Star Trek Discovery: That Hope is You, Part 2

Thanks to Adira’s last minute with added radiation tablets, Culber and Saru have a little more time to convince Su’Kal to leave the decaying holodeck that has been his only home. Meanwhile, the Discovery crew continue their efforts to recover their ship from Osyraa.

Here we are again, at the end of another season of Discovery. Thanks to some name changes revealed along the way, one important mystery has been solved – the second part of That Hope is You is in fact this episode. But was it worth that wait?

If there’s one thing that can be said about this episode, it’s that there’s plenty of action. Warp nacelles get torn off, lives get saved at the last possible second, and Burnham even gets a tense stand-off with Osyraa. The trouble was, none of it particularly engaged me.

Rather than recapping all of the events of Burnham and co retaking Discovery, I’m just going to cover a few points that stood out for me. And when I say stood out, I don’t necessarily mean that in a positive way. In fact, much of what happened had me scratching my head and wondering why such choices were even made. Anyway, without further ado, here they are:

  • Last episode, we saw Burnham send a covert distress call to her mother. Since there was no reason for this scene to exist otherwise, it seemed like the Qowat Milat would surely rush in to save the day here. In fact, it’s the Ni’Var fleet that arrives, but they play so little role in events that they might as well not have bothered.
  • Both Owo and the sphere data (downloaded to a DOT-23) risk their lives to stop Osyraa getting away with Discovery. I guess this is meant to be a poignant moment where characters we love about are in mortal jeopardy, but it’s actually hard to care. I like Owo, but the show hasn’t invested enough time and development into her to make me too bothered about her potential sacrifice in the season finale. As for the sphere data, not only is it not really a character, but it seemed to be present in other DOT-23’s, so presumably this wasn’t even the only copy of it.
  • With Stamets having been ejected from the ship, it seems like there’s no way to use the spore drive – or is there? Having concocted a dangerous plan which Discovery can only survive by jumping away, Burnham suggests that Book uses his magical empathic powers to communicate with the mycelial network. Despite being an untested and outlandish idea, it all comes off without a hitch.
  • At the end of the episode, Osyraa’s death spells the end of the Emerald Chain. Certainly at the start of the season the Chain felt like a more distributed and enduring organisation, and certainly one that could survive the death of a single leader.
  • Zareh and Book trade blows inside Discovery’s turbolift system. You might expect turbolift shafts to be narrow tunnels between decks, but instead it seems to be a vast expanse that would look oversized even in the TARDIS. Is most of Discovery’s interior just turbolift shaft? Who would build it like that?

Meanwhile, Adira, Culber and Saru need to escape from the crumbling holodeck and the surrounding radiation, but in order to do so, Saru needs to convince Su’Kal that the outside is not the terrifying place he’s always believed it to be. And as Saru works on gaining Su’Kal’s trust, we get more of an insight into exactly what triggered the Burn – as a child, he saw his mother dying of radiation poisoning, surrounded by the corpses of her colleagues.

Intellectually, I know this was meant to be a touching and dramatic moment, but unfortunately it didn’t hit home for me,  for two reasons. First up, I found Su’Kal being the cause of The Burn to be a bit of a disappointing explanation. I know Star Trek has precedent for this kind of thing – there was that time Kevin Uxbridge destroyed an entire race with just a thought – but even so, I wanted something with a bit more gravitas and pseudo-scientific method than “boy is born with special extra chromosomes that let him control dilithium”.

Secondly, I just felt that the flashback scene was missing some drama in its reveal. We needed more build-up, more of a sense of the seemingly normal life child Su’Kal was living before he stumbled upon the horrible truth. Was the reason the holodeck changed everyone’s appearance because it had been originally programmed to hide the horrific physical effects of radiation poisoning? Not that it seemed to do that – even in their altered forms you could still see radiation burns appearing.

Other notes and observations

  • In the holodeck, Gray is able to manifest as a separate entity, visible to everyone. What exactly is Gray? Is he being projected by the Tal symbiont? Will he get a body of his own next season, perhaps a holographic one?
  • We still don’t know exactly who Kovich is, although my money’s on him being connected to Section 31.
  • Burnham finally gets promoted to captain of Discovery, a role she previously didn’t seem to want or care for.

Summary – That Hope is You, Part 2: You said “That Hope is You”, referring to me. In fact, That Hope is Michael Burnham.

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