Star Trek: Discovery

Gone but not forgotten

"Forget Me Not" is a refreshingly, unusually quiet and introspective hour of Discovery that feels like it’s from a previous generation of Star Trek. It’s among the quietest and most character-driven episodes of the series. It’s perhaps not the most riveting episode of all time and it employs plenty of mystical alien mumbo-jumbo, but it’s very nicely done and sincere, and it benefits from a final revelation that’s truly intriguing — building on a concept previously explored by adding just a slight little spin on things that’s rather ingenious.

The episode takes us to the Trill homeworld, to see if they can help Adira — the only known successful example of a human joined with a Trill symbiont (I guess Riker in "The Host" doesn’t count because it was temporary) — recover the Tal symbiont’s memories, which are blocked from her. (These memories include those of Admiral Senna Tal, who may know where to find what remains of the Federation.) Indeed, Adira can’t remember how she even came to be joined with the symbiont in the first place.

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There’s no place like home

"People of Earth" is an effective mix of emotions and well-paced starship-standoff action, and provides our first glimpse at what a familiar Federation locale — specifically Earth — looks like in the post-Federation 32nd century. It’s our first real attempt at world building within this third season. This is a step up from the first two outings, which felt like generic space westerns in terms of their storytelling. (Although, as space westerns go, they had nothing on this past weekend’s season premiere of The Mandalorian.)

This series wears its emotions on its sleeve, and Burnham’s reunion with the Discovery crew is milked for all the feels, and pretty effectively. Tilly reflects in a pretty good scene that having traveled forward in time means everyone they knew is now long dead; it’s good to see the story slow down to acknowledge what it means to be displaced permanently from your time. New Braided Chillax Burnham seems all about letting the past go, and indeed it at first seems questionable whether she will even rejoin the crew. She has a nice reunion with Saru, where kind words are exchanged and she relinquishes any ambitions she ever had to be captain. Like I said last week, Martin-Green’s performance is notably lighter with Burnham having now spent a year in this century as a courier. Even Tilly mentions the new air.

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A fistful of dilithium

I’m so glad to learn the aesthetics of 19th-century saloons, complete with batwing doors, have survived into the 32nd century. That’s some staying power. And that bad guys come strolling into such saloons with an imposing swagger as the camera makes a point to show us their jangling boots before showing us their faces.

There’s a scene midway through "Far From Home" that screams out: Hey look! Space cowboys in a space western! At the risk of setting up an expectation where I will make one Andromeda reference per episode this season (don’t count on it), I couldn’t help but think of that series’ "Last Call at the Broken Hammer," which also had a futuristic saloon with batwing doors, albeit infinitely worse production values.

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Star Trek arrives in the 32nd century

Few, if any, slate-clearing series reboots have been as extreme (or contrived) as Discovery‘s jump forward in time 931 years to the year 3188 in order to (deep breath) hide a cache of indestructible, self-aware data from an evil artificial intelligence whose acquisition of that data would mean certain galactic Armageddon. I mean, that is something. The writers either wanted to get as far away from the show’s original pre-TOS setting as possible, or they had some new things they wanted to explore in the very-far-flung future of the Trekkian universe. They clearly weren’t interested in a mild or middle-ground shakeup.

The brand-spankin’ new thing they apparently want to do is an official Star Trek remake of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. (The premise of Andromeda’s post-Commonwealth fall was itself simply a way of telling a post-Federation story outside the actual Trek universe.) The news of the Federation’s fall is gradually revealed in "That Hope Is You, Part 1" an episode that arrives at the season’s new mission statement (let’s re-establish the Federation!) by the end of the episode but, on the whole, is a pretty unremarkable but okay hour. As slow-burn establishing material goes, this is average.

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‘Discovery’ closes the loop

Well, they didn’t exactly stick the landing, but they were still standing by the end of it. This got the job done. And it was, let it be said, epic.

"Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2" had a tall order before it: to fundamentally change the status quo of the series (implicitly promised by all the build-up and goodbyes in last week’s overly schmaltzy episode, which at least in context now feels slightly more valid) while trying to satisfactorily make sense of this season’s ongoing plot and character arcs. While they don’t completely overcome the dopiness of some of the ideas that have been swirling about for several episodes now, they do close as many loops as possible while bringing massive cinematic showmanship to this finale in a way that helps paper over some of the seams.

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