That ‘Nope’ is me, reacting to Star Trek Discovery S3E13 – That Hope Is You, Part 2 Review

That Hope Is You Part 2 Review

*SPOILERS*

If the episode title “That Hope Is You, Part 2” doesn’t tell you that this third season finale of “Star Trek: Discovery” is going to be an excerise in Burnham-style vanity, it doesn’t take long for the episode itself to show you. The recap, though, spends most of its time reminding us of the Su’Kal storyline that was all but sidelined last week as the series focussed on setting up this ‘exciting’ conclusion.

With time running out for Saru, Culber and Adira marooned in the Verubin Nebula aboard Su’Kal’s disintegrating vessel, Burnham finds herself a captive of Osyraa as the Emerald Chain leader attempts to use Discovery to blast her way out of Starfleet Headquarters, determined to steal the spore drive technology and use it to crush the Federation.

That Hope Is You Part 2 Review
New parents Stamets and Culber weren’t expecting Adira’s rebellious body art phase quite so soon.

With narrative cohesion thin on the ground, “That Hope Is You, Part 2” kicks off with all the action it can muster but it’s such a clusterfuck of awfulness that it almost makes you yearn for the pisspoor expositionary speeches “Discovery” usually favours. There’s no explanation for why Starfleet, with a single target to aim at, seems so unable to actually hit the slow-moving USS Discovery. There are phaser blasts flying all over the place, often nowhere near the ship and while it looks pretty, it just feels stupid. How can multiple Federation starships suddenly have the blaster accuracy of your average Stormtrooper? Inside the ship fares little better, with Tilly utilising the collective knowledge of aeons of sphere data as cannon fodder while she and the remaining bridge crew make a single assault in an attempt to get to the bridge.

Having taken the bold step last week to reveal Osyraa as far more than we had assumed them to be, finally shading the character with some nuance and subtlety, she snaps right back into one-dimensional villain cliché in this episode and never comes back. The stop-start pacing of the action just doesn’t work because there’s no underlying point to the whole thing. It’s a Mad Hatter’s setting of storms in tea cups and not one of them really threatens to do anything of any note. Having had “Die Hard” in space last week, it feels like we’re getting “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” in space this week, except it’s closer to “A Good Day To Die Hard” in execution.

I’m bored of this show – what else is on?

There is a metatextual aspect to the supporting case being suffocated, neatly representing the lack of air time they get thanks to Michael Burnham hoovering it all up. Luckily, the writers have yet another hitherto unmentioned skill to pull out their ass, arbitrarily giving Owo a backstory of being a free diver and therefore able to hold her breath for extended periods of time. Perhaps it would have been wiser for a spacefaring Federation starship to have breathing equipment stored anywhere below deck five.

The invocation of the ‘no win scenario’ is cheap and, ultimately, leads to nothing which is par for the course for this episode, and Discovery in general. They bring in a fleet from Ni’Var only to have them stand down. The evacuation of Stamets from the ship barely matters. For that matter, Osyraa’s pesticide plan against spaceships makes no sense either, unless the Ni’Var fleet was made up of agricultural vessels. The more I reflect on this, the more it might be Discovery’s worst episode yet. “That Hope Is You Part 2” shows that you can polish a turd until it comes up gleaming but no matter how good it looks, it still stinks.

There’s a lot of shouting and running, like a lot. Enough to pad out a run time desperately short on plot. There are action sequences which may look cool but are ludicrously stupid, such as the interior of the USS Discovery apparently encompassing a near V’Ger-scale high tech cityscape. Where is this meant to be in the ship? It’s a sign of the level of the ambition of “Star Trek: Discovery” that it looks to borrow its action beats from “Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones” and its sense of spatial awareness from “Doctor Who“.

That Hope Is You Part 2 Review
Bigger on the inside? Sounds familiar.

And how tediously predictable for the final confrontation to come down to some fisticuffs between Burnham and Osyraa. After all, there must have been a reason why the series spent all that time ensuring the building up of a direct and personal animosity between the two characters. Oh no, wait. They’d barely met before and yet, tellingly, each character fully assumed the other would have definitely heard of and know all about them. Osyraa’s death is also unceremoniously anticlimactic, although I did appreciate the nod to “Superman III”.

That Hope Is You Part 2 Review
Good job the computer core had an inexplicably gooey techno-wall, eh?

Away from the braindead action beats, Su’Kal’s whole story boils down to a sci-fi makeover of “The Neverending Story” as they hide from The Nothing which threatens his family realm. Could Saru not just call out his mother’s name? Or even Martha? That usually calms things down. Ultimately The Burn turns out to be a damp, technobabble squib, another echo of the writers’ belief that the best stories are where the entire universe revolves around one person. Still, at least we’re treated to a five minute scene of Culber and Adira expositing the cause of The Burn for the third time in as many episodes. Methinks they doth protest too much.

The appearance of Grey as a holographic Vulcan is a nice touch but then is immediately contradicted by him being the one who goes to check what’s happening beyond the holoprojector boundary. I get that radiation can’t hurt him but I’m guessing the failure of the holoprojectors should be more of a problem?  In the end, it makes as much sense as Culber’s unwarranted confidence that they can just remove a being who has a profoundly symbiotic genetic relationship with an elemental substance on a galactic scale from his home with no risk or side effects? No matter which way you turn, the lazy and clumsy writing is just piling up as the writers pull one ‘just because’ after another to reach “That Hope Is You Part 2″‘s intended endpoint.

That Hope Is You Part 2 Review
It’s cobbled together from stale ingredients and spoiled seasonings. This soup’s not great either.

Case in point, Book’s sudden ability to use the spore drive is egregiously unearned and pulled out of the deepest recesses of writer’s backside. Of all the deus ex machina “Star Trek: Discovery”’s writers have used, this is the most profoundly stupid, undercutting as it does the entire point of Burnham’s actions in the previous episode. And while we’re on the subject of wasting everyone’s time, the ridiculous handwaving coda where it’s quickly announced that without Osyraa, The Emerald Chain fragmented and collapsed kind of makes a mockery of her overtures of an alliance. If Vance had been injured or killed, do the writers believe Starfleet would have been finished? Do they actually not understand that almost everything is made up of more than one person? Even their resident Trill character Grey now wants what no other Trill has been able to have – independent existence beyond his lifespan. And Culber vows to get it for him. Why? Just because? Self-centred vanity, thy name is “Star Trek: Discovery”.

It’s a nice touch that we get to see Sayal, from “That Hope Is You, Part 1” again but it’s scant consolation for the realisation that we’ve basically spent three interminable years learning how ‘Captain Burnham Begins’. It’s funny that she still tries to protest against the promotion, though, because nothing sums up Michael Burnham as much as wanting to be in charge but not actually have the responsibility or accountability of being in command.

That Hope Is You Part 2 Review
Will modern Trek ever have comfortable uniforms?

If you think it sounds like I hated this episode, you’re right. If you think I won’t be back for more next season, you’re dead wrong.

Once again, like it has done every single season, despite pissing away my enthusiasm and goodwill in the latter half of the season “Star Trek: Discovery” does just enough at the death of “That Hope Is You Part 2” to make me believe that they’ll get it right next season. There’s a decent “Star Trek” show in here somewhere, and I’ll keep boldly coming back in the hope it will arrive.

trek score 3

3/10

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1 Comment

  1. Rodney Twelftree January 18, 2021

    Dude.

    Nailed it.

    Loved the Die Hard reference. The whole show to-date has been profoundly made-up-on-the-run, preposterously stop-start with subplots and sidebar stories as if the writers (and/or showrunner) can’t quite figure out which direction the show’s going and mistaking excess for interest.

    After this, I’m out. I won’t be watching further seasons.

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