There's a sense that Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 3 may be setting the true tone for the season and it looks to be one that deals with trauma in its many forms.
From the Burnham's return to the ship to Adira's joining up to the bridge crew's literal tree-hugging, everyone is in a weird head-space in addition to being in actual space.
Trauma, in its basest form, is a sense of loss. That could be a loss of safety, confidence, people, places, memories, or a multitude of other things.
Discovery is.a ship out of time from a planet that no longer recognizes it and in search of a place to belong.
Its crew has lost comrades and has yet to find a safe and welcoming harbor in which to heal their wounds, both physical and psychological.
I won't lie. It's hard to watch this many people deal with this much tragedy for even one hour.
I've had to accept I may never see you again. You can love someone and still let them go.Burnham
And yes, that final scene on the campus of what used to be Starfleet Academy was a pretty good upbeat and hopeful but I couldn't help thinking Detmer is dealing with more than five minutes on a sunny lawn can set right.
The pilot's lost confidence in herself and, possibly, in her captain. I've never seen her question an order before. She's always been up for a challenge.
Fear seems to be overriding her decision-making and that never bodes well for someone who's got to be quick in both action and reaction.
Tilly's a talker and that makes it natural for her to represent for everyone when she tells Burnham that no one's had a chance yet to process what they've lost, what they left behind when they chose to follow her into the future.
Furthermore, she's insightful enough to understand what Burnham had to do -- mentally -- to soldier on through her first year in the future without knowing whether she would ever see Discovery again.
I keep having this image of you. You're holding a dandelion, and you blow on it, and the seeds, they go. You let us go, didn't you?Tilly
As sitcom-y as it might be, I enjoyed watching Georgiou take on the bad-ass gatekeeper role with Book. Props to him for managing to hold back and resist falling into her web.
And then for her to turn around and throw some truths in Burnham's face... Well, if I can't have a Jett Reno-centric episode, at least Georgiou will always keep things interesting.
Speaking of Reno, it's doubly frustrating to have her absent here because, for one thing, she's amazing, but for the other, can you imagine how epic her snark would've been if she'd been in Engineering when the United Earth Defence Force inspectors suddenly popped in?
And the UEDF is yet another product of trauma. The aftermath of The Burn and the paranoia Earth became entrenched in is what led humans to truly forget their humanity in the interests of short-sighted self-preservation.
Diplomacy is so slow.Georgiou
Of course, all this is in the interest of strengthening the argument that the galaxy NEEDS Starfleet and the Federation.
The message being sent on all frequencies is that we are stronger together, that the breakdown of communication between parties is what pitted humans against each other, fueled by desperation and fear.
I don't know about you but having Christopher Heyerdahl unmasked as Wen elicited an audible squeal of delight. That man makes every show he touches better.
Actually, having him and Saru (Doug Jones) in the same scene might land it in my top ten Trek moments.
It's you, Saru. And chain of command dictates it. I don't know if it's ever been me.Burnham
And how about CAPTAIN Saru, eh? Not only is he the first non-human captain of a titular starship series but he's one that we've seen progress from hesitant pre-vahar-ai Kelpian Science Officer to fully-realized command material.
Kelpians have always had a deep understanding of fear and loss. Perhaps that prepared me for this.Saru
His relationship with Burnham is oddly juxtaposed with her relationship with Book here.
Two scenes, in particular, struck me as strongly symbolic of Burnham's conflict in reuniting with Discovery.
There's the moment she pins the com badge on Book after convincing him to dress in a Starfleet uniform. It's an intimate and sombre moment despite their banter before and after.
Burnham: You're Lt Booker now.
Book: Aye-aye, Commander.
Burnham: One aye. We're not pirates.
Compare that moment to when she accepts Saru's offer as his Number One.
Both scenes are drenched in matrimonial imagery, underscoring a sense of commitment and gravitas.
Burnham: There are things, in my year here, that I let go of. And I need time to find my way back to them. If I can.
Saru: I will trust you to grow through change as you have trusted me.
We could interpret it as Burnham trying to fit Book into her life by dressing him up as Starfleet. The rash he claims to have gotten from the uniform indicates how well that worked out.
And that means returning to Starfleet and committing herself to Discovery and the mission to re-establish the Federation.
Despite Georgiou's assertion that Burnham will never quite revert back to the officer she was before her "gap" year, it's proving harder to take the Starfleet out of the woman than the Emperor would think.
In another world, I might've said 'Michael is somewhere, being earnest and doing the right thing' In this one, I'm not so sure.Georgiou
The only true plot development to present itself here is the introduction of Adira.
As we have yet to see a Klingon, we can only assume the show is moving away from that overly-fraught relationship and potentially replacing it with the Trill.
Adira, as a human host of a Trill symbiont, is already an anomaly.
In addition, as TV Fanatic reported earlier, performer Blu del Barrio not only identifies personally as non-binary, their character will also come to that realization about themself.
What I didn't expect was for Adira to present as "young" as they do.
Adira: This science vessel is practically a museum.
Tilly: Okay, well, museums are cool so...
Adira: That's what someone who lives in a museum would say.
Their smart-alecky retorts and obvious brilliance gives Stamets a new sounding board, an alternative to Tilly (who I'm going to predict starts spending more time on the bridge).
Tilly: How do you get a teen genius to 'fess up? Give her some of your weird mushrooms!
Stamets: Who are you?
Solving the mystery of Senna Tal will most probably involve even more trauma-informed adventuring. Woo-hoo?
Don't get me wrong, it's all very interesting but the danger of being bogged down by the (admittedly, very necessary) healing process seems apparent as witnessed by the screeching deceleration in plot speed here in comparison to Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 2.
Maybe I just need to see Georgiou kicking more butt or have Reno spouting her techno-babble and gives Stamets new nicknames.
In any case, when you watch Star Trek: Discovery online, you're sure to pick up on the change in the wind.
We are, by no means, in Kansas anymore. This is something new and a major change.
What that means is, for the time being, we can expect to feel as awkward and uncomfortable as a ship full of people thrown a thousand years into their own future.
Georgiou: My guess is she's thinking like one of them, taking what she needs and doing what's necessary.
Saru: She did not consult me.
Georgiou: Have you heard the one about the unstoppable force who met an immovable object? You are the object.
Over to you now.
What are your first impressions of Adira?
Was Burnham right to take on the role of First Officer?
How long before Book is back in the picture?
Let's get the comments rolling!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.