Star Trek #1513: Far From Home

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Discovery crashes on a cold planet.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Ok, didn't make us wait.

WHY WE DON'T: Is there really a story here?

REVIEW: Deus ex machina or not, Burham sweeping in at the last minute to save Discovery from parasitic ice, at least gets everyone into the same space, and so we escape the decompressed storytelling structure of Star Trek: Picard I initially feared. Still, I wonder if they shouldn't have done it the other way around? Burnham finds her crew and they've  been in this new century for a year, their stories have advanced and the ship itself becomes a strange new world to discover. Instead, we miss out on her growth over the last year (unless a flashback is in the offing) and she's nominally our main character, while the rest of the crew try to catch up, but don't ask nearly as many questions as they otherwise might because we got those answers in the first episode.

I suppose my problem with the episode is that it's a series of things that happen once the plot has decided to make the ship crash. There's no unifying theme other than "let's check in with the characters" as they deal with the disaster. I like a good procedural, but this one is just okay in that respect. To still have an "adventure" in there, Saru and Tilly go walking around (a different part of) Iceland and reach a small mining settlement (deep cut: the aliens there only appeared on Enterprise, but of course Coridan has its roots in TOS) to get help repairing their communications thingy. It's real easy in the 32nd Century with that cool programmable matter, but of course they run afoul of a tyrannical "courier" who has been extorting the miners and now wants Discovery's stash of dilithium. We saw this in That Hope Is You - because un-burned dilithium is rare, corporations (like in this case, the Tellarite Exchange) are rationing fuel to maintain political control on the galaxy. When the bad guy shows up, I felt strong western vibes, but in reality, this is Mad Max in space, isn't it? Zareh's a sadist, clearly, but I'm not clear on his logic. If he wants Disco's dilithium, sending Tilly alone and gloating about her freezing to death isn't a great way to go about it. He's got a ship. He should be taking them hostage and hopping over there before nightfall. Better yet, personal transporters are a thing.

When things look desperate, Georgiou shows up, having followed them to the mine, where she lets herself be shot several times waiting for her moment. It seems reckless as she can't know the weapon isn't automatically lethal (the previous episode was so disintegration-heavy, the cattle prod gun is a surprise), so I call shenanigans. Sure, she's a badass, and makes good on her cocky threats, but the moment doesn't make sense. That she's there at all makes sense, however. She spends the first half of the episode trying to take command and butting heads with Saru. He holds the Federation banner in this, and of course, her methods are opposite. Tilly's role in the mission is perhaps less obvious than that, but Saru's promise that she makes a good first impression proves accurate. She's at least disarming.

Meanwhile, on the ship, we get a little bit of everyone else. Nhan, now a full cast member (Rachael Ancheril gets a credit in the opening), reveals that she feels compelled to replace Airiam who sacrificed herself for her, a life for a life. Linus gets a scene (fun), with Georgiou asking him about his big eyes (very weird, I wouldn't feel good about it if I were him). Detmer crashes the ship in as controlled a way as she can, but from then on seems to be shock, and we may find out that she suffers from PTSD from whatever incident gave her that implant (it gets worse when she finds the landing caused at least one fatal casualty). Stamets is also pretty groggy, so Reno follows him around to make sure he's okay, nursing a light spine injury so she can't crawl into Jeffries tubes herself. I like Jett in small doses, but if all she brings to the table is deadpan sarcasm, I'm going to tire of her quickly. In fact, I did, here, even if the sarcasm is in service of teaching Stamets a lesson about his destructive pride. I know Stamets was out of it, but having her explain how to do what looks like a pretty simple procedure, to someone who has enough of a technical background to be assigned to this in the first place and have served as chief engineer for the past two seasons... That's a nonsense cliché to go with the ticking clock climax. Similarly, it's silly to artificially ramp up the tension by having Saru take forever to simply decide to open a channel, the natural response to being hailed.

LESSON: Be home before dark.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: The story thrums along, and the effects are of course impeccable, but its many plot contrivances are annoying.

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