Saru and Tilly barter for materials on 'Star Trek: Discovery'
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Star Trek: Discovery continues its third voyage with what it does best.

Character insight and development.

What it doesn’t bring is what Star Trek does best. A complicated, high-concept sci-fi story. But that’s okay. Because Star Trek: Discovery has been its own thing from the beginning. And it has its own trails to blaze.

With Burnham lost, the Discovery crash lands in the future, cut off from her on an unknown planet.

‘Far From Home,’ the second episode of the third season of Star Trek: Discovery, tests the ship’s crew with a simple story.

Owosekun on the bridge on 'Star Trek: Discovery'

The Plot

After the events of season two’s finale, the Discovery crash-lands into a glacier on an unknown world.

With Saru (Doug Jones) in command, the ship is dead in the ice. The ship doesn’t have weapons, communications, and it can’t even fly.

Saru and Tilly (Mary Wiseman) set out to find replacement parts. Back on the Discovery, Stamets (Anthony Rapp), freshly-woken from a coma, teams up with Reno (Tig Notaro) to make what repairs they can. All the while, the Mirror Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) carries out her own agenda, leaving Nahn (Rachael Ancheril) watching her every move.

Things turn south quickly for Saru and Tilly. They encounter a mining colony that offers to repair their busted communications relay in exchange for a little dilithium. But they soon find out that the colony is held at the whim of Zareh (Jake Weber) – the miners work for his benefit. Think Negan in space.

As with the season premiere, “That Hope Is You,” it’s a simple story. Basic TV storytelling. A story, B story, B story converges with A story. Wash, rinse, repeat, wipe hands on pants.

But what “Far From Home” does for Star Trek: Discovery is part of what makes the series tick. It puts people in tough situations and forces to learn about themselves and each other. The episode isn’t complicated, but it still excels at what the heart of Star Trek is.

Of course, what would Star Trek: Discovery be without a nagging seed for a mini-story arc? During the crash, Lt. Detmer (Emily Coutts) is shaken up. But it seems to go a little deeper than that.

And it does it through the characters and the performances. Speaking of which.

Saru makes contact on 'Star Trek: Discovery'

The Performances

Star Trek: Discovery might be headlined by Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham. But “Far From Home” makes clear what’s always been obvious.

This show, as it always has, belongs to Saru. Doug Jones has all the gravitas and character of Star Trek‘s best characters. He infuses Saru with the uniqueness Nimoy gave Spock, that Brent Spiner gave Data. And on top of that, he’s got the innate authority to carry the show.

In “Far From Home,” Saru comes across as Star Trek: Discovery‘s best representative of what the franchise is.

And it took just over two seasons, but Mary Wiseman finally learned how to play Tilly just right. Where Tilly has historically been annoying. In “Far From Home,” she starts to grow as a character. She puts together a natural naivete with the determination of a recent Starfleet grad. But despite the growth, Wiseman hangs on to the things that make Tilly, well, Tilly.

Tig Notaro brings a welcome sense of humor to Star Trek: Discovery. One that has enough subtlety to keep things interesting but funny enough that it doesn’t pass by unnoticed. Rapp plays Stamets’s sheer stubbornness really well, and he and Notaro continue to make great foils for one another.

Detmer and Nhan on 'Star Trek: Discovery'

Writing And Directing

“Far From Home”  is put together by the same director as the Star Trek: Discovery season three premiere, Olatunde Osunsanmi.

Osunsanmi paces the episode really well, but some of the action in the mining colony scenes take a little while to find their footing. The visuals are solid, and Star Trek: Discovery remains the better looking of the two live-action entries of the “New Trek” era. The inconsistent sepias and dingy grays of Star Trek: Picard are nowhere to be found here.

Despite its strange new world, Discovery finds itself in a colorful but not obnoxious setting. The lighting and camera angles reflect the scenes as written.

When it comes to the writing, the script by Alan McElroy, Chris Silvestri, and Anthony Maranville is sharp and accessible. It does precisely what it needed to, which is present the counter story to the season premiere. Instead of Burnham hunting for Discovery, we get the inverse.

It’s essentially the same story. Unfamiliar surroundings, shifty locals, and a ticking clock. But where Star Trek: Discovery took advantage of Burnham being overwhelmed by her new surroundings, here it shows the crew of the Discovery working past their hardships and finding strength in themselves. And each other.

You know, like Star Trek does.

Ensign Tilly incognito on 'Star Trek: Discovery'

The Breakdown

If “That Hope Is You” was the third pilot for Star Trek: Discovery, then “Far From Home” is part two of that story.

We don’t have high-concept sci-fi, and I have a feeling we won’t any time soon. Season two spoiled us with episodes like “New Eden” and “An Obol For Charon.”

But what we do have is a story that highlights the best of the characters. And introduces the team that truly sits at the heart of Star Trek: Discovery to its new paradigm in a fun and thoughtful way.

New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery stream Thursdays on CBS All Access.

All images courtesy of startrek.com.

'Star Trek: Discovery' - Far From Home

8.2

Acting

8.9/10

Writing

7.2/10

Directing

8.1/10

Entertainment Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Why is Saru not the top billed character on this show?
  • Wiseman finding her voice as Tilly
  • Gorgeous and consistent direction
  • Sharp writing

Cons

  • It may be its own thing, but a complicated story wouldn't kill 'Star Trek: Discovery' once in a while
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