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The beginner's guide to Star Trek: What to watch first

david-gewirtz

The Star Trek television world consists of eleven full and distinct television series released across the decades, going all the way back to the mid-1960s. While some of the older sets and effects are certainly dated, some of the issues the shows grappled with back in the day are as relevant now as they were almost 60 years ago.

When Star Trek debuted on September 6, 1966, it was a relatively low-budget TV series with only lukewarm network support. It took two pilot episodes before the series was picked up by NBC, only to be unceremoniously cancelled three years later. Nobody back then knew that Star Trek would create cultural touchstones and iconic characters, or that it would go on to spawn ten more TV series (so far) and thirteen movies (also, so far).

Today, Star Trek is deeply entrenched in modern mythology, with characters like James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard as familiar to us as Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo.

But not everyone is fully up to speed on all things Trek . Perhaps you're seeing promotions for the new shows coming out this year and wonder what all the fuss is about. Perhaps you want to introduce Star Trek to a younger generation or catch up after a long hiatus.

No matter what, we're here to help. In this guide, I'm going to take you through the TV series and help you understand what each is about, give you some hints about watching order, and share with you my subjective perspective on the shows.

Also:  14 unofficial Star Trek series and films

Star Trek has inspired a tremendous amount of media. Beyond the TV shows, there are movies, video games, books, comics, fan fiction and productions, collectables, and more. Because the commercial world of Star Trek fandom is so huge, I'm going to limit our discussion to just the TV shows -- although there will be a few mentions of one or two movies that are requisite viewing for later series' continuity.

How to get started

There are four Star Trek series currently in production right now. More are rumored to be on the way. And there's even a Seth McFarland-helmed homage to Star Trek called The Orville that carries on the Trek spirit (new episodes will be broadcast on Hulu in June).

So, you could get started watching a current show, especially since the visuals and production quality are top-notch. If you feel strongly about starting with new material, I'd recommend kicking off your watching with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on the Paramount+ streaming service. I'll talk more about SNW (most Trek series get abbreviations) in a bit. Another choice would be the gorgeous animated series Star Trek: Prodigy . It's intended to bring kids into the Star Trek universe, but it fires on all cylinders for adults just as well.

But I recommend you start where it all started: Star Trek , the original series ( TOS ) produced in the 1960s. It's here you'll meet Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and Scotty the engineer. This is where it all began, and everything builds upon this fundamental mythology.

And with that, let's get started!

1. Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS)

The series that began it all.

  • Production Years:  1966-1969
  • Trek Timeline Years:  2266-2269
  • Seasons:  3
  • Episodes:  79
  • Stream on:   Paramount+
  • Buy:   Amazon

This is it. The series that began it all. I recently rewatched the entire run of  TOS  after not having seen it in years, and the thing that made the biggest impression on me was how much they got right in those early years. Roddenberry was building a mythos out of thin air, and yet many of the foundational elements that  Star Trek  folks know and love today were written into those early shows.

Of course, Roddenberry didn't get it perfect right out of the gate. He did two pilots which introduced Captain Christopher Pike instead of Captain Kirk and a female "Number One" as second in command. This pilot, called " The Cage " never made it on the air but was repurposed into a two-parter late in the first season. You'll want to remember Pike and Number One because they're prominent in the new modern-day  Trek  series currently being released.

Some episodes of this very early series age well, while others are deeply cringeworthy. Because it's 1960s entertainment (and relatively low-budget entertainment at that), it can be a bit tedious at times. And yet, it touched on some really important themes.  Martin Luther King Jr. actually reached out to Nichelle Nichols , who  played Lt. Uhura , when she was considering leaving the show. He urged her to stay on because he saw her role as a very important inspiration.

If you want to understand all the  Trek  lore that comes after, this is the place to start.

Must watch episodes:   The City on the Edge of Forever, Space Seed, The Trouble with Tribbles

Movies:  There were six movies made with the  TOS  cast. Of them, the best two are  The Wrath of Khan  (which sets up a lot of subsequent mythos) and  The Voyage Home , which is probably the most fun of them all.

2. Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG)

The story forward 100 years.

  • Production Years:  1987-1994
  • Trek Timeline Years:  2364-2370
  • Seasons:  7
  • Episodes:  178

Star Trek's  continuing popularity during the eighteen years after NBC cancelled the original series was unexpected.  Star Trek , that weird space show with the pointy-eared alien, turned out to have legs. It took ten years of fan pressure and conventions, but in 1979  Star Trek: The Motion Picture  was released. It was... not so good. But three more movies came out over the next eight years, and they were great. So the momentum was in place for a  Star Trek  reboot.

Rather than recasting the original characters, Roddenberry decided to move the story forward almost 100 years, create a version of the  Enterprise  starship whose interior decor most resembled a Marriott hotel in outer space, and give it warp nacelles and photon torpedos. This was  The Next Generation , with Captain Picard, first officer William Riker, the android Data, the boy wonder Wesley Crusher, his mom, the Klingon Worf, and unlucky-in-love engineer Geordi La Forge. Roddenberry even created the role of a mental health counsellor (Deanna Troy) as a key member of its bridge crew.

While Patrick Stewart's Picard was much more  Captain Stubing  than Shatner's Captain Kirk, there's no doubting this Shakespearean actor's talents. Brent Spiner, as the android-who-wants-to-be-human, was another standout performer. The first two seasons were a little rocky. Remember: back then, nobody knew whether this show would last, and the actors and showrunners were still trying to come to terms with how to move beyond  TOS . But subsequent years are among the best science (and societal) fiction you'll ever see on TV.

Must watch episodes:   The Measure of a Man, Yesterday's Enterprise, The Best Of Both Worlds I  and  II

Movies:  There were four movies made with the  TNG  cast. The first one,  Generations , also included key members of the  TOS  cast. I recommend you watch  First Contact  because it's a really good movie. And you might want to watch  Nemesis  because it sets up some details you'll need in later series (but it's definitely  not  the best movie made).

Also: Best video streaming service  

To boldly go...

Once you've watched  TOS  and  TNG , you're pretty much ready to travel wherever you want throughout the  Star Trek  franchise. You'll have a good foundational understanding of the Federation, the various alien species, the rules and regulations of Starfleet, and most of the iconic characters.

My recommendation is to wrap up the early  Trek  productions by taking in the two seasons of the first animated series. Then, move on to the middle period of  Star Trek  production, with  Voyager, Deep Space 9 , and  Enterprise , and then jump forward to the current productions. That's how I'm going to present the remaining series to you, but you can pretty much choose any order you want once you've made it this far.

3. Star Trek: The Animated Series (TAS)

Worthwhile animation with tos voices.

  • Production Years:  1973-1975
  • Trek Timeline Years:  2269-2270
  • Seasons:  2
  • Episodes:  22
  • Buy:  Amazon

A few years after NBC canceled TOS , Roddenberry managed to convince studio heads to let him produce an animated version of the show. While it was considerably less expensive to produce than the live-action  Star Trek , the animated series was the most expensive animated show airing at the time, but that was mostly because nearly all the original series actors (Walter Koenig as Chekov was missing) lent their voices to the show.

While the series was intended as a kid's show, it hews pretty closely to classic  Star Trek  themes and can be considered a proper sequel to  TOS . Watching it in 2022 is a bit weird because cartoons from the 1970s definitely seem a bit weird to our 2022 mindset, but  TAS  is a worthwhile romp, especially since it features the voice work from the core actors who first made  Star Trek .

Must watch episodes:   Yesteryear, The Slaver Weapon, More Tribbles, More Troubles  (because...Tribbles)

4. Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (DS9)

Thought-provoking, must-watch tv.

  • Production Years:  1993-1999
  • Trek Timeline Years:  2369-2275
  • Seasons:  7
  • Episodes:  176
  • Stream on:   Paramount+ , Netflix
  • Buy: Amazon

By many measures,  Star Trek: Deep Space 9  is as good as  Star Trek  (or science fiction overall, for that matter) gets. Rather than exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new life and new civilizations,  Deep Space 9  takes place mostly on the eponymous space station, Deep Space 9.

The station sits at the junction of a wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant (a far off part of space) and the planet Bajor, a planet previously occupied by Cardassians' warlike race (not to be confused with the Kardashians). DS9's leader is played by actor Avery Brooks, who starts off with the Starfleet rank of Commander and later gets promoted to Captain.  DS9  starts off slow but ends with a massive war and some of the best space battles ever put on film.

While there are a few silly episodes, most plotlines are tight, deep, and thought-provoking. Characters develop complex and compelling personalities. And the show takes some powerful swings at issues of the day, with  Far Beyond the Stars  an absolute standout showing issues of racism in 1950s America and yet fitting totally in with the rest of  DS9 . If anything can be considered must-watch TV, chock full of religious and political intrigue, it's  Star Trek: Deep Space 9 .

Must watch episodes:   Far Beyond the Stars, The Visitor, Trials And Tribble-Ations  (because...Tribbles)

5. Star Trek: Voyager (VOY)

A female badass captain who guides her crew on the uss voyager.

  • Production Years:  1995-2001
  • Trek Timeline Years:  2371-2378
  • Episodes:  172

The series starts with the crew of the  Voyager  chasing after a Maquis raider ship in a rough part of space. Suddenly, both ships get pulled into a spatial distortion, only to wind up far, far away from home. A super-powerful being called the Caretaker brought both ships to the Delta quadrant as part of its quest to help a species it cared for.

The plot of the pilot is a bit convoluted, but the Captain Kathryn Janeway makes a decision that strands  Voyager  and the crew of the Maquis ship in the Delta quadrant. The voyage home will take 75 years. Kate Mulgrew was not the franchise's first choice for a Janeway captain. Instead, Geneviève Bujold was originally cast in the role, but she apparently  crashed and burned in a day and a half . That's fortunate because Mulgrew absolutely owns the part, turning the Janeway character into a tough, sensitive, compassionate, and absolutely kick-ass leader.

The  Voyager  crew becomes a blended crew with both Starfleet and Maquis. Early episodes playoff that dynamic, but the early crew conflicts tend to slip away as the series progresses and the crew coalesces. Throughout it all, the series is about how this crew survives all on its own, trying to find a way home and the adventures along the way.

Must watch episodes:  Tinker, Tailor, Doctor, Spy, Year of Hell  (two-parter),  Timeless Worst episode in any science fiction, ever:  Threshold

6. Star Trek: Enterprise (ENT)

The start of the prime universe.

  • Production Years:  2001-2005
  • Trek Timeline Years:  2151-2161
  • Seasons:  4
  • Episodes:  98
  • Stream on:  Paramount+

With  Enterprise  (the series debuted without the " Star Trek: " prefix), we're starting to move around the "Prime Universe" timeline. So, okay, some definitions are in order. In 2009, J. J. Abrams did a reboot of the original  Star Trek  crew in a three-movie set. That reboot changed some of the  Star Trek  canon (its established mythology) and became known as the "Kelvin Universe". All the  Star Trek  that exists in the unaltered (or mostly unaltered) mythology is called the "Prime Universe." All of the TV shows so far (but not all the movies) are considered Prime Universe.

In the Prime Universe,  series timelines span centuries . The majority of established canon takes place in the  TNG  era, which is 2364-2379.  TOS ,  Discovery , and  Strange New Worlds  take place 100 or so years earlier than  TNG , while  Discovery  eventually jumps to about a thousand years later. But  Enterprise  is a prequel to all of that, showcasing a ship just beginning to travel between the stars. It takes place starting in 2151, a century before the days of Kirk and Spock.

There are some nods to the idea that technology wasn't as advanced in 2151 as it was in later centuries, but since  Enterprise  itself was made 35 years after  TOS , the production value and effects made it seem somewhat more advanced. That will prove to be an ongoing problem with Trek prequels: what do you do when the real tech to produce the prequel is half a century more advanced? What do you do when the actual tech we have in our pockets seems far more advanced than the "future" tech shown in the early shows? Artistic license is used.

The  NX-01 Enterprise  is led by Captain Jonathan Archer (played by  Quantum Leap's  Scott Bakula) and his Number One is a Vulcan named T'Pol (played by Jolene Blalock). In  Enterprise's  time frame, trust between Earth and the Vulcans is tenuous, and that tension plays out over the series. Unfortunately,  Enterprise  only lasted four seasons. It, like most other  Trek , was a bit rocky in the first seasons, but by Season 4, it was producing excellent television.

My biggest question about Enterprise is about Porthos, Archer's adorable beagle. Porthos spent most of his time in Archer's cabin, but I've always been curious about how Porthos took care of business. Did they just walk him around the decks and some crewmember cleaned it up? Was there a spot of grass somewhere in an unused cabin? It keeps me up at night.

In any case, I consider  Enterprise  criminally underrated. It was a great show.

Must watch episodes:   In a Mirror, Darkly  (two-parter),  Carbon Creek, Similitude, Twilight, The Breach  (because...Tribbles)

7. Star Trek: Discovery (DIS)

Discover the fun in star trek.

  • Production Years:  2017-current
  • Trek Timeline Years:  2255-2259, 3188-3190 (so far)
  • Seasons:  4 (so far)
  • Episodes:  55 (so far)

Star Trek  production effectively went into shutdown for about a decade after  Enterprise . After the success of the reboot movies in the late 2000s,  Star Trek  TV experienced a resurgence in  Discovery .  Discovery  is a hard beast to pin down, and this had the effect of turning off some of the entrenched  Star Trek  fanbase. That said, it's still great TV.  Discovery  was the first of the modern-day  Star Trek  series to be available solely on streaming, via what was then CBS All Access and is now Paramount+.

Somehow (spoiler alert), Micheal Burham goes from the Federation's first mutineer with a life sentence to a beloved starship captain. Burnham is Spock's human sister (yeah, that was a surprise to everyone). Played by Sonequa Martin-Green, the standout feature of  Discovery  is some of its great performances and characterizations.

My favorites are the gangly alien Saru (played with absolute perfection by Doug Jones), the mirror universe emperor Georgiou (played with scenery-eating intensity by Michelle Yeoh), cranky under-utilized engineer Jett Reno (played by the wonderful-in-anything Tigg Notaro), and Captain Christopher Pike, reimagined from the pilot for  TOS  (who was played to such perfection by Anson Mount that the minute he hit the screen, everyone knew a series had to be made around him -- which became  Strange New Worlds ).

The first season takes place ten years before the original series. Klingons don't really look like Klingons, Burnham starts a war,  Discovery  travels to the mirror universe where everything is  Bizarro World , and chaos ensues. The second season is back in the home universe where the crew tries to stop an AI bent on destroying all life in the universe. To avoid that fate, the crew travels 930 years into the future and...okay, let's take a breather for a second.

Do. Not. Try. To. Make. Sense. Of. All. This.  Discovery  is weird enough to be pretty much the  Twin Peaks  of  Star Trek . Just enjoy the fact that the visuals are impressive, the characters (at least most of them) are great, and the stories hold together long enough to make it through each episode as long as you don't think about it too much.  Discovery  can be annoying and sappy, to be sure. But it's also a heck of a lot of fun.

Must watch episodes (so far):  An Obol for Charon, The Sound of Thunder, Short Trek: The Trouble with Edward  (because...Tribbles)

8. Star Trek: Lower Decks (LD)

Focus on life onboard for low-ranking members of starfleet.

  • Production Years:  2020-current
  • Trek Timeline Years:  2380- (so far)
  • Seasons:  2 (so far)
  • Episodes:  20 (so far)

Back in 1994, there was an episode of  TNG  called  Lower Decks . It focused on lower-ranking crew members and looked at what life onboard a starship was like for the non-hero characters of Starfleet. In 2020, Mike McMahan, previously known for his work on the animated comedy  Rick and Morty , took the lower decks concept into an entire animated  Star Trek  series.

And it works. McMahan also addressed a lot of fan complaints about  Discovery  by including an almost overwhelming array of  Star Trek   Easter eggs  as fan service in the series. If you've ever wondered about  Cetacean Ops , for example, McMahan has an entire episode devoted to Starfleet's underwater crew.

Overall,  Lower Decks  delivers fully  Star Trek  plots, along with a lot of genuinely funny moments. But it doesn't sacrifice good storytelling either for laughs or nostalgia.

Must watch episodes (so far):   No Small Parts, First First Contact, An Embarrassment of Dooplers

9. Star Trek: Prodigy (PRO)

Animated and visually stunning.

  • Production Years:  2021-current
  • Trek Timeline Years:  2383- (so far)
  • Seasons:  1 (so far)
  • Episodes:  9 (so far)

Prodigy  is the second animated series currently in production. It has a completely different theme and art style from  Lower Decks  and is most definitely its own thing.

The premise is that a bunch of enslaved tweenagers of varying non-human species in the Delta Quadrant find a dormant Federation starship. While exploring, they activate the "emergency training hologram," which turns out to be an animated Captain Janeway (voiced by Kate Mulgrew herself). Hologram Janeway thinks the interlopers are cadets and helps them start the ship up so they can make their escape.

The series is Nickelodeon-branded and is supposed to be for kids, but the episodes are well-written and even suspenseful. The first season ended on a cliffhanger that both newbies to  Star Trek  and long-time fans will find compelling. And can we talk about the visuals? This series is just absolutely gorgeous. Watch it on the largest, brightest TV you can. It's that good.

Must watch episodes (so far):   Time Amok, First Con-tact, Kobayashi

10. Star Trek: Picard (PIC)

New adventures of an older captain picard.

  • Trek Timeline Years:  2399- (so far)
  • Seasons:  2 (so far)
  • Episodes:  20 (so far)

The premise behind  Star Trek: Picard  is simple. Thirty years after  TNG , Admiral Picard goes back out into space for new adventures. Picard (and Patrick Stewart) are much older, and the series addresses the challenges of ageing and how someone who was once the galaxy's hero deals with becoming irrelevant -- just as events reach out to bring the retired admiral back onto center stage once again.

Have you noticed how most of the  Star Trek  series have three-letter abbreviations?  Star Trek: Picard's  should be WTF. There are moments in  Picard  that are wonderful. But a lot of  Picard  is just plain terrible. If you even try to think about all the plot holes and paradoxes in just the final episode of Season 2, you'll find your brain sucked into a wormhole. As much as it's an absolute pleasure to see Patrick Stewart in anything,  Star Trek: Picard  is undeniably the worst television  Star Trek  has yet produced.

Like all of the current-era  Star Trek , it's gorgeous. There's fan service everywhere, and we do get to meet some of the  TNG  characters again. More are promised for Season 3. But something went horribly wrong in the writers' room for the storylines in most of the episodes to be this convoluted, self-referential, internally inconsistent, and rather unbelievable (trust me, suspending disbelief often just doesn't work here). If anything, Season 2 is even more disastrous than Season 1, and that's saying something.

All that said, should you watch  Star Trek: Picard ? Of course. It's a hoot. Plus, the episode  Nepenthe  (where we get to meet a gray-haired Captain Riker and his wife, Deanna Troy, along with their daughter Kestra) makes the whole series worthwhile.

Must watch episodes:   Nepenthe, Stardust City Rag

11. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (SNW)

Referential to established canon for entrenched trek fans.

  • Production Years:  2022-current
  • Trek Timeline Years:  2259- (so far)
  • Seasons:  1 (so far)
  • Episodes:  4 (so far)

Strange New Worlds  has been jokingly called the longest order from the pilot to series in television history, but there's some truth to that. The very first  TOS  pilot back in the 1960s spotlighted the main characters of  Strange New Worlds . As the legend goes, NBC didn't like those characters, so Roddenberry retooled and the result was Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.

Today, however, Anson Mount is center stage, along with Ethan Peck as the third actor to play Spock, and Rebecca Romijn playing Number One. We haven't seen too many episodes yet, but so far it's good. Really, really good. Sure, this  U.S.S. Enterprise  is supposed to be from a time ten years before Kirk's in  TOS , and it's far fancier. But that's what you get with 2022 budgets and CGI compared to the hand-me-downs that went into the original  Star Trek .

You can follow the story well enough without having seen any other  Star Trek , so it makes for a good first series. But it also is so reverently referential to established canon (while blazing its own way as well) that deeply entrenched Trek fans will undoubtedly enjoy it as well.

Must watch episodes (so far):  Strange New Worlds, Children of the Comet, Ghosts of Illyria, Memento Mori

Also: The 7 best free video streaming services: Watch movies for free

What are the worst to best Star Trek series?

This is a highly subjective list, but I know you're going to want to know. So here it is. My call for worst series to best. You'll be surprised.

10. Picard :  I had high hopes, I love the reunions, but the plots don't hold together if you think about it for just one minute.

9. The Original Series :  Yes, it started everything. And yes, they got a lot right. But some of it is just downright hard to watch.

8. The Animated Series :  Like  TOS , it's a rough ride to watch. Pacing is very late sixties.

7. Lower Decks :  I'm not a huge animation fan, and the silliness is a bit annoying.

6. Prodigy :   Prodigy  is gorgeous, and the plots hold together well. But I'm not as into it as I could be. Perhaps with more seasons.

5. The Next Generation :   TNG  defines  Star Trek , and while there are some great shows there, it's getting old. I'm just not that invested anymore.

4. Discovery :  I really like some of the characters and the modern visuals are spectacular. The focus on one character as a  Mary Sue  gets tiresome, as do the somewhat lazy resolutions for season-long mysteries.

3. Voyager :  Some of the premise broke down in early years, but the overall crew survival dynamic makes for worthwhile TV. I've become attached to some of the characters after watching them grow into their responsibilities.

2. Enterprise :  Yes, I consider  Enterprise  among the best  Star Trek  ever, even though it died an early death. From Archer's relationship with the Andorian commander Shran (played by the wonderful Jeffrey Combs) to some really excellent standalone episodes, I miss  Enterprise  more than any other series.

1. Deep Space 9 :  Yeah, this is just about the best science fiction you're going to find anywhere.

* Strange New Worlds :  I'm not rating  Strange New Worlds  yet. I've only seen a few episodes. But from what I've seen, it has the potential to be among the favorites.

What about you? What's your favorite Star Trek series? Are you Trek-curious and just getting started? Are you coming back after a long hiatus? Share with us in the comments below. Live long and prosper.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz , on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz , on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz , and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV .

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fun new show —

Star trek: strange new worlds is either good or it’s just so comforting that i don’t care, the latest trek series plays it almost too safe, but it still feels right..

Andrew Cunningham - May 5, 2022 4:51 pm UTC

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is either good or it’s just so comforting that I don’t care

If the modern  Star Trek shows have all felt a little  off to you,  Strange New Worlds  may be what you've been waiting for.

The modern era of TV  Star Trek has been more than willing to experiment with what a  Star Trek show is. Discovery and Picard both focus on heavily serialized season-long plotlines.  Lower Decks is an animated sendup of (and love letter to)  Trek 's cultural peak in the '90s. And the computer-animated  Prodigy aims for a younger audience, with simpler storylines, a lighter tone, and tween-y interpersonal melodrama aplenty.

What none of these shows has explicitly tried to do is replicate the format of older shows like the Original Series or  The Next Generation —monster/alien/glowing-godlike-being-of-the-week stories where no matter how bad things might look for our heroes, everything will be more or less wrapped up at the end of the hour.

Strange New Worlds faithfully follows the episodic template developed and perfected over many seasons of television and many hundreds of episodes of  Trek shows of years past, and the result is a comfortable, old T-shirt of a show. Familiar plotlines, storytelling beats, and crew dynamics quickly emerge over the course of the show's first five episodes, and  Strange New Worlds is executing on all of it remarkably well. It's also by far the  safest , most retread-y of all of the new  Trek shows, for better or worse.

Familiar old crew

Anson Mount returns as Captain Christopher Pike, the hottest dad in space.

Strange New Worlds benefits from the work done to establish Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), the latest iteration of Spock (Ethan Peck), and Una "Number One" Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn) in the second season of  Discovery . Mount in particular has successfully cultivated a Cool Hot Space Dad vibe for Pike that is nowhere to be found in  Trek ’s original failed pilot -turned- cost-cutting-flashback sequence .

Further Reading

Even most of the "new" characters—Cadet Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), Nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush), Dr. M'Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), and Chief Security Officer La'an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong)—are either lifted from the Original Series  or directly inspired by established characters. Because it's not starting from scratch,  Strange New Worlds hit the ground running, avoiding the awkward first-season break-in period that most  Trek shows suffer from as they attempt to fill in backstories and depict mind-bending sci-fi scenarios at the same time.

Strange New Worlds picks up where that season of  Discovery left off, with a few scenes to remind everyone exactly what happened on  Discovery  in the first place— Discovery 's plotting is convoluted at the best of times, and any pre-pandemic television season feels as distant to me as the burning of Rome . Pike has glimpsed a grim vision of his own future, and he decides to carry on captaining the pre-Kirk  Enterprise in spite of it.

There are a couple of characters, like Lt. Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia), who don't have anything to do with characters we've met before, but they're few and far between.

After establishing that, though, the show makes only occasional nods in the direction of serialized storytelling, and most episodes follow a pattern that even casual  Star Trek fans will recognize: A threat or unknown anomaly is introduced, the crew puzzles over the situation together in ways that help to establish their characters, and then the situation is resolved by some combination of diplomacy, phasers, and good-old-fashioned know-how.

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Star Trek: Discovery Took the Best Episode of Its Season and Gave Us a Much Less Interesting Version of It

"labyrinths" sets the stage for discovery 's final end, but the road it takes there retreads familiar ground..

Image for article titled Star Trek: Discovery Took the Best Episode of Its Season and Gave Us a Much Less Interesting Version of It

Since it aired a few weeks ago, I keep touching on what still remains the standout episode of Discovery ’s final season so far: “ Face the Strange ,” an incredible hour of television that used a format the series excels at to reflect on how far its central character and the series itself has come. This week, the show kind of does that idea again... it’s just nowhere near as actually good at it.

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That’s not to say there isn’t some enjoyable stuff in “Labyrinths,” which chases up last week’s simmering tension with the Breen in the hunt for the final Progenitor clue into a full on shoot out aboard and around the secret interstellar library housing the ancient knowledge of millions of species. There’s actually quite a bit!

The library setting itself is a fun one, especially anchored in a delightful guest performance by Elena Juatco as Hy’Rell, a remarkably chipper librarian who slides effortlessly into a time-honored Star Trek guest role slot of “little alien sicko” as she leads Michael Burnham toward the clue. When the time eventually comes for the episode to turn into a full on fight with the Breen, the action is thick and fast and effectively pays off on a lot of the tension and threat established last week —mostly in that, boy howdy do our heroes not want to mess with the Breen—while also delivering a brief, but compelling twist in the villain’s subplot as Moll and the rest of the Breen crew begin to realize how completely unhinged Primarch Rhun has become in his quest for power over the Imperium. The problem is that, Hy’Rell aside, these exciting developments come entirely in the last 15 minutes of “Labyrinths.” Most of the 40 before that involve a clue “puzzle” that requires a lot of re-treading ground for Burnham that’s just done in a far less interesting way than this season already has.

Image for article titled Star Trek: Discovery Took the Best Episode of Its Season and Gave Us a Much Less Interesting Version of It

Upon locating the rare Betazoid text she was hunting in the library’s archives, Michael opens it up to discover a metallic card that, upon her activation, basically sends her into a coma in the real world, while whisking her subconscious away into a psionic replica of the library and its myriad hallways. There, guided by a distinctly unhelpful representation of Book, she has to figure out what test she’s facing that will deem her worthy of locating the final clue. And here’s the problem that this season of Discovery has had more than a few times so far: a season about solving clues on a treasure hunt is only interesting if the puzzles themselves don’t involve our characters needing to act like they’re dumb . Writing a good puzzle then, is incredibly hard, and the show... does not really do that here.

Michael, almost as annoyed as the audience inevitability comes to be, is left to spend the bulk of “Labyrinths” wandering between bookshelves as she wonders out loud what’s going on, if she’s figured out what the test is, and then the psionic Book-alike coquettishly going “ maaaaaybe ” before revealing that she has, in fact, not figured it out yet. Sonequa Martin-Green and David Ajala do their best here—Martin-Green certainly conveys a great deal of frustration at not figuring out the puzzle, given the tension and stakes around her, that resonates with the audience, and Ajala has a good deal of fun breaking out of Book’s usual characterization to deliver this mind-facsimile of him with a funny, effectively annoying grace. But because the scenario largely leaves Michael trapped on her own trying to figure out what she’s even meant to be doing, there’s no one for her to really bounce off of: the Not-Book is there to be a frustrating obstacle rather than a sounding board as part of the test, so conveying Michael working through the logic of it all becomes rather moot.

Image for article titled Star Trek: Discovery Took the Best Episode of Its Season and Gave Us a Much Less Interesting Version of It

Eventually, just in time, she snaps—and realizes the test is less of a puzzle, and more about her own character. As relentlessly self-critical as she is, she begins to rail at the Not-Book about her fears and doubts, her need to seek validation for a role as a leader that she somehow still views as precarious, despite earning it many times over, or ability to push people away to save the disappointment and fear that she might have failed them (Actual Book in particular). As things look increasingly dire for her inside her mind and out as the Breen launch their assault on the library, it’s revealed that this indeed was the test, not a labyrinth to escape or a puzzle to decode, but a judgment of her character, to seek assurance that she can be trusted to do the right thing with the great power that she seeks.

All this would be good if that wasn’t also almost exactly what “Face the Strange” was about a few weeks ago, and done much more effectively. The time-loop structure of the episode was better paced and a stronger format for a puzzle for our heroes to solve, and in giving her Commander Rayner as a support character to bounce off—and eventually literally having to face her former self from Discovery ’s earliest days—Michael had actual characters to work things through and learn things about herself, and them, along the way. All Michael learns here is that she has her heart in the right place, but needs to face her fear of disappointing those around her by realizing that those people are around her because they care about and respect her and the journey she’s gone on over the last five seasons. This is the lesson she’d already learned in “Face the Strange”— it’s just that this time, she was rewarded with the knowledge of how to get the last clue. And even then, it’s still much less satisfying because, beyond being a journey we’ve already seen her take on this season, the route to get there was just nowhere near as engaging. There’s a difference between reinforcing a character beat and rehashing it, and “Labyrinths” definitely leans towards the latter, unfortunately.

Image for article titled Star Trek: Discovery Took the Best Episode of Its Season and Gave Us a Much Less Interesting Version of It

Thankfully though, as we said, the puzzle arc of the episode wraps up right as we get into the action with the Breen—and there’s an interesting mirror at least between Michael and Primarch Rhun, who we see eventually pay the ultimate price for not realizing how the promise of the Progenitor tech’s power has made him blind to his own connections and failings. As he becomes increasingly more bullish and violent, first assaulting the peaceful library and then attempting to renege on a Breen honor-oath to Michael to prevent further harm in exchange for the clue materials, we get to see Moll slowly convince Rhun’s men that things are going sideways. When the time comes that Rhun takes a step too far, she’s able to lead a brief but effective uprising to depose Rhun and take his place, operating on the belief that she can use the Progenitor tech to restore L’ak to life and take her place as the legitimate wife of the heir to the Breen throne.

It sets the stage for Discovery ’s final showdown by giving us a much more personal antagonist than Rhun—who served his purpose over the last few episodes well enough anyway—and by bringing it back to two figures driven by a need to connect and find strength in love in Moll and Michael. It’s a shame the setup to get there was a bit of a dud, but at least that’s out of the way now. As we head into Discovery ’s last two episodes, we can put the puzzles aside and get to the heart of what the show wants to end its journey saying.

Star Trek: Discovery is available to stream now on Paramount+ .

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel , Star Wars , and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV , and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who .

Jara wields her ray gun in front of Chovak and the light of a massive sun in Star Trek Resurgence

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Star Trek Resurgence understands what makes great Star Trek

Telltale Games veterans veer away from combat and into philosophy

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Unlike its esteemed counterpart from Lucasfilm, Star Trek’s history with video games isn’t exactly stellar.

There are licensed Star Trek video games going back 50 years, but there’s never been a truly great Star Trek game, one whose appeal outstretches the limits of its existing fan base. Moreover, even the most celebrated Star Trek games, such as 2000’s Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force , 2002’s Star Trek: Bridge Commander , and the long-running MMORPG Star Trek Online , place an overwhelming emphasis on combat, which is only ever a last resort in Star Trek stories. Gene Roddenberry’s cosmic polemic often contains action, but it’s never about action; Star Trek is about compassion, curiosity, and camaraderie. To truly capture the essence of the spacefaring adventure series, a video game should be as much about talking as it is about flying and shooting, allowing players to explore new worlds, build relationships, and confront complicated moral dilemmas.

This seems to be the aim of Star Trek Resurgence , the debut release from Telltale offshoot Dramatic Labs, and the first Star Trek game in ages to be as character- and dialogue-focused as the television series. Set aboard a new ship and starring an almost entirely new cast, Resurgence is a branching narrative whose balance between interstellar intrigue, interpersonal conflict, and explosive space action hews closer to that of its source material than any Star Trek game in decades — maybe ever. As a game and as a piece of software, it leaves a lot to be desired. But as a Star Trek story, it definitely earns its pips.

Carter speaks to a crew member while she’s at her terminal, and a choice prompt comes up with PlayStation buttons in Star Trek Resurgence

Resurgence alternates between the perspectives of two player-controlled characters aboard the science vessel Resolute, incoming first officer Commander Jara Rydek (Krizia Bajos) and enlisted engineer Petty Officer Carter Diaz (Josh Keaton). The Resolute is recovering from a recent disaster that cost the lives of several of its crew and the reputation of its captain, Zachary Solano. Solano fears that he’s lost the confidence of his staff, and is counting on Academy protege Rydek to help restore his honor as the Resolute embarks on an important diplomatic mission. Over the course of the story, Rydek takes point on unraveling a mystery with galactic implications, earning the trust of the crew while also evaluating whether or not Solano is worthy of her own. Meanwhile, engineer Diaz deals with more of the nuts-and-bolts problems aboard the ship, as well as navigating a romance with a fellow officer.

As in a good peak-era Star Trek episode, the “problem of the week” is tackled from more than one angle, with some of the crew handling a social or interpersonal conflict while others investigate some related scientific or technological puzzle. Teamwork is an essential ingredient to Star Trek, and Resurgence highlights that it takes a variety of skill sets and perspectives to solve complex problems. There is a two-way relationship between the bridge crew handling the big picture and the specialists below troubleshooting the finer points. Alternating between these A- and B-plots also breaks up the story and the gameplay nicely, and introduces the player to a variety of likable, memorable characters with whom you interact differently depending on your protagonist.

Jara and a companion stand on a rocky craig overlooking Tylas Mines, which are being terraformed by ships with lasers in Star Trek Resurgence

The narrative moves along at a steady clip, with the stakes escalating organically from that of a typical Next Generation episode to something closer to a modern season-long arc of Discovery . Crucially, for a video game and for a Star Trek story, the player faces consequential, difficult, and timely choices.

In contrast to the (still far superior) Mass Effect games, which present players with clear-cut Paragon or Renegade paths to pursue, Resurgence ’s dialogue trees don’t always offer an obvious ethical binary. Will you risk a dozen lives to save one? Will you disobey a direct order to follow the advice of an impassioned subordinate? Which member of your crew do you trust more in a crisis, and will they trust you in a pinch? These decisions are all made on a short timer, forcing the player to think quickly and trust their instincts. This instantly makes Resurgence feel closer to the “real” Starfleet experience even than the expansive open world of Star Trek Online , which dictates most of your objectives for you; nearly every path ends with “fire all phasers.”

More than anything, it’s your relationships with the supporting cast that shape the variations in the narrative. It’s not simply a matter of passing each one’s individual loyalty check, allowing you to achieve some 100% “perfect” ending. You cannot please everyone and you cannot save everyone. (Or at least I haven’t yet in my two playthroughs.) Not only does this place the full weight of duty and command on the player and offer an incentive to replay the 12-to-15-hour game multiple times, but it also underlines one of the essential tenets of Star Trek: It is possible for two parties, in good faith and good conscience, to disagree. Sometimes a compromise can be reached, sometimes conflict can’t be avoided, but no one needs to stay enemies forever.

Carter speaks to a crewmate with a bright green lightning-like aura surrounding her in Star Trek Resurgence

On the other hand, commitment to the Star Trek ethos does have its drawbacks. Starfleet’s strict code of conduct means that the players are somewhat railroaded. For instance, when enlisted engineer Diaz’s love interest is caught accessing files she’s not supposed to, you, as Diaz, can’t lie to cover for her. In a move typical of the franchise whose reputation for political radicalism is somewhat overblown, its core political conflict between a colonizing empire and their long-suffering protectorate sniffs of some unfortunate bothsidesism. Some of the sci-fi twists that complicate the plot do so at the price of nuance, introducing an overarching threat that forces all parties to work together without ever actually addressing what drove them apart in the first place. It’s a flaw found in a lot of past and present Star Trek, demonstrating the liberal-moderate belief that we can all just get along without committing to any meaningful change in the status quo.

It’s in the non-dialogue-driven gameplay elements that Resurgence truly stumbles. While the stealth and cover shooting portions are smooth and fun, a lot of the other mechanics are sluggish, tedious, or both. This particularly applies to PO Diaz’s engineering tasks, which feel less like puzzles or minigames and more like busywork. (Pull R2 to open this conduit, now LS+R2 to remove this isolinear chip, and then the next one, etc.) Fail conditions of certain minigames or stages can be disabled via a Story Mode option, but there is no way to avoid the game’s more mindless chores.

Star Trek Resurgence also suffers numerous technical glitches at the time of release, at least on PlayStation 4. It’s not uncommon for lines of dialogue to start late or cut off early, costing the scene important exposition or flavor. Keeping subtitles enabled can sometimes compensate for this issue, except on random occasions when the subtitles disappear altogether for a line or two at a time. Busier cutscenes, such as the game’s space battle finale, load sluggishly on PS4, creating seconds-long gaps between shots, killing the momentum of what should be a thrilling climax. These issues may be resolved in future updates, but at launch, they’re an undeniable drag.

Jara fires her gun at an enemy taking cover behind a crate on a dock-like platform in Star Trek Resurgence

Despite these glaring flaws, Star Trek Resurgence offers a space-worthy experience for Star Trek fans. Where other titles have offered a more complete picture of the Star Trek universe — letting players explore the breadth of the galaxy, walk the decks of their favorite starships, or build their own — only a rare few have looked beyond lore toward story . Fans don’t love Star Trek merely for the cool ships or deep mythology, we love it for the friendship between Kirk and Spock, and Picard’s growth from stiff loner to proud patriarch; for Sisko’s impossible moral dilemmas and Burnham’s quest for redemption.

Not even Resurgence ’s nearest spiritual ancestors, classic ’90s point-and-click adventures Star Trek 25th Anniversary or Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Final Unity , have captured that essential human element that makes for a great Star Trek story. Resurgence ties a worthwhile cast of characters to an interstellar adventure. Does Resurgence qualify as “great Star Trek”? Probably not, but it’s hard to argue that any video game has come closer.

Star Trek Resurgence was released on May 23 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The game was reviewed on PS4 using a pre-release download code provided by Double Fine Productions. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here .

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Returning Cast & New Character Guide

David ajala on star trek: discovery season 5, michael & moll relationships, and grudge's farewell to set, star trek: discovery revealed season 5’s true villain (& it's not the breen).

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery Season 5, Episode 7 - "Erigah"

  • A major death upends and raises the stakes for the Progenitors' treasure hunt in Star Trek: Discovery season 5.
  • L'ak's true identity as the Scion of the Breen is revealed, but he dies tragically. Moll allies with the Breen to find the treasure in hopes she can resurrect L'ak.
  • Book's empathy aids in discovering the final Progenitors' clue location.

Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 7, "Erigah," ends with a major death and twist as the Breen enter the hunt for the ancient treasure of the Progenitors. Written by M. Raven Metzner and directed by Jon Dudkowski, "Erigah" literally brings the Breen to the door of the United Federation of Planets as Primarch Ruhn (Tony Nappo) arrives to take custody of his nephew, L'ak (Elias Toufexis). The greviously injured L'ak and Moll (Eve Harlow) were apprehended by Starfleet and held aboard the USS Discovery so that Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) can treat L'ak.

L'ak and Moll's escape attempt seriously backfires when the wounded Breen gives himself an overdose as a distraction so that Moll can escape. Meanwhile, President T'Rina (Tara Rosling) leads the Federation's negotiations with the Breen, which is aided by Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Commander Rayner's (Callum Keith Rennie) history with the Breen. Aboard the USS Discovery, Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), Cleveland Booker (David Ajala), Lt. Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman), and Ensign Adira Tal (Blu del Barrio) team up to find the location of the final clue to the Progenitors' treasure . Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 7's stories dovetail in a game-changing ending that raises the stakes for the Progenitors' treasure hunt.

As Burnham seeks the universe's greatest treasure in Star Trek: Discovery season 5, she'll need help from a host of new and returning characters.

L'ak's Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 True Breen Scion Identity & Death Explained

Yes, l'ak is really dead..

L'ak is more than Moll's lover and Primarch Ruhn's nephew. L'ak is the Scion, the last living direct descendant of the late Breen emperor's bloodline. As Breen royalty, Primarch Ruhn needs L'ak for legitimacy in winning the faction war for control of the Breen Imperium. The Erigah blood bounty placed on L'ak and Moll's heads wasn't meant to kill L'ak (although the Breen didn't care if Moll dies), but to return him to his uncle so Primarch Ruhn can use him to become the new Breen Emperor. But L'ak wanted nothing to do with the Breen's game of thones; he just wanted his freedom to be with Moll.

L'ak's plan was to help Moll escape so she could steal a USS Discovery shuttle, beam L'ak aboard, and the two of them would warp away.

Tragically, L'ak accidentally overdosed himself with a day's worth of tricordazine. Dr. Culber didn't know enough about Breen physiology to save him, so Captain Burnham informed Primarch Ruhn what happened to L'ak to coax his uncle to bring a Breen physician. But it was too late to save L'ak, who died with Moll at his side. However, even in death, L'ak is of use to Primarch Ruhn and his bid to become Breen Emperor.

L'ak's injures were sustained during his fight with Captain Burnham on the ISS Enterprise in Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 5, "Mirrors." L'ak and Moll chose to flee custody rather than receive medical attention on the USS Discovery.

L'ak and Moll Are Married & She Joins The Breen To Resurrect L'ak

Moll will lead the breen to the progenitors' treasure.

Moll shocked Primarch Ruhn by revealing that she and L'ak are married. Moll's gamble is that as the wife of the Breen Scion, she is protected by Breen law, and they have to take her with them since Primarch Ruhn still needs L'ak. Primarch Ruhn now has the means to claim the Scion was killed by the Federation, and he can use L'ak to use the warring Breen factions under his control with the promise of war with the Federation.

President T'Rina, Captain Burnham, Commander Rayner, and Admiral Charles Vance (Oded Fehr) agreed to turn Moll over to the Breen, who were willing to attack the Federation at that moment if they didn't surrender her.

Moll also told Primarch Ruhn about the Progenitors' treasure and promised she could lead them to it. For Moll, finding the Progenitors' technology is her last chance to bring L'ak back since it's believed the ancient technology can resurrect the dead. Moll needs the Breen to find the treasure in the hopes that Primarch Ruhn will agree to bring the Scion back to life. Moll knows if she stays with the Federation, they would not allow her to use the Progenitors' technology to bring L'ak back to life.

The Breen don't have the clues, but they can follow the USS Discovery while they search for the final clues and let Burnham lead the Breen to the location of the Progenitors' treasure.

Book's Empathy Revealed Star Trek: Discovery's Final Progenitors Clue Location & Reached Moll

Cleveland booker's kwejian powers light the way.

Cleveland Booker was recruited by Commander Paul Stamets to help him unlock the secret of the final clue, which is a keycard belonging to the Betazoid scientist Marina Derex . After several dead ends, Stamets realized Betazoids are empaths and Derex may have left something residual on the keycard. This is where Book's Kwejian empathic abilities come into play , and the former courier was able to "see" the clue is located in a region of space covered in plasma storms.

Screen Rant interviews David Ajala about Cleveland Booker's relationships with Michael Burnham and Moll in Star Trek: Discovery season 5.

Book's empathy also finally reached Moll. After she escaped sickbay, Moll fought her way to the USS Discovery's shuttle bay, but she was stalled by Commander Nhan's (Rachael Ancheril) Starfleet security. Book, who has been desperate to connect with Moll, was able to convince to come quietly and return to the dying L'ak's bedside . Booker later objected to the Federation's plan to turn Moll over to the Breen.

Cleveland Booker is protective of Moll, who is the daughter of his mentor, Cleveland Booker IV. Book thinks of Moll as the only 'family' he has left.

President T'Rina Steps In For The Absent Federation President & Saru To Negotiate With The Breen

T'rina becomes the voice of the federation.

President T'Rina took center stage and led the Federation's negotiations with the Breen. Admiral Vance explained to Captain Burnham that President Laira Rillak (Chelah Horsdal) was at a diplomatic summit on Tellar Prime and remained there for her safety. Rillak asked T'Rina to represent the Federation in her place. According to the Vulcan leader of Ni'Var, Ambassador Saru (Doug Jones) was absent because he was at a diplomatic summit of his own near Breen space, but the Kelpien delivered important intel on the state of the Breen's faction wars.

There has been no follow up on T'Rina and Saru's engagement since it was announced in Star Trek: Discovery season 3, episode 3, "Jinaal."

T'Rina's Vulcan methodology of proceeding logically and trying to find something to bargain with the Breen was met with angry opposition from Commander Rayner, whose past encounters with the Breen colored his justified fears of their aggression. However, T'Rina was a capable negotiator , and she, Captain Burnham, Admiral Vance, and Commander Rayner stood united against the Breen when Primarch Ruhn beamed into Federation HQ with his forces. With the fate of the Federation in T'Rina's hands, the Vulcan President of Ni'Var admirably provided strong and steady leadership during the Breen crisis.

Four Starfleet ships finally arrived to support Federation HQ and the USS Discovery, but all were dwarfed by the Breen Dreadnought.

Commander Rayner Has A Tragic History With The Breen

Rayner has good reason to despise the breen.

Commander Rayner has animosity toward L'ak and Moll , but his true hatred is for the Breen. As Rayner explained to Captain Burnham, the Breen conquered his home planet of Kellerun and used it as a forward operating base. Led by Primarch Tahal, the Breen pillaged Kellerun's natural resources and killed numerous people, including Rayner's family. Rayner was able to escape and join Starfleet, but he understandably despises the Breen for what they did to Kellerun.

Commander Rayner and Admiral Vance are also old friends with a long history in Starfleet together that has only been hinted at.

However, Rayner's history with the Breen was an important part of the Federation's ploy. Captain Burnham created a fiction the Federation was negotiating with Primarch Tahal to turn L'ak over to her faction. Having L'ak at Tahal's side would bolster her claim to become the new Emperor. Of course, it was all a ruse that Primarch Ruhn saw through, but it was enough to give the Breen pause and buy the Federation time. And Rayner was able to face and exorcise some of his demons regarding the Breen.

Star Trek: Discovery's Final Progenitors Clue Location Revealed

Discovery is going to the badlands.

With the threat of the Breen's arrival, Lt. Sylvia Tilly attempted to return to Starfleet Academy, but Commander Paul Stamets convinced her to stay aboard the USS Discovery and work with Ensign Adira Tal to unlock the final clue to the Progenitors' treasure. With Marina Derex's keycard leading to an ancient text called "Labyrinth of the Mind", Tilly and Adira learned that Commander Jett Reno (Tig Notaro) was a book collector and dealer in the 23rd century before she joined Starfleet. Reno directed her crew mates to an ancient library in outer space called the Eternal Gallery and Archive.

Star Trek: Discovery 's final stop for the fifth and last clue to the Progenitors treasure is the Eternal Gallery and Archive, which is located in the Badlands per Book's vision from Derex's keycard. The Badlands were often visted in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager as the dangerous region of space was once the home base of the Maquis in the 24th century. The USS Discovery will next visit the Badlands in Star Trek: Discovery season 5, episode 8, "Labyrinths", for the last clue, but, unfortunately, the Breen will be hot on their tail.

New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery season 5 premiere Thursdays on Paramount+

Star Trek: Discovery (2017)

reddit is star trek good

Weird Star Trek Novels That Are Enjoyable To Read

I n February 1970, Bantam Books published the first original Star Trek novel. James Blish's Spock Must Die! received mixed reviews from critics, but it laid the foundation for many hundreds of further novels . Perhaps the golden era of Star Trek prose was under Pocket Books, who produced an ambitious continuation of TNG and DS9 long before Star Trek: Picard .

Some of the tie-in novels are good, some are bad, and some are just plain strange. From vanity projects to starship-sized plot holes, Star Trek's authors went where no one had gone before (and sometimes where they shouldn't have gone). Though they may be on the stranger side, here are a few books that fans of the franchise will doubtless enjoy.

The Enterprise War - John Jackson Miller

John Jackson Miller's 2019 novel answers a pertinent question: where was the Enterprise during Star Trek: Discovery 's Federation–Klingon War? Miller shows Pike's Enterprise caught in a different war between the Boundless and the Rengru, aliens who hope to use the starship to tip the scales in their favor.

RELATED: Most Charismatic Star Trek: The Next Generation Characters, Ranked

The Enterprise War has an exciting plot, but stumbles slightly when it comes to reconciling the Pike era with the rest of contemporary Trek. Spock's references to Michael Burnham seem out of place alongside obscure characters from Star Trek 's failed pilot, while the Enterprise 's saucer separation recalls TNG rather than TOS or Discovery . Miller's novel walks a fine line between anachronisms and tropes. The result is a weird blend of eras, but one that readers are sure to enjoy.

The Good That Men Do - Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin

Few fans were impressed when Star Trek: Enterprise ended by killing off one of its crew. In terms of both scriptwriting and direction, the noble sacrifice of engineer Trip Tucker is an anticlimax. This shortcoming inspired authors Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin to consider an alternative: what if Tucker's death was a hoax?

RELATED: Star Trek: The Relationship Between Vulcans & Romulans, Explained

The Good That Men Do (2007) claims that Tucker never died; instead, he left the Enterprise to work for Section 31 . This coverup allowed him to investigate a new threat posed by the Romulans. The book holds a strange place in Star Trek canon: it is as much an apology as it is a novel, although the Romulans' machinations make for an entertaining read.

Disavowed - David Mack

While the Star Trek Relaunch series provided fans with some franchise highpoints, it had started to stumble by the time of David Mack's Disavowed (2014). Six years earlier, Mack had torn up the status quo with his Destiny trilogy, focusing on a massive Borg invasion . The trilogy is excellent—but its fallout left subsequent novels unsure of where to take the series.

Mack's story, centered on Julian Bashir, reinvents the Star Trek novel as a tense espionage thriller as the Starfleet doctor and Section 31 operative travels to the Mirror Universe to halt a scheme by the evil Breen. Mack's prose is propulsive, but Disavowed represents the Star Trek world at a crossroads. The book's weirdness lays not in its writing, but in its attempt to reinvigorate the series with a focus on espionage rather than exploration.

Broken Bow - Diane Carey

Star Trek 's writing has been the subject of parodies aplenty, from shows like The Orville to movies like Galaxy Quest . In 2020, the franchise itself got in on the fun, with cartoon series Lower Decks spoofing on Star Trek 's tropes. Yet Lower Decks was not the first time that Star Trek' s own writers took a swipe at the franchise. The 2001 novelization of "Broken Bow" derided the Star Trek: Enterprise episode it was meant to retell.

RELATED: Star Trek: Enterprise Actor Slams How Her Character Was Written

Author Diane Carey wrote extensively for Star Trek 's novels (the hero of her 2000 novel Challenger was written to resemble Enterprise 's Scott Bakula, though the book predated his casting). Yet when it came to novelizing Bakula's first real adventure, Carey was so unimpressed with the script that she used the characters' internal monologues to criticize the story's plot. The author was allegedly blacklisted for her mischief, but she turned an otherwise by-the-numbers novelization into a sneaky practical joke.

A Singular Destiny - Keith R.A. DeCandido

Readers might expect a sequel to TNG and DS9 to feature a hero like Captain Picard, or a fan favorite like Kira Nerys. Yet although Keith R.A. DeCandido's 2009 novel does feature DS9 's Ezri Dax, its star is diplomat Sonek Pran, a wholly original character. This stylistic deviation allows A Singular Destiny to interrogate the state of the Relaunch universe . The Borg may be gone, but a new threat is rising in the form of the Typhon Pact, an alliance of several hostile states including the Breen and the Gorn.

Despite the scope of its universe, Star Trek can become bogged down by revisiting the same characters and tropes. DeCandido's novel bucks this trend, making this immersive political thriller an essential chapter in the Relaunch saga.

Fearful Symmetry - Olivia Woods

Viewers of DS9 may recall the episode "Second Skin," in which Bajoran Kira Nerys was disguised as a Cardassian. Fearful Symmetry claims that the woman that Kira impersonated, Iliana Ghemor, was also altered to look like Kira, but fell into the clutches of Gul Dukat , who imprisoned and abused her. Driven mad, the impostor plots her revenge in Olivia Woods' 2008 novel.

While it's odd that Dukat never mentioned his prisoner, the novel's true weirdness is its two-in-one physical format. Fearful Symmetry is made up of two narratives: the front cover depicts Kira, while the rear is an alternate cover showing Ghemor. Starting the book in one direction shows Kira's investigation into her duplicate, while starting in the opposite direction provides the troubled life of Ghemor. This parallel structuring allows the novel's form to mirror its content, a clever gimmick.

Killing Time - Della Van Hise

The possibility of a deeper, potentially romantic bond between Kirk and Spock has intrigued fans for decades (the term "slash fiction" is attributed to stories about the pair), but Star Trek 's writers were unwilling to offer any confirmation. Father of the franchise Gene Roddenberry was particularly opposed to the idea. He was displeased, to say the least, when author Della Van Hise snuck suggestive material into her 1985 novel.

RELATED: Captain Kirk's Redemption Of Spock In The Mirror Universe

First editions of Killing Time (which involves the Romulans altering history to try and defeat the Federation) were recalled and destroyed, although some were purchased by fans. A revised edition removed the offending content. Rumors circulated that an even more explicit version existed, although Van Hise denied these claims. If nothing else, Killing Time demonstrates the importance of checking a book before it's sent to the printers.

The Return - Garfield Reeves-Steven & William Shatner

Actor Leonard Nimoy was so impressed by Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan , in which his character died, that he asked for Spock to return from the dead . William Shatner, on the other hand, was so unimpressed by Kirk's death in Star Trek: Generations that he decided to take matters into his own hands, co-writing a series of novels in which a resurrected Kirk continues the fight against evil.

The resulting Shatnerverse (comprising ten novels by Shatner and Judith and Garfield Reeves-Steven) is generally considered non-canon even by novel fans, with some regarding it as an ego trip for Shatner. Kirk's transition into a quasi-Messianic figure certainly has all the hallmarks of a vanity project, as does his role in the total defeat of the Borg in 1996's The Return . The Shatnerverse novels may not fit into any version of canon aside from their own, but they represent an interesting diversion for those who like their books heavy on fan-service and light on common sense.

MORE: Best Starfleet Ships Of The 23rd Century

Weird Star Trek Novels That Are Enjoyable To Read

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  • Kevin Spacey Praised & Defended By Liam Neeson, Sharon Stone, & Stephen Fry In Wake Of Biting UK Documentary & New Trial; “Our Industry Needs Him,” Says ‘Taken’ Star

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Kevin Spacey is facing another sexual assault trial in the UK next year, but today the two-time Oscar winner saw some major star power in his corner.

Liam Neeson , Sharon Stone and Stephen Fry have come forward with unequivocal support for Spacey as the much-accused actor has been back in the spotlight via new Channel 4 docuseries with even more allegations of severe misconduct.

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“Personally speaking, our industry needs him and misses him greatly,” Neeson, no total stranger to controversy himself, concluded.

Basic Instinct star Stone told the UK broadsheet: “I can’t wait to see Kevin back at work. He is a genius. He is so elegant and fun, generous to a fault and knows more about our craft than most of us ever will.”

Addressing the claims of assault and more that Spacey has fought against in and out of court since 2017, past Oscar nominee Stone added: “It’s terrible that they are blaming him for not being able to come to terms with themselves for using him and negotiating with themselves because they didn’t get their secret agendas.”

Some of those so-called agendas against Spacey, who has won most of the sexual misconduct suits against him over the past several years or seen them shuttered due to deaths and more, were unveiled in Channel 4 ’s May 4 debuting Spacey Unmasked . The Katherine Haywood directed series, which launched on Max in the U.S. earlier this week, tracks claims from a number of men against Spacey from the beginning of his career up to his stint as the scheming President Frank Underwood on Netflix ’s House of Cards .

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Spacey has also said that he was not given the needed time to fully respond to the claims in Spacey Unmasked .

To that, today’s remarks from Neeson, Stone and others clearly are a coordinated attempt by Spacey and his representatives to reframe the narrative they fear the docuseries is laying out – despite the victories Spacey has had in the courts .

Whispered about for years, Spacey came out “as a gay man” in October 2017 in an ill-considered knee-jerk response to Star Trek: Discovery  actor and Broadway star Anthony Rapp’s assertion that the older and more established actor made unwelcomed sexual advances to him back in 1986. Making the allegations all the more inflammatory was the fact that Rapp was 14 years old at the time of the purported incident in Spacey’s NYC apartment.  

Alhough kneecapping Spacey’s career at the time, Rapp’s claims quickly were tossed out by a Manhattan jury in a $40 million sexual misconduct suit against the ex-Old Vic artistic director in 2022.

To that end, Spacey himself spoke to the almost- Jeff Zucker -owned Telegraph as did Fry, The White Lotus’ F. Murray Abraham — the Oscar winner called Spacey’s accusers “vultures” — and theatre director Sir Trevor Nunn.

A virtual national treasure in Britain, Fry made a point of noting that while Spacey has been “clumsy” and “inappropriate” in his conduct over the years, it is unfair “to continue to harass and hound him, to devote a whole documentary to accusations that simply do not add up to crimes.” Fry added, “How can that be considered proportionate and justified?”

“Surely it is wrong to continue to batter a reputation on the strength of assertion and rhetoric rather than evidence and proof?” the Red, White and Royal Blue actor went on to say of Spacey and his run through the gauntlet of the courts on both sides of the Atlantic. “Unless I’m missing something, I think he has paid the price.”

Spacey was found not guilty in July 2023 in the UK of nine charges, including sexual assault. The claims were alleged to have been committed between 2001 and 2013 and relate to four separate men.

In February 2024, the $31 million the courts awarded to  House of Cards  producers Media Rights Capital over the collapse of the show due to the allegations against Spacey was slashed to $1 million. The reduced fee saw the actor turn witness for MRC against the insurance companies

As the legal tide turned in the past couple of years in favor of the  American Beauty  and  The Usual Suspects  Oscar winner, Spacey began to pick up small roles here and there, like some voice-over in last year’s Welsh thriller  Control . In October of last year, Spacey was awarded a standing ovation after a short Shakespeare performance at an Oxford University conference on cancel culture. Yet, the reportedly near-broke actor has done himself no favors with odd annual Christmas appearances as the conniving Underwood the past six years, including a rambling sit-down with Tucker Carlson in 2023.

Last week, it was announced Spacey will face a civil trial in the UK in 2025 from a man who says he was sexually assaulted by the actor years beforehand.

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What's your chance of seeing the northern lights tonight? A look at Saturday's forecast

Illuminating the night sky with pink, green and gray colors, the northern lights made its appearance in the United Kingdom and the northern half of the United States on Friday. The magical phenomena could happen again tonight.

The show fascinated many onlookers as they took out their phones to capture the beauty of the night sky. On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued extreme (G5) conditions across the United States. A storm of this intensity has not been seen since October 2003. The storm gained the name "Halloween Storm" and caused many power outages in Sweden and damaged transformers in South Africa, according to Earth.com .

Meteorologists have predicted that the northern lights can be visible on Saturday as well as Sunday. If you are going outside to see the northern lights, forecasters want to remind the public that their solar eclipse glasses can be used for viewing the phenomenon.

Here's what you need to know to prepare for the next viewing of the northern lights.

The northern lights: Danced across the US last night. It could happen again Saturday.

What is the cloud forecast Saturday night? Will clouds block the northern lights?

If you missed the aurora borealis Friday night, you might still catch a glimpse on Saturday or Sunday, depending on where you live. But not if clouds get in the way.

The cloud forecast for Saturday night is generally good for most of America, but some of the people who missed their chance last night due to clouds may have a similar problem Saturday, said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Tom Kines. Areas that are likely to be cloudy include New England and Mid-Atlantic regions, as well as parts of the Southern Plains, including Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

“Even just a few breaks in the clouds will allow the aurora to be visible,” Kines said. “There’s always hope.”

Peak visibility time Saturday night will be between 9 p.m. and midnight, with some chance until 2 a.m., Kines said. The best views will be in dark areas away from the light pollution of cities, he said, though some reported seeing the auroras Friday night from metro areas like Milwaukee and Detroit.

Sunday night, if there is any aurora to see, those in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic can rejoice, because Kines said the skies should be clearer.

Where can you see the northern lights tonight?

The Space and Weather Prediction Center  offers an experimental forecast map  that shows the aurora may be visible in a wide swath of the U.S. including Oregon, Nebraska, Indiana and Pennsylvania. Other states like California, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida could also see the sky light up again for an encore performance. But visibility will depend on shifting factors that include weather, pollution and cloud cover.

Below are forecast predictions for seeing the northern lights in New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana on Saturday.

Rain and clouds are expected to damper expectations to see the aurora borealis around the Rochester, N.Y. area . Elsewhere in NY, the  Lower Hudson Valley could see the lights again, if weather permits. 

NWS maps predicting the intensity and location of the northern lights Saturday and Sunday show the aurora will be visible in mid to northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

Saturday and Sunday are predicted to be mostly cloudy with some rain showers and isolated thunderstorms. The NWS predicted 48% to 58% sky cover in metro Detroit from 8 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday. The western portion of both peninsulas are expected to have a lower cloud cover.

In the Milwaukee area , the evening is expected to bring mostly clear skies and overnight will have scattered clouds, said Tim Halbach, local meteorologist with the National Weather Service. 

Those living around the Cincinnati region could be treated to the northern lights Saturday night with the NWS' Wilmington, Ohio , office forecasting dry, partly cloudy conditions. Clouds shouldn't be an issue as many Ohioans reported seeing the lights Friday despite some cloud cover.

 In a telephone interview, Mike Bettwy, operations chief of the NOAA's  Space Weather Prediction Center  in Boulder, Co, said Indianapolis and surrounding areas might have a better chance of seeing the aurora today and Sunday.

They can expect clear skies tonight, Bettwy said.

"The aurora itself might be actually a little bit less active than it was last night," he told IndyStar. "I think the ability for you to see it will be better because the skies will be clearing out — at least in the Indianapolis area and that immediate vicinity."

Northern lights forecast path

If you want to get a better idea of if you will be able to see the northern lights from your state, check NOAA's aurora forecast tool , which has a 30-minute forecast window. 

The auroras are a natural light display in Earth's sky that are famously best seen in high-latitude regions.

Scientist left amazed by the aurora

The aurora seen on May 10 amazed Antonella Fruscione, an astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. She sent photos of the lights and the April eclipse to her friends in Italy. The northern lights weren't as prominent in Italy as it was in other places.

"And I sent them the picture that I took at the solar eclipse and I said, 'Can you imagine how fortunate I was this year, one month apart, I see these two incredible spectacles of the universe,'" she recalled telling them.

The phenomena seen Friday and possibly Saturday night isn't usual, she said.

"It's a very rare occurrence, especially because last night it was really visible," Fruscione said.

That's because the Earth's magnetic activity was at a nine, the highest the index goes, coupled with the Sun being at an active peak, causing eruptions. She added the colors cannot be predicted either as it depends on how the solar energetic particles interact with oxygen and nitrogen atoms. Oxygen appears green, while nitrogen appears purple, blue or pink, she said.

"It just depends on which atoms in the atmosphere this particle interact with," Fruscione said.

She declined to predict how strong Saturday's aurora could be as it's not in her expertise, but said people make predictions all the time about space weather not just for the northern lights, but to ensure communications, space stations, astronauts and other matter in space doesn't get majorly disrupted.

Down on Earth, however, the activity is harmless to humans.

"It's completely harmless because the particles do not don't do not reach us," Fruscione said. "The reason why we see the colors is that the particle interacts with the atoms and they make these beautiful colors and that's it."

For Saturday, and any other day where chatter about the aurora borealis is high, Fruscione encouraged people to download an aurora forecasting app to their phones so they can see the colorful skies.

What are the northern lights?

The northern lights materialize when energized particles from the sun reach Earth's upper atmosphere at speeds of up to 45 million mph,  according to Space.com . Earth's magnetic field redirects the particles toward the poles through a process that produces a stunning display of rays, spirals and flickers that has fascinated humans for millennia.

Contributing: Eric Lagatta and Dinah Voyles Pulver , USA TODAY ; Tanya Wildt, Detroit Free Press ; Alex Groth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ; Contributing: Bebe Hodges, Cincinnati Enquirer ; Contributing: Steve Howe, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle; Rockland/Westchester Journal News ; Alexandria Burris, Indianapolis Star

Ahjané Forbes is a reporter on the National Trending Team at USA TODAY. Ahjané covers breaking news, car recalls, crime, health, lottery and public policy stories. Email her at  [email protected] . Follow her on  Instagram ,  Threads  and  X (Twitter)

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