Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 3 ” People of Earth” Review

A transformed Michael Burnham reunites with her USS Discovery family.

Spoilers

Star Trek: Discovery Season Three Episode Three ” People of Earth” directed by Jonathan Frankes features Captain Saru and the USS Discovery crew returning to Earth to find what is left of the Federation. After traveling 900 years into the future, the whole crew is finally together. “People of Earth” opens with newly minted first officer Commander Michael Burnham reuniting with Saru, Tilly, Stamets, Mirror Verse Philippa Georgiou, and the rest of the USS Discovery.

” People of Earth” introduces a new recurring character Inspector Adira of the United Earth Defense Force. After the Burn, Earth formed the United Earth Defense Force (UEDF) because the Federation could no longer protect the planet. It’s a separatist military force that takes extreme measures to defend the Earth. Adira is played by Blu del Barrio, a non-gender binary actor. In September, Star Trek.com announced Adira is a non-gender binary character who uses they/them pronouns. So far, everybody uses she/her pronouns and identifies Adira as a genius teenage girl. I’m using they/them pronouns in this review. I’m assuming that the television show characters will start using these non-gender binary pronouns for Adira sometime in the future.

I wonder if Adira is considered a non-gender binary character since they merged with a Trill symbiont. They joined with the former Admiral Tal, which makes them Adira Tal if they were Trill. Twelve years ago, Admiral Tal sent a message out from Starfleet headquarters calling everybody back to Earth. Captain Saru and Michael were hoping to speak to him, but he died two years ago. There must have been some emergency, so the Tal symbiont merged with the human Adira. Adira has no memories from Admiral Tal’s life, which is strange. When Trills merge with symbionts, they merge personalities with them and retain the memories from their past lives. The joined Trill becomes a new person. In a way, all Trills with symbionts don’t fit within the gender binary since they have memories of being both genders, and the being they merge with is genderless. There has been a history of humans temporarily joining with symbionts like Commander William Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation, who acted as a temporary host to Odan. Though in “The Host,” Riker and Odan’s personalities merged, so it’s a bit strange that Adira doesn’t even have memories from one host.  

Michael Burnham has changed after her year apart from the USS Discovery. Michael has been forced to live outside of Starfleet’s morals and rules to gather information about the Federation and survive this cruel world. The commander has had to let the USS Discovery go to some degree to thrive. Right away, Mirror Verse Phillipa Georgiou sees that Michael is no longer comfortable within the USS Discovery hierarchal structure. The UEDF has to beam on board to get the commander back in her Starfleet uniform, which she used to wear proudly. Without any authorization, Michael and Book fly his starship out of the USS Discovery to capture the dilithium raider Wern. Before season three, Michael may have pulled the same kind of stunt, but she wouldn’t have gone without permission from a superior officer like Captain Saru. The commander has become more rebellious.

The first officer has been struggling to fit in the majority of her life. Since she’s been an orphan, Michael has always been an outsider. When Sarek brought Michael home, she learned to act more like a Vulcan to fit into her new world. Even after she met all of Sarek’s expectations, she was still not accepted into Vulcan society. Michael joined Starfleet but was thought to be too cold and logical. Though she had few personal connections, Michael’s career flourished before she mutinied. In the USS Discovery, she created a Starfleet family. Michael even reconnected with her adopted family (Sarek, Spock, and Amanda Grayson). Throughout all of Star Trek: Discovery, Michael has been working toward discovering her real self. Now that Michael has to find her way back to Starfleet, she will become the officer, she was always meant to be. Michael has begun her journey to become a Starfleet captain and find her true self.

Federation diplomacy defeats UEDF “shoot first ask question later” tactics. When Michael drags the raider Wern into the Discovery’s ready room, the peacemaking starts. Wern looks like this insect humanoid, but we quickly learn the truth. Saru and Michael force the raider and Captain Ndoye of the UEDF into diplomatic talks after the two sides have been fighting each other for years. Michael pulls off Wren’s helmet revealing a human man. Ndoye is shocked when Wren tells the group that he is from Titan, an independent science colony. The UEDF had been at war with other humans because of their fear-based thinking. Titan ran out of dilithium a long time ago. The settlement went to Earth for help, but the UEDF shot them out of the sky. They assumed the settlers were aliens coming to attack Earth. UEDF’s fear of outsiders led them to kill many innocent people who are struggling to survive. Like how the United States government’s fear of drug gangs and prejudice leads them to continue to lock up innocent refugees who more like us than different. The Titan raiders attacked their ancestral planet to survive. After learning the truth, Wren and Ndoye agree to trade with one another. The Federation believes in compassion, diplomacy, embracing differences, and trusting the goodness of others. The USS Discovery’s diplomatic tactics work, proving that only through listening to the “outsider” can we find peace.

In Star Trek: Discovery Season Three, the Federation will re-awaken.

Post Author: Paloma Bennett

Paloma Bennett is a film and television reviewer based out of Los Angeles. As a member of the LGBTQ+ Community, a feminist, a voracious reader, and a super fan, she’s tapped into today’s mercurial identity-based culture. She brings this engaged understanding of contemporary culture to her film and television reviews. Her work can be found on Whedonopolis, Fandomopolis, Women at Warp, FanBolt, and her blog Decoding the Daemoverse. Paloma has also produced and co-hosted the monthly film podcast “Jump Start Cinema” sponsored by New Filmmakers Los Angeles. She holds a B.A. in Film and Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz and a Masters in Cinema Critical Studies from San Francisco State University. Paloma has a passion for everything pop culture, including TV shows, movies, comic books, and podcasts. The first significant fandom she was geeky about was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s a proud member of the Star Trek LA Away Team.