Following the battle against Control that saw Michael Burnham don the Red Angel suit to lead Discovery into the far future to ensure the rogue AI life form couldn’t obtain the ships unique ancient Sphere Data, That Hope Is You see’s the end result of that mission as Michael finds herself bursting into a strange new world where everything familiar has been turned on it’s head.
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi
Written By: Michelle Paradise & Jenny Lumet & Alex Kurtzman
Arriving alone, Burnham exits the wormhole straight into a freighter on the run in the middle of an old debris field before crashing on the barren planet below. Quickly establishing she’s in the right time, even if not in the right place, Burnham shows a rare sight of joy as she learns life survived in spite of Control’s threat in the past before sending the suit back in time to self destruct into the signal that kicked off Season 2.
With all that out the way, Michael is welcomed to the 32nnd century through Book, the pilot of the freighter she just broke, who brings our time travelling hero up to speed. And in short, the future’s a bit broken. She discovers dilithium “went boom”, making it a rare commodity and the only way to get some more to fix Book’s ship and find a way to reach out to more familiar ground- the missing Discovery and the Starfleet Book doesn’t believe exists any-more is through the new baddies in the background: The Emerald Chain.
Escorted to a traders den on the planet, Burnham and Book end up in a spot of bother and have to rely on each other to get back to his ship, where Book helps her find the last remnant of the Federation…
The episode itself does enough to present a small glimpse into the future. This is only one planet and one region and there’s not too much digging into the past nine hundred years to bog the story down, giving enough room to explore these new worlds and connections over time instead of throwing it all on the table instantly.
Even with the brief catch up as Burnham tries (and fails) to hide she’s a time traveller, we only get what we need to know; Time Travels illegal, Starfleets missing in action, dilithium rarer than ever before and The Burn happened; a breadcrumb that will lead the charge on Discovery’s setting through the season. Those snippets make sense to reveal a little, but still leave the tease of whats going on and lets the plot focus on the characters instead of a huge exposition dump.
That character work focuses on the only Discovery crewmember in the episode, the lost and out of place Michael Burnham trying to Starfleet her way out off a situation in a world where she’s a ghost of the past with antique tech, while we learn more about rogue Captain Book; who first appears as a Del Boy of the Future only to discover that his precious cargo is a rare Speccies he’s trying to save.
One of the major themes is one that Discovery often plants into it’s story telling; hope and optimism. When in a crunch and things go wrong at the exchange, Book relies on his knowledge of survival by betraying Burnham. In response, she holds out in the ideal that her Starfleet morality can bridge the gap between them, having faith in that friendship and forgiveness can get him on side.
Her interactions with Book also highlight how different that future is. Burnham still has hope that whatever’s left of the Federation can be bigger than Book says. That it can be restored. That she’s not alone, Discovery is out there somewhere. Raised in a different environment, Book doesn’t have that hope or faith; he’s never known a life within a safe haven. Where Burnham was raised inn a Federation dominated world, Book had to survive in one where authoritarian criminal gangs – the Orion-Andorian allies in the Chain – laid out the law.
Contrasting Burnham and Book made the episode a fun and intriguing one. We get to see Burnham’s best qualities from her most vulnerable side, and her Vulcan-trained ego knocked a little while we get to know Book as he warms to Burnham through them escaping the Emerald Chain’s grasp and protecting his cargo.
Being the outsider also allows Martin-Green to do some things we’ve never seen Burnham to before as Michael free’s herself after coming to terms with Spock in the previous season. From that first moment of joy, to the fear and upset of the chance Discovery didn’t survive, and even to just plain silliness and laughs after getting high on an Orion drug bomb. A strange new future brings out a strange new Burnham, which is a breath of fresh air after two seasons of Vulcanised torment.
It’s a great episode just to tease what the future may be, and to let Burnham be on the back heel for once and just have a simple, low key adventure with two strangers working together in what, to Burnham, is a strange land.
Towards the end off the episode it begins to change gears; leaving the planet and offering a further tease as Book brings Michael to a lone outpost. There we get our first proper glimpse of the Federation. And it’s all in Sahil; it’s lone occupant who’s family have been monitoring and waiting. Over a hundred years since the galaxy was devastated by the Burn, he’s sat there monitoring, waiting for Starfleet to come back.
As soon as Burnham enters that room, the chaos and rough landscape we’d seen so far is swept aside by a quiet, unassuming man who see’s nothing in front of him but hope. That’s something Star Trek has always offered above all else; that hoe, kindness and morality are the strongest and bravest choices one can make.
The future we meet is a far cry from the one we left behind. But as soon as Burnham raises Sahil’s Federation flag, it helps to open the season by lighting a torch to help brighten the world with hope once again.