When Netflix started screening season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery to the rest of the world I was aware that CBS had produced a number of shorts in the same setting and featuring characters from the show under the title Short Treks, but the word was that no UK service had picked them up so we right-side-of-the-pond users would be destined to miss out, at least until someone put together a DVD release for the series.[note]People still do that, right?[/note] Driven by curiosity after I saw Discovery season 2's latest episode The Sound Of Thunder which tied in heavily with one of the Short Treks stories, I went looking around the web and found that somewhere along the way, without any fanfare or publicity that I could see, Netflix [note]At least in the UK, so I assume that means everywhere Netflix carry Discovery.)[/note] do now have the four Short Treks on their site, slightly hidden away under the 'Trailers and More' menu option.[note]The specific site that pointed me to the fact that the Short Treks were available in the UK, GamesRadar makes a big deal of how they're 'hidden' away on the Netflix site, but I reckon that's a bit overly dramatic: they're on the site, just not listed among the season 1 and 2 episodes in the way you might have hoped.[/note] I'm a little surprised that Netflix didn't make any effort to let their audience know when they popped up, but I guess little stuff like this just slips between the cracks sometimes when you're a global brand more focused on capturing an ever-higher higher percentage of users' screen time than on catering to every show you offer's cult following.[note] Alternatively, this was news that every other Trek fan in the UK has been aware of for weeks now and it's a sign of how far away I am from the centre of things nowadays.[/note]
Having seen more of Commander Saru's home world in The Brightest Star, one of the Short Treks, I do wonder how much the characters featured in the other shorts are going to factor into the remainder of season 2. Will Tilly find herself calling on her relationship with a newly-crowned queen from a distant planet at some point? Given the hints that the Red Angels are using time travel, will we get to see why the crew of the Discovery abandoned their ship for almost a thousand years (and, more to the point, will they return to the ship after some time-travelling adventure meet their newly-evolved ship's AI? And then do some more time-travelling - this time taking their ship with them - to get back into their place in the timeline? Will their new hyper-advanced ship's AI replace the Spore Drive as the USS Discovery's secret weapon in future seasons?) Will the crew of the Discovery run into Harcourt Fenton Mudd again? [note]Well Duh! Does anyone else see his character making at least one more appearance in Discovery season 2 before shifting over to the Section 31 spin-off? He'd fit right in, and perhaps it turns out that a few years from now Harry Mudd's role in the distribution of those mortal enemies of the Klingon Empire, the Tribbles, will be part of a by-now-disavowed Section 31's plot to drive their old enemies to distraction.[/note] The four shorts aren't going to set the world on fire for exploring a wild new range of science-fictional ideas, but they form a nice little look at the wider Trek universe a few years before the Kirk-captaining-the-Enterprise era that we saw back in the 1960s.[note]Given how we've had to wait for so long in season 2 to actually see Spock, I'm a little surprised that one of the Short Treks wasn't devoted to his story. I gather the actor was cast quite late in the day, so perhaps it was just a matter of there being no time to get him in to film one.[/note]
For what it's worth, I reckon season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery is doing well at compensating for many of the issues fans had with the first season. Anson Mount is doing good work of filling in what sort of captain Christopher Pike was, to the point where it'll be a real shame if they can't find a way to have him return to the Enterprise yet occasionally find him and his crew backing up the USS Discovery occasionally in future seasons of Star Trek: Discovery. Whether he ends up providing backup for Captain Saru or Captain Burnham (or Captain Tilly, even) is way less important than that he's still around occasionally to provide an injection of proper, old school Star Fleet values to the story.