Star Trek: Discovery hasn't had a truly successful counterpart since Jason Isaacs played the villainous Gabriel Lorca in the polarizing series' first season.
Star Trek: Discovery hasn't had a truly great villain since Gabriel Lorca in season one of the polarizing series. For most of its four seasons, Discovery took a big narrative approach, showcasing everything from a brutal war with the Klingons to the reintroduction of classic Star Trek characters like Captain Christopher Pike and Spock, and Everything that ends in a bold jump to the far future. 32nd century. Protagonist Michael Burnham develops from a notorious mutineer to a well-respected captain of the USS Discovery.
Discovery has been criticized and has been controversial from the start. Season 1's reinterpretation of the Klingons has been widely criticized, and the show has at times been as fast and loose as Star Trek continuity, especially in the first two seasons, when it was effectively the original Star Trek series. An ill-timed prequel. Love it or hate it, Discovery has found its identity with its objectively stellar cast and stunning visual effects work. However, the show has struggled to create villains worthy of fighting against Michael Burnham and her crew.
Why Lorca Is Star Trek: Discovery's Only Great Villain
Like nearly everything else in the series, Discovery struggled to find its footing during the first season. Burnham isn't a particularly compelling lead character, the underwriting of the supporting cast is terrible, and the Klingons are a mess. One thing that did work, though, was Jason Isaacs as the double-dealing Gabriel Lorca, the captain of the Discovery who enlists the disgraced Burnham served on his ship.
Lorca was originally portrayed as a complex man scarred by the trauma of war. Star Trek has never seen the captain of a Starfleet capital ship so emotionally damaged. Burnham was never as fascinating in season 1 as she was when she bounced back from Lorca's apparent wrongdoing as she searched for what she wanted to be as a Starfleet officer. The eventual revelation that Lorca is a native of the mirror universe, hell-bent on conquering the galaxy, gives Isaacs -- who's made his career playing bearded baddies -- insight into the character's sordidness. Lorca's eventual demise is a bit anticlimactic, but it's still an excellent addition to the Star Trek villain pantheon.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Must Fix Its Villain Problem
While Discovery is objectively better after its rocky first season, none of the show's other villains can compare to Lorca. season 2 of Control overlays the realm of nefarious artificial intelligence that other Star Trek stories have already explored in more interesting ways, occasionally feeling like a cheap knockoff of the Borg. Season 3's Emerald Chain was completely forgotten, culminating in a setback when Burnham shot their Orion leader, Osyraa. Season 4 didn't really have a traditional villain, the closest being Tarka, a Risa native who threw some curveballs in Starfleet's attempt to stop a dark matter anomaly from wiping out the galaxy.
It is unclear who the main villain of season 5 will be. This season will see Burnham and his crew try to find a mysterious force before it falls into the wrong hands. Who's the villain has yet to be revealed, but after Season 4 was largely villain-free, the show desperately needs a compelling antagonist. The show seemed to overkill after criticism in its first few days that it was too dark and cynical. Optimism and benevolence are important aspects of Star Trek, but it still needs heavyweights like Khan and Gul Dukat to threaten those ideals.
Strange New Worlds Has Already Beaten Discovery
when found Always striving to create compelling villains, its spin-off, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, has no such problem. SNW turned Gorns into nightmarish recurring antagonists, though they couldn't fully reveal the reptilian creature, as the Federation wouldn't physically encounter adult Gorns until Captain Kirk in the TOS episode "Arena" with a tangled together. The enterprise's head of security, La'an Noonien Singh, was deeply hurt as a child when Gorn brutally murdered her entire family. She'll meet them again as newly hatched Gorn offspring in the horror episode "All the Drifters."
Strange New Worlds featured Captain Angel in the episode "The Serene Squall", Serene Squall's pirate commander who conquered the Enterprise. Angel also has an interesting connection to another classic Star Trek villain, Sybok, Spock's half-brother who made his debut in Star Trek V: The Last Frontier. It's not necessarily fair to compare Star Trek: Discovery to Strange New Worlds, as the latter's episodic format offers more opportunities for it to introduce new villains. That said, Discovery desperately needs to find a way to reintroduce some of the narrative by bringing in compelling villains Spice up its increasingly safe and ambiguous storytelling habits.