Star Trek Discovery: People of Earth (S3E3)

[Some spoilers about a character]

As Discovery matured it got into a rhythm of its own kind of wacky space-opera versus (or complimentary with) more The Next Generation style episodes. I’m sure there are examples of each from various directors but the first category I associate with Olatunde Osunsanmi and who better to represent the second than Jonathan “Will Riker” Frakes.

True to form we get an episode that is so TNG that we get the return of the Trill and a new Wesley Crusher-like character. Yet this is Discovery, so this is still TNG but updated and with its own spin.

The twist is that the planet that gets the TNG treatment (where a whole planet of people gets boiled down to one character who basically makes planet wide policy on the spot having been shown the error of their ways by the stern wisdom of the charismatic Starfleet captain) is Earth. Yes, the episode has all the flaws of the standard Picard solution of getting two antagonistic space-groups to realise what they have in common and work together rather than fighting a war. It’s too quick, too simplistic and utterly unlike any actual real world dispute. However, making the snooty up-itself planet Earth…that is actually quite a neat twist. How intentional that was, I don’t know but it adds a spin to a corny scenario that has a nice subversive quality to it and acts as a mild critique of all those “why don’t you two just put aside your differences and get along” episodes from the original series onward.

Meanwhile, we get another new character: Adira, a hyper-intelligent teenager from future Earth who is part of the Earth defence boarding party. Played by Blu del Barrio they aren’t nearly as annoying as Wesley Crusher and their big secret [spoiler] is that they are actually a human with a Trill-symbiont [1]. del Barrio is non-binary and that is a neat casting choice for a class of Trek characters that have had an interesting play on questions of identity.

Still…I can’t help feeling that Discovery already has more characters than it is properly utilising. The under-used bridge crew do get some collective moments (greeting Michael, visiting a great big tree) but aside from a brief hesitation, we don’t get an update about whatever is going on with Detmer.

Even so, the episode uses the emotions of the crew well. Even though Michael has only been separated from them by two episodes, I found the initial reunion quite moving. I’m also really glad that Saru is now wholly and unambiguously the captain of the Discovery. It’s an ill fated role but it is an outcome that retrospectively makes the previous seasons better. The Discovery was a dysfunctional ship with a dysfunctional crew many of whom were individually capable. Events have changed them and the ship and Saru’s captaincy emphasises that as a story arc, even if some of that arc was unintentional.

Cora’s review is here http://corabuhlert.com/2020/10/31/star-trek-discovery-pays-a-visit-to-the-people-of-the-earth/


[1] I assume that will engender some arguments about how the whole Trill thing was supposed to work but in a nod to continuity, Saru had to learn about the Trill’s symbiotic thing courtesy of the sphere data. Riker/Frakes of course was briefly a host for a Trill-symbiont in the TNG episode where the species was introduced.

6 thoughts on “Star Trek Discovery: People of Earth (S3E3)

  1. Also, and I guess slightly spoilers, but it’s right at the start of the episode: Captain Suru. He deserved the chair when Lorca feel into the warp core, or whatever it was, but it’s good to see it finally acknowledged.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. And we haven’t seen the last of Book (and Grudge) either, given the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it preview scene where he and Burnham kiss.

    I don’t think the show needed any more characters either, but given the writing so far, I have great hopes the writers will deal with them better.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I was seriously considering watching S3, but this morning I realized I would never be able to get past the “dilithum crystals ending galactic civilization” premise.

    That was a convenient way to moderate a matter antimatter reaction in Starfleet warp drives, but it was not the only way.to build a warp drive. Romulans, for example, did not use dilithium (and I bet there are other examples)..

    Furthermore, dilithum is not used in power plants on planets (planetary power systems are supplied by fusion reactors, and other systems).

    What I am getting at is that if dilithum crystals started fracturing everywhere, you’d still have a Federation with a lot of smart people trapped on rich planets who could come up with new ways to build warp drives. And, they would have the resources to build those warp drives and reboot the galactic economy.

    Or is there more to the story that I have not heard yet?

    P.S. It will never not be funny that so many people put so much work into developing a new Star Trek series, and none of them realized that the series’ acronyms were STD and DIS until after it launched.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Secrets and Stamets geius aside: Its a stretch to believe that the spore drive was invented on two different universeses (normal and mirror) and then no species nowhere in the galaxis stumbled about it in 900+ years.

      But thats the thing you have to swallow I think to get the new thing going. Since I suspect they will save the future at one point by un-causing the Burn it probably doesnt (anti)matter.

      Like

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