TO BOLDLY SWEAT

India Today - - LEISURE - —Man­jula Pad­man­ab­han

How many cen­turies will it take be­fore women can have hairy armpits on board a star­ship? That’s all I could think of while watch­ing the first episode of Star Trek’s lat­est se­ries, Dis­cov­ery. Now show­ing in In­dia on Net­flix, the se­ries be­gins on a desert planet, ten years be­fore Mr Spock and Cap­tain James T. Kirk be­gin their jour­ney across the galaxy aboard the En­ter­prise. Two fe­male Star Fleet of­fi­cers, Cap­tain Ge­or­giou (Michelle Yeoh) and First Of­fi­cer Burn­ham (Sonequa Mart­inGreen), are plod­ding across the arid wastes. A mon­strous sand­storm looms, but they’re trans­ported to safety with make-up in­tact. By episode’s end, Burn­ham has been thrown into the brig for at­tempted mutiny and Star Fleet is on the brink of a rag­ing bat­tle with the Klin­gons. Ho-hum.

But Episode 2 re­ally picks up the pace. The ef­fects are siz­zling, the Klin­gons are even more hideous than in pre­vi­ous Star Treks and the theme mu­sic is spec­tac­u­lar. And Burn­ham? Well, her eye­lashes re­main im­mac­u­late even af­ter deadly ra­di­a­tion burns, but the way she forces the ship’s com­puter to re­lease her from the brig is mas­ter­ful. Plus, she’s a hu­man brought up as a Vul­can and her men­tor is none other than Spock’s fa­ther, Sarek. Just see­ing him is enough to give all true Trekkies the chills.

The show’s re­gres­sive pol­i­tics are dis­tract­ing, of course. All the ex­ter­nal au­thor­ity fig­ures are older white males, while the fe­males are wil­lowy, per­fectly coiffed and never sweat. The Klin­gons, be­ing the bad guys, have al­ways been black as night. But in this se­ries there’s one white-skinned Klin­gon. No sur­prise then that he’s re­ally ex­cep­tional! De­spite it all, how­ever, enough of the old magic re­mains. If your dilithium crys­tal core is still in­tact, there’s re­ally no op­tion but to boldly go all the way to Sea­son’s end.

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