Monday, November 02, 2020

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 3 Episode 3 (People of Earth)

How do you make everything old new again?  Jump 930 years into the future.  That’s how.  The Federation and Starfleet are nearly gone.  Earth is united, but separate from other planets.  A Starfleet Admiral sent a message 12 years ago, but Starfleet’s not headquartered on Earth anymore and the admiral in question is ostensibly dead.

We find Michael Burnham reunited with the rest of the crew of the Discovery.  When they jump to Earth, they find Earth isolated and defending itself from raiders.  This is why Discovery is held at virtual gunpoint and not allowed access to the planet.  No one there has heard of Discovery.  Given that there’s a nonhuman captain, a basic story of a generational ship just isn’t cutting it.  It takes a good dose of the truth for everyone to start trusting each other.

Normally, I wouldn’t worry about spoilers.  The Original Series aired more than 50 years ago.  The Next Generation was 25 years ago.  At this point, if you haven’t seen it, you’re probably not in any rush.  If you haven’t started watching the third season, I should warn you that I will be giving out several important details.

The first is the identity of these raiders.  One might assume them to be aliens.  They’re not.  They’re humans from further out in the solar system.  The colony was self-sufficient.  Recent setbacks forced them to attack Earth.  This gives Saru, as the recently minted Captain of Discovery, a chance to play peacemaker.

This is probably the most Trek moment of the series so far.  Saru is able to bring peace where there was only discord.  It’s not going to be easy.  Neither side is really trusting of the other; it will be a while before it gets to that point.  Unfortunately, Discovery isn’t sticking around to find out.

This brings us to the second spoiler.  The admiral that sent the message was a Trill.  You may remember them as the joined species from The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.  We have a new character joining the crew of the Discovery:  Adira.  It’s revealed that she’s the new host for the symbiote.  Being that Earth is more isolationist in the 32nd Century, I think it’s safe to assume that she’s human.

This brings up several issues.  Most notably, how was the transfer done?  From what we’ve seen in other series is that it’s a rather involved process that generally involves surgery.  Yes, Doctor Crusher did it with minimal help.  I suppose it’s possible that a human doctor was able to do it.

This brings me to my second point:  It was established in the Trill’s first appearance that humans weren’t suitable hosts.  Then again, the hosts’ appearance was retconned.  It’s plausible that this aspect was, as well.  It’s also possible that there’s something special or different about Adira that we’re not privy to.  It’s been several centuries, so there may be medical advancements.  Maybe she’s one quarter Trill.

This is only mentioned at the end of the episode and there are complications.  Adira can’t remember anything from the symbiote’s previous hosts.  This will necessitate a visit to the Trill home world in the next episode, so I’m assuming we’ll get some answers.

I do see some pieces falling into place.  It makes sense to have Saru as captain.  The show was always supposed to be about Burnham as something other than the commander of a starship.  We’ve also been seeing Saru’s character arc taking him to along the more-ambitious route.  This wasn’t totally unexpected.

There are also several unanswered question, like where Burnham’s mother is.  Also, what is The Burn.  You’d think someone would have some answers.  I suspect that this information will be withheld until the very end of the season.  We may not find anything out until the last two or three episodes.  I don’t know what it would look like to have the crew find out all the details too soon.  We’re in for a thirteen-episode run.  I would probably dole out little bits, myself.

To that end, I’m wondering what a fourth season might look like.  I think at this point, Discovery can’t go all the way back before the 25th Century.  I foresee one of two possibilities at this point.  Either Discovery stays in the 32nd Century or it jumps back in time to prevent The Burn.  Given that the show likes to end its seasons big, I’m predicting the second one.

This future is kind of bleak, even compared to Deep Space Nine.  I’m wondering how the writers would work this future into the show’s narrative.  Sure, we could have Discovery rebuilding The Federation.  Another time jump might be more dramatic.  Then again, we’re only three episodes in.  Maybe I should watch a few more episodes before making a grand prediction like that.


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