Star Trek Best Trek

Star Trek: Discovery

Discovery is a prequel series that starts about a decade before the events of The Original Series and about a century after Enterprise. The Federation is well established but the galaxy is a big place with many dangers ready to challenge Starfleet and test their principles.

Discovery does a lot to shake up the Star Trek formula. Seasons are shorter and lack filler. Episodes are more consistent in quality (though they vary a bit in runtime) and each one advances the ongoing arc. Consequential events that disrupt the status quo are a regular occurrence. Rather than the face of the show being the captain supported by a consistent ensemble of senior staff to support episodic adventures, the focus is on a smaller set of core cast members with more investment to the development of their characters and relationships.

But while the surface has evolved, Discovery is absolutely still Star Trek at heart. It’s a take suited for modern television, but the essence and ideals haven’t changed.

Episodic or serial?

Mostly serial. You don’t watch an episode of Discovery; you watch a season. Each one is an essentially-complete story weaving together multiple threads and smaller arcs. A few episodes along the way focus mostly on standalone events and themes but still tie in to the larger story.

Between the first few seasons, Short Treks provides some episodic bits that add to the world and characters.

Idealistic or cynical?

Idealistic, despite initial appearances. The first several episodes look much bleaker than they actually are. Stick with it and things will lighten up.

Worth watching?

Yes, as long as you can accept a more modern type of binge-friendly serialized television than prior series. You’ll need to watch all the episodes in order and pay a decent amount of attention for things to make sense. Also, be warned that the first season makes several superficial changes (such as redesigning the Klingons) but these are all walked-back for later seasons.

And remember to check out Short Treks between seasons.

Anything else that should be watched first?

No hard requirements. For the first season, familiarity with The Original Series (and in particular the episodes “Journey to Babel” and “Mirror, Mirror”) will help you better appreciate some references. (Bizarrely, the Enterprise two-parter “In a Mirror, Darkly” is also relevant for a bit of backstory, but it’s not a big deal.) For season two, add “The Menagerie”.

Later seasons incorporate elements from several other series, but mostly in minor ways. They generally aren’t worth worrying about, but season three benefits slightly from a familiarity with the Trill and with The Next Generation episodes “Unification I” and “II” while season five leans on The Next Generation episode “The Chase”.

What should be watched after this?

Check out Short Treks if you weren’t watching them along the way. Chronologically, the next series to come out is Picard, but Strange New Worlds is a direct follow-up to season two and a good place to go next.