Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers from the series premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, entitled “The Vulcan Hello.” Proceed at your own risk.
Star Trek: Discovery — the first new TV series in the Trek franchise in over a decade, premiered on CBS Sunday night. The premiere didn’t go without hitches; West Coast viewers were told (via press release and numerous network on-air promos) that the show would air at 8:30pm or later, but it started at 8:00pm. The episode itself contained lots of drama, action, J.J. Abrams-esque lens flares, and questions over what’s to come.
Here are the five shocking moments from the episode.
All the Nostalgia
Star Trek: Discovery is set approximately a decade before the events of The Original Series (that’s Captain Kirk and Spock’s late ’60s show to you Trek newbies). Right from the start, the show set the mood with an intro that triggered all the nostalgia feels. The first two notes of the intro hearkened back to the intro The Original Series, and the trumpeted tune — while not quite the same — felt familiar. By the end of the title sequence, the familiar Trek themed played. The visuals were nostalgic too, with an almost art deco deconstruction of 23rd century phasers, communicators, and other technology from the era.
There were plenty of throwbacks in the episode as well, from the background noises to the Shenzhou’s architectural aesthetics.
Despite the show’s title, there was no mention or glimpse of the USS Discovery at all in the pilot. Instead, the show focused on the USS Shenzhou, captained by Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin Green) — the show’s lead character — serves as the ship’s first officer. Seeing as how Yeoh was given “special guest star” status and previews of an imminent battle, it seems Georgiou and the Shenzhou might not be around for long. Don’t get too attached to the crew, which included what appeared to be a Daft Punk-esque robotic officer.
Those are Klingons?
Trek purists might take issue with Discovery's Klingons, who are far different from the ones in the established Trek universe. Viewers were introduced to their leader T'Kuvma, a bluish-black-skinned warrior on a quest to unite the Klingon Empire (seemingly through war with the Federation). We saw Klingons of different skin tones: ranging from albino white to nearly pitch black. All of them were bald as well, with the race's signature head ridges. And while T'Kuvma's ship was unlike any Klingon vessel seen in Trek lore (it's thousands of years old), viewers did see some familiar ship silhouettes warp in at the end of the episode.
A familiar face
First Officer Michael Burnham's backstory was explored heavily in the episode. Her parents were killed in a Klingon attack, and she was adopted by Spock's father, Sarek. She was raised Vulcan, enrolling in their rigorous academies, but still heeding her "human heart." The episode established that Burnham hadn't spoken to Sarek in years, but she called upon him to ask how the Vulcans and Klingons brokered peace. The answer? By force.
In a pinch
After her conversation with Sarek, Burnham felt the only course of action was for the Shenzhou to fire upon the Klingons in order to earn their respect. She openly defied Georgiou on the bridge, which led to a tense meeting between the two senior officers (both women -- another Trek first) in the captain's ready room. Burnham employed a technique from her adopted culture -- the Vulcan nerve pinch -- to render Georgiou unconscious. It didn't work too well -- Georgiou recovered with minutes to take back command of the bridge.