Star Trek Discovery "That Hope is You Part 2" - Detailed Analysis and Review

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By Adam David Collings. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

The season finale of Star Trek Discovery Season 3 is here, aptly titled "That Hope is You Part 2." We learn the full and complete truth behind the cause of the burn, and we see a resolution to the Emerald Chain / Osyraa plot. My response is mostly positive to this episode. I was happier with the cause of the burn than I think a lot of people will be, but let's dig in and talk about the episode.

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Transcript

Welcome to Nerd Heaven

I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars

And I am a Nerd

This is episode 50 of the podcast. Today, we’re talking about the season finale of Star Trek Discovery Season 3. That Hope is You Part 2.

The last 13 weeks have been a wild ride. I certainly feel this has been a strong season, the best that the modern Trek era has given us so far.

The description on Memory Alpha reads

As the Emerald Chain tightens its grip and the mystery of the Burn is finally solved, Burnham and the crew have one last chance to save themselves – and the Federation. (Season Finale)

This episode was written by Michelle Paradise

It was directed by Olantunde Osunsanmi

And it first aired on the 7th of January 2021.

Make it so.

While I was watching the teaser to this episode, before the opening titles had even shown, I turned to my wife and said “I know who directed this episode.”

First time I’ve ever picked up on a director from their style.

Olantunde Osunsanmi likes to do weird things with the camera, film stuff upside down and have the camera rotate around as the scene goes.

Sometimes it’s a bit much for me. I feel that if the filmmaking draws too much attention to itself, it pulls me out of the story. But there were some moments in this episode where I found it effective.

We open with a beautiful shot of a gormagander flying through the skies of the simulated environment on Su’kal’s planet. We saw them in the background two episodes ago, but we get confirmation here that they are actually gormaganders. Space whales. I think they look awesome. We encountered them in season 1 but didn’t really get to see them in full flight like this.

The holographic narrator explains that gormaganders have spent more time on the Federation’s endangered list than any other species. However, this image is of a pup found in 3052, so that gives me hope that the species may be starting to recover by the 32nd century.

Su’kal is still unwilling to listen to Saru talk about his true nature.

Saru has to tread very carefully with him. If he causes Su’kal too much emotional distress, he may trigger another burn, and that could destroy what remains of the Federation. It’s a tricky situation. Saru’s greatest resource in this struggle is his Kelpien nature. But how does he convince the young man of his true species, when the holodeck has made him look human? (and I talked two weeks ago about how illogical it was that the holodeck made him look human, assigning seemingly random species to everybody.)

And then Adira shows up. This is the first time Culbert and Saru have seen her, so we’re backtracking a little in time, this is probably happening whiler Michael and Book are hurtling through the transwarp corridor at the start of last week’s episode.

The holodeck has made Adira look Xahean. Nice little callback to season 2.

Adira gives them the medicine. It won’t cure them but it’ll buy them time until they can be rescued.

And then the real shock.

Gray appears - looking like a Vulcan.

And Culbert and Saru can see him.

The holodeck recognises Gray as a separate independent lifeform, which is fascinating. The nature of Gray is still a big mystery, and it’s not resolved in this episode. We’ll have to look forward to season 4 for further exploration of this. But the fact that the holodeck recognises Grayt as a lifeform tells us something. It’s very interesting.

And I love the way Culbert and Gray react to each other. Gray is so thrilled to be seen. And Culbert embraces him like a long-lost son. It’s pretty cool.

It’s so weird so see him in full Vulcan makeup, but with blue hair and a big smile on his face.

It seems that Gray can experience some form of sensation because when Culbert hugs him, he feels it. 32nd century holograms would be much more advanced than those we saw in the 24th century, so I can buy that.

Meanwhile, a battle rages at Starfleet headquarters. The Veridian is bombarding the shield. I imagine it won’t hold forever.

Voyager is ordered to fire on the Veridian. Nice to hear it referenced again. All other ships are ordered to fire on Discovery. IT seems Vance is very willing to sacrifice that ship and crew to safeguard the rest of Starfleet. And as horrible as it is, I do understand that.

Even taking the spore drive into account, it’s a numbers game.

All hope for negotiation is gone at this point. As soon as Booker told Osyraa about the dilithium planet, she no longer needed the Federation.

Book is no longer willing to help her get to the planet, because she killed Ryn last week. It was sad to see him go, but he was the logical choice to die. Not a regular or semi-regular, but not a redshirt either. That meant his death hurt more.

Osyraa has a truth serum so she doesn’t need Book to be cooperative.

So because Vance wouldn’t accept her proposed peace, and because she no longer needs them, she’s gone from wanting to ally with the Federation, to wanting to obliterate them completely. Out of spite.

Tilly and the bridge crew’s rebellion is going well, but it’s short-lived because Osyraa is turning off life-support on their section of the ship. Not much they can do about that.

Starfleet headquarters are about to lose their shield. Stammets appears, begging Vance to let him return to Discovery so they can rescue Saru, Culbert and Adira. Sadly for him, Vance agrees with Michael. They have to keep Stammets far away from Discovery, to ensure Osyraa doesn’t learn the secrets of the spore drive.

I’m not sure Vance speaks with enough compassion when he says “I know what you’re sacrificing here. I’m sorry.” But then he’s in the middle of a desperate battle and the shield is going down. He did well to be able to speak with Stammets at all given the circumstances.

And that’s when the Vulcans arrive. A fleet from Ni’var. I called it last week. Michael sent a good-bye message to her mother, so Gabriel got Ni’Var to send the cavalry.

Michael convinces Osyraa to let her hail Vance. She tries to talk Vance into letting them go. They can afford to lose the spore drive as long as Stammets is safely hidden away.

The way she locks eyes with Vance through the viewscreen and says “Trust me” suggests some hidden communication between them. Michael has a plan. She needs him to let Discovery go so she can implement it.

Vance isn’t happy, but he lets them go.

But Osyraa won’t give the bridge crew their life support back. “They had their chance,” she says.

Osyraa needs Aurellio to provide the truth serum. He’s not so willing to cooperate. He’s seen what Osyra is capable of. And the use of the drug, combined with Book’s empathic abilities, will make the experience excruciating. Aurellio doesn’t want to inflict that kind of pain on Book. Autellio is a good man.

We learn a little about how Orion physiology differs from human. Like a lot of characters in sci-fi TV, they may look similar to humans, but under the skin, there are a lot of differences.

But all of this is a metaphor for Osyraa’s feelings. Her moral compass. It’s much more complicated than Aurellio’s. In other words, she can find ways to mentally justify all sorts of horrible things in her mind.

I suspected, last week, that Aurellio was Osyraa’s husband. That seems not to be the case. She refers to “his family.” Not “our family.” She’s fond of him, but she keeps him around because he’s useful to her.

Zareh says this is a no-win scenario for Michael, but she replies that she doesn’t believe in those, which is a direct reference to Kirk. It was a little bit on the nose for me. That’s Kirk’s thing. Give Michael her own thing.

This is when Michael starts to implement her plan. She pretends to give in, to want to convince Book to tell Osyraa what she wants to know, but as soon as she’s close to him, she attacks the regulators, taking their phasers and activating a forcefield. She and book are now separated. And they run off into the ship.

To reboot the ship’s computer, and restore the crew’s command codes, somebody has to be present at the data core. Not sure that makes sense, logically, but it works for dramatic tension.

We learn why Michael couldn’t beam with her com badge last week. The emerald chain have got transport inhibitors on the ship. Okay. That makes more sense. And I see why they’d do that from a story-telling perspective. If Michael could beam anywhere, she wouldn’t have had to crawl around the ship, and that was half the fun of last week’s episode.

Michael sends a cryptic message to Tilly. She wants the crew to set off an explosion on the warp nacelle. It’ll knock Discovery out of warp. The dots can’t do it because of reasons, so it has to be done by a human.

We learn that Owo can hold her breath for a long time. Growing up on her home planet, she used to dive for abalone in the underwater caves. I believe they dive for abalone here in Tasmania. Anyway, that makes her well suited for this mission.

Meanwhile Michael and Book are gonna head for the data core.

But annoyingly, we get yet another reference to people consuming synthahol a century before it will be invented.

Saru speaks to Su’kal of Kelpien cuisine. He admits he is a Kelpien, but has no proof to offer. But you can see in Su’kal’s face that he’s mulling it all over.

Su’kal admits he has noticed that the Holo sometimes changes things.

We learn why Su’kal is so hesitant to talk about the outside. The holo told him the Federation would come from outside to rescue him. But they never came. It’s almost like he’s lost his faith because he feels let down.

Of course, the Federation have come now. Just not as soon as Su’kal was hoping.

This gives Saru an opening to explain the burn to him. Now he has Su’kal’s attention. He wants to understand because this is his life.

Saru can relate to Su’kal’s hesitance to leave the only world he’s known. He had to choose to leave Kaminar all those years ago. He’s getting through to him in a way that nobody else could.

Whatever is behind the locked door that terrifies Su’kal, he has to face it. The monster from the folk tale is trying to help him. To encourage him to face his fear.

But Su’kal isn’t ready to believe that. He wants to see the elder.

Culbert and Adira need to explore outside the edge of the simulation but the radiation is too strong out there. Lucky for them, they have holo-gray. Radiation can’t hurt him because he doesn’t have a real body.

Of course, he’s also holographic, so his body shouldn’t work outside the simulation. Bit of a plot hole there. But maybe it works. The ship they’re on has holographic emitters. Holograms can probably be sustained anywhere on the ship, not just within the confines of the simulation.

Culbert explains his theory about Su’kal. He believes that because he was born on this planet, his body was adjusted to be able to interact with dilithium in unique ways. Dilithium has a subspace component. Su’kal’s scream traveled at the resonant frequency of dilithium’s subspace components. That’s what hit every ship’s warp core during the burn.

Whatever happened to him 125 years ago was much worse than whatever upset him today.

Gray learns that the ship is falling apart. They need Su’kal to help them, and they need him to do it now.

Unfortunately, the elder is gone. The program is degrading. The Elder’s stories calmed Su’kal. But he doesn’t have that anymore. In a nice tender moment, Saru explains “you have us. You are not alone.”

Michael and Book are still making their way to the data core. We get an extended action sequence through the turbo shafts.

Discovery’s shuttles don’t travel through a shaft as such, they float through open space, through rings that kinda appear and disappear as needed. It looks pretty cool. But is it logical?

My issue with this is there is so much wide empty space inside the ship for the turbolifts to fly through, that just isn’t needed.

This whole sequence felt very Star Wars. Star Wars favours what looks cool over what is logical. You know, you’ll have characters fighting with lightsabers, surrounded by all this cool looking technology which looks awesome but doesn’t appear to have any meaningful reason to exist. Think of the duel between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon and Darth Maul in Episode 1.

This turbolift sequence looked great. It was cool and fun, but I had to suspend my disbelief a bit more than I feel I should when watching Star Trek.

Anyway, Michael arrives at the data core.

But Osyraa has gone there to meet her. So we get our obligatory season finale fist-fight between the hero and the villain.

And it’s another great action scene. We get to see Book kill Zareh while Michael takes on Osyraa.

Meanwhile, Owo makes it to the nacelle and sets off the explosion.

The dot rescues her just before the explosion, essentially sacrificing itself.

The episode plays the loss of the dot as a significant thing. But it’s just an avatar. It’s not like the destruction of this robot is gonna mean the death of the sphere data AI.

We see last year how impossible it was to completely destroy that data.

The reboot Michael is trying to perform won’t do it. If it were that simple, they’d have just reboot the computer last year, rather than travelling into the future.

Osyraa almost kills Michael by pushing her into this weird well of programmable matter. It reminded me of Superman 3 actually, that scene that seemed so creepy when I was a kid, when the woman gets eaten by the computer and turned into a cyborg. Completely ridiculous of course.

And way, Michael shoots out of the wall, kills Osytraa and escapes. It was an odd ending to the fight, but again, it looked cool.

So the ship is rebooted. Starfleet are now in command again, life support is back up, and the ship is out of warp, so reinforcements can catch up.

They still have a problem, though. Discovery has been sucked inside the Veridian.

Michael has an idea about that, and Tilly tells her to implement it, effectively putting Michael in command. She is the ranking officer on the ship. Even though Tilly is first officer.

She’s gonna blow up the Veridian by ejecting Discovery’s warp core.

But how will Discovery not be destroyed as well? The only way is to jump away.

Stammets can navigate the jump because he has tardigrade DNA.

But Aurellio thinks Book can do it as well, because of his magic nature powers.

Makes sense. It’s a nice little development, in my opinion.

Book gives us a little hint as to his back-story. We learned weeks ago that Cleaveland Booker isn’t his real name. Apparently, it was the name of his mentor. He took that name and tries to live up to it every day. Interesting.

Jumping the ship is proving harder for Book than they’d hoped. Michael keeps telling him to jump, but nothing happens.

Then the Veridian explodes.

This is fake tension. We know they’re not gonna destroy the discovery and kill all the crew. So I kinda wish they’d just shown discovery jumping away.

Don’t get me wrong. The lead-up to the explosion was wonderfully tense. But the fake-out didn’t work for me.

We learn what Su’kal is really afraid of. It’s turning off the holo. Behind the door are the holo controls. He hasn’t been in here since he was a child.

Gray is afraid. Once the holo is turned off, he’ll disappear. Adira will still be able to see him, but that’s not enough for him. Again, I like how Culbert comforts him. “We’ve got you gray. We’ll find a way to help you be truly seen”

This moment, as Su’kal goes to deactivate the holo is the emotional heart of the episode, of the season, really.

Once the program has ended, we find that we’re not in a holodeck as such, just a normal room on the ship. I understand that in the 32nd century, holograms can be projected anywhere, so in one sense, they don’t need a holodeck as such, but it’s still practical to have a dedicated room. I mean, shouldn’t they have been tripping over chairs and things? The holodeck uses force fields to keep you in a confined area during the simulation. I suppose this could be done anywhere on the ship but it just seems a little impractical.

But for story-telling reasons, it makes sense for them to be here. Where they can immediately see Su’kal’s mother. (although it would have made sense for her to have died in the holodeck, as she activated the program for her son.)

Su’kal’s next order is a brave one. “Computer, show me what happened here, so I can be free.” But his new friends have prepared him for this moment.

So Su’kal’s mother had already put him in the simulation. So he didn’t have to watch her die. She told him not to touch the controls until the federation arrive.

But he turned off the simulation. He saw everyone dead but his mother. And she was really sick from radiation poisoning.

The poor kid watches his mother die in front of him, and he screams like he’s never screamed before. He sends out the shockwave that causes the burn.

I suspected this would be the case.

Saru tells him he is no longer alone. And then Su’kal turns around to see Saru in his Kelpien form. It’s a beautiful moment. Saru just gained a brother.

So. Now we know the full complete details about what caused the burn. What do I think about it?

I suspect many will not like it. Two weeks ago, many were saying “is that it? A Kelpien child screaming?”

And I can understand that from a certain perspective, it could feel anticlimactic. Like a weak payoff. But you know what. As I think about it, I think there’s a real poignance to the entire galaxy being ripped apart by the heartfelt anguish of a child seeing its mother die.

And the sentimental family man in me really likes it.

So … I’m good with this. I like it.

This is definitely the best pay-off that Star Trek Discovery (or Picard) has given us. So this is very much a positive response from me.

It’s very emotional. Very character-focussed.

Anyway, Discovery arrives just in time to rescue them. And they return to Starfleet headquarters.

The epilogue of the episode kinda ties together everything into a common theme. The human need to connect. Gray feels that very strongly. Su’kal felt that need growing up all alone with nothing but holograms to keep him company. The various scattered worlds have felt it on a global scale, the need to connect with the rest of the galaxy.

This is hit home at the very end with a quote from Gene Roddenberry.

“In a very real sense, we are all aliens on a strange planet. We spend most of our lives reaching out and trying to communicate. If during our whole lifetime we could reach out and really communicate with just two people, we are indeed very fortunate.”

Stammets is very happy to be reunited with Culbert and Gray. He gives Michael a look. It’s not quite a complete forgiveness of what she did, but I think there is some genuine gratitude that she rescues them. I think it’ll take a while for these two to regain their former friendship. But I think it’ll happen.

It was nice to see little glimpses of Doctor Pollard and Jet Reno.

The emerald chain has fractured without Osyraa. That kinda feels a little sudden. But thinking about it, a fractured chain could be worse. A whole lot of independent mercenaries out there just looking to their own interests.

But it’s nice to see the Federation beginning to rebuild. The Trill have returned and the Vulcans and Romulans of Ni’var are considering it.

Saru is taking some time off, helping Su’kal settle in on Kaminar. He is reportedly wanting to consider his future, which I suppose means he’s not sure he wants to remain in Starfleet. I’m not sure I buy that. He loves his homeworld and he’ll be very happy to see it again. He’ll always have a bond with Su’kal, but Starfleet is his life. His passion.

And it’s wonderful to finally see Sahil, the lone guy on the Federation outpost from the first episode of this season. He’s now been commissioned as a Starfleet Officer with the rank of Lieutenant. I really wanted to see him again. It would be nice if we see more of him next season.

And that’s when Vance has a heart to heart with Michael. First, nice to know Vance is a family man. He has a wife and daughter, off somewhere else where they’re safe. I love that. Vance has come to respect Michael’s unique way of doing things.

Michael, and the other Discovery crew have had to wrestle with how to live in this new time more than the people who are native to it, because she came from a different time. That allowed Michael to see new ways of doing things. And she has taught Vance a thing or two.

Now I have very mixed feelings about what happens next.

Vance offers Michael command of Discovery. Apparently it’s Saru who wants Michael to be the captain. But Vance agrees.

She’s a little hesitant, but Vance needs somebody commanding that ship now. There is an important job to be done. The dilithium from that planet needs to be distributed around the galaxy to those that need it. Only Discovery can carry out that mission.

So Michael accepts.

So we now have captain Michael Burnham of the USS Discovery.

Now on one hand, I like this. Michael has what it takes to be a captain. She wasn’t ready when Georgiou first suggested it back in The Vulcan Hello, but she’s learned a lot since then. She’s grown up a lot.

And this effectively solves what I’ve been calling the Michael Burnham problem. The idea that we have a lead of this show, who isn’t the captain of the ship, so they have to make everything be about her, because they have to constantly justify the fact that she is the lead character. With her in the captain’s chair, well, it works just like any other Star Trek show.

his is good for Michael’s character. It’s the next logical step for her arc.

So I like that.

But what about Captain Saru. I’ve loved Captain Saru this season. His arc throughout the whole season has been him learning to be a better captain. If he’s no longer going to be captain then it feels like that was all for nothing. And I hate that.

I don’t want Saru to leave the show. And I know he’s returning for season 4, which they’re filming right now.

And I definitely don’t want him to get demoted down to serving under captain Burnham.

So where does that leave his character? Command of another ship? That could work, but it would probably mean we’d see less of him next season as the show would follow Burnham on Discovery.

This leaves me with great concerns for how Saru’s character will be treated next season, and I’m not happy about it.

So like I said. Mixed feelings.

It IS cool to see that the Discovery crew are finally wearing the new Starfleet uniforms.

So looking at the crew’s colours, Culbert is in white for medical. MAkes sense. Stammets is in science blue. Obviously. Tilly is also in science blue. She was technically engineering when she first started, I believe. I wonder what this means for her position as first officer. Will she serve as Michael’s number one? If so, she should probably be in command red. Although maybe she’ll be like spock and have a joint position as science officer and first officer. If they do keep her as first officer, that should at least promote her to Lieutenant. Realistically, she should be at least Lieutenant Commander to be first officer.

Detmer and Owo are both in engineering yellow, which is kinda weird. Owo might make sense, as operations tends to be yellow. But I’d expect Detmer, as helm officer, to be in red.

But maybe the colours work a little different in the 32nd century than they did in the 24th. It has been a very long time.

And another surprise. Adira is in Starfleet uniform. So have they been fast-tracked through Starfleet academy given prior experience in the earth defence force? Maybe. Maybe Adira will be a cadet serving on Discovery kinda like Tilly was in season 1.

Book is also on the bridge, but not in uniform.

The episode, and the season, ends with a classic Star Trek fanfare, and then the TOS theme playing over the ending credits.

I’m not sure ths TOS theme fits as well here as it did with the last two seasons, but I think it’s meant to signify that Starfleet of the 32nd century are returning to former ideals of exploration and peaceful coexistence.

Next season should prove interesting. I’m very keen to learn what it will be about.

I wonder when we’ll get our first trailer. Not for a while. But I assume we’ll get a few verbal tidbits from Alex Kurtzman or Michelle Paradise at some point.

So that was Star Trek Discovery season 3.

As I said at the start, I thought it was a very strong season. The best so far. I really enjoyed it.

Discovery has well and truly established itself as a Star Trek show next to all the others at this point. I nitpic things from time to time, but no Star Trek show has ever been perfect. But the last 13 weeks have been a wonderful experience.

Well. That was quite a ride. It’s been a lot of work putting together weekly podcasts in a timely manner. I’m glad I moved my release date from Saturdays to Mondays, because it just took a little of the pressure off.

But I’m looking forward to taking it a little bit easier now that I won’t be covering a show airing for the first time.

I’ve mentioned it a couple of times before, but starting next episode, I’m going to begin covering Stargate Universe. It’s a show that not a lot of podcasters or youTubers have talked about. It’s actually a pretty divisive show, a little like Discovery.

I’m going to move back to a fortnightly schedule.

I’ll do my first Stargate episode next week, and then I’ll be back the week after as well, because I’ll be covering the 3-part pilot over a course of two episodes, But then I’ll be taking my first week off. From that point, we’ll be on the fortnightly schedule.

I hope you’ll continue to join me into the future, but if Stargate isn’t your thing and you want to part ways here, then thank you very much for joining me through Star Trek Discovery. This certainly won’t be the last time we cover Star Trek on Nerd Heaven. I’ve always loved Star Trek. It’s my primary fandom.

Anyway, There’s a lot of very cool stuff to talk about in Stargate Universe. In a lot of ways, it was ahead of its time. It feels very much like a modern sci-fi show. It was heavily influenced by Battlestar Galactica, which, in a way, has shaped all sci-fi TV ever since, including both Discovery and Picard.

I’ll be here next week to talk about the episodes Air Parts 1 and 2.

Until then, have a great week.

Live long and prosper.

Make it so.

56 episodes