Discovery Gets the Mystery Right

The final series of Discovery is airing right now. I’ve always had an issue with the storytelling in certain nuTrek series. I’ve talked a lot about this with Picard, but Discovery, while a better series, has had the same mystery box since the beginning. This time, however, they seem to have it right.

I’ve written before about the way I feel that the Mystery Box writing style leads to a frustrating TV series. By obsessing about keeping absolutely everything a mystery, you end up leaving your audience completely in the dark. A TV series can end up being frustrating to watch because you have absolutely no idea of what is happening until the final episode (or episodes).

While Star Trek: Picard is probably the biggest sinner here, Star Trek: Discovery has also suffered due to this style of writing. It’s never been as bad, since Discovery has often been given more episodes and more time to breathe, leading to some fun stories along the way. But it has still been frustrating to watch at times, especially when the mystery turns out to be that a kid was just kind of sad and his screams destroyed warp travel.

Season 5 of Discovery is off to a good start so far. The Mystery Box has finally been opened a little earlier, allowing us to peek inside. We know exactly what the mission is: find the macguffin that the Progenitors left behind. The Progenitors were first featured in The Next Generation episode The Chase, in which it is revealed that this race seeded all life in the known galaxy, and is perhaps the reason that the humanoid form is so common.

It’s a great start to the series, one where we know the whole story and we know the stakes. People have already theorised that the technology they are looking for is similar to the weapon on Dakara from Stargate, and we already have confirmation that this is likely the case from the third episode.

Discovery is also in a race with Moll and L’ak, the series’ antagonists. Their mission is to find the weapon so they can protect it from falling into more sinister hands, and Moll and L’ak represent this aspect.

And the most important thing is that there is still a mystery. We still don’t know the exact nature of the device. Could it be used to destroy life? Can it raise the dead? Are these things we should even consider doing?

And there are other mysteries too. Are Moll and L’ak truly evil, especially given that one of them may be related to Booker? Is the Federation truly the best organisation to protect this device when there is the looming potential of war with the Breen?

So far, the latest season of Discovery has managed to avoid the problem of overusing the Mystery Box, and is off to a good start. We know what is going on, what the stakes are, while at the same time are left wondering about where the story is heading. It’s a perfect formula for getting people invested into the show, and it’s one that’s working for me so far.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.