“That Hope is You, Part 2” sees the Discovery crew and the United Federation of Planets itself fighting for the future on several fronts. It’s an action-packed hour of high stakes and deeply moving drama.
Among the episode’s many memorable moments, here are five capturing the spirit of the season, that stand out as some of the whole series’ finest to date.
Saru urges Su’Kal to step forward “even in fear”
We haven’t seen Saru, Culber, or Adira since the end of “Su’Kal,” but soon discover they aren’t faring well.
Unless Saru can convince Su’Kal, to emerge from his crashed ship’s holographic environment, none of them will survive.
As he tells Culber, Saru can’t force Su’Kal to adopt a new perspective. But being a Star Trek captain, he can urge such a shift in an inspirational way!
"Outside can be challenging … But it is also beautiful and diverse and filled with wonder … Even in fear, Su’Kal, you can still step forward."
Star Trek is usually about “boldly going.” But Saru reminds Su’Kal—and us—that “going,” even if we’re not feeling bold, is critically important, as long as we are going forward.
Culber promises Gray, “We’ll find a way to help you be seen”
Since “Forget Me Not,” only Adira and we have been able to see their boyfriend Gray.
The Khi’eth hologram recognizes and reveals Gray to others—but for how long?
In the context of the plot, Culber’s promise to Gray plants a seed for the fourth season of Star Trek Discovery. The effort to make Gray “really seen by everyone” will form a plot thread, maybe even a season-long one.
On another level, it’s an in-universe verbalization of what the Star Trek Discovery creative team has done in real life. They have made LGBTQ representation a reality on the final frontier. Valuing IDIC—Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations—means valuing non-binary people and relationships, too.
Burnham and Book beat up the bad guys
Yes, I’ve heard and can even sympathize with the complaints. Solving problems with fisticuffs and phasers isn’t the Star Trek ideal. I appreciate when the franchise’s writers devise clever and creative solutions to conflict.
But old-fashioned, knock-down, drag-out fights have been part of Star Trek’s DNA since almost the very beginning—look no further than the original series’ second pilot episode. Sometimes, the bad guys really can only be taken out the hard way.
When Star Trek resorts to violence, it should at least be exciting. And “That Hope is You, Part 2” delivers with a dual-front fight.
Book fights Osyraa’s lead enforcer Zareh in Discovery’s (admittedly impossibly huge) network of turbolift shafts, while Burnham takes on the Emerald Chain leader herself in the starship’s data core.
I wonder whether Burnham’s absorption and emergence from the programmable matter wall an homage to the storied, deleted “memory wall” sequence from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. But I know her stated disbelief in no-win situations and her refusal to quit are homages to the most storied Star Trek captain of all.
Burnham becomes the captain of the Discovery
To steal from another Star Trek series, “it’s been a long road,” winding even from the 23rd century to the 32nd. But at the end of the season three finale, Michael Burnham is captain of the Discovery.
Admiral Vance offers Burnham the Discovery’s big chair not despite her season-long vocational struggles but because of them. “You were the one who wrestled with how to be,” he tells her, and with “what this time requires of us.” She has proven she can bring hope and determination to a Federation desperately in need of those qualities.
And what Star Trek fan hasn’t imagined themselves as the star of a scene like this? It’s a total delight, from the announcement of “Captain on the bridge!” to the revelation of Burnham’s command catchphrase: “Let’s fly.”
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry gets the last word in season three
The creative team must have been tempted to make that beauty shot of the Discovery jumping to warp the final image of the show’s third season finale. They chose instead to add a text card, bearing these words of wisdom from franchise creator Gene Roddenberry:
"In a very real sense, we are all aliens on a strange planet. We spend most of our lives reach out and trying to communicate. If during our whole lifetime, we could reach out and really communicate with just two people, we are indeed very fortunate."
As show runner Michelle Paradise told ComicBook.com, the quote fittingly caps a season devoted to the theme of connection: “We do need connection now more than ever.”
The third season of Star Trek Discovery is not only, in my judgment, the series’ best so far.
It’s also the season that proves the show has fully inherited the Star Trek mantle, spinning stories of the far future that matter most because of how they can point a way forward for us today.