Star Trek: Discovery 3.13 That Hope Is You, Part 2
That Hope Is You, Part 2 feels like the end of a journey. Season one began with Michael Burnham's full from grace and rehabilitation in the events of the Klingon War. Season two saw Michael find her place in the Federation and deal with her past - both her mother and Spock. Season three had Michael work to rebuild the very Federation she loved. By the end of season three, she had succeeded.
The finale wasn't all about Michael, though the sight of her in the captain's chair at the end was certainly the culmination of Star Trek: Discovery's central character. Season three saw Saru reconnect with his people, returning home to a Kaminar free of persecution. Tilly found her role, not as captain, but as first officer to Michael. The crew bonded, fighting together to save the ship. While they might not be title characters, Bryce, Rhys, Detmer and Owosekun felt just as much the heroes of the story as Michael and Booker.
Only Stamets, perhaps, seemed sidleined by the finale, hidden away for his protection and ultimately replaced by Booker in the final act. Sure he ended the season with a family - reunited with Culber and Adira - but suddenty his importance in the story felt a little less diminished. I think season four will have to work hard to find a new purpose to his character. With Booker able to use the spore drive - and with greater knowledge of the current state of the galaxy, is Stamets needed? At the moment, he feels more of an essential connection to Culber and Adira than a character in his own right. I wonder where he might develop next, particularly after the betrayal last episode by Michael.
Having spent the last two episodes setting the scene with Su'Kal's madness on the dilithium planet and Osyraa's attempts to overthrow the Federation, That Hope Is You, Part 2 flitted between the two narratives as the crew of Discovery fought to retake the ship and Saru attempted to free Su'Kal from his holographic hell. There was plenty of action in the opening act as the Federation defended itself against the Emerald Chain; not all of its was successful. Despite the references to Voyager leading the attack, we saw very little of it outside the explosions rocking the Discovery bridge and Vance's command. The arrival of the Nivar was a big moment, but we didn't witness anything of it aside from a few ships on the screen. What it did demonstrate was how helplessly un-gunned the Federation was.
Even at the end, I found the whole Osyraa / Emerald Chain threat a little underwhelming. It's not the fault of Janet Kidder's performance, but an intergalactic gang of bullies doesn't have the same oomph as the Romulans, Dominion or Borg. Yet again, most of the Emerald Chain's forces remain offscreen - in fact, when Osyraa was inevitably defeated, the whole operation fell apart with one sentence in Michael's log. Ultimately, I see them as a little more than a footnote, a representation of how lawless the galaxy has become following the catastrophic wake of the Burn.
Still, there was plenty of drama to be had as the episode focused on the crew's attempts to retake the ship. The suffocating bridge crew, led by Tilly, faced certain defeat as the air ran out and they desperately attempted to separate the nacelle and pull Discovery out of warp. I was far more invested in these characters than Oyraa's threats and I was genuinely worried that Joann Owosekun was not going to make it out of the episode alive.
Similarly, the battle in the turbolifts with high octane fun. The ship seemed impossibly big - was this part of the future tech installed or always part of the vessel? Booker and Michael taking on the Emerald Chain soldiers as the turbolifts whizzed through the ship was terribly exciting, the villanous Zareh getting s suitable bad guy death as Booker kicked him off the turbolift and his body bounced off another as he plunged to his death. The battle between Michael and Osyraa was fun, though a little less thrilling. While Michael being plunged into the computer core conjured up images of the terrifying climax to Superman III, the outcome was a little more disappointing, with Michael simply pulling herself free and Osyraa dying from a couple of phaser blasts. Her death was ultimately as underwhelming as her grand schemes.
On the Dilithium-infused world at the heart of the nebula, Saru worked to convince Su'Kal to escape the holographic world and return to his ship. The nightmarish landscape presented in Su'Kal was just as impressive the second time round and it was great to see Doug Jones out of make up, carrying some of the emotional heavy lifting in the finale. There was a welcome return for a physical Gray, who was able to connect with Culber and allow his bond with Adira to grow. Wilson Cruz has had a really strong third season, carrying much of the Georgiou and Su'Kal-themed narratives in the final run of episodes, acting here as mentor to Saru in helping Su'Kal. I'm very glad he was resurrected and decided to stay on the ship at the end of season two.
The final act was suitably intense; Booker activating the spore drive just as the Discovery warp core exploded, while the ship Su'Kal, Saru, Culber and Adira were on collapsed, was a brilliant ticking clock moment, coming together in a satisfying manner. I've commented that the latter half of season three has felt like it is running out of steam, but the escape of Discovery and the rescue of the away team was an exciting end to both stories.
The coda to the episode - and indeed the season - was absolutely lovely. Michael becoming captain of Discovery as Saru remained on Kaminar with Su'Kal was a moment well deserved; I just hope Saru re-joins the show in time for season four in whatever capacity he finds himself in. Certainly, Star Trek: Discovery has found a clever way to change the ship's captain each season without killing or demoting Saru.
The crew, dressed in the new uniforms, was the final piece in Discovery's integration into the 31st Century Federation, finally cementing Star Trek: Discovery as a prequel Star Trek series turned Star Trek: The Next, Next, Next, Next Gebneration. While the offhand mention of The Emerald Chain felt like a bit of brushing under the carpet, the return of old faces from the season was most welcome. From Forget Me Not's Karen Robinson's Trill leader Pav to Tara Rosling's Nivar President T'Rina from Unification III, there was a real sense of healing as old races re-joined the Federation and the mining of new Dilithium offered hope to the galaxy once again. But it was the appearance of Adil Hussain's Aditya Sahil, now a Starfleet Lieutenant reunited with a Federation he spent his life believing in, that pulled on the heart strings the most. And then that classic Star Trek theme over the credits was the icing on the cake. It wasn't the first time Star Trek: Discovery has pulled this trick, but it was well deserved.
Season three of Star Trek: Discovery has seen the show freed of its shackles as a Star Trek prequel series and finally offering something fresh to the franchise. The jump the future is a breath of fresh air and while some of the core narratives - the Burn and The Emerald Chain - have not always lived up to expectations, season three ends with a real sense of excitement for the show and Star Trek in general. I can't wait to see what season four brings and if there is more to come from this era of the Federation. Season three has done what Star Trek should probably have done after Star Trek: Voyager, making another big jump forward. With Star Trek: Picard now making that small leap forward, the centuries long-gap to Star Trek: Discovery offers limitless potential. Here's to the future of the Federation...