Mark Watches ‘Discovery’: S03E03 – People of Earth

In the third episode of the third season of Discovery, the crew journeys home. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 


A lot can change in a person in a year, and LET US ALL AWKWARDLY GESTURE TO THE LAST YEAR OF OUR LIVES. But when it comes to the events that opened season three of Discovery, I appreciated that the writers were openly acknowledging Burnham’s year spent as a courier. We don’t see much beyond the opening scene, and most of this year is loosely filled in by references that Burnham and Booker make with one another. We get a sense of their journeys, but most of the change depicted is subtle and emotional. Actually, it’s less subtle when Georgiou is around, since she openly addresses what she sees as Burnham’s taste of freedom. 

I don’t think Georgiou is wrong, per se! I commented on the ethical situations all of these characters were faced with upon arriving in the future. But while Discovery’s crew dealt with one of them, Burnham had a whole YEAR of doing what she had to in order to get more information on the Federation and the Burn. She has known a freedom the others haven’t, and it’s entirely fair that she was reluctant to take command or return to the duties that were expected of her. Michael was exercising self-awareness! SHE IS MAKING HEALTHY CHOICES!!! Not that they were necessarily easy choices, but I’m interested to see her growth after a year in the future. Her decision to fool Wen was definitely based on her experience as a courier and alongside Book, but will she want to continue down that path? She mentioned needed time to Saru when she accepted the position as Number One, but how much time? How can you measure such a thing? 

Ugh, I love all of this stuff, y’all. This show continues to find new ways to make their characters interesting!!!

Cleveland Booker

Wow, he is a lot? Truly? I want him in every episode? Please??? His chemistry with Michael Burnham is now utterly impossible to ignore, and if these two end up together, I will be THRILLED. I love what he brings out in Michael! I know that Tilly said that Michael seemed lighter in a specific context, but you know what? I think being around Book contributed to that. On some small level, she genuinely seems happy to spend time with him. 

United Earth Defense Force

Wow, the writers TRULY are not holding back here. I spent the lead up to Earth wondering if it was even there. If the Burn was as bad as this episode made it sound, then had it been destroyed, too? So, because I was expected some horrible reveal about the state of Earth, (WHICH I FEEL WAS JUSTIFIED, THIS TIMELINE IS PRETTY DARK, OKAY???) I was completely caught off guard by what the show did instead. Relatively speaking, Earth is fine! In fact, it’s self-sufficient! It’s just… you know. Deeply uninterested in literally anyone and anything that’s not Earth. 

The writers for Discovery take isolationism to the extreme, but ground this choice in a very understandable reality. After The Burn all but wiped out the Federation and Starfleet, Earth did what it had to do to protect itself and what little dilithium it had, all while the Federation disappeared specifically to protect Earth and prevent it from being a target. Unfortunately, that meant that Discovery received the exact opposite of a warm welcome. 

But I interpreted this as a microcosm of the greater issue: this is what happens in this universe without the Federation. What unfolded here between the United Earth Defense Force (represented by Captain Ndoye), Discovery, and Wen, a raider, is the logical end of a world where no one trusts anyone but themselves. For all the flaws of Starfleet and the Federation, they’re still an organization rooted in hope and imagination. It is the main reason why Ndoye and Saru clash so much here: Saru can imagine an outcome that doesn’t resort to violence; Ndoye cannot. (Of course, this is made a million times more interesting by the presence of Burnham, Booker, and Georgiou, all who exist in a nebulous space outside of these two interpretations of the situation.) 

This is also why it was so powerful to see what happened after Booker and Burnham orchestrated their con to capture Wen. I honestly did not suspect that Wen was human the whole time, but oh my GODS, what a clever twist. That one detail re-contextualized this entire conflict. A human FROM Earth was the one behind the raider attacks, which already made this more complicated. But as Wen revealed why he had done what he had done, this became HEART-CRUSHING. But it had to be, didn’t it? Again, the Federation is about hope and imagination, and by forcing these two humans to talk, the crew of the Discovery helped them to imagine a new future with one another, one they quite literally believed impossible. 

Maybe this is the start. I think it’s possible that what I just witnessed was the beginning of the reconstruction of the Federation. What better way to kickstart this than with the unification of the humanity and the hope of reconciliation and reparation after the UEDF harmed their own people so horribly in order to defend themselves? The stories of Wen and of Ndoye are both tragic, but this confrontation allowed them a future beyond that tragedy. 


HI, HELLO, TRILL SYMBIONT IN A HUMAN GENIUS WHO IS ALSO A TEENAGER. This is??? Everything I could possibly want in one character? And now it appears that Adira might become a regular character on the show??? She might not appear a whole lot in this episode, but what little we see of her adds a new dynamic to Discovery. First of all, her age really does make her stand out because there’s no one as young as her on the ship. She’s also the first human from the UEDF-era that any of the rest of the crew will interact with for an extended length of time. Another dynamic developed out of all this, too: Stamets basically has a whole gay dad vibe with her, which I am ABSOLUTELY here for. He’s not nearly as irritated with her as I expected, and if anything, he seemed eager to get to know her and to pick her brain. That’s huge for someone like Stamets, who is such a thorny character when it comes to newcomers. (Especially newcomers who sabotage parts of Engineering.) 

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a human host for a Trill symbiont, too!!! I think the last time this canonically appeared was on The Next Generation? So, I’m curious why this General Tal decided that Adira was the best host for them. What do they know of the Federation’s history? Of the possible cause for the Burn? I NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING OKAY???

Probably not surprising that I’m already in love with season three. Because I am!

The video for “People of Earth” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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