In-depth episode discussions. Geeking out over sci-fi & fantasy TV such as Stargate Universe, Star Trek Picard, Star Trek Discovery, plus movies, such as the DCEU (Man of Steel, Batman V Superman etc) Welcome to Nerd Heaven. Currently reviewing season 1 of Stargate Universe (SGU)
Monday Nov 02, 2020
Monday Nov 02, 2020
Monday Nov 02, 2020
In Star Trek Discovery Season 3 Episode 3, Michael Burnham is reunited with the crew of the USS Discovery. Saru takes his place as the official captain, and they jump to Earth to see what has become of the Federation in this new century. But they don't receive the warm welcome they were hoping for. Time for some good old Starfleet diplomacy. And what's the deal with the mysterious Adira, a United Earth Defence Force inspector who is trying to sabotage the ship?
At the beginning of this episode, I acknowledge the passing of the great Sir Thomas Sean Connery, or Sean Connery as he was known to us.
Welcome to Nerd Heaven
I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars
And I am a Nerd.
This is episode 40 of the podcast.
Today, we’re talking about Star Trek Discovery season 3 episode 3. People of Earth.
But first, I want to acknowledge the passing of Sir Thomas Sean Connery, or as we more commonly know him, Sean Connery. I learned just last night that he had died at the age of 90. He brought a lot of joy into my life through his acting work, and I’ll always remember him as James Bond, Henry Jones Snr, and King Arthur from First Knight.
He remained married to his second wife, Michelin Roquebrune right up until the end, 45 years in total, which is an achievement worthy of respect among famous actors.
He is also survived by his son Jason Connery.
But, you know, Sean Connery has a Star Trek connection. While he never appeared in Star Trek, he was originally cast as Sybok, Spock’s brother, in Star Trek V The Final Frontier. But he was unable to do it because he was busy with Indianna Jones and The Last Crusade, which honestly, was a much better movie in my opinion. But the mythical planet Sha-Ka Ree was named in Connery’s honour. Which I think is really nice.
So, I’d like to express my condolences to all of his loved ones, especially his wife and son.
So, back to Star Trek Discovery.
The description on Memory Alpha reads
“Reunited with Burnham, Discovery heads to Earth to find out what has happened to the Federation in the last thousand years.”
This episode was written by Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt
It was Directed by Jonathan Frakes
And it first aired on the 29th of October 2020.
Make it so
The episode opens with a quick recap of what Michael has been up to during the last year, while she’s been searching for Discovery, indirectly waiting for them to show up. It’s a shame we didn’t really get to see any of her adventures with Book, but I’m sure there’ll be plenty of tie-in media that will be more than happy to fill this gap. She worked as a courier, travelling from world to world making deliveries for a tiny handful of Dilithium.
But the interesting thing is, it does this in the form of a log entry, aimed at Discovery. The voiceover makes it clear that even before the burn, Dilithium was becoming rare. And we get to see a glimpse of some 321st century Starfleet ships. They don’t look all that different to those we’ve seen from other centuries. We don’t see any of them up close, but the basic shape is present in both of them. Saucer section, secondary hull, warp nacelles.
Burnham didn’t give up everything for this version of the future and she’s determined to set things back to how they should be. She’s also searching for answers on what caused the burn.
And we see her hair change over time, visually confirming the passage of time.
She seems to have built a very meaningful relationship with Book, although it seems it’s not romantic as such. And while I think they’d make a great couple, I’m cool with that. I like their friendship the way it is portrayed in this episode. Although It does feel like there’s some romantic tension between them.
But what would a log entry be without a stardate?
In the first two seasons, they just kinda made up random stardates. None of it made any sense because to be true pre-TOS stardates, they’d have to be 3-digit numbers.
The stardate Michael quotes in this episode is 865211.3. This is a six digit stardate. Those in the 24th century, starting with TNG, were 5 digits. Now, I haven’t done the maths, but I imagine this stardate is correct, that they’ve calculated from the TNG system onwards the right number of years. I mean, it looks about right. So that’s pretty cool.
And then we cut to Michael’s arrival on Discovery in the transporter room. And we get a very emotional reunion between her and all of her family. It was wonderful to see. Once again, Sonequa Martin Green’s facial acting really gets across so much emotion. Anyway, I loved this. It was very well done, and it certainly made me feel.
And there’s this look between Burhnham and Georgiou, who stands at the back of the room, unlike the others who crowd around Burnham for hugs. That’s not Georgiou’s style. Especially not the mirror Georgiou. But there’s a little moment there between them. Hard as it might be to believe, coming from the former Terran emperor, Georgiou genuinely feels something for Michael. She’s the closest thing she’ll ever get to her daughter, and this one is unlikely to betray her the way the mirror Burnham did.
Burnham and Saru have a nice scene, catching up as they walk through the ship.
Burnham has promised Book some Dilithium for helping to rescue the Discovery. Saru is more than happy to honour the promise.
Nobody knows whether the burn was a natural disaster, or a deliberate attack. And that’s kind of worrying. Neither option is especially appealing. Either way, millions died.
During her year, Burnham received a transmission from an Admiral Senna Tal. He is waiting on Earth for anyone who still believes to join him. Burnham was never able to follow up on this lead because with Dilithium so rare, Earth was always out of reach.
Now that she has access to a Spore drive, she can go there.
Nobody on Discovery is gonna argue with that. They all want to find out what has become of the Federation.
Michel suggests they jump outside of Earth’s scanning range and pose a starship from this century that was stranded by the burn.
Again, It’s not clear to me why they can’t just be honest with Starfleet about being from the past. Why the deception? It seems unnecessary, especially if they want to earn the trust of present-day Starfleet.
But Georgiou approves of this plan. And I can understand why she would like it. Don’t give away more than you need to. That’s consistent with who she is.
Stamets is waiting for the order to prep for the jump, but he’s unsure whose orders he should be following, Saru’s or Michael’s.
And Saru says “Oh yes, we are due for a conversation.” He wants to discuss with her who is going to be the next captain of the Discovery.
This is a weird hold-over from last season.
Saru told Pike to not worry about who will be captain. They’d work that out later.
But it seemed silly to me that there would even be a question. Saru was first officer. He’s next in line. Obviously he will be serving as Discovery’s captain.
It’s not only logical, it’s well-earned. WE saw that last week. Saru has grown a lot in the last two seasons. He’s gone from the timid first officer questioning his every decision, and asking the computer for leadership advice, to the man that took charge last week.
Michael agrees. There’s no need for that conversation, Saru. It’s you. She agrees that chain of command discates it, and that Saru has proven himself. It seems she and I are on exactly the same page. Saru is captain in the truest sense of the word.
But for Michael, there’s more to it. She’s changed over the last year. She’s had to. She’ll say later in the episode that she had to leave some things behind in order to survive in this new hostile world. I suspect she’s talking about more than just Starfleet protocol and military discipline. I think she’s had to compromise on some principles. Probably not any big ones, but some smaller ones. It’ll be interesting to learn more about this over time, as I’m sure we will.
Anyway, it was a nice scene.
I’m very happy with how that turned out.
Saru says this ship bears the name Discovery, and never has that been a more fitting or more prescient name. I agree with him, and I’m excited by the possibility that the ship will truly get to live up to her name this season. We certainly got some of that last season, but I think we’ll get even more this time.
And all of that was just the teaser. But we’ve come to expect long teasers in modern Star Trek. DS9 often did the same thing.
Discovery is undergoing repairs. We see a bunch of those repair droids from the opening credits. They’ve got a little memorial for those who died in the crash (and probably also in the battle with Control). The insignia badges are all on display, in memory of those who wore them. I find it particularly confronting that some of those badges are cadet badges. Just kids.
Things have been so hectic, nobody has had time to grieve, and not just those who have died, but those they left behind.
I like that even though there was that big communal hugging scene earlier, that Miochael gets individual catch-up scenes with those that are closest to her, that being Tilly and Saru.
Tilly is coming to terms that her Mum is gone. Dead. For centuries.
She never had a very good relationship with her, but … it was her mum.
I often wonder how Tilly’s Mum reacted when she got that message from Tilly, saying she was going to the future.
I wonder how it made her feel.
I wonder if she realised her shortcomings as a mother in that moment, the way she had failed Tilly.
I wonder how that affected her, and if she ever truly recovered from the grief of that realisation, and knowing that she’d never have a chance to make it right?
Or did she remain stone-hearted, and just accuse Tilly of being needy and selfish.
We’ll probably never know.
Tilly is hoping that there’ll be something on Earth that they recognise, after all this time.
I love Michael’s line back to her that cake is eternal. That would make a good tshirt, but perhaps a little too obscure for many people to get.
Tilly points out that Michael seems lighter. And she’s not wrong.
And I’m surprised to find myself saying that I’m liking this lighter Burnham. I don’t mean lighter in the Marvel sense of the word, that she’s all jokes now. No, it seems like a great weight has been lifted from Michael’s shoulders. And I like that.
She’s had to let go of a lot of baggage in this new world. It’s been like a fresh start for her.The ultimate sea change.
You know, I was invited by a friend to appear on his podcast recently. The Christian Geek Central podcast. We talked about the current state of Star Trek. And in that discussion, my friend, Paeter, said he wished that Michael’s return to grace hadn’t happened so abruptly at the end of season 1.
Can you imagine how much more powerful this moment would be for the character if she hadn’t been forgiven her crime of mutiny and given back her commission? If she had remained a technical prisoner, serving her time on Discovery, rather than in jail, for the whole of season 2, but now found herself in a whole new world, where she could truly have a fresh start? A second chance. That could have been amazing.
But it’s still really cool.
Michael was a pretty up-tight person during those first two seasons. Now, she’s something different. And that’s some interesting character development. And it wouldn’t be as cool if we hadn’t had the uptight Burnham beforehand.
For some reason, Georgiu is the one who beams Book aboard. Oh, I get why she’s doing it, she wants to check him out, see who this guy that her daughter has been galavanting around with is, buit, surely somebody else was meant to be on duty in the transporter room. Book was expecting Detmer or Tilly. Which is weird because neither of them work in the transporter room.
Anyway, Discovery has a huge supply of Dilithium, by today’s standards. They cut off a little piece for Book. This is gonna make them a target. They can’t let it become too well known that they’re so stocked.
Michael wants Book to come to Earth with her. IT could be a fresh start for him. And he’s interested, at least for a temporary expedition. He asks Michael what she gets out of it and she goes all awkward and coy. She can’t just say “You’re my friend and I’d miss you if we weren’t together.” I kinda wish she had. But instead, she says he can help them mask the dilithium. Which is quite true. His ship has a cloaking device.
Book has never been to earth, but in a sense, neither has Michael. Not this earth.
We should talk about Book’s ship.
I like the interior. That’s really cool. But the exterior, well, that’s a bit weird. There are elements that I like about it, but the asymmetry of it really bothers me. I guess I just like things to be symmetrical. It’s a very odd shape.
Saru is now wearing his captain’s uniform. And it looks good on him.
He was shocked that Michael never considered trying to take the captaincy herself. Which as I’ve explained is weird to me. I don’t see why anyone would think she had a claim to it. Yes, she and Saru both held the rank of Commander, but he was higher in the chain of command.
Anyway, dead horse. Sorry.
The point of this scene is that Michael has changed. Saru can see it, and Michael doesn’t deny it.
I’m the same person. And I’m not.
She had to adapt to this world. She did what she had to, to l;earn as much as she could.
Saru finds it hard to trust Book. He doesn’t know Book like Miachel does.
But for Michael’s sake, he accepts the idea, with some logical security conditions.
Booker joins them on the bridge and they jump into the sol system, just past saturn.
As Discovery approaches Earth, a giant forcefield envelops the entire planet.
This makes sense. First of all, because we are in the far future, and such a technology should reasonably exist. But secondly, because this is a harsher more dangerous time. The people of earth want to protect it. They probably still have a relative paradise down there. We’ll soon see that this is effectively the case.
Two ships arrive. United Earth Defense Force. Apparently, ships are not welcome in the vicinity of Earth. Not any ships.
Not even one bearing a Starfleet registry.
We meet Ndoye, a captain of the UE Defense Force.
Ndoye can find no mention of the discovery in her records, because of the classified nature of the ship. Saru tried to sell her on the story that they are a long-range ship returning from a very long classified scientific mission. They are the descendants of the original crew.
Personally, I think that would be harder to swallow than time travel. But anyway.
NDoye can pinpoint Discovery to only the range of 23rd to 25th century, based on the metals used in the hull.
Ndoye’s security force beam aboard immediately. A bunch of people on all decks. Again, believable.
Book has to pose as a Starfleet office so as to not attract attention. He hates wearing it, but Michael gets a kick out of it
Book compares wearing the uniform to a time he saveD Michael from a bog filled with leeches., This conversation is very reminiscent of one between Anakin and Obi-Wan in Star Wars Episode 2. But it gives the sense of a long history of shared adventures between these two. The scenes actually serve the exact same purpose in both stories.
This is yet another example of the Star-Warsey feel to this new setting.
It should feel out of place. It maybe should even bother me.
But you know, despite the star-wars esque dystopian setting, this season feels very very Star Trek. And that’s because of Discovery itself.
Imagine the Enterprise got pulled into the Star Wars universe, and continued to carry on it’s mission there. Imagine there was a show about that. The show would have a Star Wars setting, but it would still very much be a Star Trek show.
That’s kinda how this feels. The crew of Discovery make this feel like Star Trek, even though the setting doesn’t.
Gergiou also needs to wear a uniform, and she picks an Admiral’s uniform. This is typical of her character and mildly amusing. But it is good to see a Discovery Admiral’s uniform again. I always liked their admiral uniform.
Georgiou makes some interesting observations, that Michael isn’t sure she fits in here anymore. She’s gotten used to not having to follow orders and be in a chain of command.
Earth has been re-built to be self-sufficient. So it’s still very much the Star Trek earth down there. Beautiful gardens. A world without poverty. But it’s under constant threat. People want what they have. They want their dilithium.
And it’s made the people of earth paranoid and suspicious. Understandably so perhaps.
Right now, their greatest threat is a group of dilithium raiders led by a bloke named Wen.
Ndoye tells them they won’t find what they’re looking for on Earth. Starfleet and the Federation haven’t been on Earth for a long time.
Having Federation headquarters on earth would make it a target.
Earth is no longer part of the federation. And that’s huge.
She says that Admiral Tal left earth years ago but died on his ship.
That kinda sucks.
Adira gives the impression that she is in charge of those inspecting the spore lab, and that she is really hard and grumpy. She’s only 16 years old. Not much older than my daughter. We’ll find there more to her than is apparent a little later.
But Wen’s raiders have arrived.
And something is interfering with the personal transporters used by the Earth Defense people. Ndoye claims this is sabotage by the Discovery Crew, something Saru immediately denies.
So this is awkward. Seems they’re all stuck with each other.
Book’s disappointment when he realises that the Discovery only has synthehol is amusing.
But this is actually a canon violation. Synthehol was a 24th century invention. Scotty, in his retirement years, had never heard of it until he found himself in the future on board the Enterprise D.
Discovery should not have synthohol and Michael should have no idea what it is.
Stammets and Tilly quickly realise that the sabotage was Adira’s doing. She has trapped her people on the Discovery, but it seems she was working alone. The show seems to be setting her up as a villain. Perhaps working with Wen.
Michael has a plan. She and Book leave Discovery in Book’s ship without asking Saru’s permission.
Book observes that these raiders are not in good shape. We get more talk of past adventures, and more and more, I’m wanting to experience some of those stories.
Michael appears to be offering to give her dilithium.
Saru is determined to protect Book’s ship. Ndoye won’t allow the dilithium to fall into Wen’s hands. So he says Discovery will take the hit.
This is a very risky move. These are 32nd century weapons being fired. By all logic, they could slice through a 23rd century ship like it wasn’t even there.
Detmer is very hesitant, to the point of almost being insubordinate. But she eventually obeys.
I’m sure this is tied into her weird head condition last week. A lot of people are speculating that Detmer has PTSD, rather than a physical ailment. And the evidence seems to be pointing toward this. This is interesting, because I feel like we were cheating out of the promised exploration of PTSD with Tyler when he turned out to be Voq.
Anyway, I’m kinda with Detmer on this. Taking the hit from these advanced weapons is a terrible idea. In reality. Discovery should have been destroyed. But then there’d be no show anymore.
Their shields are completely depleted by the shot, but the ship itself is undamaged. Yeah right. As if.
But, they can’t take another hit.
The plan is simple. Get the enemy to lower their shields to accept the dilithium, and then beam their captain aboard as prisoner.
It works easier than it probably should have, but that’s ok.
And this is where we get really Star Trek. Saru and Micahel want to get Ndoye and Wen to talk to each other.
This is where we start to understand how Earth’s isolation has affected others in the galaxy. Wen says that Earth hordes all the dilithium while the rest suffer. They don’t even use their supply because they don’t leave their planet.
Gerogiou is getting bored with the slowness of diplomacy, so she pulls off what is apparently a mask and we see that Wen is human.
Not only that, he was played by Christohper Heyerdahl. He played Todd the wraith on Stargate Atlantis, not to mention two separate roles in Sanctuary. He’s the type of actor that regularly plays multiple roles, both in and out of prosthetics. Anyway, it’s cool to see him.
Ndoye is shocked to learn Wen is human. This is classic Star Trek. Look past the monster to see the humanity beneath. Talk to your enemies .
Wen and his people are not typical raiders. Their home on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn are barely livable. They’re just a group of desperate people trying to survive. Titan is no longer self sufficient. It was an accident that destroyed much of their colony. The first ship they sent for help to Earth, their home planet was shot and destroyed. Wen’s people realised then, they were alone.
Earth has had to protect themselves, but they’re become so paranoid that they’ve lost all their compassion for others. They’ve forgotten what it means to be human, in the Star Trek sense of the word. The negotiations are not difficult, once they start listening to each other, but it took Saru and Michael to make it happen. These people aren’t used to solving problems with diplomacy.
Stamets finds Adira messing about in the jefferies tubes. He puts together that she is curious about their technology but may not be a significant threat. He tells the truth about everything. The spore dive. Even them being from the past.
Adira became an inspector in the hopes of someday finding a Federation starship. The sabotage was to have more time to spend on Discovery. She wants to join the crew. It seems Adira is one of those true believers Book talked about, and she claims to know Admiral Senna Tal.
The crew of Discovery have now been granted permission to visit Earth.
Ndoye gives Adira permission to leave Earth and join the crew of Discovery.
Adira says he is Admiral Tal.
At first, I thought this just meant that Admiral Tal was a fabrtication by a tennager who dreamed of starfleet.
But no, it’s way more than that.
It turns out that although human, Adira is host to a Trill Symbiont. Burnham didn’t know about them until she met some working at the exchanges.. They were known in the 23rd century. Emony Dax travelled to Earth to judge a gymnastic contest, where she met a young Leonard McCoy. But they were possibly not a well known or understood species to their Federation at the time.
So how does all work? Can a human be host to a Trill Symbiont? Well, there is precedent for that. When we first met them,, in The Next Generation, Riker once served as host to a symbiont.
Very little had been established about the species at that time.
But Adira is having trouble accessing Tal’s memories, being human. I like this. It shows it is possible but problematic.
Of course, Riker didn’t seem to have any problems with his symbiont, but there was a lot that wasn't properly established in that episode. In fact, a lot about the trill changed when they were brought back for Deep Space Nine, including their appearance. This was all because Terry Farrel was an attractive Woman, and they didn’t want to cover her face with prosthetic and lose her beauty. So they said, we’ll, let’s just give them spots, then.
This should bother the heck out of me. The reason it kinda doesn’t is that I never saw that TNG episode until years later. I actually thought that Emissary was the first appearance of Trill for a long time. So from my perspective, DS9 was correct and that TNG episode was wrong, best forgotten.
Saru mentions that Trill hosts can access the memories of their former hosts. What he doesn’t mention is that the symbiont also has a personality of its own, and that personality blends with the host, as well as the memories of former hosts, to create a new individual.
I can understand them simplifying things for the sake of this conversation. I just hope the writers fully appreciate how this species works.
While Saru and Michael are talking, Saru is taking out Captain Georgiou’s old telescope. They don’t mention it at all. It’s just there., Kinda weird. I mean, it was a nice callback, but it seems a bit of a pointless inclusion.
Michael admits she should have told Saru her plan. She’s been out of Starfleet for a year. She’s not used to working in a team like this.
Michael let go of a lot of things during this year, and it’s gonna take her time to pick them back up again. If she can.
But Saru trusts her to grow through this change.
Michael accepts the post as first officer of the Discovery.
Notice that Saru is kind of our very first alien captain.
I know there have been alien captains in Star Trek before, but not regular characters, not on the title ship of the show.
So that’s significant.
Michael has an emotional goodbye with Book. IT seems he’s not staying indefinitely. He’s going back on his ship to live out his normal life.
But I’m sure this is not the last we’ve seen of him.
We end with a heartwarming scene of several crewmembers down on Earth. They find a tree at Starfleet academy. A tree that still exists from their century. It’s gotta be over a thousand years old.
This is the recognisable thing that Tilly was hoping for. It’s a nice little moment.
Our final shot is a nice pull back over San Francisco, as the Star Trek fanfare plays.
This season definitely feels the most Star Trek of anything we’ve been given in the Kurtzman era of Star Trek so far.
That’s not a knock against Discovery seasons 1 and 2, or Picard. I liked all of them. But this feels more Star Treky. Personally, I don’t mind the way they mixed things up previously. I can appreciate both. But I think a lot of people will be saying “Finally, this is proper Star Trek.”
Anyway, I continue to enjoy what is feeling like a strong season.
Next week’s episode is called Forget Me Not. Discovery will continue their search for Starfleet headquarters by trying to access Tal’s memories. (and yes, I’m assuming Tal is the name of the symbiont, which would make the current host Adira Tal.)
The good thing about being in the far future is that we get to have some references to 24th century Trek.
And I’m very pleased to notice that a lot of it is DS9 stuff. That’s good, because I’ve been wanting some more love to be given to DS9.
All I need now is the appearance of a beloved character like we’ve had from TOS, TNG, and Voyager.
I actually think there’s a good chance this will happen next week, in a roundabout way, but I’ll save that for the next episode.
Have a great week. Live long and prosper.
Make it so.