I'm not a Trekkie by any means. I've watched bits of the original series, TNG, DS9, and even Voyager, sure, but it's always been sporadic. The only time I've ever committed to a series was the last time they tried to "bring Star Trek back" with Enterprise and even then I don't think I watched more than a single season. Despite that, I've always enjoyed the Star Trek universe and the ideals it holds to, so when they announced a return to those stories on Netflix I was quite excited. At least the budget would be there, and maybe they could take in a new direction.
Well, I'd definitely say a new direction has been attempted. Discovery is a narrative-driven drama rather than an episodic, "monster of the week" type deal, which I actually think was a good move. That they've set the main characters within the midst of the Klingon wars also provides a different look at Starfleet outside their normal emphasis of peace and friendship. It also means we get to dive into Klingon culture, which I think has been a solid decision. Others may not like the "new look" Klingons, but I actually think they've done it quite well, and overall the world-building is on point.
Similarly, with (yet another) Vulcan/Human character – even if she is biologically fully human, she has clearly embraced her Vulcan upbringing pretty completely – we get some nuance to the role that the Vulcan civilisation is playing in the ongoing disputes. I'm not sure I needed her to be Spock's half-sister, though; that feels a little contrived.
Still, the season starts with a (literal) bang and an intriguing premise. It's a bit overdone but it serves to cement the Klingons as a legitimate threat and provides a good introduction to both the Discovery and her crew, as well as Micheal herself. For the most part, I really enjoy the characters that they've created as well. Michael is a little irritating at times, but I absolutely love Saru (both from a creature design perspective and as a character), Tilly started off a little annoying but warmed on me throughout the season, and the Stamets/Hugh relationship is brilliant. I still don't know how I feel about Hugh's death, but it was well done and extremely emotional, so it didn't feel tokenistic at least. And then there's Captain Lorca. The first half of the show presents him as a compelling and nuanced character, someone befitting his military position but who still appears to idealise the core tenents of Starfleet.
But then the mid-season twist hits. I think, by the end of the run, I'm okay with the direction they took. Not being a huge Trekkie means I didn't know the "mirror universe" was a thing, very much considered canon. That fact does make the second half of the season much more acceptable, and it's well-paced with plenty of tension, as well as giving us some very useful character development arcs. Tilly, in particular, grows tremendously as a result of everything that happens and that feels positive. Still, the show gets significantly better when we get back to the prime universe and the Klingon war.
Which ultimately brings us to the conclusion. I enjoyed the evolution of the Klingon prophet, Voq, and how that all became caught up with Tyler, L'Rell, and Burnham herself, and I thought they ended that arc well. The positioning of Starfleet as being happy to take part in genocide is a little disturbing, but this show has been about the darker side of their philosophy so it felt fitting enough. Still, with some rocky moments, it's hardly a plotline to really go out on and I hope that season two sees them deviate considerably from where the show has already been. Boldly go and all that...