'Star Trek: Discovery' opens its 5th and final season in unremarkable fashion (Red Directive recap)

Both Book and Tilly return to join the regular crewmember cast of the USS Discovery, plus a new face or two
Both Book and Tilly return to join the regular crewmember cast of the USS Discovery, plus a new face or two (Image credit: Paramount Plus)

Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Star Trek: Discovery" season 5, episode 1

Well, here we are. Again. It's the fifth and final time around for "Star Trek: Discovery" and the single biggest question every sci-fan will be asking themselves is, will this season actually be any good. The tragic thing is, no one can really remember what happened in season 4 and that speaks directly to the fact that "Discovery" is not exactly a high-scoring show when it comes to rewatchability.

It's been two years and two weeks, give or take a day, since we last saw the crew of the USS Discovery risk everything to save all life in the universe, again. During that time, we've seen a lot of sci-fi, both awesome and awful, including two seasons of "Picard" and "Strange New Worlds," the third and final season of "The Orville," season 1 of "Andor," "The Book of Boba Fett," "Ahsoka" and the less said about "Obi-Wan Kenobi," the better. If you're wondering where to see all that Trek, check out our Star Trek streaming guide for Paramount Plus and more.

Not to mention, the vastly underrated second season of "Invasion" and "Halo" seasons 1 and 2, plus, the first mind-blowing season of "Silo" the second and sadly last season of "Avenue 5" and two seasons of "For All Mankind." The point is that the standard has, for the most part, been refreshingly high. And frankly before we even get into season 5 of "Discovery," it's worth remembering that what executive producers and showrunners Alex Kurtzman  and Michelle Paradise have given us up until now, has not exactly been a consistently high quality of sci-fi writing. In fact, it's been rather disappointing.

Related: 5 things Star Trek: Discovery season 5 needs to fix

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Are we in-store for another cookie-cutter season of what's-in-the-box plot threads that deliver misdirected build ups with unsatisfying pay offs...you know like we have for the past two seasons plus all three seasons of "Picard"..? Even "Andor," despite its peak and trough-style of repetitive set-piece storytelling, was impressive and that was down to how well those set pieces had been fleshed out along with well written character development and dialogue. Less can very easily be so much more. 

Moreover, now we're in the 32nd century and we've seen that transporter technology can be used to replace stairs and even change outfits, so to be perfectly honest, there really isn't a single story idea that cannot be solved by a simple combination of transporter and replicator technology. Not to mention smartmatter. Ah, hello smartmatter, my old friend. Because this is what happens when you throw three seasons of a "Star Trek" series 1,164 years into the future.

Regardless, it would seem that within the story, between four and six months have passed since the events of last season, where you may remember, the United Federation of Planets was desperately trying to save all life as we know from being accidentally exterminated by species 10-C, all while Ruon Tarka (Shawn Doyle) was still hell bent on using the illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator to destroy the dark matter anomaly. Book (David Ajala) gets killed when his ship explodes then bought back to life before he faces repercussions for siding with Tarka. General Ndoye (Phumzile Sitole) seems to get away scot-free despite sabotaging the Discovery's warp drive and everyone lives happily ever after. 

Malinne 'Moll' Ravel (Eve Harlow) and L'ak (Elias Toufexis) currently represent the alien antagonists. (Image credit: Paramount Plus)

Coming in at nearly 60 minutes long, the premiere episode is titled "Red Directive" and drops at the same time as the second episode, entitled "Under The Twin Moons." Michelle Paradise wrote the former, which could explain why it's so dull, and Olatunde Osunsanmi directed. The latter was written by Alan B. McElroy and directed by Douglas Aarniokoski, so fingers the second installment might be a bit better. Aarniokoski directed the season 3 premiere episode of "Picard" and while the rest of that was a disappointing, drawn out, nostalgia-fueled, 10-episode long epilogue to another series that ended three decades ago, the premiere installment was actually okay. 

The gang seems mostly all here, including Lt. Tilly (Mary Wiseman) and Adira (Blu del Barrio) and there are some characters who don't seem to have made it back, some of whom will be very much missed, like Grudge, while others won't be. No sign of Zora yet either. It's also entirely likely that the amazing talents of Callum Keith Rennie, who plays a Starfleet Captain named Rayner, will be spectacularly underused, much like Todd Stashwick was in season 3 of "Picard."

Credit to the production team though, as they're are really making the most of their Volume-esque video wall soundstage. There are a couple of interesting choices in terms of editing, much like there were in the second season premiere where Alex Kurtzman showed us what he'd learned in the Vince Gilligan School of Cinematography. It's doubtful we'll ever see them again, just like we didn't before. 

Maybe having two starships essentially sticking their heads in the sand was a metaphor for "Discovery" (Image credit: Paramount Plus)

To conclude then, the opening episode of the final season "Star Trek: Discovery" is a far, far cry from strong openings that this show has demonstrated it's capable of in the past. And that's a sentence we've had to write far too many times. The TNG throwback right at the end is...well, disappointing, mostly because of the extent that nostalgic fan service has been dialed up since the first episode of Nu-Trek aired in September 2017. However, it could still provide an interesting story thread — we will just have to wait and see.

The fifth and final season of "Star Trek: Discovery" and every episode of every "Star Trek" show — with the exception of "Star Trek: Prodigy" — currently streams exclusively on Paramount Plus in the US while "Prodigy" has found a new home on Netflix. 

Internationally, the shows are available on Paramount Plus in Australia, Latin America, the UK and South Korea, as well as on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel. They also stream on Paramount Plus in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In Canada, they air on Bell Media's CTV Sci-Fi Channel and stream on Crave.

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Scott Snowden

When Scott's application to the NASA astronaut training program was turned down, he was naturally upset...as any 6-year-old boy would be. He chose instead to write as much as he possibly could about science, technology and space exploration. He graduated from The University of Coventry and received his training on Fleet Street in London. He still hopes to be the first journalist in space.