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Star Trek: Discovery season 2 starts off faster and funnier

Action, wit and color are the latest additions to the crew as Discovery returns to CBS All Access and Netflix.

Jan Thijs/CBS

From the moment the starship Discovery encounters the iconic Enterprise in the opening moments of the first episode, it's clear Star Trek: Discovery season 2 will be brighter and more adventurous than the gritty first season. You can watch the season premiere on streaming services around the world now, and it's already set to be a more fun ride than the heavyweight first season.

Season 2 of Discovery is on CBS All Access in the US and on Netflix around the world, with episode 1 available now. (Disclosure: CBS is CNET's parent company.) The premiere episode, Brother, gets its title from a classic Star Trek character who will be a big part of the new season. But before that, the first episode picks up where season 1 left off as the starship Enterprise appears in space alongside the Discovery.

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In season 1, Starfleet officer Michael Burnham played a role in igniting a war with the Klingons, fell in love with a traumatized soldier and wound up in an evil alternative universe. Dealing with heavyweight themes like war, politics, torture and betrayal, this first season was gritty and impactful. But as compelling as it was, it wasn't the cheeriest run for Burnham or for audiences.

Then season 1 climaxed with Burnham declaring "We are Starfleet." And the arrival of the Enterprise at the cusp of season 2 signals a return to a more familiar vision -- more positive, more colorful, more Star Trek.

Captain Pike leads Burnham and the crew of the Discovery into a more adventurous second season. 

Jan Thijs/CBS

That starts with the new captain. Anson Mount beams aboard as Captain Christopher Pike, a character only briefly depicted in previous Trek. Here, he's more fleshed out, and his gold uniform isn't the only vibrant thing about him. Pike's genial wisecracks immediately create a contrast with season 1's icy Captain Lorca. But there's a flash of steel in there too.

Another new character is glib engineer Commander Reno, played by sardonic comedian Tig Notaro. But the new characters don't hog all the jokes. Series regulars Saru and Tilly also relax into their roles with plenty of one-liners.

And it isn't just the humor giving this episode a lighter feel. Look out for an epic action scene involving sexy spacesuits and zippy spacepods. At times the premiere episode could be described as a romp.

That's not to say season 2 will be short of compelling drama. The season opener doesn't give much away about ongoing storylines, but it does show the crew still dealing with the fallout from the Klingon war. Things might be light-hearted now, but it's likely this voyage will go to some dark places.

On top of that, the new challenge couldn't be more personal for Burnham as she faces a reunion with her half-brother Spock. The opening episode is interwoven with glimpses of Burnham's young life. What was Spock like as a boy? Will we see more of the famously logical science officer's artistic side? And what is Burnham hiding about their relationship?

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Season 2 of Discovery is set to confront the crew with themes of faith and belief, meaning there'll be lots to think about -- an essential part of Trek. But by the time Captain Pike promises Burnham a fun ride, season 2 has set out its stall with wit, intrigue and action.   

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