Trekathon Season Review: Discovery Season 4

March 27th, 2022

Discovery finishes a fourth year. Spoilers.

Woof. That was a rough season.

There are some good episodes in the first half away from the core plot of the season, such as Choose to Live and All is Possible. But the season’s arc is confusing and badly paced, and driven by some of the stupidest character reactions in all of Trek.

At a high level, the plot is ’10-C do bad thing and blow up planet. Tarka manages to con a grieving Book into doing stupid stuff, which almost prevents a diplomatic solution’. The problem is that for this to work Book has to be totally blind, and with a vengeful streak that just isn’t consistent with his character. Tarka is so obviously off his rocker that it simply doesn’t make any sense that Book would continue to trust and work with him. Especially after repeated betrayals. And that undermines everything in the second half of the season.

There are a lot of micro flaws turning up consistently as well. Repeated use of past trauma as a plot or character development point. Too much whisper talking. Some bad technobabble habits for solving problems within episodes. And above all, a failure to understand how to construct an episode in a way that builds tension, with constant cut aways that undermine the pacing of the episode.

Honestly this is a show in real trouble from my perspective. The performers are incredible, the setting has a lot to offer, and the production values are top notch. But this is now two years of honestly underwhelming season wide plots, and some deep implementation problems. I hope Season 5 has a lot more to offer.

One bright spot of the season – the ‘first contact with the 10-C’ stuff was really good. It used good solid science fiction foundations to build a really interesting set of challenges and story beats. They perhaps got a bit bored with ‘slow improvement in communication’ in the very last scene with the 10-C, but overall it was some really good SF. Something Trek doesn’t actually do often enough – a lot of the space ship stuff is setting, not story.

Overall I’m going to put this into the ‘Not Good’ bracket, below the two DS9 seasons.

The very best of Trek:

  • PIC Season 1
  • TNG Season 6
  • DS9 Season 2

Strong performers:

  • LD Season 1
  • DS9 Season 5
  • TNG Season 3
  • TNG Season 5
  • TOS Season 2
  • DIS Season 2
  • ENT Season 3
  • TNG Season 4
  • VOY Season 4

Mixed bag:

  • TOS Season 1
  • DS9 Season 4
  • LD Season 2
  • DIS Season 1
  • ST Season 2
  • DS9 Season 1
  • ENT Season 4
  • DIS Season 3
  • ST Season 1
  • VOY Season 5
  • ENT Season 1
  • VOY Season 1
  • TNG Season 7

Not good:

  • DS9 Season 3
  • DS9 Season 6
  • DIS Season 4
  • VOY Season 6
  • VOY Season 3
  • TNG Season 2
  • ENT Season 2
  • TAS Season 1

Really just awful:

  • VOY Season 7
  • VOY Season 2
  • DS9 Season 7
  • TOS Season 3
  • TAS Season 2
  • TNG Season 1

Now onwards to more Picard, then Strange New Worlds, and maybe then a break from Trek. At least for a little bit.