In the first episode we are introduced to the lead character in the series, Michael Burnham, who is not a Captain of a Federation ship, but is a first officer on a Federation ship, which is a first for the series and actually quite a nice change as the lead character is usually the Captain, which does set is apart from other Trek shows and give a bit of a different dynamic to the show.
She is a human female, who we learn in this episode was the only human ever to attend the Vulcan Science Academy, and has been in the Federation for approx seven years as we saw her being bought to the Shenzou by Spock’s father, Sarek.
She is human but has had Vulcan training and appears to follow the Vulcan principles of logic over emotion and that sets her apart from both human and Vulcan’s alike as she is more Vulcan like that most humans but too human to pass as a Vulcan, very different from Spock who always seemed a lot more Vulcan than he did Human.
We also meet a character called Saru who is from an entirely new species and is the first of his kind to join the Federation. He is the science office on board the Shenzou and is one of the many alien species that the Shenzou is full of which is more like how you would imagine a Starship to be in the twenty-third century and not quite how it was portrayed in the original series, but more like it was in the animated series and the Star Trek novels, but this is more to do with when it was made rather than anything else.
The captain of the Shenzhou is Phillipa Georgiou who is an experienced captain who it seems is respected by the crew and likes to get her own way and is also very close to Michael Burnham and is a sort of mother figure to her in a strange sort of way.
We don’t get to see a massive amount of the Shenzou in this episode apart from the bridge and the medical bay where most of the action is set but it does look a similar size to original enterprise and has some of the same basic design.
We see a few members of the crew of the Shenzou in this episode but a lot of them have just one or two lines and we don’t even get to know their names but the show isn’t really about them so I guess it doesn’t really matter.
The Klingon’s are one of the most interesting element of this episode as they look nothing like any Klingon I have ever seen before and look even more alien than they ever have done before; it also makes them look more menacing than they have been for a while as well, even if they look like an entirely different species to what we are used to, which I think has rubbed some people up the wrong way. Me I quite like the new design but I can understand people who just can’t get past it, even if it isn’t a problem for me.
Both the Klingon and Federation vessels are also very impressive looking as are the scenes set in space which look so much better than they did before mostly due to the quality of effects nowadays which is a bit unfair on the old stuff which did the best that it could with limited resources.
I thought that this was a strong first episode and I rather liked the fact that it was very dark for Star Trek and I like the dynamic between Burnham and Georgiou.