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Why Star Trek: Discovery's focus on emotion is so essential

  • Recently, Sonequa Martin-Green's Captain Michael Burnham finished a speech while fighting back tears. "For its detractors, scenes like this are everything wrong with the series," says Joe George. "Over its 3 ½ seasons, Discovery has established itself as the most openly emotional Star Trek series, in which characters talk about their trauma, give each other meaningful hugs, and shed tears in nearly every episode. Discovery explores pathos more thoroughly than any other series in the franchise. In doing so, it underscores an important aspect of humanity, one too often downplayed by the franchise. Michael Burnham is hardly the first Trek character to shed tears on the final frontier. After all, who can forget William Shatner stifling a cry during Captain Kirk’s eulogy for Spock (Leonard Nimoy) in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?" But, says George, "Trek usually treats empathy as a challenge, a problem to overcome for the greater good." George adds: "The other three current ongoing Trek series each embrace emotion more consistently than their predecessors. Picard uses audience nostalgia for the title character as a contrast to Starfleet’s callous bureaucracy, while the young Delta Quadrant outcasts in Prodigy bubble over with childlike wonder as they become the crew of the abandoned USS Protostar. Lower Decks finds comedy not just in references to the goofier parts of Trek lore, but also in the foibles of its neurotic ensigns."

    TOPICS: Star Trek: Discovery, Paramount+