Star Trek Discovery: Far From Home (S3E2)

Another solid and visually gorgeous episode jumps past last week’s episode to see the fate of the rest of crew of the Discovery and the ship itself.

Plummeting out of the time-travel wormhole, Discovery is out of control and heading directly towards a weird semi-exploded planet. Thanks to the skilful efforts of Keyla Detmer, they manage to crash land the ship on a glacier. Unfortunately the ship is now in a bad state of disrepair and the not everything is repairable.

The story flips here into two parts. On-board the Discovery we mainly follow Reno (Tig Notaro) and Stamet’s attempts to get the power back on despite being both injured. There’s not a lot of time spent with the rest of the crew but the episode still does a much better job of making the ship feel like it has a crew and that they are all an important part of the ship. There also appears to be something wrong with Detmer in the aftermath of her crash landing.

Meanwhile Saru and Tilly (and unbeknownst to them, Georgiou) attempt to make contact with a mining colony on the planet, so they can repair a vital component of the communications system. There they learn that the people are essentially being held hostage by the “courier” to the planet and his gang of heavies. Zaher controls supplies into the colony and is a brutal and sadistic man. Yet, at least one of the miners sets great store in his faith that the Federation will return one day to save them all…

The colony sections of the story are not shy about using the tropes of Westerns. Tilly and Saru’s first proper encounter with the colonist starts with them walking through the bat-wing style doors of a saloon only to be met with a bevy of hand guns. There is a new marshal in town and it’s the same as the old marshal except this time it is Saru.

Of course, the original series even had them Enterprise crew end up in a literal Western and fight the gun-fight at the OK Corral (Spectre of the Gun) and at the time Westerns where still a significant tv-show genre. The ‘frontier’ myths are baked into the shows opening dialogue and yet, despite this when I think of science-fiction shows that try to blend in tropes from Westerns, they tend to stand in contrast with the original Star Trek. I suspect, there are layers of cultural reflection in play. Just as the post-war heyday of the Western was a nostalgic re-imagining of 19th century America, modern audiences recognise not 1950s Westerns so much as the nostalgic and/or subversive takes on them since that point.[1]

We are only two episodes in but it certainly appears that the theme of season 3 is a galaxy of lawless bullies versus the lawful-good remnant of the Federation. For contrast though, we still has former Mirror-universe Emperor Georgiou to offer as a violent contrast. I’m reminded of the TNG episode ‘The Most Toys‘ where Data is confronted with a man who is both banal and irredeemably evil. The conflict is shorter and more underplayed here with Saru/Tilly & Zaher than Data versus Fajo. The arrival of Georgiou short circuits the dilemma but does allow Saru to more clearly contrast his approach with Georgiou’s methods.

This and the previous episode where directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi. He’s been an executive producer on Discovery from the beginning I think but when I look at the list of the episodes he has directed, it has a lot of the episodes I enjoyed:

They are also all episode that (a) I enjoyed but (b) were less-Trekky in style. There are plenty of examples were Discovery pulled off a good episode that was also good in a way that felt like previous iterations of the franchise (often with Jonathon Frakes directing). I think Osunsanmi maybe the person who is finding a place for Discovery to be that manages to be its own thing and neither the clumsy ‘our Klingons are different’ version nor the ‘tonight some classic Trek references to warm your cockles’ version.

Cora’s review is here and as always is worth checking out.

[1] I say that but I see from Wikipedia that the venerable TV show Gunsmoke ran until 1974. Bonanza ran until 1973 — so there was only five years between Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright and Lorne Greene as Commander Adama. So I’m probably talking bollocks here. Maybe it is a Gen X thing to imagine vast gulfs of cultural time between the 1950s and the late 70s when it’s a no different numerical as the span from 2018 to 1998 (or, horror of horrors, 2000 and 2020 –where the hell did all the time go?)

[2] So when I originally looked up the title of last week’s episode it was ‘The Hope That is You: Part 1’ but now it is just ‘That Hope is You’ — or maybe I just imagined all that. Serves me right for skipping between universes.

13 thoughts on “Star Trek Discovery: Far From Home (S3E2)

  1. It definitely was Part 1, which was a tad confusing as the Wikipedia episode listing has title for the rest of the serious and no part 2.


      1. Last week’s episode was definitely called “part 1”. Maybe the powers that be decided to rename “part 2” at the last minute.

        Regarding TV westerns as a phenomenon of the 1950s, even though they hung on into the 1970s and beyond (every 1980s US TV show had at least one episode shot on the requisite studio backlot western town) is that shows like Gunsmoke and Bonanza were way past their prime, when they finally expired in the early 1970s. The genre had moved on and Italian westerns were where it was at and shortly thereafter, the western genre collapsed altogether and never really came back in spite of occasional revival attempts.

        For our generation (I’m Gen X as well), part of the problem is also that the western was a genre for old people. My grandpa and my mother were eager readers and viewers of westerns. I was not, unless it involved Winnetou. The fact that I saw bits an pieces of Gunsmoke or Bonanza on my parents’ black and white TV, whereas I saw the original Star Trek during a late 1970s rerun in glorious colour also makes those shows feel older than they actually are. Not to mention that there were a lot of black and white B-westerns and serial westerns on West German TV in the late 1970s, all broadcast under the banner “Western von Gestern” (Yesterday’s Western).

        Coincidentally, Lorne Greene was always Commander Adama to me before he was the patriarch from Bonanza. And in fact, Bonanza was to me “that weird show where Commander Adama, Trapper John MD, the dad from ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and some overweight dude pretend to live in the Old West”.

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  2. Im just here to complain about the “New periodic table of elements” line. SF (and also Marvel – see Iron Man 2) struggle with the concept of the elemental table and why there cant be any new elements hidden between those already discovered (technically you could make some new super-heavy ones, but its unlikely that there will be any stable ones). I dont know if this is a “We dont care” or a “we dont know” thing and I dont know why this is a thing that writeres seems to find necessary to do.
    You could make so many new molecules with the elements we have, combining them in ways we havent discovered yet -why new elements?

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    1. This is something I have never understood either. Also why rubidinium, when we have the perfectly fine rubidium? But I guess chemistry is not the strong point of many writers. Or translators for that matter, because you still find forensic scientists measuring sodium and potassium levels in US TV shows dubbed into German, even though they should be measuring the natrium and kalium levels.


      1. Not too mention that they always confuse silicon and silicone, which led to Jonny Mnemonics German line: “He has a lot of silicone in his brain!”

        I get that they dont want an element that people know, but they could just make a name up – Like dilithium. Its clearly a stable Astatine-Toorium-Lead crystal that is not radioactive due to an unusal number of neutrons. We just call it Dilithium because thats easier to say.

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      2. “Silicon in his brain” = cyberpunk
        “Silicone in his brain” = plastic surgery gone very wrong.

        And while that mistake is understandable in English, because there is only a one letter difference between both words, there is no excuse for making it in German, because the words are different.


    2. Add a third kind of electrical charge (i.e. positive, negative and nietheragative) and you get new kinds of atomic particles and new kinds of elements. Absurd, but is it more absurd than warp speed?


      1. The proliferation of subatomic particles – tetryons, polarons, dechyons, verterons, I’m sure there must be more – might also be explained that way?


    3. it’s not just SF–what, exactly, is mithril?

      (OK, *I* know what mithril is, it’s element 111, sits below gold on the periodic table, and the only reason it’s stable is because magic holds it together. Oh, and the reason it isn’t heavy as hell is because it doesn’t have any neutrons in it. Or at least that’s my headcanon.)

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  3. It was a common fannish joke in 1978-early 80s to vigorously ta-dum-da-dee-dum the “Bonanza” theme and then segue without missing a beat or a note into the “Battlestar Galactica” theme. They blend together so well that it often took people a second to realize what you’d hummed.

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