Star Trek: Discovery exited its third season the way it came in — filled with hope for the future and faith in its betterment. The season went so far as to tell its audience this not only by crafting its premiere and finale as two-part episodes, but by bringing back guest star, Adil Hussain, and showing Aditya Sahil’s new thriving career in Starfleet as he carries out his father’s legacy.
There may have been tears.
Star Trek: Discovery finally found a groove that worked for the program, mostly due to the risky decision of hurdling itself into a completely unexplored time in Trek history, but also finding plenty of opportunity of finding meaningful connections to Star Trek’s past, including, yes, Spock.
But for all of season three’s strengths, there are also its weaknesses, albeit a lot less since its premiere season. A lot of the lows of Discovery could have been mended if given a larger episode order, but there’s not much the writers can truly do about that.
The found family trope is an audience favorite, but it didn’t feel quite right to hear Stamets already referring to Adira as his family. More time developing the three as a unit could have made for much richer conclusions by the end of the season, but the landing just narrowly missed the finish mark.
However, the most striking aspect of this episode had me googling the status of season four, even though I knew Discovery’s next season was already in production. In “That Hope is You, Part 2,” most everything felt resolved. The Burn causation is found, Osyraa is taken down, and Michael is promoted to captain. Aside from Hugh’s promise to figure out a way to let Gray be seen by the world (even a plot like that could be open-ended), and the obvious sexual tension between Detmer and Owosekun (Did anybody else yell “Kiss!!!!” at their screen?), the finale didn’t leave me wondering or hypothesizing about what’s to come.
This episode didn’t just feel like the ending to a season, but a series.
It’s good for the writers, who are covering their bases in the case that they weren’t renewed, but it also makes the prospect of the next season settle in the back of my mind. Wondering whether Gray will be seen and what the hell they’re going to do with Saru isn’t enough to carry an audience through a long hiatus, especially one that may seem much longer as programming continues to be affected by COVID restrictions.
“That Hope is You, Part 2” gives almost every character a moment that could be considered a satisfying end to their arc (Kiss Detmer and Owosekun!), which is satisfying in a way, and since this isn’t clearly the end for our characters, hopefully, it means a new cycle of growth — one where U.S.S. Discovery can finally fulfill its mission as a science vessel and as Captain Burnham says it, “Fly.”
After all, Discovery doesn’t have a single uninteresting character in the mix — a season of character growth with these talented actors would be just as interesting as a season of boom-boom-pow-pow.
Michael’s story resolves with her promotion in this final episode, and it feels deserved, although her progression isn’t just of her own making. All of the events that molded her this season — the lessons learned from her mother, the cracking in her relationship with Saru, the loss of Georgiou, as well as her own experiences as a courier — all teach Burnham lessons that hopefully guide her closer to the line that her fellow Captain Kirk had once/will cross. Time is a funny thing.
Michael’s journey moving forward could be interesting, especially as a character who is always defying authority. But one of the most enjoyable aspects of her journey this season is the comfortability and easy trust that comes with her partnership with Book. David Ajala fits into the cast easily and has intense chemistry with Sonequa Martin-Green right off the bat. Their banter in intense situations was so Trek and showed a side of Burnham that Ash sadly couldn’t access.
So, even if Burnham sacrifices rules whenever the need arises, not everyone can be a Picard. But where her arc flourishes because of her promotion, it leaves another fan favorite in an undesirable situation.
Perhaps Saru’s season three ending is what feels most like a goodbye. With Michael’s promotion, Saru has less of a place in Discovery’s narrative.
Star Trek: Discovery will undoubtedly find a place for him, but still, it’s sad to see him go as captain, as his journey throughout the entire series to his captaincy of the ship was heavily emotional, and as a viewer, I felt proud to see him where he was. Not to mention, his projectile ganglia is still one of my top moments of the season.
After all, as the resident alien on the ship, Saru reigns as a character who somehow feels the most human, despite his physical body. Once leaving Kaminar to uphold Starfleet and their ideals, hopefully his time on Kaminar will only be a sabbatical and not a goodbye to those aspirations.
Because what was the point to have Saru grow if Discovery was going to only show a glimpse of him leaving it behind, even if for the time being?
On the other hand, the crew fighting off Osyraa’s cronies remained more dedicated than ever to Starfleet (I’m not digging on Saru, here; he has other loves, and that’s okay) to the point to where they all intended to die if it meant defeating The Emerald Chain and their subjugation.
Star Trek: Discovery took an important step forward by expanding its bridge crew by committing moments and arcs to their existing characters such as Detmer, to even introducing new ones, such as Lt. Ina, played by Avaah Blackwell.
Seeing these people who clearly love each other so much, and who love Starfleet so much, spend what they believe their last moments are together was an incredibly resonating moment, which leads to an even more triumphant victory. Everyone cheers, Detmer and Owosekun run to each other to… hug.
The Sphere Data also assists the crew in their maneuvers to defeat The Emerald Chain, continuing the surprisingly delightful twist on the AI plot. As the Data still exists in the Discovery, we can only expect the character of this data to expand and continue to exist Burnham and her crew moving forward. And although it helped save Owosekun’s life, perhaps I had too high of expectations for its combat abilities considering the amount of information the Sphere Data knows.
But even if the Sphere Data could have been perhaps a bit more badass, the crew of the Discovery carries so much heart, that it’s not surprising that the powers that be have honed in on who they are and what they mean to each other. Even though their endpoints this season weren’t exactly what was expected, especially considering Detmer’s early scenes, it’s impossible to be disappointed with an emotional ending between people who choose each other.
Maybe the connection between Adira, Hugh, and Stamets grew fast, but it’s not surprising, due to how they all had their own experiences that made them all feel out of place in the world. With Adira as the only human trill, Stamets as the only interface with the mycellular network, and Hugh as the only alive dead guy, they all have a reason to find each other.
Discovery’s crew is a found family, but perhaps the family between these three, and soon to be four as Hugh vows to find a way to bring him to their world, is one of the most special groupings that Star Trek has managed to find. Stories like this that end in hope and end with more than a sapphic glance (looking at you Picard), hit what people are looking for in representation.
“That Hope is You, Part 2” doesn’t just refer to Burnham or the Discovery, but also every person this show connects with.
So, maybe Star Trek: Discovery could have made a statement about The Federation using the events that led up to The Burn. Or maybe it could have left off on some massive cliffhanger, leaving Trekkies on the edge of their seats until the premiere of the next season.
But hope works, too. The peace the characters find in this finale, it’s what people need to see in a climate where almost every day something new and unsettling occurs. Criticisms, hopes, and potential aside, this is what Star Trek wants to reminds us — hope, faith, patience — and when Trek calls, it’s a good idea to listen.
Star Trek: Discovery will return for its fourth season on CBS All Access.