Star Trek: Discovery – Season 3 Episode 2
“Far from Home”
Star Trek: Discovery continues its third season with the titular starship’s arrival in the future along with her crew.
The most frustrating thing about this season so far is that the first two episodes have been largely devoted to table setting with the previous episode focused on Burnham’s arrival into a future she knows nothing about and having to find her next move then this episode doing the same thing but with the rest of the crew. This episode is better by virtue of it having more perspectives on display which provides a more complete idea of what the characters might have to deal with both on a group and individual basis in this unfamiliar situation.
This episode shines in its character beats which to me is where the bulk of the focus should always be because we need to invest in these people in order to create tension, suspense and whatever else the story needs when they partake in the adventures but once again it doesn’t quite deliver on an episode of television that is wholly engaging to watch. Discovery’s arrival begins with a crash landing on a planet that adds to the significant damage the ship has already sustained and creates more injuries among the crew. Most of the episode deals with the crew licking their wounds and trying to get Discovery operational again so they can get back into open space to figure out what being in the future means for them.
It’s fair to say that these first two episodes serve as an epilogue for the previous season with them largely dealing with the fallout of the events that brought them there. There’s a disconnect between the audience and the show due to the very long gap between the airing of the end of season 2 and season 3 beginning. This isn’t the fault of the show by any means though it is something the audience should bear in mind when watching these two episodes because was a viewers have had time to reflect on what the previous season delivered where the characters haven’t We’re witnessing them in the midst of a difficult situation that they haven’t managed to process yet and it forms the foundation for what these opening episodes are.
As always, Discovery boasts excellent visuals with the crash sequence being a particular highlight in that respect. It looks great and the production team do a great job of highlighting the severity of that situation as the bridge crew scramble to reorient themselves following their trip through the wormhole to ensure that the collision doesn’t mean their deaths. Saru takes charge wonderfully here by pushing the crew to get on task to work on ensuring that survival and this attitude continues throughout the episode. He once again shows himself to be excellent Captain material by highlighting that he recognises what will be going through their heads while stressing that they have to focus on getting operational as soon as possible so that they’ll be safe to take the time they need to process their current situation. It was an impressive display of leadership while having the added benefit of keeping the plot moving in an organic way.
His strong leadership skills are further displayed through his dealings with both Georgiou and Tilly. Georgiou takes every opportunity to challenge his authority which forces Saru to make it abundantly clear to her that he’s in charge and she has to fall in line. Doug Jones and Michelle Yeoh are excellent in their scenes together with the friction between their characters coming across brilliantly. With Tilly he has to manage a member of his crew who is uncertain and afraid which he does really well. He lets her air her immediate thoughts and feelings before gently reminding her that there is a job to do that requires her to contain that fear for the time being. Tilly has always been a great character for grounding the show in relatable Human expression and this episode is no exception in that respect. Everything she says makes sense given the uncertain circumstances and her fear is intensely relatable.
Georgiou’s presence makes things more unpredictable in general as she is someone with her own agenda and complete disinterest in pandering to what anyone else wants her to do. She is fine with freely admitting that she cares about Burnham so her actions in this episode are motivated by finding out if she survived the trip into the future. The way she expresses that is less than ideal as it involves her angrily barking orders at people and failing to consider the bigger picture of their collective well-being. Put simply she doesn’t care so has no interest in devoting mental energy to anything except what she wants.
Her handling of the hostage situation is a great example of how Georgiou can be useful in an unconventional way. Saru’s diplomatic strategy wasn’t working and he’s not willing to do what Georgiou ends up doing so an external force needed to intervene in order to resolve the situation. She enters the room, quickly assesses the situation as well as the people involved and manages to deal with it quickly. She is lacking in empathy and has no desire to reach an agreement that will suit all involved but her methods are certainly effective. One of the themes of the season seems to be if Federation ideals can function in a broken world so using Georgiou as a tool when those principles seem to have no place is a compelling workaround. Of course for the other characters it keeps their hands clean to an extent while a violent solution still occurs but having her around is a good way to represent the fact that those ideals won’t work in all circumstances as some will never share them no matter how much good faith is thrown their way. It may end up being a cop-out solution to problems that might require characters to compromise their beliefs in order to survive if not handled carefully but for the purposes of this episode it worked really well.
The hostage situation was underwhelming overall with a poor antagonist in Zareh (Jake Weber). He’s a representative of the Wild West type situation that has been created since “The Burn” and the near total collapse of the Federation. Many people live a lawless existence and are at the whims of those with more firepower. Zareh is someone who took advantage of the situation and carved out a comfortable life for himself by keeping people afraid and plundering those who can’t defend themselves. The crew of Discovery are to be his next victims and he holds them hostage to try and force them to give him what he wants. He freely admits that what he does is tyranny which says a lot about his morality but the problem is that there’s nothing to him beyond the fact that he’s antagonistic. Georgiou takes him down easily and things work out relatively positively for those involved. Cal (Jonathan Koensgen) was an interesting character in his brief coverage before he was killed. He was a good example of how far being hopeful and generally decent gets you in this broken future.
There was also a ticking clock in the form of parasitic ice that threatened to keep Discovery in place and eventually kill the crew. In theory it’s a really cool -pun intended- science fiction threat of the sort that entire episodes have been built around in other Star Trek shows though in practice it amounted to little more than a footnote that ended up having little to no bearing on the plot.
This show has had its issues with the side characters in the past though has usually done right by Stamets and Culber. Now that the difficulty they both have finding a way to make their relationship function following Culber’s resurrection they seem to have settled into a working dynamic. Stamets is still seriously injured and considers repairing the ship to be of greater importance than his own health so stubbornly refuses to go through the treatment he needs to repair his injuries. The back and forth between them as Culber forces him to undergo the minimum treatment and later when Stamets fights through the unimaginable pain to repair the ship is excellently done. They have always been an engaging pairing and now that they are back to being a couple with no current difficulties there is hopefully scope for lots of excellent moments between them. It was referred to here and there but didn’t have the level or urgency it needed to.
Stamets and Jet Reno are another dynamic that’s always engaging to watch. Their bickering as they work is always well written and excellently performed. Tig Notaro is a great addition to the cast with her sarcasm and lack of filter so hopefully this is a sign of her being well used throughout the rest of the season. It’s certainly a promising start and pairing her with Stamets as they both deal with injuries was an inspired choice. Her insightful comment about there being no shame in admitting an inability to work effectively due to an injury was a nice touch as well as it shows there’s a lot more to her than the comments she makes.
The remaining characters don’t get a lot of screen time in this episode though Detmer is featured relatively heavily. Having her be visibly shaken even after her injury is treated suggests that the reality of being in a far future time period long after everyone she knows is dead is starting to dawn on her. The fact that she seems surprised that her injury has been healed indicates that she attributed that feeling to her injury so was surprised that it didn’t disappear along with it. At the end of the episode she is shown to be distracted which leaves this open for further exploration. If this serves as an indication that the other characters are going to receive some much needed development then I’m all for it. Getting further insight into those perspectives is most definitely a good thing.
In general, this was a better episode than the previous one. It had far less clumsy exposition and did a better job of establishing concepts like “The Burn” and the collapse of the Federation. The previous episode had them explained to the viewer in some detail through Book where the Discovery crew only hear about them mentioned in passing and express confusion as to why the Federation hasn’t taken action against the tyranny on display or why the nearby ships seem to be lacking in Dilithium. This would perhaps have been a better opening episode for the season with the ending being on the reveal that Michael had arrived a year ahead of them. This episode did a far better job of setting up the key questions around this future and provided a much broader perspective on the impact arriving in the future has on individuals.
A solid episode that provides a much broader perspective on the arrival into the future and has a lot of really strong character moments. As is to be expected from this show the opening sequence where Discovery crash lands on the planet is spectacular and a great showcase for Saru’s ability as a Captain. The way he gets the crew back on task following the crash while acknowledging that they will be affected by what has happened is an excellent touch and his interactions with Tilly where he lets her vent before reminding her that there’s a job to be done work really well. Georgiou questioning his authority forcing him to make it clear to her who is in charge is also a strong showing of his competence as a Captain. Georgiou in general makes for an enjoyably unpredictable presence and using her to solve the hostage situation when Saru’s diplomacy driven efforts fail makes sense in context though could become a crutch the show leans on in the coming episodes. The way she sizes up the situation and her opponent before solving the problem is wonderfully handled. Unfortunately the hostage situation itself was underwhelming with a weak antagonist who does represent the Wild West style setting following the near total collapse of the Federation successfully but he’s far from interesting or threatening.
Stamets and Culber remain as engaging as ever with an endearing back and forth that is always great to see play out. The pairing of Jet Reno and Stamets is also well used here with some displays of depth from Jet showing that there’s more to her than hilarious sarcastic comments. It’s notable that Detmer receives some really interesting attention in this episode with her appearing distracted as presumably the reality of the current situation begins to dawn on her. If this is an indication of the other characters receiving a lot more attention this season then it’s definitely a good thing. In general this was a stronger episode than the previous one and perhaps would have been better served as the opening to the season ending with the reveal that Burnham had arrived a year earlier than Discovery. It does a far better job of building the world around them with less clumsy exposition and a more organic narrative.
- multiple examples of Saru as a capable leader
- Tilly providing a relatable perspective on the current situation
- Georgiou acting as an unpredictable element in the narrative
- the way Georgiou deals with the hostage situation
- the Stamets and Culber interactions
- Stamets and Jet Reno having some excellent moments
- the focus on Detmer
- the underwhelming hostage situation
- Zareh making for a really weak antagonist
- a bit too much table setting rather than actual narrative progression
- the parasitic ice concept having no development or urgency
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