Having just finished the fourth episode of Discovery‘s third season, I cannot help but feel completely blown away by the first four episodes. The producers seem to be taking the slow burn approach. Many times shows, especially sci-fi/fantasy shows, spend most of their episodes focusing on events and technology and the machinations of the environment, both political and actual. Character arcs are sewn in amongst the events taking place. Discovery, this season seems to be telling personal stories, focusing on issues and growth first with event (reforming the Federation) slowly coalescing in the background. While titled ‘Forget Me Not’ for Adira and her Trill’s journey, it could easily be titled Identities.
Identities – Who Are We?
The voice over by Dr Culber as he physically examines the whole crew may seem a tad boring at first, but it serves to set up the episode and what will come. In one form or another the entire crew checks out as physically fit, but they no longer know who they are. Their families are gone. The Federation no longer exists, and they all find themselves stressed facing such an uncertain future.
Saru attempts to ask the computer how best to deal with this problem, but the computer can only recommend stale treatments and activities like yoga. Saru knows these conditions go well beyond such simple measures, but lacks any type of answer. Then something happens. The computer glitches. The voice changes, and suddenly, in a soft, casual, female voice gives Saru some ideas that might actually be useful.
Saru gives the rest of the crew some time off since Discovery is in no danger, and then invites the bridge crew to dinner. It starts out as a feast that takes a decidedly Thanksgiving Day feel, but when a spontaneous Haiku contest breaks out Lt Detmer starts rhyming something about Stamets’ blood on the deck. A huge fight breaks out and the dinner disintegrates and breaks up.
Identities – Standout Personalities
Through this whole event a couple people pop out. Georgiou is barely involved with this episode, other than starting the Haikus, but she need say a single line and she steals every scene. Once again Ensign Tilly does the same. In many ways, Tilly’s inability to control her mouth makes her the heart of this crew. Her role in this episode remains mostly background, but it serves a vital role. When all else fails, trust Tilly to bring the crew back together.
The last stand out is a character I have been waiting for. In my first article this season, I lamented the lack of use of Lt. Detmer. She seems to have so much to say, character-wise, yet she never has more than a line or two. Emily Coutts does another amazing job with conveying so much with simple looks. When Dr. Culber examines her in the beginning, she states she’s fine, but Coutts once again uses that haunted look to convey how wrong things truly are with her. Her performance during the dinner scene sets the entire mood and still begs for more story.
Identities – Return of the Trill
Not since the age of Deep Space Nine have we heard of the Trill. Dax made the species popular even though their first appearance was actually The Next Generation. For the first time in recorded history a Trill successfully combined with a human, but unfortunately Adira cannot access the mind of her symbiote. She and Burnham travel down to the surface of the planet to undergo a forbidden procedure so she can communicate with the Trill. To do so, Adira must confront a painful past she blocked out of her memory.
After getting used to Trill like Dax, let me just say these Trills are not the greatest. The cataclysm decimated their species and threatens their very existence. They no longer have enough hosts to carry the symbiotes, so they face a catastrophic loss of knowledge and life. Here comes the first ever human/Trill hybrid and all the elders can say is screw you. You aren’t pure!? In a quick scene Burnham unleashes her badass skills on some guards, and my response was good! They deserved that.
The ending to this episode does get a tad formulaic and predictable, but the cast does an incredible job selling the final outcomes. This is by far the best season of Discovery to date.
Identities – Commending Adira And The Writing
Before this season began, it was announced that Discovery would have the first trans and non-binary actor and character in the Star Trek series’ history. This refers to Adira, who’s played by actor Blu del Barrio as well as actor Ian Alexander.
These days, shows are being more inclusive to people who wouldn’t normally get spotlight. Discovery is no different. While sometimes those characters are outwardly shown off and promoted, in Discovery’s case, they’re just treated like anyone else. I commend the writers of Discovery for this. Not only is Adira’s story just about Adira, it’s a great story for the character.
Identities – Final Thoughts
As I said earlier in this article, this season seems to be a slow burn of character development. I’m sure a few more episodes in the action will pick up. Groundwork is already being laid for the future, but I’ll save that for the spoiler article. Right now the writers, creators and actors are producing one hell of a season.