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Star Trek: Discovery (CBS)

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY 3×01 “That Hope Is You, Part 1” review

Neil reviews the first episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY season 3. Available now on CBS All Access in the US and Netflix internationally.

Synopsis

Arriving 930 years in the future, Burnham navigates a galaxy she no longer recognizes while searching for the rest of the U.S.S. Discovery crew.

Review

Whilst its fair to say that all of us at GYCO Tower are fans of Star Trek and Discovery, there’s no arguing that the series has spent two seasons trapped in a well documented era of the franchise. The end of season 2 finally allowed the show to take creative control, giving them the ability to create a new and truly unique Trek.

“That Hope Is You, Part 1” acts like a soft reboot for the series. Had this been the pilot, finding a Starfleet officer picking up the pieces of her life in 3188 after a devastating incident in the past, would have been groundbreaking for Trek. But here we are, instead using the third season to breathe new life in to Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the world the Discovery crew inhabits.

This episode cleverly focusses solely on Burnham and her arrival in the future. That razor sharp focus allows us to feel what she feels. It’s disorientating and unfamiliar. We no longer understand the world and neither does she.

Perhaps to have brought both Burnham and the full discovery crew in to 3188 together would have been overwhelming. Instantly setting them on a path of exploration in their new setting and continuing the classic Trek trope of exploring new worlds.

Instead we’re able to acclimatise ourselves in a way which feels much more natural and rooted in human emotion. Something which Burnham hasn’t always been known for thanks to her Vulcan upbringing.

Martin-Green pulls an absolutely flawless, stunning performance in this episode. Her emotional range had me laughing and choked up from scene-to-scene. As she crashes on a strange new world – the cast upped sticks to Iceland for the opening episodes of the season – her elation at discovery her mission was successful is as pure as any performance can be. Flipping on a knife edge with the realisation of everything she has lost is heartbreaking.

“That Hope Is You, Part 1” offers the chance for some new character exploration for Burnham. The scenes after she is drugged and her inhibitions are lifted is some of the funniest material which Discovery has pulled off to-date.

The introduction of Book (David Ajala) serves as Burnham (and our) introduction to the world of 3188. Burnham and Book have great chemistry and it’s clear this relationship will become integral to Michael’s journey through this new landscape. There’s enough intrigue and heart to make his character more than a generic Trek space pirate.

The spaceport-cum-marketplace on the planet Hima feels quite familiar. It could easily be a recreation of the plant from Star Trek: Picard episode “Stardust City Rag” even. But it does allow for some quick fire decontextualisation for the universe. Andorians and Orion’s working together!?

Moving the production of Discovery to Iceland for this episode really amps up the alien aesthetic. Discovery has always had enough cinematic flare to set it apart from other Trek series but this is by-far it’s best looking episode to-date.

Visual effects are stunning and well implemented across the episode and it feels like Star Trek‘s first contemporary incarnation has had somewhat of a budget increase on last year.

Verdict

Discovery returns incredibly strong with “That Hope Is You, Part 1,finally finding the show carving its own path in the Star Trek universe and anchored by a stunning performance by Sonequa Martin-Green.

Star Trek: Discovery is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Alex Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout, Bryan Fuller’s Living Dead Guy Productions and Roddenberry Entertainment. Alex Kurtzman, Bryan Fuller, Heather Kadin, Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts, Akiva Goldsman, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth serve as executive producers.


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