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Star Trek: Discovery "People Of Earth": Trek Never Changed, But We Did
Star Trek has some of the most eclectic storytelling in fiction. The irony behind much of its fan base is how rigid aspects of the series can be. One thing that's remained constant is the exploration of the unknown even in familiar settings. The latest episode of Discovery provides an abridged version of Michael Burnham's (Sonequa Martin-Green) year-head start into the distant future before her ship's arrival. As Discovery reunites with the commander, they also meet the "friend" she made for the year in Cleveland "Book" Booker (David Ajala), who's clearly warmed to her within the year time frame. The crew, who aside from administrative decisions that had to be made, is finding out how much of a target they have on their backs given how rare commodity dilithium, the franchise's most valuable resource responsible for warp drive, became scarce.
With their decision becoming resolute, the crew decides to go "home" to earth or at least the earth of the future. Without spoiling anything, they end up finding more breadcrumbs on the path to solving the season's question, "What happened to Starfleet." As those resentful to the notion of new Trek somehow desecrating the principles established by Gene Roddenberry and previous shows, showrunners Michelle Paradise and Alex Kurtzman never forgotten how Starfleet principles still persevere when the galaxy needs it the most. Their whole universe and by extension, the world we lived in may have changed, but Star Trek always remains resolute and this episode demonstrates why those original principles still work in the current era.
Written by Bo Yeon Kim, Erika Lipoldt, Anthony Maranville, Chris Silvestri, Brandon Schultz, and directed by franchise vet and Next Generation alum Jonathan Frakes, "People of Earth" manages to re-establish those bonds that make Discovery so strong. Special mention goes to Doug Jones, Martin-Green, and Michelle Yeoh to play up the tension and contrast. With Jones' Saru, Burnham, and Georgiou (Yeoh) presents such a balanced core that will drive the ship's survival. It similar dynamic the Kirk, Spock, and Bones had in The Original Series had.
Saru's attention to detail to operate within logic and regulation almost mirrors of Spock. Burnham, while showing impulsive tendencies, but can delegate to Saru's wisdom to help make decisions like Kirk. Georgiou has impulse and drives through intuition, which in some ways mirrors Bones and his reliance on instinct. The introduction of Blu del Barrio's Adira evokes an intriguing addition to the crew as a fish-out-of-water and almost childlike innocence the way Lt. Cmdr Data was in TNG especially given the interactions with Stamets (Anthony Rapp).
Mary Wiseman also delivers a powerful performance as Tilly reminding the crew how difficult it was to leave everything behind leaving a somber reminder of their uncertain journey ahead. The last mention deserves to go to Christopher Heyerdahl, who plays the ominous Wen, leader of a group trying to seize as much dilithium as they can. Everything about the character represents what the core of Star Trek is about: using empathy to show what's underneath and how not everything is always what it seems. "People of Earth" is definitely a great follow up from "Far From Home". Star Trek: Discovery airs Thursdays on CBS All Access.