Just as Michael Burnham had crash landed out of the vortex and into the future, so too does Discovery. But where it’s science officer experienced isolation and uncertainty, Discovery’s crew venture into the 32nd century in a far better position; they still have each other.
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi
Written By: Michelle Paradise & Jenny Lumet & Alex Kurtzman
Doing back to back stories of the outsiders venturing into an unknown landscape could seem repetitive. Thankfully the story was fresh enough, with a more balanced perspective pushing it forwards and a focus on the rest off the crew instead of one lost in time.
Exiting the wormhole in the future, Discovery’s crew find themselves nosediving into a planet below. With the battle against Control still fresh, and the now understaffed sickbay overwhelmed with the fallout off that conflict, Detmer managed to steer the ship to relative safety on the surface, but the impact is still felt. For Detmer, that meant crashing to the floor in a traumatic head injury while the ship takes on damage beyond their ability to repair it themselves. Whats worse is that they’ve landed inside parasitic ice thats growing and enveloping Discovery and if they don’t fly away soon, the pressure from the ice will crush the hull and leave them all for dead.
Requiring rubidium to fix her up, Saru sets his crew to work on the repairs as he ventures out yonder. By chance, the planet has enough to mine from and settlements nearby look to be the best place to get the parts they need. What he finds is more akin to the old west than a future haven and there’s no sheriff in town.
The episodes main plot was layered in Western vibes fitting of a show half pitched as a space western back in the 60’s. Right down to Saru and Tilly following a mysterious figure only to be transported to the local hub; a saloon where the miners would hang out. In contrast to Burnham being an outsider whisked away for the ride, Saru shows his cool and controlled side, slowly learning about this new world and what it has to offer while calmly trying to negotiate. But like any backwater town in a Western that looks to be in a slump, thats all caused by a looming shadow; Zareh, who’s been fleecing the colony for years with no Federation or Starfleet to stop him.
One of the more cliché parts of this meeting between Saru and the locals was Kal, a young idealist who hopes that one day Starfleet will be back to save them. That is what Saru’s presence represents, more of that hope. But of course, as Zareh arrives his hopes point towards a swift death sentence and Saru has to hold strong against what should be an easy baddie to beat; but one with weapons and tech well beyond Saru’s knowledge.
Mirroring Burnham’s entry, Saru’s understanding of the 32nd century becomes less frantic and generally a lot more low key. He and Tilly learn of the dilithium shortage because they have it, and it’s all they can trade with. And of course, if they have it, Zareh wants it which ties it all together nicely and gives them a reason to have conflict. He also has Georgiou who defies orders to stay on board Discovery and not start a fight. So of course she blatantly ignores Saru and does the one thing his Starfleet diplomacy can’t; kick the teeth out of the bad guy and help save the day.
Aside from a different introduction and landscape for Saru’s welcome to the future, the dilemma on Discovery helps break up the tension of the story and double down on creating a distance between the two opening episodes. The interactions from the crew are a lot of fun from the start, from Georgiou’s snark to Reno just being, well, Reno. Nahn seems to be fully pulled into the crew dynamic as she tries (and fails) to keep Georgiou in check, and there are some serious sides with Detmer showing signs of trauma, but thats buried within a good chunk of comedy. Particularly with Reno pairing up with a reluctant Stamets who she has to guide through repairs after throwing her back out.
Hanging the comedy moments in there made this entry into the future a lot more fun and exciting with Tig Notaro and Anthony Rapp being a standout duo that needs significantly more screen time together. IT also highlighted the core of the crews close relationship, which began forming once the crew escaped the shadow of Lorca back in the first season and has slowly progressed into a group who care about and have fun with each other. As it should be considering they all chose to go on this magical mystery tour into the future and leave their lives behind.
The teases off what happened to the Federation were few as the immediate learning experience for Saru was knowing that Dilithium was in short supply; making Discovery’s own dilithium vault a valuable target. But where Burnham’s hope was finding a quiet remnant of the Federation, the theme here was all about Saru standing tall in the face of danger and showing that, even if it’s just one old ship, Starfleet was alive, well and here to help. Even if he did need a little bit of backup from a morality free Terran who couldn’t help but charge in with fists and feet flying.
Overall it was a nice touch to show the Discovery crew pulling together to get out of a crisis before finding their feet in the 32nd century; showcasing each of their strengths and togetherness while showcasing the strength of leadership we’ve seen Saru begin to build ever sinnce saying his parting words to Lorca.
The ending was a bit predictable. Thankfully. As Discovery struggled to break free from the evil ice thingy, a mysterious ship jumps in to help them and hey! Burnham! Due to timey wimey shenanigans they left the wormhole at different times, so she’s been waiting a year hoping they’d show up. Which is a bit of a relief. Sure, it might have been cool to have each side searching for the other for a few episodes and show how much they miss not being “whole”. But the last thing we need is to spend half the season wondering when they’ll cross paths and now everyone together, we can begin to explore the new world.
Far From Home was a fairly good companion piece to the first episode; just with a lot more fun to join the tension and the chance to give the rest of the crew their own spotlight.
Full Season Reviews will be available in our next issue of Comms. To find out more about Comms of SFCQ2 Membership, Enlist Today!