'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 3 Episode 1 Review: Fun start to new adventures with Burnham lost in a distant future
Spoilers for 'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 3, Episode 1 - 'That Hope Is You'
Every now and again, a season will try to shake things up in a major way. One imagine that time travelling a thousand years into the future would be about as much of a shake-up as possible, but in a show built on the concept of futuristic explorations of new worlds, the future is simply a slightly different flavor of the unexplored. However, the show's literal distancing from its own history frees up the series to have some fun with its setting. The adventure-packed first episode of the new season does exactly that, and looks amazing while doing so.
After last season's cataclysmic events launched Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the USS Discovery far into the future, Burnham finds herself stranded on the planet Heem, teaming up with a rakish, double-crossing smuggler named Book (David Ajala), who helps her orient herself to the new era in the most chaotic way possible. Burnham has to deal with the fact that the Federation has dissolved, that her crew might not be joining her like she planned, and that, for now, she's all alone in a world she knows nothing about. If 'Star Trek: Discovery' was looking for a fresh start, they could not have done a better job.
The episode is a largely self-contained adventure of Burnham in the new world - as she says repeatedly, she's having quite a day, especially if you include the events of the Season 2 finale. David Ajala's new character Book is a great addition to the show, and the new setting allows an addition to the main cast who isn't as straight-edged as most Starfleet officers. He's charismatic, serious, and has just enough chemistry with Burnham for them to hold an episode up by themselves. Most importantly, however, he has a most excellent cat named Grudge - the people of the future appear to put a lot more thought into their cat naming conventions than those of the past did.
The one weak point behind the show's new setting is how little of a stretch if feels. 'Star Trek: Discovery' was already a futuristic looking show. The advancements in technology aren't enough to justify a millenia-long time jump - the show could have done one hundred years, or even just fifty, for the same effect. The new world that Burnham finds herself in really has one significant change - the fall of the Federation - and it's a bit of a let down that the differences aren't more radical than that, at least so far. There is enough of the Federation left behind to have a powerfully emotional moment with one of the last few Starfleet officers left - Adithya Sahil (Adil Hussain) - leaving the door open for the rebuilding of the Federation, far in the future.
The new season of 'Star Trek: Discovery' is off to a fun start, but there is potential for a lot more. Hopefully, we get to see more of this radical new 'Star Trek' era as the season unfolds, and the rest of Burnham's crew joins her from the past.
The next episode of 'Star Trek: Discovery' airs October 22, on CBS All Access.