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Star Trek: Discovery - People Of Earth - Review

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Star Trek: Discovery has hit the ground running this season and it continued with its firecracker of a pace into episode three that saw Jonathan Frakes return to the director’s chair for another excellent episode. The director gave us the wonderful New Eden at this early point in Season 2 and now, shows that few people get Star Trek better than him as he is able to capture the essence of Discovery and transform it into a show that is more optimistic and hopeful than it has ever been before, even in a grim dark far future where the Federation is no longer on Earth with the planet having opted for a shoot first, talk later structure that seems to be a completely different change from what Discovery is expecting.

On a personal level, Michael is struggling to get back into the crew of Discovery and has joined Book as becoming a slightly rogue Maverick that Emperor Georgiou is quick to point out upon her return. She no longer fits in with her old crew and is already disobeying Saru’s orders and not telling him of her plans, relying on his trust in her to save the day. The dynamic between Michael and Book is fascinating, and the chemistry between Sonequa Martin-Green and David Ajala remains palpable. These two characters are the ones that have the most issues hiding their status as established present-day Earth traders, putting themselves the most at risk when Earth comes knocking at the door. Book in a Starfleet uniform is not what he’s used to, but the cover is a necessary one as the militant Earth soldiers are instantly hostile and with their advanced teleportation technology are able to swarm every area of the ship and catch the entire crew off-guard.

It feels like a healthy DNA of Voyager has been injected into Discovery’s third season and as someone who’s watching that show at the moment it’s actually pretty awesome to see this change. Getting to Earth so quickly however prevents a repeat of the crew spending the whole series looking for the planet, but the lone ship uniting humanity in the middle of nowhere is a strong message to have. The crew are able to use the optimism of the Federation from the time that they come from to broadcast a message of peace to the raiders attacking Earth and reunite the people based under a common goal, which instantly calls back to the classic Next Generation episodes, albeit with some shotgun diplomacy mixed in there for good measure – it was admittedly touch and go for a while but Saru is able to show why he’s earned the Captain’s chair once again and it’s always his. He initially did expect Michael to want it, but Michael’s keener on doing her own thing – like she always has been. Not making her the Captain right from the start is a choice that has paid off, given her more room to act without the traditional Starfleet expectations of being in command.

The 32nd Century Earth has over a millennia of FTL space exploration for it to offer and the new people in charge have interesting attitudes towards hostiles. Fixing that was always going to be an issue but not everybody on Earth is aligned with the same objective and we soon discover that Blu del Barrio’s Adria has a mission of their own: working out if Discovery is trustworthy enough. The shared bond with Stamets is instantaneous, as he realises who’s talking to somebody beyond their years in experience, and he’s quickly proven right when Adria is revealed to be the one who sent the distress beacon in the first place.

The dynamic between Stamets and Adria is instantly refreshing, providing just as much exciting and chaotic energy that comes with the already established relationship between Jett Reno and Stamets. Stamets is best when he gets on with people who are as intelligent with him, and I’m already looking forward to seeing how Adria will fit in with the crew especially as they look set to be a permanent resident now – no doubt creating more room for what looks sent to be an important part of the series' storytelling.

Discovery has never been a show to take things slowly and People from Earth continues its fast pace into Season 3. The shorter episode count rather than the traditional Star Trek 25 episodes per season are several years behind us and are unlikely to ever return, but this allows Discovery to keep each episode focused on its mission objective that remains hopeful, inclusive and optimistic whilst still not wholly removed from the nostalgia of its first two seasons: the scene at the end of the episode with the crew sitting around the giant Tree embracing it gives the series an instant connection to Picard and The Next Generation. So, it seems that even whilst Star Trek: Discovery continues to boldly go where few Star Trek shows have done in the past – it knows exactly what beats are there for its audiences to connect with.

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