the story: Burnham's actions lead to an all-out fight between Starfleet and the Klingons.
what it's all about: Essentially the second half of "The Vulcan Hello," until further episodes define just how serialized this series really is, but certainly concluding an opening story for Burnham and Discovery around her, "Battle at the Binary Stars" is perhaps most notable by how it ends, in a manner most shocking indeed...
I mentioned in my thoughts about "Vulcan Hello" how Burnham's arc in these first two episodes is like seeing things the franchise usually only talks about, except in the one other instance in which a series has begun showing exactly where a character's mindset came from (Sisko's experiences during the Battle of Wolf 359 in Deep Space Nine's pilot, "Emissary"). Next Generation's Picard had commanded a ship prior to the Enterprise (we later get a version of how his tenure aboard the Stargazer ended in "The Battle"), while his first officer Riker had distinguished himself by questioning a previous commanding officer; Voyager's Tom Paris, meanwhile, is the only other disgraced Starfleet officer to be featured as a series regular, but it's only with a different character actor Robert Duncan McNeill had played (in Next Generation's "The First Duty") where we actually saw a version of the circumstances behind what he'd done.
There's no such ambiguity in Discovery. This is a series that shows everything. Not only do we see exactly what apparently happens to Burnham's career, but there are also flashbacks (Burnham as a young girl as she struggles to cope with what happened to her parents, and by whom, which is similar to Next Generation's Worf, too, who happens to be Klingon) and even a unique bond with Sarek. Speaking of Spock's dad (it'll be interesting to see just how that's acknowledged in the series), he's another layer of how Discovery is seizing its opportunity to look at the franchise from a fresh set of eyes. We see a unique version of the Vulcan mind-meld, complete with an explanation for it, in this episode, for instance, and even Sarek's thoughts on where he believes his strengths lie, and how he relates to those closest to him.
- franchise - Rich in its examination of both Starfleet and Klingon culture.
- series - Concludes the origin story...
- character - Of lead character Michael Burnham.
- essential - This is something we've often been told about before in Star Trek, but never quite gotten to actually see.
Michelle Yeoh (Georgiou)
James Frain (Sarek)