ENT discarded it, as did the JJ Abrams films; to claim that Discovery shouldn't have done this is weird, IMHO.

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Well, we disagree on that.

What are your hangups, then? I think her portrayal was pretty consistent.

Quote
Sure, he more or less made sense, but the rest didn't, and yet again, they decided to kill off the one antagonist who the audience might actually have cared about or understood. What was all the cult stuff about? Why did all the rest of the Klingons just show up when that light went on, and so suddenly change their minds from thinking T'Kuvma was crazy (or at least not powerful enough to be worth listening to) to fighting alongside him in mere moments of speechifying?

Because he actually did provide the klingons with an actual edge. His cloaking tech is explicitly described as new for the klingons.

Quote
Why did they help him at all? And the albino guy looks like he's going to be a major character, but why was he there if he as apparently disliked by the main guy so much he had to burn his hand to prove his loyalty?

Because he is not a noble scion of a klingon house. He had to prove his loyalty to T'Kuvma personally because he couldn't swear on the name of his house.

Quote
Or, based on the way they were talking during the death scene, had they actually known each other since they were kids? If so, why did he have to prove himself?

Because they didn't. Because the call-and-response routine they do reads a lot like a klingon prayer taught to children.

Quote
I'm sure the writers know the answer to most of these (even if, in the case of the Klingons changing sides, it's because it's just easier that way, and makes the rest of the series work better). There's the kernel of a good story in there, but it's hidden under bad storytelling and the building up of too many characters who all just die and wont impact the storyline from here on out (except as memories, where I'm sure they'll all be significant).

Four people died. One who had no dialogue (but a cool helmet), one who had to make a point to Burnham about how unaccustomed to warfare Starfleet actually is, and one who just succumbed to Mentor Occupational Hazard. These all needed to be built up (The latter two especially) to make an actual impact when they do die.
T'Kuvma, finally, had to die because, if he hadn't, the whole war would go much differently. Because Burnham intentionally set her phaser to kill and shot him.

Quote
It's just not well done, and it feels like part of the reason is that the creators didn't really want to make Star Trek. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe things will pick up. But based on the two episodes that we have to judge it on, it's not a well made Star Trek show yet.

It is, in its introductory sequence on that desert planet alone, much more worthy of the name Star Trek than any of the JJ Abrams movies. Its characters, Burnham included, are closer to the Roddenberry ideal than many; they are perhaps more flawed than Roddenberry would've wanted, but the humanist, pacifist, optimist core is certainly there.
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Let there be monsters and let there be pain
Let us begin to feel again
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Offline Luis Dias

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
My two cents here is to say that the first season of TNG was abhorrent and both its and DS9's first few seasons were boring as ****. Voyager was worse than both until seven of nine boards the ship and Enterprise's only good season is the fourth one (sorry it's my opinion).

Therefore it's a bit unfair to be all guns blazing against Discovery just yet. I believe all the criticism it gets, not because I'm hyped to hate it (as it's apparently a thing right now), but because it fits the pattern of previous Star Trek shows.

We'll see if it is able to create its own identity and succeed with it.

Meanwhile Orville is not bad.

 

Offline Black Wolf

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
E: Eh. I don't want to get into a long point/counterpoint argument over it. You clearly enjoyed it a lot more than I did; Ultimately, it's entertainment, it's going to be subjective.

Time will tell whether my issues with it go away or get worse, and as more people get to see it, more opinions will come in and we'll see whether your experience or mine was typical (i.e. whether the creators correctly read their audience or not). For now, I'm going to watch it, because I like scifi on TV, and I like Trek. But I'm a lot less enthused going into this than I was even going in to Enterprise.
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Offline The E

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
E: Eh. I don't want to get into a long point/counterpoint argument over it. You clearly enjoyed it a lot more than I did; Ultimately, it's entertainment, it's going to be subjective.

Time will tell whether my issues with it go away or get worse, and as more people get to see it, more opinions will come in and we'll see whether your experience or mine was typical (i.e. whether the creators correctly read their audience or not). For now, I'm going to watch it, because I like scifi on TV, and I like Trek. But I'm a lot less enthused going into this than I was even going in to Enterprise.

Fair enough. I am fairly hyped about this show; as far as I am concerned, the pilot episodes have laid a good groundwork for a good show; It remains to be seen what the rest of the series is like.
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Offline mjn.mixael

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
Yeah.. I'm interested, but I'm not paying for CBS streaming service just to watch it. I'll either go by *ahem* less legal means or wait for it to finish airing and buy CBS All Access for a single month to watch it, then cancel.
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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
Yeah, I won't be watching until they get off their high horse with CBS exclusive streaming. I'm interested, but I've no intention of rewarding that kind of behavior.
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Offline mjn.mixael

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
Yeah, I won't be watching until they get off their high horse with CBS exclusive streaming. I'm interested, but I've no intention of rewarding that kind of behavior.

I don't know that I would call it a "high horse". Netflix was/is praised for doing the same thing. The problem with CBS All Access is that it has no other good reason to pay for it. One show is not enough and there's no guarantee the service itself (app, streaming options, etc) is any good either.
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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
Remember how Voyager turned UPN into such a huge success?

Bodes well for CBS's streaming service, doesn't it?

 

Offline Scotty

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
I heard the main character assaults her commanding officer and commits mutiny in order to fire unprovoked on a Klingon ship because they're Klingons and violence is all they know, and that she is also Spock's secret half-sister raised by Vulcans.

I hope you'll forgive me for not having a high opinion on the quality of the premise.

 

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
I heard the main character assaults her commanding officer and commits mutiny in order to fire unprovoked on a Klingon ship because they're Klingons and violence is all they know, and that she is also Spock's secret half-sister raised by Vulcans.

I hope you'll forgive me for not having a high opinion on the quality of the premise.

yeah, that's right. And the weapons all go "pew pew pew".
The wife and I tried watching two episodes but she fell asleep before the first one was done. I kept watching to see the disaster unfold. Not worth the paywall to see what else happens.

 

Offline Det. Bullock

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
I heard the main character assaults her commanding officer and commits mutiny in order to fire unprovoked on a Klingon ship because they're Klingons and violence is all they know, and that she is also Spock's secret half-sister raised by Vulcans.

I hope you'll forgive me for not having a high opinion on the quality of the premise.

The thing makes sense, her decision is based on the fact that that's the way Vulcans established diplomatic relations with the Klingons for a while believe it or not.
Also she's not his half sister, she's a human orfaned by a klingon raid that Sarek has taken as his ward.
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Offline Scotty

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
Assaulting your commanding officer, mutinying, and then attacking a neutral vessel unprovoked does not make a whole lot of sense regardless of who you're attacking.  That tends to go double (or triple) in the Federation, and double or triple on top of that early enough in the series that it's before the events of TOS.

It stinks of a network executive remembering Voyager, thinking "Janeway was a strong and effective female protagonist, let's double down on that", and greenlighting the series.

 

Offline The E

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Re: Star Trek Discovery -- This is the good ****
Assaulting your commanding officer, mutinying, and then attacking a neutral vessel unprovoked does not make a whole lot of sense regardless of who you're attacking.  That tends to go double (or triple) in the Federation, and double or triple on top of that early enough in the series that it's before the events of TOS.

It stinks of a network executive remembering Voyager, thinking "Janeway was a strong and effective female protagonist, let's double down on that", and greenlighting the series.

And then she gets a court martial and a life sentence for it.
Let there be light
Let there be moon
Let there be stars and let there be you
Let there be monsters and let there be pain
Let us begin to feel again
--Devin Townsend, Genesis