The end of Star Trek Discovery Season One was a surprise, with some twists that sent the message that this series was trying hard to be a worthy successor to the series’ previous incarnations.
Season Two was still good, yet while some fans preferred it, I found it wandered a little, until the excellent and emotional finale where Burnham and the crew had to propel themselves into the future to save the universe.
Disguised as Sci-Fi
I wasn’t sure about this development, but Season Three seems to be something else disguised as sci-fi. It started with an excellent episode THAT HOPE IS YOU, where Burnham found herself on an alien world, relying on a seemingly roguish merchant to survive, and trying to find a relay to contact or listen out for her crew.
Episode Two FAR FROM HOME then flipped across to the Discovery crashing on an ice planet and travelling to an outpost for help, a futuristic Wild West Episode. Then at the end, Burnham, rocking a new hairstyle, appears to save them, explaining that she had been out of the wormhole for a year.
This neat one-two was a great way to explore their own adventures before reuniting them, as it really has a sense of scope in a short time.
PEOPLE OF EARTH saw the crew travel back to a much-changed Earth, with no trace of the Federation, and managing to resolve issues between marauders who keep attacking Earth ships. Of course, the pirates aren’t alien, but humans who felt abandoned by Earth. By brokering peace in a way reminiscent of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s original series, the team are given a lead – and adopt a new crew member. Adira.
FORGET ME NOT is another episode about the clash of cultures and misunderstanding between peoples and traditions, where Burnham and Adira go to the planet Trill to explore Adira’s symbiont memories. Yet, the far more interesting story for me was back on Discovery.
When the ship emerged from the wormhole in Episode 2, the crash left many of the characters tumbling across the floor, in true Star Trek style. And one crew member in particular, the cybernetically augmented pilot Detmer (Emily Coutts), was wounded and seemed preoccupied in later scenes. While no real neurological damage was found, and her insistence she was fine, she obviously wasn’t right.
My immediate assumption was that she was hiding something, or had learned some significant secret. Or maybe her cyber side was glitching. And who knows, maybe she is. But the immediate reveal in this episode crept up on me, leaving me shattered.
Captain Saru, in an attempt to build the team after their time shift and crash landing, plans a meal, where like almost every family gathering, arguments broke out.
And when Detmer turned on Stamets as he played martyr about his connection with the Spore Drive being the only thing that saved them, the tension crackled.
Medical Officer Culber (Wilson Cruz), who started the episode pondering the psychological impact of the time travel, the loss of their home, the changed future, and the loss of the Federation finally have a breakthrough with Detmer.
Culber: Are you okay?
Detmer: No. Obviously… That was hard to admit.
Culber: For anyone. And you’re a pilot. Pilots are-
Detmer: Macho. I know. That talk you suggested. Maybe I could take you up on it.
And as the episode ends with the crew laughing and watching Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr (where a troubled protagonist dreams about solving his problems), Saru and Culber watch their reactions:
Saru: It fills the room.
Culber: Joy? Yeah, we all had to stop pretending we were fine first.
Discovery is all about connecting and communicating: looking for a home, finding friends, retrieving memories, coping with loss, listening to a friend in need.
Those scenes are a reminder if any were needed, that sci-fi and fantasy are excellent vehicles for exploring themes from our own very real world.
It’s World Kindness Day. It’s been a helluva year. Let’s be kind to ourselves. And if, as in Discovery, someone is struggling while insisting they are fine, do them a favour and let them know you are listening.
Article first published on ReelAnarchy.