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The tension in this week's episode of Star Trek: Discovery, "Far From Home," was so thick you could cut it with a knife. The ship arrived on an unknown planet, in an uncertain future, without any idea what they might be getting themselves into. As viewers, we know more about the situation than Saru and the crew do, but that made the episode that much more of a roller coaster. I wasn't sure what to expect, and that was a great feeling.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Season 3, Episode 2 of Star Trek: Discovery.
Let's start with Discovery's very hard arrival in the 32nd century. While the situation isn't catastrophic, there's a lot of work to do to get the ship up and running, and they're working against a ticking clock — the ice on the planet is parasitic and will consume the ship come nightfall. What's more, there are a lot of injuries among the crew, so no one is at their best. A poor crew member is stuck cleaning Leland out of the spore drive chamber, which is a scene I'm actually really glad we got to see. Too often, this kind of unpleasant grunt work happens magically off-screen.
Saru quickly reassures the crew, something he's become very good at in a short amount of time, and then gets everyone to work on repairs. This results in a touching scene between Culber and Stamets, where they're reunited (in a manner of speaking) as Dr. Culber awakens his partner from a medically-induced coma. The Stamets scenes more generally were some of my favorite across the episode — his chemistry with Jet Reno is absolutely perfect, and they served as great gallows humor: lighthearted, yet appropriately dire.
It also looks like we have a new regular cast member — Commander Nhan. I liked her fine in the last season, but I really warmed to her in this episode when she revealed why she'd chosen to join Discovery in their voyage to the future. She wanted to honor Airiam's sacrifice. It's easy to forget about the people who have been lost along the way, and this feels like something real and concrete to honor her memory.
As an aside, I'm worried about Detmer. From the beginning of the episode, she seemed more shaken — more affected — by the time jump than any of the other crew members. It took her longer to recover, longer to refocus, and she just generally seems out of it. She had her injuries attended to, so the damage may not be physical — could it be mental, or have something to do with her implant?
As Saru and Tilly depart the ship, hoping to make contact with the locals and obtain materials for repairs, the tension, which was already high, really started to rise. It wasn't clear what they'd find on the planet, but knowing what Burnham discovered about the future, it couldn't be anything good.
Was it naive for Saru to take just Tilly on this mission, without backup, not knowing what he would find in this uncertain present? He sort of managed to talk/barter his way out of the dire predicament they found themselves in, but the situation certainly was made easier by Georgiou's insistence on following them. I think Saru made the best decision he could, knowing that as many people as possible needed to stay behind and work on the ship. It worked out, in the end, though it was touch and go there for a while.
It's been really interesting to watch Georgiou adapt to being a part of a Starfleet crew over Season 2. Even if she's a part of Section 31 (really, the perfect place for her), she's also learned a lot from her Prime Universe colleagues. I can't help but think back to Pike's excellent statement of "Starfleet is a promise; I give my life for you, you give your life for me." It seems that while Georgiou may always have an ulterior motive, sometimes she just does want to protect her crew. Her casual cruelty towards Tilly is hard to watch, to be sure, but I do think it's a product of her anxiety about Michael's well-being, rather than any sort of actual ill-feeling. That doesn't make it OK, certainly, but Georgiou doesn't really care what I think.
At this point, it's unclear whether Saru and the rest of Discovery understand the nature of The Burn, which is what changed the galaxy irrevocably. The question is: What is the crew going to do about it?
The episode ended as I hoped it would, with the reunion we've all been waiting for. Michael (with the most amazing hair) found her ship, her crew. It turned out she'd been looking for them for an entire year. With this time jump, I can't wait to see what's changed for her, what she's learned in the meantime, and WHAT IS GOING ON BETWEEN HER AND BOOK (with that chemistry, it's gotta be good).