In the unofficial part two of “That Hope is You,” Star Trek: Discovery follows up its strong opener with an episode just as strong as we catch up with the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery with “Far From Home.” And while their adventures are brief until their rescue thanks to Burnham, each of the crew members begin to grapple with their new reality in unique ways, building the tension that inevitably will continue to grow as they face the new state of their world.
But even with The Federation’s absence for the past century and more, some of those in the most desperate of situations still believe in The Federation’s cause, which in turn inspires the hope that the Discovery crew must maintain. After all, they’re now only blips in history. People who left everything behind and were willing to be forgotten in order to save the galaxy as they knew it. And if maybe they individually have vanished into obscurity, the greater whole they were a part of still lives on, even if faith is tested.
It would be easy for them to forget their values and only vow to fight for survival. But these people are Starfleet members, and if this episode proves anything, it’s that faith works best when mutually exchanged.
Rattled by the wormhole, the Discovery crew barely keeps it together as Detmer and the rest of the bridge crew narrowly avoid catastrophe as they crash land on a mysterious planet. They don’t know when they are, or where they are, but Saru keeps the team on track as they attempt to get their communications back online. Little do they know that time is ticking, and parasitic ice threatens their livelihood.
If there’s a most valuable player in “Far From Home,” this would be without a doubt acting captain, Saru. His backstory and journey through the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery make him the perfect choice to lead through this crisis, and boy, does he do it well.
As the Discovery’s crew faces the unknown, the resounding emotion is fear. Fear of the future, fear for their lives, and fear for Michael’s life. Detmer is rattled by the landing, Stamets faces powerlessness in the light of his injury, and the person more difficult to deal with, Georgiou, struggles to keep her head on straight as she fears for Michael, her most resounding connection not only to this century, but to this world itself.
Saru has had fear coded DNA. He faced the fear of death and came out on the other side of it. This gives him an experience that nobody else on the Discovery has had and allowed him to lead his crew with not only poise but compassion as well. He conveys to the crew that he understands their fear, but it is their responsibility to Burnham to work through it. At the same time, after leaving on his first contact mission with Tilly, he allows her to work through her emotions, listening with kindness, but still directs her to move forward when the time was right. He knows when to say nothing, and when to say the right words, building confidence in Tilly as he notes that she’s a good first impression of humanity.
Saru’s experiences with Michael and The Vahar’ai also give him a valuable trial indicative of his immense growth—confidence.
There are many times that Saru faces questioning, from either an unhinged Georgiou, or from a crew member inquiring on the best course of action. No matter the circumstance, Saru continues to lead—prioritizing defense and communication, putting the lives of crew above the life of once, even when it’s much to the threatening Georgiou’s dismay.
But even as Saru must leave the ship to Commander Nhan as he leaves to obtain a vital resource for the Discovery’s operation, the crew builds each other up in order to continue forward, in arcs that are likely to continue on throughout the third season.
One of these arcs is the journey of Stamets, who has clear issues with his feelings of helplessness. This is not new to him, however. After all, the man made himself a human conduit for the spore drive, which doesn’t scream that he can handle situations outside of his control. Stamets tends to try to control as much as possible, to the point to where he refuses to accept help from others.
This culminates in many domestic disputes, as Hugh wants to protect him and heal, but Stamets isn’t having that. At all. Even the sarcastic Jett steps in, giving him very sound advice, but flavored with her friendly antagonism and bite, and Stamets still doesn’t take the bait. In direct response to her, he climbs into the Jeffries tube, intent on saving the day, much like he does with the invention and control of the spore drive.
This time doesn’t work out too well, but he saves the day anyway, even as his wound reopens in the process, and he’s rattled by the shifting mechanisms of the ship, thanks to the parasitic ice.
But not everybody on the Discovery gets the attention that Stamets receives, but that’s not necessarily their faults. Some people are just more adept at hiding things. Kayla Detmer is a prime example of this as she obviously struggles and zones out after their crash landing, exhibiting symptoms that one could maybe diagnose as PTSD.
Even as Detmer’s story is painful to watch, it’s a story that should be told. Star Trek: Discovery has a wide range of talented actors and interesting characters, many who could easily just fade into the background and not receive the attention they deserve. (We’re looking at you Hoshi Sato and Travis Mayweather.)
The powers that be at Star Trek: Discovery have done a good job at noticing their talent and learning to invest in the characters more and more as the series continues, giving recurring characters their dues. Detmer getting a chance to shine is an example of this and a joy to witness.
Even though her neural implant is fine, she’s not, and her duty and responsibility prohibit her from asking for help. Her devolvement is obvious to the audience, but not to a single one of her crew members, something that many viewers can relate to as its not uncommon to shut others out in the face of trauma.
While both Stamets and Detmer’s stories look similar, they also look incredibly different, and as Star Trek: Discovery juxtaposes the differences in the support systems they allow or tolerate, it’ll be interesting to see where both of these characters end up, and how they get there.
While the crew races to fix the Discovery admist of coping with their new reality, Saru and Tilly get to see first-hand what this reality is.
We also get to see Saru’s organic projectiles (darts which have replaced his threat ganglia) in action, which is, to put it frankly, amazing. Watching Saru and Georgiou in action is a highlight of the episode. While Saru upholds the morals and values of The Federation, he’s not afraid to use the tools at his disposal to a certain degree, leading to the unlikely pairing disarming Zareh’s cronies.
But it’s here that Saru and Tilly really recognize their value as people of The Federation. Just like for Michael in “That Hope is You, Part 1,” the pair is shown first-hand how much impact they really do have. In order to help restore hope to those who need it, they need to be reminded of what impact hope has on other people.
It’s here that even in his death, Cal fights for something that he believes in, although he’s never seen. The Federation has been a ghost story since before Cal was born, but he still knew that one day they would come. He inspires Tilly, which in turn will spread hope to more people due to the mission and aspirations that she has.
It’s also a chance for Tilly and Saru see how desperately The Federation is needed, and why it is so important. If The Federation were still alive, Zareh would have never had the chance to manipulate and take advantage of the people of The Colony.
Even in his death, Cal’s faith in this ghost story spreads compassion and morality to the people who didn’t believe in it and are left in the wake of his murder.
Even after the loss of Cal, and so much more in the years prior, Zareh’s life is spared in a way. The Colony has a chance once more without devolving to his level. Not only because Discovery intervened but because the faith in The Federation exists as a soil bed to grow so much more.
All of these themes of hopelessness, loss, and hope culminate in the final moments of the episode. Despite the crew’s best efforts, new technology, and teamwork, it’s almost not enough; the ice attached to the U.S.S. Discovery keeps it close to the surface. It’s only a moment of perseverance on Michael’s part that she (and Book) are able to save her crew, pulling them up with a tractor beam.
The suspense is high as Saru once again has to make a decision. After many members of the crew refuse to face their future, Saru is the one who reminds them they must and with grace. And when they do, Michael stands before them; perhaps it’s a metaphor to the good that can come to one when they face their fears.
Elation is present in their faces, all of their faces, and once again, Star Trek: Discovery prevails, focusing on each member’s strengths. Without any one member, none of this would have been possible. Michael appears to them, a reiteration of their hope, and a symbol of The Federation.
But as Discovery is just now facing its own loss, Michael presumably already has (based on her beautiful new do), which could create even more rifts and miscommunication moving forward. Or perhaps Michael can be the one to usher their healing, as hopefully she’s done for herself.
The biggest complaint of the episode? No new Grudge content.
Star Trek: Discovery airs on Thursdays on CBS All Access.