“The Vulcan Hello” is the pilot episode of the TV show “Star Trek: Discovery”, which marks the return of Star Trek’s historical saga on the small screen, though updated as it’s available in the USA on the CBS All Access Streaming Platform and in many other nations on Netflix.
I confess that I came to this show with concern: the last TV shows showed in my opinion a sharp decline in quality and this, together with a couple of bad movies, ended up leaving Star Trek in J.J. Abrams’ clutches, with his reboot that deeply disgusted me. The idea of another prequel left me cold after Enterprise lazily went where everyone had already gone before but the presence of Bryan Fuller as its showrunner gave me some hope, too bad his presence at the helm didn’t last long.
In “The Vulcan Hello”, the crew of the starship USS Shenzhou discover an unidentified object during a mission that’s supposed to be about repairing an interstella communications relay and First Officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) has to investigate.
They suspect that someone voluntarily damaged the communications relay, in fact Burnham finds a klingon who attacks her and she’s forced to kill him. In dealing with the consequences of that discovery, the First Officer finds herself in disagreement with Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh).
“The Vulcan Hello” has the task to start a plot that doesn’t end in this episode so for the moment I can only offer some impression and not a complete judgment. The function of a pilot episode is to introduce the show’s protagonists and a story that could be developed in a story-arc.
In this beginning I can see the authors will to refer to elements already seen in Star Trek and the presence of Sarek, Spock’s father, to create a rapid familiarity in old fans. In 2017 it would be absurd to use CRT screens as in the original series but there are so many details that show the attention paid to respect the saga’s past.
For this reason I’m still puzzled by the decision to mess again with the Klingons’ appearance: the difference between the “Mongolian” Klingons of the original series and the “turtle-head” ones of the movies and the other TV shows was due to budget issues, further changes seem to me just damaging.
It’s good that the episode features protagonists who have their own personalities and we’re also provided with information about Michael Burnham’s past. That’s important for her connection with Sarek and the Klingons in a new contact that could result in a war.
Overall, in my opinion, “The Vulcan Hello” has more merits than flaws. The story was written by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman so I’m not really surprised, it remains to be seen if in future episodes the show can to do better than the previous two what’s expected when they use the name Star Trek: boldly going where no one has gone before.