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REVIEW – Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode One & Two

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Star Trek: Discovery is back for its fifth and final season! The series that kicked off modern Star Trek is bowing out with season 5, which premiered today on Paramount+. In an exciting twist, we actually have TWO episodes for Star Trek: Discovery’s Season 5 premiere. It’s a bold choice to start the finale season with a two-episode premiere, but it pays off and works really well.

Season 5 Episode One is titled “The Red Directive “, written by co-showrunner Michelle Paradise and directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi. Season 5 Episode Two is titled “Under the Twin Moons,” written by Alan McElroy and directed by Doug Aarinoksoki. The finale adventure of Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is well underway. The fifth and final season really has some improvements.

SPOILER WARNING – This review features spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode One “The Red Directive” and Episode Two “Under the Twin Moons“.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Captain Michael Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery (Via Paramount+)

Episode One – The Red Directive

This season kicks us off right into the action. The shot of Captain Michael Burnham riding on top of a Starship In Warp is finally shown to us, a scene that has been teased multiple times. We then walk back to Federation HQ, which is celebrating the birth of the Federation, all be it a few years. It’s nice to catch up with our crew and characters like President T’Rina (Tara Rosling). I love that the writers have built Saru (Doug Jones) and T’Rina’s relationship. It’s very heart-arming and wholesome. It will be a shame to see Saru leave Discovery. 

The treasure hunt of this episode immediately sets off. The ever-so-mysterious Doctor Kovich (David Cronenberg) is back in a hidden room and sends Captain Burnham and the Discovery off on this new adventure. I’m a big fan of Kovich in these types of scenes. Star Trek: Discovery has made this character such a mystery.

We still don’t know much about him, and while that is a little irritating, it’s also cool. All we see about him now is that he is a Federation Agent. There have been many theories, but this one makes the most sense. In the meeting scene with himself, Admiral Charles Vance (Oded Fehr), Booker (David Ajala) and the Starfleet characters, I get the impression that he is answering to someone else. It’s possible that this could be the Federation President herself. But it’s even more mysterious when Admiral Vance is out of the loop. 

David Cronenberg as Doctor Kovich in Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 (Via Paramount+)

Old Faces, New Faces

Having Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) back in Discovery is a nice surprise. I’ve always been 50/50 about TIlly’s character. Why Mary Wiseman is a great actress: Tilly’s scenes sometimes make me cringe. That’s just my honest opinion! Still, her casual attempts at flirting with another officer are quite funny. Her attempt to hack into the Federation database showcases her skill. 

We’re introduced to our two villains in the first couple of episodes. This is Moll, played by Eve Harlowe and L’ak, played by Elias Toufexis. Both of these mercenaries beat Discovery and The USS Antares to the abandoned Romulan starship. Speaking of Starship for a moment, this ship is very similar to Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Romulan Scout Ship. One was seen in “The Defector”, as designed by Rick Sternbach. That design grew into the Romulan Science Ship.

Elias Toufexis as L\’ak and Eve Harlow as Malinne Ravel of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

Seeing a dead Romulan who is 800 years out of date is a bit creepy, but it reinforces what type of ship we are looking at. Whatever is in the Romulan vault is not immediately made clear. However, our two villains are not messing around.

It turns out that Romulan is Doctor Velleck (Michael Copeland), who has hidden his knowledge about some ancient power. This, of course, relates to what Doctor Kovich is sending Burnham and the Discovery out and about for. There is also a convenient reference to the next episode title, thus telling us where the story will go. 

Ancient History Is New

One of the big reveals of this episode is that Doctor Kovich is sending Burnham after progenitor tech. Progenitors were mentioned and shown via hologram in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The tech they are after allows the Progenitors to seed life in the galaxy. It’s rather a big deal. I really enjoyed the call back to The Next Generation’s “The Chase” episode. Discovery showing stills from that episode was great, especially seeing then Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) and the other Romulan scientists. 

It’s immediately clear that Fred (J. Adam Brown) is an Android-like Data (Brent Spiner) from The Next Generation. Knowing how long Fred has been around and his origin would be interesting. The writing makes an on-the-nose remark about “Legacy” when talking about Altan Soong and Fred, especially as he mentions not seeing the Romulan Puzzle box for almost 600 years. The book he removes from the Puzzle Box is related to genes. 

Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 1, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

New Captain on The Block

Captain Rayner is a standout character in Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode One. Callum Keith Renne is a fantastic actor and a real Sci-Fi legend. I remember him in Battlestar Galactica, but here in Star Trek, he really wears the Starfleet uniform well. His comedic bits in this episode with Burnham work really well. Burnham used to charge off and get things done; we see Rayner doing the same here. Having a character who wants to get things done is also nice. But as we see, that’s not always the best approach to situations. 

Seeing the bridge of Rayner’s USS Antares would have been nice. The ship is cool, as we’re finally getting some action time with a 32nd-century starship. Instead, we’re just treated to a hologram of Rayner appearing on the bridge of Discovery. Understandably, we’re not going to get a new bridge, especially as this is the last season of Discovery, and the budget is likely stretched thin. 

Callum Keith Rennie as Raynor of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

Episode One Begins The Journey!

Overall, this first episode of Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 was quality. It’s a nice blend of action, mystery and suspense. The plot of the fifth and final season is laid out before us, but many questions remain to be answered here. Having Progenitors as the big mystery is good, as it’s taking something mentioned once in The Next Generation and working it into this season’s storyline. I’m very interested in seeing where this plot thread goes. 

It’s also refreshing to see Discovery not going with the world- or galaxy-ending plot route this time. Hopefully, the Progenitor plotline does not turn into that. Discovery has done this a few times before, and it’s getting a bit old for me. Still, I very much like how this is being handled. Let’s see where it goes!

Alright, that was episode one. Now, let’s talk about Episode Two!

Episode 2 Review – Under the Twin Moons

The second episode picks up where we left off in season one. Having both these episodes released on the same day makes a lot of sense, especially as it lays the groundwork for this season’s major plot thread: the Progenitors. We even see the Progenitor hologram that was shown in The Next Generation.

We’re also seeing more political elements of the Federation. Starfleet is having a hearing about Captain Rayner’s actions in the previous episode, in which Federation President Rillak (Chelah Horsdal) is present. While Rayner’s strategy did work, it did endanger the lives of those on the outpost. I think this conversation really reveals more about Captain Rayner. He seems to be a wartime captain having difficulty adjusting to the new reality of Starfleet and the Federation.

Interestingly, Rayner’s conversation gives us some information about the state of affairs with the Federation and the galaxy at the moment. He mentions that Breen is picking a new leader. The species of The Breen have been mentioned in Season 5, Episode One. I’m also interested in the past between Captain Rayner and Admiral Vance. I would be keen to read more if any Star Trek authors are willing to pick up and write a story about the pair before Discovery’s arrival in the 32nd century. 

L-R Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Callum Keith Rennie as Rayner in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 2, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

Mr Saru’s Last Adventure, For Now

Given that the second episode also marks Mr Saru’s last adventure on Discovery, it was nice to get some retrospective between him and Captain Burnham. Saru recalling their past is great, especially as this is the last season of Discovery. Only yesterday did Saru appear on Discovery as the First Officer. Both characters have come a long way since we first met them in Discovery’s first episode. Thinking of that, it has been some years since The Battle of The Binary Stars.

Discovery continues to stop interesting scenes for a quick conversation about feelings. While Burnham and Saru are off exploring a planet Indiana Jones-style, Adira (Blu del Barrio) and Tilly discuss relationships on Discovery. This is then interrupted by drones appearing and targeting the away team pair. This series will never break the cycle of doing this. I know many criticise the series for this, and I can understand why. If you were hoping Season 5 would change that, it appears not. 

L-R Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Doug Jones as Saru in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 2, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

Family Connections

Book proves useful, and it’s nice to see him interact with Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Doctor Culber (Wilson Cruz). His strategy of calling Moll and L’ak was a unique idea, and I didn’t expect it. However, it’s also revealed that the pair are slipping a bit in their treasure hunt as Discovery beats them to the planet and recovers more clues about the Progenitor treasure. In the traditional treasure hunt style, a map is needed. Discovery has recovered one piece of the map but needs four more to complete it.

Episode 2 also fleshes out Moll’s backstory a bit. Book recognises her birthmark, and we get the confirmed name of “Meline,” which is connected to Cleveland Booker the Fourth. In essence, as Booker mentions, she is family. It will be strange to see their angle with this storytelling avenue. Having a personal connection to the season’s villains is a bold choice for storytelling. But I’m keen to see where this goes. 

Eve Harlow as Moll in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 1, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Conclusion

The Second Episode of Season 5 does a fantastic job of giving Mr Saru one last big mission before he leaves to take up his new position in the Federation. The parting conversation between Saru and Burnham is a touching moment between two characters who have been central to Discovery’s story. Saru is very much a core part of Star Trek: Discovery. The episode does a nice job of rounding itself. Burnham and Saru’s conversation about second chances links nicely with Captain Rayner getting a second chance at the end of the episode.

How the rest of the season will go remains a mystery. We’ll need to see how Rayner fits in as First Officer of Discovery, and it will be very cool to see someone else take the command chair in later episodes. The series is doing a nice job of fleshing out some characters and adding more to them, not just making them one-dimensional. 

Star Trek: Discovery streams via Paramount+ in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Latin America, France, Germany, Brazil, South Korea (via Tving), France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. It is also available on CTV Scifi / Crave in Canada and TVNZ in New Zealand. The show is also available on SkyShowtime in the Nordics, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Central and Eastern Europe.


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Jack Trestrail
Jack Trestrailhttps://trekcentral.net
The Captain of the ship! Jack leads Trek Central as the Director and Editor in Chief. When not seeking ways to insert “Faith of The Heart” into everything and anything, you’ll find him enjoying a cup of Earl Grey, just like Jean-Luc himself!

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