Second episode greatly improved on the first. I guess I'm subscribed and watching this. Nobody is more surprised that Mark liked a modern Star Trek than Mark.
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The Captain's dinner was bad. A) I really really dislike their "casual" being mostly 20th C stuff, obvs Pike's old-fashioned, but it's too retro. TOS set a clear standard that the fashion & music & entertainments of the future are NOT just rehashed pre-apocalypse stuff. B) Ortega's gutter trash look is completely inappropriate for Starfleet, even casual. James T. Kirk wouldn't put up with that kind of disrespect to the service. C) The grilling/hazing of Uhura is poor team-building, but also everyone goes on at length with bad writing nobody would ever say. Very cringey first act.
The comet/alien artifact is fantastic, though. Great design for it. Alien thing that is actually alien and inscrutable. A seemingly simple problem, in TOS it would probably be a Prime Directive violation, but they just set up the PD last episode, so here they can just fix it. Except it's not that fixable.
Uhura gets to use linguistics (kind of a useless skill when you have a Universal Translator) and singing, tho she mostly hums. But she can carry a tune. Sam Kirk gets to be "the guy we zap or knock around because he can't die until TOS" for this series. Spock and Singh just stand around and be useless, but Spock & Uhura (and a bit with Nurse Bleach-Blonde Chapel) actually are funny, there's good writing here. Did they borrow writers from Lower Decks?
The alien menace is kind of ridiculous, bad face on the screen, weird shapeship that doesn't make a lot of engineering sense. For "advanced" aliens they have incredibly bad aim and weak, standard-issue plasma torpedo weapons. In Star Fleet Battles terms, they're like one of the minor races, no new tech but a bigger ship, any good pilot can beat them with a stock Heavy Cruiser.
The natives on the planet are barely seen, little fake camp pounding grit, hard to believe there's millions of them. If they're the reason you're doing this, at least show something sympathetic.
I really hope this doesn't turn into "every alien thing has TIME POWERS", because I'm annoyed by that already.
★★★½☆ but keep in mind I'd rate all of TNG, DS9, VGR, ENT, PIC, & STD ★☆☆☆☆ to ★★☆☆☆ with only rare ep exceptions, so this is some high praise from me.