Star Trek Discovery: People of Earth

After a year working with Book as a courier, Burnham is back on Discovery – and she has information about Earth. Following up on a message sent by a Starfleet admiral, Discovery heads to humanity’s homeworld, in the hopes of finding some friendly faces in this new time.

After the disappointment of the previous episode, it’s nice to have something a bit better this time around. And there’s certainly a lot to cover this week, so let’s dive right in.

First off, let’s talk about Burnham. The episode opens with a classic montage, in which the passage of time is indicated by her changing hairstyle. With no knowledge of when or even if Discovey will join her in the 32nd century, Burnham begins the process of letting go of her old life.

I both like and appreciate what the episode tries to do here. Grief and loss are different for everyone, but for most of us there comes a moment when we have to remake our lives in the absence of who or what we once shared it with. Burnham has started on that process, and so her reunion with Discovery is not entirely straightforward. Of course she is delighted to see her friends and crewmates again, but it’s mixed with a feeling of having started to move on, to let them go.

That being said, naturally by the end of the episode Burnham agrees to stay on Discovery and serve as Saru’s first officer. I’m actually more intrigued by the road not taken – the sexy adventures of Burnham, Book and Grudge Cat – but perhaps that would not be Star Trek enough. Grounding Burnham in Starfleet at least ensures that the show will adhere more closely to classic Star Trek morality, even in this lawless galaxy.

We’ll talk a bit more about characters later on, but for now let’s turn to this episode’s plot. Thanks to Burnham’s efforts over the past year, Discovery has evidence of a Starfleet message sent from Earth some twelve years prior. With the spore drive up and running, Discovery heads for Earth, only to find that the events of The Burn have transformed humanity’s homeworld into an isolated and insular place.

In classic Star Trek fashion, Discovery steps in to mediate between the Earth defence forces and mysterious set of raiders looking to steal the planet’s dilithium. As it turns out, these raiders are actually humans from the Titan colony, who turned to violence after their pleas for help fell on deaf ears.

While this turn of events is definitely prime Star Trek territory, it did feel a bit awkward that everyone only started being friendly towards the raiders once it was revealed that they were humans. If you’re going to strive for a peaceful solution, then one would hope it didn’t matter if the people sat across the table didn’t look exactly like you.

Selected character updates

  • Saru: Although he seems willing to let Burnham have refusal, Saru ultimately ends up becoming the captain of the Discovery. He’s certainly already earnt the position, but I think it would have been far more interesting to have the old anxious Saru in this role. His Kelpien puberty last season made his character somewhat less interesting.
  • Book: Book is apparently sent on his way at the end of this episode, which seems incongruous with his status as a series regular. Presumably he gets worked back into the story in short order, but how?
  • Adira: Adira is first introduced as a teenaged genius working as an Earth inspector. Given the number of exceptionally bright people we already have on Discovery, I wasn’t too impressed with being handed yet another whiz kid, but by the end of the episode, things have become far more interesting. Despite being human, Adira is actually the host to a Trill symbiont named Tal. Tal’s previous life was as Starfleet admiral Senna Tal, the very person who sent the message Burnham and Discovery were following up on.

Other Notes

  • Obviously it would have given the game away to have Adira host the Dax symbiont, but could Dax still be out there somewhere?
  • The last known human host of a Trill symbiont was Will Riker, who temporarily hosted Odan. The joining was imperfect, and necessarily temporary. Adira’s joining with Tal seems more stable, but has a different limitation – she cannot access Tal’s memories. It’s unclear as yet whether this means that the Adira we meet is a fusion of host and symbiont in terms of personality, or if Adira’s teen genius is all her own.

Summary – People of Earth: “Cake is eternal.”

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