Last night we got our first good look at the new Star Trek TV series, Discovery; its trailer was packed with some gorgeous shots, as well as new ships, uniforms, and tech of the show, which is set 10 years before the original series. Here’s everything we noticed.
The trailer opens on a desert world, with two figures clad in desert robes: Captain Phillipa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and her First Officer, Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). We saw their costumes in an image released early yesterday, but they’re continuing a tradition of Starfleet desert robes from past shows.
The way the conversation is cut, we’re meant to think that Burnham is much more concerned about getting off-world than Georgiou is, who is busy reminiscing at how long the two have worked together. She then surprises Burnham with a discussion about her getting her “own command.”
While doing so, Georgiou whips out some classic Trek tech: a classic flip-style communicator from the original show to request transport...
...from a new Federation starship. Although in Trek’s TV canon the ship wouldn’t be seen until the 24th-century during Deep Space Nine, the design of the ship appears to mark it as a Centaur-Class vessel. Considering it’s here on Georgiou’s orders, it appears that this would be the U.S.S. Shenzou, which we know is the ship she captains.
As an aside, it also means that we don’t actually see the U.S.S. Discovery itself at all in this trailer—all the shots of a ship in this trailer appear to be of the Shenzou. The titular ship of the show is captained by a character named Lorca, played by Jason Isaacs, and Burnham will be working under him as First Officer too. But considering we only see her serving with Georgiou in this trailer, it would appear much of what we see is actually a sort of prologue to what’s in store for the wider show: judging by the rest of the trailer, something bad happens aboard the Shenzou, and Burnham is transferred to the Discovery instead of getting the command of which Georgiou thought she was worthy.
(For what it’s worth, we did get a tiny look at the Discovery yesterday in the form of the new key art released for the show, which features a very small version of the ship flying upwards. If we compare it to the initial reveal of the ship from San Diego Comic-Con last year, it would seem that the Discovery has undergone some small design tweaks, moving its warp nacelles back slightly to evoke a more Enterprise-esque look. It’s hard to tell if the art is meant to imply that the Discovery now has a more silvery color scheme in comparison to the bronze of the initial reveal too, but it’s possible.)
Back in the trailer, we get a quick shot of Georgiou and Burnham beaming up, an effect that is clearly trying to evoke the classic transporter FX from the original show. It’s the old-school sparkle effect, representing some sort of transporter grid fluttering over the characters.
As the Shenzou warps into a new location—where we see it has an actual window for a viewport, a design choice borrowed from the Kelvin Timeline movie reboots despite this series being set in the prime Star Trek timeline—we also get our first look at the “new” Starfleet uniforms of the show. We’ll get some better shots later on, but it would appear the new color structure is Gold piping and printing for Command, Silver for Science, and Bronze for Operations. Meanwhile, a narrator intones: “Great unifiers are few and far between, but they do come. Often such leaders will need... a profound cause for their followers to rally around.”
We find out that the narrator is actually Sarek (James Frain), a recurring character in the original show and feature films, and the Vulcan father of Spock, appearing in hologram form to Burnham. Just why he’s talking to her about leadership has yet to be made clear, but the connection between the two characters becomes more obvious later on in the trailer.
Georgiou takes her Captain’s chair, giving us our best look at the bridge of the Shenzou as well as more of its crew, including a very Lobot-from-Empire-Strikes-Back-style cyborg, and a blue, mottled alien.
An alien science officer explains that the ship has found an “object of unknown origin” to Georgiou. Press images released after the trailer confirm that this character is Doug Jones’ Lieutenant Saru, one of the first characters cast for the show.
Burnham is excited to see whatever the object is, so she gets ready to boldly go by being shot out of the ship in an EVA suit. “What have you done out there on the edge of Federation space?” Holo-Sarek asks Burnham. It’s made to imply that this conversation is taking place after the discovery of this strange object, and given Sarek was discussing leadership earlier, it could indicate that something goes real bad for Captain Georgiou during the encounter.
Here’s the best look at Burnham’s space suit, before she asks the computer (who we don’t hear, sadly—but the show may use a phonetically-recorded library of sounds from the late Majel Barrett, who voiced every Star Trek computer system in the franchise’s long history, as part of Trek tradition) to blast her off towards the unknown object. It’s got little in common with the space suits of the original Star Trek, but it does share design links with the suits from The Motion Picture or even the later suits that debuted in First Contact.
As Burnham lands on the object, we see the show’s new take on Klingons. Although set before the original series, the Klingons will keep the ridged foreheads of later Klingon designs... although it appears the long, flowing hair long associated with those designs is out the window. We only see them briefly, but it appears the Klingons are conducting some sort of burial ceremony.
The implication here is that the device Burnham is exploring is linked to these scenes, as we quickly flash back to the Shenzou as the bridge detects Klingon warp signatures dance across the map. “Contact Starfleet Command,” Georgiou gravely orders. “We have engaged the Klingons.” The red alert klaxon wails in the background, the timeless Star Trek acknowledgment of shit being about to go down.
We get another look at the Klingon “bridge” here, which does appear to be the same set we saw them conducting the ceremony in earlier. We also get an even better look at a character confirmed in press materials to be T’Kuvma (Chris Obi), described as “a leader trying to unite the Klingon houses.”
Don’t get too excited; this isn’t another Starfleet ship. It’s just an artsy shot of the Shenzou’s bridge, which is situated below the saucer, upside down. Fancy, but not “new.”
Meanwhile, the real link between Sarek and Burnham is revealed in a flashback to her childhood: Burnham is part-Vulcan. We don’t know how much, but Sarek implies it’s not much, telling the child that she’ll never learn the Vulcan language. “Your tongue is too human.” Harsh, dude.
As Burnham tells the bridge crew she’s trying to save them, the crew bustles about the Shenzou, and we see a short-sleeved variant of the Starfleet uniform—or what is possibly a more “casual” version of it, with the outer jacket removed.
The crew comes under attack from some sort of debilitating psychic scream...
...which the next shot implies is the Klingon’s doing, as they scream into the void. This is possible, but it doesn’t seem particularly likely that the Klingons suddenly have scream powers.
Next are brief glimpses at two strange new creatures—a bug-like alien that appears to be on the planet Georgiou and Burnham were on, and a Daft Punk-esque robot who looks like it’s part of the Shenzou’s crew. Burnham and Georgiou then have a tense conversation on the bridge. “Starfleet doesn’t fire first,” Georgiou says, to which Burnham explains, “We have to!”
Burnham seems like a much more gung-ho character than her Captain. The Shenzou does at least fire despite Georgiou’s concerns, as we hear the photon torpedo volley go off in the background.
Saru delivers both the most ominous line of the trailer and a really awful reason that his race exists: “My people were biologically determined for one purpose alone: to sense the coming of death. I sense it coming now.” Bet he’s fun at parties.
Back out in space, on the surface of the mysterious object, Burnham comes face to face with a heavily armored individual, who lashes out with a weapon to end the trailer. The figure is presumably a Klingon, given the armor’s aesthetic—and the weapon they wield looks like it could be a Bat’leth. It’d make sense, given everything else we’ve seen in the trailer about the threat the Shenzou and her crew face.
The first Discovery trailer has given us a huge new glimpse at the show’s looks and given a few hints at its plot, but it’s also hiding the bulk of what’s to come on the show. We’ve still haven’t seen the titular ship in action, and can only speculate how and why Burnham finds herself on it. That said, the trailer is still a gorgeous look at what to expect when Star Trek: Discovery premieres on CBS sometime this fall—followed by the rest of the series airing on CBS’s All Access VOD platform.