Star Trek: Discovery’s third episode, “People of Earth” keeps the ball rolling and acknowledges the aftermath of time-jumping 930 years into the future. Let me tell y’all, this episode gave me THE FEELS.
I won’t lie and say that I’ve never cried in a Star Trek episode; I’ve cried a lot. But let me tell you, no series has ever moved me to tears more than Star Trek: Discovery. Not in a bad way, mind you, but the emotional notes this show keeps hitting are so poignant and relevant to the culture today, that it makes me weep tears of joy and hope for how the world should be.
Here are a few high points of this episode and then I want to dive into this idea of how the world should be.
- The reunion! I loved seeing Michael and the Discovery crew reunite. Tackle hugs and happy tears all around.
- The real, heartwrenching ramifications of time-jumping 930 years into the future with no hope of a return to see your family and friends again.
- Cake is eternal.
- CAPTAIN Saru! Well earned and our first non-human Star Trek captain (in a leading role–there were others that have appearances in other Star Trek series).
- Book + Michael = TENSION.
- How has Michael changed in the year she’s spent out of uniform? Inquiring minds want to know. I am also curious about the subtle comparisons they’re drawing between Michael and Georgiou. I think they may pull on that thread this season.
- Also A TRILL??? Been a while since we’ve seen a trill. Color me intrigued.
Okay, unrepentant fangirl squeeing aside, what I really love about this episode is this thread of hope and the idea that people can be better if they choose to do the hard thing and actually communicate, then perhaps we can move past our constant fighting. Learning to work together is difficult–the operative term in that phrase is work.
One thing that I have always admired about the Star Trek universe is its ever-persistent hope. The idea that humans can be better and treat each other with dignity and respect, even if we are different and don’t agree. I think from Deep Space Nine onward, the Star Trek universe, while still hopeful and heavy into the ideal of perseverance in difficult circumstances, is a little less focused on the idea of hope. Discovery is the most hopeful Star Trek series we’ve seen in many years.
Watching the new-to-us United Earth Defense Force’s Captain Ndoye and Wen actually talk and try to understand each other, even working through their anger and past differences and even aggressions, was so encouraging that it moved me to tears. Yes, I know it is an overly-simplistic way to look at conflict resolution. Yes, I know that real differences and problems cannot be resolved entirely in a 49 minute TV episode, BUT I do know that this kind of dialogue is a step in the right direction.
I cannot better imagine a more poignant lesson than that. It often seems difficult or even fruitless to try to engage with someone with whom we do not agree. It is easy to be angry. It is much easier to write someone off entirely. It is beyond difficult to try to listen and understand someone with whom we disagree, but when we do, we develop empathy, a skill which has practically vanished from our society. That doesn’t mean that we will necessarily agree with the other side, but we can understand where they’re coming from, and from there we can move forward together. Even if it seems like this is a fruitless action, we have to try. At least then we could say we did make an effort, rather than throwing up our hands and endlessly blowing each other up.
This is the idea of StarFleet in action in this episode.
This is the idea we need more than ever in 2020.
The next episode of Star Trek: Discovery airs November 5, 2020 on CBS All Access.