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Why Star Trek Discovery matters. So so much.

This post contains spoilers about Star Trek Discovery (up to episode 5).

I need to talk about episode 5 of Star Trek Discovery. What this has to do with alien life and theories on extraterrestrial beings? More than one might expect. Let me first start with saying (not even explaining) why Star Trek matters. It is about exploring. It’s about science, the search for more knowledge and the cooperation between species. It has always set examples without it being preachy. Star Trek TOS had TVs first ethnic kiss for example. It doesn’t seem important now, but it was then. The crew also featured various colours. At the time, Asians were usually portrait as a serving role, Sulu is a very valued and over all equal member of the crew.

TOS and TNG both gave geeks and nerd alike a role model in Spock and Data respectively. For the longest time, and still today, nerds and geeks are being stereotyped and given the feeling that you just don’t want to a geek or a nerd as they are always picked on (and throw away the glasses of a nerd and behold – the person becomes attractive. Barf!). Both Spock and Data are highly respected and were important role models for geeks and nerd for generations. Star Trek focusses on science rather than war (even in 2017 Discovery, where the Klingon war is the set of the story). It shows what humanity should strive for. An exploring species that treats everyone equal, not just alien species but also within their own species. The only difference between the characters are in rang and even there no one is discriminated. To be blunt, that is why I hugely favour Star Trek over Star Wars.

Granted, the series after The Next Generation were a little lost on me. Maybe it was overkill. I don’t know. Star Trek Discovery got my attention and I vowed myself to give it a chance. There is nothing like the original and it’s hard to beat Picard and Data. So far the characters on Discovery aren’t coming close to how I feel about some of the characters in TOS and TNG. Michael Durnham gets there though as is her roommate Sylvia Tilly. I’m a sucker for underdogs and outcasts, what else can I say? Despite the war with the Klingons and captain Lorca, Discovery does not disappoint.

This has various reasons. For one, science is back. Some may say it’s too much science but the new spore-based propulsion system is to die for. It’s biological technology and in development and so far the Discovery is the only ship it actually works properly. It makes the Discovery unique and captain Lorca greedy and arrogant. In episode 4 Durnham discovers that the Tardigrade captured at a sister ship significantly helps the Discovery warp. This however drains the creature, making it hurt and depressed. This is noted by Durnham and she is determined to help the Tardigrade. This shows compassion for all living beings, something that is common on Star Trek as everyone is vegan by that time in the future. We see how the Tardigrade suffers from the spore-based propulsion system with almost devastating outcome but we also see the beautiful and absolutely touching release of Tardigrade to freedom and happiness. As it turns out, the use of living creatures is essentially not allowed and the Tardigrade is just that. Also, it’s not needed as the scientists discover.

One of the scientists that helps discovering just that is cadet Sylvia Tilly, the ship’s least favourite crew member, Michael Durnham aside. She has a lot of annoying features but is adorable as well, or at least I think so. She persists in becoming friends with her roommate Durnham who is at first incredibly distant, being a prisoner and Vulcan trained after all. It pays off, for Tilly I mean. She is also accountable for the use of the word ‘fuck’ for the very first time in Star Trek. It’s used in the same way we all would use it. And that makes it real. Also, she is the smart outcast and giving so many other smart outcasts watching another role model. In fact, we are all Tilly. This is wonderful.

Fast forward to the homely scene in front of the bath room mirror. This scene is a real cliffhanger as we see Lt Stamets’ reflection in the mirror not doing what Stamets is actually doing, which possibly has been caused by the Tardrigrade’s DNA (this makes sense when you have seen the episode). But before that he is brushing his teeth together with doctor Culber. In an earlier episode they have been seen bickering while Culber was fixing Stamets’ nose, more or less introducing us to these two characters. The teeth brushing scene shows us two people in love, with one having a serious problem. This scene is important because of Stamets using the Tardigrade’s DNA. It’s actually after the scene (which is the end of the episode) which makes you then realise you just witnessed a gay couple without a fuzz made about it. Exactly how it should be and what we hopefully will achieve in the future. As Star Trek is situated in the future, this is done incredibly clever and surely made everyone in the LGBTQ+ community melt and jump for joy. THIS is what we want! And again, this is what it should be, always. It is huge without it being huge, brilliant.

In all, Star Trek Discovery shows us, like all Star Trek series, the way we want us to evolve as a human species and still shows us the lesser traits we have a hard time shaking off (see Captain Lorca). It’s humanity in the stars, more and more technically evolved. And yes, it was humanity that caused the Klingon war. The Klingon’s wanted to start it anyway but waited for someone making a vital mistake and it were the humans, the youngest member of the United Federation of Planets. We see more alien species on board of the Discovery without having explained who they are and where they come from. Simply because it is not relevant in this society. It’s a mirror to the future with one simple message to us all: Make it so.