I suppose when you travel 900 years away from everything you know, things are bound to feel different. “People of Earth” spends a good chunk of its time trying to describe that to us. While it does what it sets out too, it’s also a bit of an alienating episode. The crew feels entirely disconnected from the top down. The Discovery makes it back to unfamiliar Earth after reuniting with an uncertain Michael Burnham. Not exactly the place you’d like to find them.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Michael’s uncertainty prompts her to tell Saru to maintain the captain’s chair. The one year difference in time spent in the 32nd century accounting for Michael’s decision. Understanding that a year is a long time, it seems fast for her to feel so uncertain. And if she was so unsure of even coming back to Discovery, it feels a little quick to be letting Book go. It’s the in-between moments that I was afraid we lose when the focus switched from Burnham to Discovery from episode one to episode two. It isn’t as jarring from Discovery’s crew perspective. They only had a few moments between the 23rd and 32nd centuries. It’s Michael’s missing year that we need to know more information. Maybe it is coming in “The Hope That is You, Part II,” but the absence right now is keenly felt.
These Are The Voyages
Before making it sound like I didn’t like this episode, let’s take a look at what “People of Earth” gets right — namely addressing the conflict between the Earth Defense Force and Wen. These are the moments those who crave classic Trek have wanted. Michael’s solution may have been unorthodox, but it leads to a mostly non-violent truce. And the faintest glimmerings of Earth coming out of its inward phase and rejoining the rest of the galaxy. That wouldn’t hurt the beginning of a new federation of planets at all.
People of Earth
The longing for connection to something gets explored well here. From Tilly’s reflection at the Starfleet badge wall to the tree on the old Starfleet Academy grounds, you feel the pain that jumping so far away from everything you know brings. Points to Emily Coutts for the subtly she is giving to Detmer. We know there is something wrong, or are we just imagining it. Is she just out of sorts because of the time jump, or is control rambling around in her cybernetic implants? So long as we aren’t in for an Airiam situation from last season, bring it on.
Lastly, we have the re-introduction of the Trill. Discovery heads to Earth in the first place because of a message from an ‘Admiral Tal’. When they arrive, they find that Tal has been dead for twelve years, but as the inspection from the Earth Defense Force proceeds, a precocious young inspector reveals herself to be the Tal symbiont’s new host. Even though it’s probably been too many years, I would have loved to see another take on Dax, but it’s still nice to have the Trill back. And in a non-binary body to boot. Possibly the best person to handle a Trill role. I can’t wait to see how this develops.