‘Star Trek Discovery’ Season 3 Premiere: That Hope Is You, Part 1
It has been a little over one year and six months since the last airing of Star Trek Discovery. We were left with the U.S.S Discovery charting a course 930 years into the future to save the future itself. A decision that was not only an interesting choice for Burnham and the crew of Discovery, but also for the Star Trek universe as a whole.
Season 3, Episode 1: ‘That Hope Is You, Part 1’
The original series opening credits read, “To boldly go where no man has gone before!”, and so much of what Star Trek has been over the span of the last sixty years is figuring out new and exciting ways to continue to foster that same mantra. We have explored so many variations of that formula over the years; creating a next-generation of voyages, navigating geopolitical and religious intrigue, surviving isolation in the delta quadrant, and even going back to the start of the Federation itself. Discovery began by exploring the Federation's past as well, starting things off about ten years before the start of the original series. And while playing around in such a delicate time period has proven to be a very interesting and rewarding ride, it still confines the show to all other established canon around it; leading to even the smallest deviation exciting unrest among the fan base.
So, why not the future? Season three of Star Trek: Discovery does just that. By completing the mission to keep the Charon entity data away from Section 31’s Control, the show has been awarded a fresh playground to continue that original vision to go boldly, charting a new and unexplored course for the future of the show. The true stroke of brilliance is found in the realization that the future they’ve fought so hard to ensure, is not the one they would have anticipated. The crew of the Discovery will have to find hope, as they come to terms with their new reality.
Early in the premiere episode, That Hope Is You, we see Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) literally crashing into this new existence, emerging from the wormhole created by her red-angel exoskeleton, and into a Millineum Falcon-like ship that is leaving the neighboring planet under hot pursuit. The altercation leaves both Burnham and the aforementioned vessel, hurdling rapidly back towards the planet. After narrowly surviving the crash, Burnham is overjoyed when a scan from her suit confirms the existence of sentient life throughout the galaxy. Mission accomplished. And as the wormhole closes, she directs the suit back through the wormhole to deliver Spock the promised message of confirmation, but not before setting it to self-destruct after its final mission has been completed. Though absent from Burnham's emergence from the wormhole is the Discovery itself.
That Hope Is You is all about Michael coming to terms with her new reality and attempting to make contact with Discovery. The first step in the process leads her to befriend the captain of the very ship she crashed into, Cleveland Booker (David Ajala). And although the start of their relationship was a very contentious one, their collective predicament leads the two to work together. “Book” serves as the liaison of all things 3188, not only for Burnham but for us the viewer as well. We soon find things are not as Burnham would have envisioned for the future. Mainly, the fact that the Federation has been all but decimated due to an event called “The Burn”.
The Burn is explained as an event that caused almost all dilithium in the galaxy to explode at once. Dilithium, the primary power source for starship warp travel, is suddenly in low supply and very high demand. In the aftermath of the event, the Federation attempts to continue its mission, but the absence of the core power source for warp travel proves too much to handle, leading to the segregation and eventual demise of the organization whose mission revolves around the peaceful exploration and the search for sentient life. Michael Burnham, and eventually the crew of the U.S.S Discovery, will have to figure out how to survive in this new world.
After an initial altercation between Burnham and Book, the two work together in light of their current dilemma, with the goal of securing dilithium for Book’s ship and sending a long-range communication in an attempt to locate Discovery. The duo hike to the city known as The Requiem, which provides us a glimpse of the far-flung future. We see the Orions and Andorian’s working together at The Requiem, which is a virtual trading post of goods and services, where runners like Book, facilitate said transactions. Book infers that Burnham’s antiques will hold enough value to get the dilithium they need.
It doesn’t take long for Book to do an about-face, serving Burnham up to the handlers at The Requiem in order to get the dilithium by taking the entirety of Burnham’s possessions. While a disappointment to see Book betray Burnham, his distrust sets off a series of events that make this episode a true gem.
First off, we get an intoxicated Burnham as the handlers at The Requiem attempt to get information on Book. While not really a novel idea unto itself to see someone get high and laugh at the insanity the ensues, this one, in particular, is special because it is Michael Burnham. Looking at the journey of seeing Burnham step off the transporter pad as Sarek’s ward to this current moment is enough to have a smile on anyone’s face. Not only do we see Burnham display a full range of zaniness that is not often seen from the character, but we also get to see her having pure unabashed fun! Kudos to Sonequo Martin-Green for delivering a joyfully silly and comically pleasing performance.
Book soon finds himself captured as well, as the cargo he was so desperately fleeing from the planet with, was not his to take, and the brokers responsible for the cargo are understandably not happy. This leads to the classic moment of Burnham and Book working together to take on the brokers, leading to a fantastic fight, along with an action-filled pursuit. During this, we learn that Book already had a means of long-range communication and that he also possesses some form of telepathy that allows him to commune with animal and plant life. The former allows Burnham to try and communicate with Discovery, but with no response.
The chase culminates in a confrontation at Book’s ship, where he is forced to release his cargo to the brokers, who get a bit more than they bargain. We also learn that Cleveland Booker is a smuggler of a different sort. His mission is to smuggle endangered species to freedom, to a place called The Sanctuary. In the absence of the Federation, he deems it his cause to protect various species throughout the universe. A mission that Burnham feels is both courageous and inspiring. After their endangered species is set free, Book tells Burnham that he may be able to help her find the Discovery.
Next, Burnham and Book arrive at what seems to be an old communications station, where we meet Federation liaison Aditya Sahil (Adil Hussain). Sahil greets the pair with the words, “Hello. Welcome to Starfleet. May I help you.” Burnham immediately puts Sahil to work on locating the warp signature of the U.S.S. Discovery. Sahil is able to locate the warp signature of two Federation ships, though the Discovery is nowhere to be found. Sahil also informs Burnham that long-range sensors have not been available for years and that he can only scan within thirty sectors. The team concludes that due to the laws of temporal mechanics, the Discovery could emerge from the wormhole one day or one thousand years from now.
The episode actually opens with Aditya going through his daily morning routine in a repetitive montage, giving the impression that he has been at this endless cycle for quite some time; and he tells Burnham, just that. Though he is not a commissioned officer for Starfleet, he has continued to watch over this office as his father did, and his father before him, in the hope that someone would one day walk through its doors with the same Federation ideas and principles he has maintained for the last forty years. Michael Burnham is that hope, decorating Sahil as Starfleet’s communication chief, and raising the Federation flag.
There are so many interesting observations to gain from this episode. First is the mention of the temporal war. If any of you guys are fans of Star Trek: Enterprise, then you would know that the temporal wars were one of the main drivers of the show. It is pretty awesome to see it mentioned here, with its aftermath being the destruction of all time-traveling technology.
Next, there is the quantum warp drive on Book’s ship. Fan’s of Star Trek: Voyager will know that the U.S.S. Voyager and her crew experimented with this technology in order to expedite their journey home. It was deemed that there wasn’t enough computational power to calculate the corrections needed to ensure a safe journey. A resulting failed attempt at using this technology was the basis of what many consider one of the best Star Trek: Voyager episodes, Timeless.
Then there is the look of the aliens, which aren’t too different from what we’ve seen in Discovery so far, but it was good to just see more of them; including Book’s courier Cosmo Traitt, who is a Betelgeusian, and there was also a Lurian, whom DS9 fans will remember as Morn’s species.
Another interesting result of being in the future is the opportunity to see new and interesting technology. While at Requiem, we see the use of personal transporter devices, which Book also uses when he and Burnham attempt to make their great escape. Maybe the most visually stunning technology used in the episode was shown in its opening minutes, as we see Aditya Sahil going through the motions of his daily routine. Pretty much everything he was using to live his day-to-day life was holographic-based and appeared as needed. This included everything from his bed to his toothbrush. The entire visual was an interesting spin on what a holographic environment could provide as a means of living your daily life.
Technology aside, the episode was shot beautifully and among interesting set pieces. Olatunde Osunsanmi, who directed the episode, did a wonderful job of conveying the frantic pace of its latter half while being executed on the beautiful Icelandic backdrop.
The final question that comes to mind is, “Where do we go from here?” I’m sure there are still plenty of mysteries about “The Burn” that we have yet to uncover that should prove to be interesting to see unfold throughout the rest of the season. There is also the wait for the U.S.S Discovery to emerge from the wormhole into this new world. Maybe the biggest question that remains is, “How do we rebuild the Federation, and what new interesting and exciting encounters will Discovery and her crew face along what way?” The most important and exciting thought I can garner from it all is that Star Trek: Discovery now has the shackles off. It can go boldly along its own course. And that just might be the most exciting thing we could have asked.