Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the 32nd century!
(Yes, I’m late on episode 3×01. Moving house and all. In fact, I’m still so tired — and have so many boxes to unpack — that I sat with a blank post in front of me, trying to phrase an announcement that I’m skipping season 3. Turned out it was easier to just start the post.)
You may recall that I’m on the record as hating the end of season 2, and not being a fan of the far future SF that season 3 promised.
Surprise! I really love these two episodes, and I’m keen to explore the new setting. Here is a list of dot points (so. many. boxes.) to outline my feelings and opinions:
- I don’t understand why Michael is surprised that the Federation is no longer around in the 32nd century. Empires fall. It’s what they do.
- Of course, Enterprise told us that the Federation was still a going concern in the 31st century, and it sounds like we can position the Burn right around the end of the Temporal (Cold) War.
- Tying the two events in is fanwank of the most ridiculous kind, but I really like the idea that Jonathan Archer created the Federation and was also in some way responsible for its destruction, so that’s my crack theory.
- Anyway, canon be damned, any empire that endures for a thousand years is either unrecognisable from its original form, or stagnant and probably corrupt. Or both!
- NEVERTHELESS, I have a lot of feelings about the Federation as an ideal, as a force for good, and how it has transformed, post-Burn, into a story of hope.
- (But I also hope that, when Michael and the team encounter Federation people who haven’t been serving in isolation for their entire life, they find them … disappointing and complacent.)
- I spent episode 1 going, “Okay, it’s absurd that language hasn’t shifted in 930 years, but at least I don’t have to think about it.” Then episode 2 went and introduced a pidgin. Thanks, guys.
“That Hope Is You, Part 1” (which does not appear to be a two-parter?) introduces Cleveland “Book” Booker, our new regular. He is handsome, roguish, can communicate with animals and make plants grow, and his business involves rehoming endangered species.
He also has a cat, and sometimes sparkles a bit.
He’s almost too good to be true, and I love him. Mostly because, for all his good qualities and literal sparkles, he’s also a bit ruthless in deceiving Michael and stealing her possessions; and incredibly reluctant to get involved in her space drama. He and Michael have a lot of spark(le), and I think they’ll be fun to watch together.
(Also, he seems very low-drama so far. I mean, aside from stealing another courier’s cargo, then betraying Michael, teaming up with her and leading her on a planet-spanning transporter chase. Okay, he’s not low-drama at all, but at least he doesn’t seem to go for the SECRET BABY sort of drama. I love all of that Klingon nonsense, but Michael deserves a break.)
I also adore Aditya Sahil, the lone Federation bureaucrat in this sector of space. Even though I’m like, sooooooooooo Starfleet is passed down the male line now? His mother and grandmother were, what, chopped liver?
But I appreciate the quiet heroism of getting up every day to do a boring but necessary job, because it’s the right thing to do. Even if he doesn’t reappear, he’s important to the new setting.
Also important to the new setting, even though he absolutely won’t reappear: Zarah, the eloquent and remarkably sexist courier who takes Saru and Tilly (and a bunch of hapless exploited miners) hostage in ep 2. The antagonists in episode 1 were entertaining, but not quite personalities. Zarah is a personality, a charismatic small-time bully who enjoys the sound of his own voice — right up until he underestimates Georgiou. I don’t think he’ll be back, but I’m sure we’ll see more like him.
in space crash-landed on a planet
I was watching episode 2, going, “The crew are interacting and solving problems together, and something is going on with Keyla Detmer, I didn’t know until I had it how much I missed this side of Discovery!”
Then a piece of my brain went, “And you just know some douchebag out there in fandom is going to say this proves the show is better when Michael isn’t around.”
Well, I’m not going to engage that douchebag who only exists in my head (I hope). Michael’s absence was a raw wound, even though we all knew she was fine and hanging out with a nice, sparkly man and his majestic cat. It’s great to hang out with these characters again.
Further dot points:
- I do not endorse Georgiou’s management style, but I do hope Tilly regains her self-confidence soon. She’s grown in leaps and bounds since season 1, but sometimes has setbacks. (I mean, who doesn’t?)
- I do endorse Saru’s management style, and cannot think of a better ambassador for the Federation-that-was. (I mean, he’s a newcomer, right? Converts are always the strongest believers.)
- It’s notable that he hangs back when Georgiou is fighting Zarah and his goons, and only steps in when absolutely necessary. This, I think, is an extension of his diplomatic skills: he’s demonstrating to the miners that he can handle himself, but only as a last resort.
- Paul … did not need to go into that Jeffries tube, and doing so was an unnecessary display of machismo. I do not blame Hugh in the least for being mad!
- I deeply identify with Jett and her bad back.
There’s something about Keyla…
It did not even cross my mind that Detmer’s distraction after her injury was anything other than PTSD from the war. And, while the theories about her being infected by Control are compelling, I also hate them because:
- I hated the whole Control subplot and I really hope we left it behind forever; and
- “actually, your assistive device/prosthesis makes you vulnerable to being taken over by an evil entity” is a trope you can get away with exactly once. More than that, and it starts looking super-ableist.
PTSD, on the other hand, would mean that the events of season 1 aren’t entirely forgotten (remember how there was a devastating war and the Federation almost lost?), and gives us more insight into Detmer.
Meanwhile, Culmets is back on
I realise that there is a lot going on and no time to talk, but I hope Hugh and Paul do have a chance to have a conversation about where they are in their relationship.
Because as it is, Hugh decided at the last moment that he was going to jump into the future and resume his relationship with Paul, and now it feels like we’ve returned to the status quo of season 1. And if that’s where we’re at for the season, it’s both fundamentally dishonest, and sort of … creepy.
So on the one hand, Emperor Georgiou has eaten a lot of people…
On the other hand, she’s kind of great?
I especially enjoyed her interactions with Nhan. Again, a list:
- Nhan has a keen bullshit radar and very little tolerance for nonsense. So she sees through a lot of Georgiou’s shenanigans, but also doesn’t take them personally. They’re both professional soldiers, in a sense, and can respect each other on that level
and also flirt a lot.
- It’s useful and enjoyable to see Georgiou interacting with people other than Michael and Saru.
- (See also: her flirtation with Linus, one sexy lizard.)
- Her remark about how she enjoys hopping between universes is telling — for a second, I caught a glimpse of Captain Philippa Georgiou, explorer.
- At last, a section where dot points are normal!
- I am very into Michael’s new hair, and also into the many, many r/StarTrekDiscovery threads where white people learn about the existence of weaves.
- I also like Tilly and Saru’s first contact knitwear. The future, but rustic.
- I also very much enjoyed how the Orion and Andorian guards at the Exchange wore uniforms which wouldn’t have been out of place on TOS or TNG. Classic.
I feel like I open every season with expectations of greatness, and end up being disappointed to a greater or lesser extent. Let’s just say, this is a promising start, and I am cautiously optimistic.