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Discovery Absolutely Earns Star Trek Continuity
Ever since it premiered, Star Trek: Discovery has received repeated criticisms and commentary asserting that it doesn’t fit in with classic Star Trek continuity and ideology. They often try to point out that the show is darker, that it’s all about war instead of peaceful exploration and people swear in it, among other observations.

It’s All About War
The Original Series saw the Federation in a kind of Cold War with the Klingons, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was set around a region that had been occupied by enemy forces now freed, the continued aggression between Cardassians and the Marquis, and finally, the full on war with the Dominion. Hell, DS9 even contained a Starfleet warship.

That Star Trek: Discovery is set between Enterprise and The Original Series means that it takes place during the full ignition of the Starfleet/Klingon war means that of course that war will play a role in the series, but that doesn’t mean that the series is all about war.

It’s more about the effects of war on an organisation that is not structured for it (the Discovery, Starfleet’s “secret weapon”, is a science vessel, not a warship), as well as the people who have faced the horrors of war and death and how it affects them. Both Captain Lorca and Michael Burnham are clearly suffering from PTSD (again, not an issue Star Trek has ever avoided before), and we see how these two characters make choices based on the effects of this that sometimes override their general thought process.

The Characters Swear

Yup, Star Trek: Discovery drops a few bombs here and there, but this isn’t a sign of a change of ideology or a push to gritty realism. Simply put, it’s more around the fact that the show creators can get away with it whereas previous Star Trek series couldn’t. This was because of the network constraints that Discovery just doesn’t face.

There is the element that Star Trek: Discovery using cursing is a superficial method of heightening the tension of the situation, but again, this does not show a move away from the ideology of Star Trek.

It’s Very Dark
For one, there is a simple contextual explanation for this in many scenes, due to Lorca’s eye condition. However, again, a lot of it comes from the lack of the constraints the other shows in the cannon had. Because of the online nature of Star Trek: Discovery, it means they have scope to tell a greater range of stories in terms of content and how far they can go.

And remember, the movies were often far more brutal, as they had the scope to explore this. Many more of them contained bloody battles — Star Trek: Wrath of Khan had the body horror of alien insects entering the ear, and Star Trek: First Contact presented the brutality and body horror of the Borg far more than the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV show ever could.

This isn’t contrary to the ideology of Star Trek; far from it. Star Trek has often been about the exploration of the human condition and mirroring the times. The Original Series featured ideas of the Cold War, and now Star Trek: Discovery is exploring the conflict between building bridges and isolationist attitudes, and issues surrounding mental health and PTSD.

Ultimately, Star Trek: Discovery being able to show more darkness as well as light doesn’t show a push towards realism at the cost of classic Star Trek idealism. If anything, it tempers the idealism in a new way maybe, but Discovery is still plenty idealistic.

Star Trek: Discovery is not throwing the idealism baby out with bathwater, and it isn’t wholly dark, grim realism either. Discovery has idealism tempered by realism, sure, but that doesn’t mean it gives up one for the other. Star Trek: Discovery still contains a lot of hope, and at its core, Star Trek: Discovery still contains that idealism and humanity that is at the heart of all of Star Trek.

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