‘Star Trek Discovery’ Improves Noticeably In Its Third Season

Courtesy: Paramount+/CBS DVD

Paramount+’s Star Trek series Discovery is a property that has struggled to find its place in the bigger Star Trek universe over the course of its first two seasons.  Of course, the series did show some growth in its second season, offering some hope for the show.  Now in its third season, which is scheduled for release Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray, that growth has continued even more, showing even more potential for its own future.  That is exhibited mainly through its writing, which while not perfect is still key to this season’s success.  While the writing does much to make Season Three a continued improvement for the Discovery franchise, the bonus content detracts slightly from the season’s forthcoming home presentation.  This will be addressed a little later.  Luckily, the detraction that the season’s bonus content causes is not enough to make this season’s presentation a failure.  The acting works with the writing to continue showing the noted growth.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Star Trek Discovery: Season Three’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the season such that longtime Star Trek fans will agree is another improvement in this series.

Paramount+ and CBS DVD’s forthcoming home release of Star Trek Discovery: Season Three is a presentation that brings the series another step forward in its ongoing growth.  That is due in large part to the season’s writing.  The writing stands out because while it ensures the season is still serialized, there is more going on within the season.  Instead of just one central story, the writers create two central stories – Burham’s efforts to reunite with the Discovery crew, the crew’s efforts to find the source of “the burn,” and the crew’s efforts to rebuild the Federation.  Along the way, the writers also developed story lines within those larger stories that allow the rest of the crew to shine (E.g. Lt. Detmer’s dealing with what is essentially PTSD, Tilly’s own personal growth as she comes into her own on board the Discovery, and Emperor Girgio’s own growth and change).  Given, the writers still make Burnham something of a Christ-like figure, ensuring she is at the center of the bigger stories (and crying as much as possible yet again along the way), but seeing the rest of Discovery’s main crew getting their own time in the spotlight is a nice growth.  That the writers were able to keep everything balanced and keep the whole from getting bogged down in itself is definitely worth its own share of applause.

Adding onto everything already noted is the fact that the writers also worked hard this season to bring Discovery into the bigger Star Trek canon through items, such as the introduction of Andorians and Orions, and even Carl (a.k.a. the Guardian of Forever).  The Guardian of Forever reaches all the way back to Star Trek The Original Series, showing once again the attempt to pull this series into canon.  As if all of that is not enough, the discussion of Spock’s attempts to reunite the Vulcans and Romulans is a direct throw back to The Next Generation.  Captain Picard’s name is even directly used in this discussion, which will make even the most devoted viewers happy.  There is even a tribute to Star Trek Voyager at another point, adding for even more appeal.  That the writers did everything noted here without making any of it feel forced is even more impressive.  It results in each episode being that much more engaging and entertaining.

While the writers’ work in this season is unquestionably important to its presentation, the lack of any real discussion on that work in the bonus content detracts somewhat from the season’s presentation on DVD.  That is not to say that the events of Season Three are not addressed.  Quite the opposite is true as a matter of fact.  They are discussed in the home release’s only real worthwhile bonus, “The Voyage of Season 3.”  Audiences are taken from the season premiere to its finale, outlining how the crew grows and changes, and how everything happens.  The one thing that it does not do however, is offer commentary from the cast or crew on how the course was set (no pun intended) throughout the season.  It would have been nice to have known from the show’s creative heads why the surprising source of the burn was chosen for instance.  That one is a bit of a head scratcher with all due respect.  The source of “The Burn” will not be revealed for those who have yet to see Season Three, but again, it just feels like the writers, in this case, just decided to throw something against the wall and see if it sticks.  It is just a little disappointing at least in the mind of this critic.  It is the only real downside to the writing, though.  Considering how much the writers brought Discovery into Star Trek canon this season, it also would have been nice to have received comment from the writers and creative heads about that.  That sadly is absent in this bonus feature, too.  Did the creative heads do this out of reaction to audiences or was this all planned long term?  Audiences are left not knowing this.

Looking at the rest of the bonus content featured this time out, the “Bridge Building” bonus is entertaining in its own right.  Considering how much more the Discovery’s bridge crew is featured this season, this profile of the crew from the actors themselves is a nice added nod to those actors.

Speaking of cast profiles, the profile of cast member Kenneth Mitchell is engaging in its own right, even if it is not necessarily memorable.  Audiences get to hear from Mitchell himself here and learn of how many roles he has played over the course of the series’ now three seasons.  His discussion on being diagnosed with ALS will grip and move audiences, certainly.  It adds a little more appreciation for the character development and widening character portrayals this season too. 

Looking at all of this (and the mostly forgettable “Writer’s Log” bonus feature), the bonus content adds some appeal to this season in its home presentation at best, but because of what it lacks, it also detracts from that presentation.  Luckily, that balance of pro and con here is enough to keep the presentation still mostly positive.

One more item that makes the third season of Star Trek Discovery positive is the acting.  Every cast member serves his or her own positive part in terms of the acting.  That includes Mitchell.  While Mitchell only appears near the season finale, his subtle performance as part of the Emerald Chain and his realization as to what the Emerald Chain is really all about is powerful in its simplicity.  Mitchell shows here a real appreciation for his time on screen, making audiences really connect with him.  On another note, Michelle Yeoh is once again one of the real highlights in terms of the acting.  Her role as Emperor Giorgio, that hard-nosed figure is just so great to take in.  Even the crew appreciated that snappy nature.  Audiences will be left for audiences to figure that out for themselves. On a more subtle note, Linus (David Benjamin Tomlinson) makes for some great subtle comic relief as he tries to figure out how the new Federation badges work, even accidentally breaking up a romantic moment between Burnham and Book.  Yes, she falls in love again, but that development was obvious right from the duo’s meeting in the season premiere.  Tomlinson may not be a key member of the cast, but he is used so well even as a lesser member of the crew and deserves his own share of applause.  Between his work, that of the other cast members addressed here and that of the rest of the cast, the overall acting does a lot to make this season enjoyable in its own right.  When it is considered along with the positives of the writing and even some of the positives in the bonus content (as few as they are), the whole makes the third season of Star Trek Discovery a cast improvement on the series from its first two seasons.  One can only hope that the improvements continue in the now apparently planned fourth season.

The third season of Star Trek Discovery is a noticeable improvement on the series from its first two seasons.  That is evidenced in large part through its writing.  The writing has expanded this season, incorporating more story elements rather than just focusing on one item.  That means also allowing stars other than Sonequa Martin-Green to have the spotlight.  It is a nice change of pace.  Add in the more clear effort by all involved to tie Discovery into Star Trek canon, and the writing creates even more appeal.  While the writing does a lot to make this season appealing, the bonus content that accompanies the season’s home release detracts from the presentation.  That is because while it does offer some background on the season, that background is limited.  Luckily, the character profiles make up for that shortcoming at least to a point.  Keeping that in mind, the few positives in the bonus content make up for the shortcomings to keep the bonus content from dooming the presentation.  Those positives work along with the wholly positive acting to rounds out the most important of the season’s elements.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the season.  All things considered, they make the third season of Star Trek Discovery largely a win and clear improvement on the show from its first two seasons.

Star Trek Discovery Season Three is scheduled for release Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on the series is available online now at:

Websitehttps://cbs.com/shows/star-trek-discovery

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/StarTrekCBS

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/cbs

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