10.30.2017

Black Girls' Night Out: Michael Burnham (#STDSC)


**Some Spoilers**

There are some things I'm genuinely starting to like about this show.  For one, in terms of darkness, Star Trek: Discovery has officially eclipsed Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  It looks, feels, and sounds much, much darker than DS9 ever could.  Matter of fact, it's so dark, a Section 31 agent would be perfectly at home on this show. However, DS9 allowed its darkness to happen organically.  I never went into Season 1 thinking we'd have a full-scale war by Season 5. But on DSC, war is declared in the very first episode.

(Sidenote: what is it with Black leads getting the #DarkTrek shows?)

The characters are growing on me, and the humor is starting to emerge.   Chief Engineer Lt. Paul Stamets, started out as a huge, narcissistic asshole obsessed with his beloved spore-drive, an organic-based engine which allows the Discovery to jump instantly to anywhere in the known universe.  Problem is, it's not particularly reliable, as it requires a sentient conduit between the ship and the spores.  The Discovery was originally using a large alien creature, but the damage the jumps caused convinced Stamets to take its place.  Let's just say that after being repeatedly injected with space shrooms, the former asshole has been pretty "groovy" ever since (shout-out to his husband Dr. Hugh Culber; actor Wilson Cruz is doing an excellent job).

I like that Cadet Tilly - Michael's roommate - is a ginger with big, wild curly hair, acne, allergies, and a very healthy appetite (and a body size to actually reflect said appetite).  To be honest, it's refreshing to see a White woman on TV who looks like this.  Also, she doesn't usurp Michael's scenes, and she's supportive rather than intrusive when she realizes Michael is falling for Ash.

Speaking of Ash, actor Shazad Latif has been listed in the credits since day one, but it took until Episode 5 for him to finally show up as Lt. Ash Tyler, a human male expected to become Michael's love interest.  Seeing as this is Ash Tyler...


...I'm totally here for it.  Interracial POC love always gets bonus points from me.  Story-wise, it doesn't hurt that Michael was raised by Vulcans, has never been in love, and doesn't know how to deal with these unfamiliar feelings. It's also refreshing that instead being cast as a hypersexualized, disposable object of fetishism, Sonequa Martin-Green is playing an awkwardly innocent character.

Quick side note about Ash: I didn't like that he managed to survive as a Klingon POW by screwing the female captain.  Once again, we're hit with the notion that if a woman has power, her weakness must be a man, and a man can always exploit said weakness.  People, need I remind you this is the first prominent female Klingon Commander we've had since Lursa and B'Etor, and the very first impression we're given of her is that she endangers her entire crew...for some dick.  Guess who just won that challenge?

So here's the thing about Gabriel Lorca.

I theorize that Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) was killed off because her character was essentially too idealistic, too avoidant of war and thus ill-equipped to deal with the Klingons. Georgiou could not command the Discovery nor make the controversial decisions we've seen thus far.  Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), on the other hand, is our first Starfleet Captain who's a full-blown sociopath.  Gabriel will literally say whatever, be whatever he needs to be to get what he wants.  Charming?  Check.  Enigmatic?  Check.  Ruthless?  Check, check. 

Dude blew up his last ship, the Buran, along with his crew to spare them being captured by Klingons.  He then lied on his psych evals so Starfleet would clear him for duty.  To quote my uncle, Gabriel has a "pure warrior mind".  When the Klingons basically say "fuck humans," he believes them right away and doesn't bother to negotiate (this is the only place where he and the highly moral, deeply compassionate Michael share common ground).  So to win the war, Lorca needs the best team - Paul, the brilliant engineer; Ash, the soldier who survived seven months of Klingon torture; and Michael, Starfleet's first mutineer.

And while I will gladly admit Jason Isaacs is doing one hell of a job with this role, humor me: what if Isaacs had donned the role of an idealistic Captain Philip Georgiou and been killed off after two episodes...while Michelle Yeoh stepped into the cold, brutal persona of Captain Gabrielle Lorca?

PS...shout-out to actress Oyin Oladejo who plays Lt. Joann Owosekun. Her hair and face are perfection.  I really hope her character is expanded, along with all the other gorgeous POC I'm seeing on the bridge of the Discovery.

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