Monday, 11 January 2021

That Hope is You, Part II: Discovery S3 E13


Discovery's third season soft reboot has been an audacious undertaking.

The universe building of seasons one and two was ripped away to take us so far from the 23rd and 24th Centuries that the sandbox would once more be clear to explore as desired.

My love for season three has been mixed. While seasons one and two revelled in an episodic consistency of quality, this year has really bounced all over the place. One week exceptional, the next feeling like a filler. This finale goes some way to rectifying all of that with what is, on the whole, a satisfying end to Star Trek’s most risky season since 1966.

With the Emerald Chain’s Viridian pummelling the Federation HQ’s shields, Osyraa takes to torturing Book in order to locate the dilithum planet. We then have the bridge crew making their own escape to take the ship back with the DOT 7 droids.

Then there's also Saru, Culber and Adira with Su’Kal at the focal point of the Burn awaiting rescue and also helping the lone Kelpien face his greatest fear.

That Hope is You has a lot going on at one point with five different sets of characters (Admiral Vance and his officers) all involved in the action. To keep track of it all is a big ask but somehow it seems manageable. 

Once Book and Burnham make their escape, the tale twists with the bridge crew then looking to stop Discovery mid-warp as it heads towards the focal point of the Burn.

The episode is crammed with action from that sickbay escape through to an extended and perhaps overlong series of set pieces within the turbolift network that makes Discovery look like its the size of the TARDIS. Ok, it's fun to see the inner workings but technically those sequences should be over in a matter of seconds rather than 10 minutes. Funnily enough there are a few fan theories out there linked to the second season Enterprise episode, Future Tense.

But let's go with the positives here and there’s lots. We have the expected showdown between Burnham and Osyraa as they pair clash for control of the ship. After her build up last week as something more than a space thug into something of a negotiator, this was a bit of a turnaround. Mind, it does reveal her true colours and Janet Kidder has really grown on me since her first appearance. The added incentive of the oxygen deprived survival bridge crew adds a further element of urgency into the fight and it’s carried well. Rightfully this tussle is drawn under and closed before the story of the Burn is rounded out,  

Book also gets to kick Zareh out of the park - or in this case turbolift. It’s a fight that never seems to end and reinforces that  It really never stops, flicking from Burnham to Book, to the senior staff, to Vance and then over to Su'Kal.

The retaking of the ship is fairly A,B,C in its execution with the viewer never questioning the outcome. The arrival early on of the Ni'Var (Vulcan/Romulan) fleet in reference to Unification III is a cool touch with signs of the Alpha Quadrant moving towards some sort of unity but the more interesting side of the episode lies with Saru in the nebula.

After an episode breather, we are back with the source of the Burn. We know who and how it was caused but That Hope is You takes a step further to clarify what many fans will have already worked out and pinpointed the exact moment of the disaster.

The arrival of Adira - suggesting that a good chunk of this piece of the episode is set during episode 12's Die Hard homage - also brings in a physical Gray.

The holographic systems of the Kelpien ship have made him real for a time and it's the best
part of the episode, confirming that he's not just a figment of Adira's mind and allows for our first proper look at the planet since the radiation on the ship won't affect his purely digital body.

It's definitely a step up from the last few episodes and a fitting close to the year, even going as far as noting that the Federation is growing and that Discovery's mission now is to bring dilithium - and hope - to distant systems. This was the heart and soul of episode 13 for me with some top notch performances from all involved in the holo sequences. Su’Kal became more understandable this week especially once the wall of illusion was removed and we were aboard the ship.  

Stamets' appearance this week is fleeting at best as he reunites with Culber and Adira but the writers have chosen to keep an element of animosity in play for next year in light of Burnham's choice to jettison him from Discovery and thus put a spanner in the Emerald Chain's plans. This is going to be a strong plot point given that Burnham finally gets her own command and sits in the centre seat of the Discovery as the season closes.

Whatever you might think of her actions - and Vance says as much as he offers her the promotion - it's the right move for the series. That's four captains in three seasons for the show which seems a lot and we have had word that Saru will be back in season four but I would be questioning if this is going to be little more than guest starring in a few episodes.

That Hope is You finally offered the hope and positivity that season three was promised to deliver but ultimately failed to implement. The vanquishing of the Chain and the steps ahead seem to offer a better prospect but also a more episodic approach to season four as the ship explores the 32nd Century and shapes a new Federation. I'm hopeful that looking back we'll see this as a formative stage for Discovery that moulded the series into its true form forever more.

Track back on our season three Discovery reviews HERE

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All images CBS All Access
Screencaps from Cygnus-X1

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