Star Trek: Discovery season 3 continues this week with episode 3, "People of Earth". The new episode answers one big question that Star Trek fans have had since the Discovery and her crew made the jump into the distant future of the 31st century: What's the situation on Earth, and what's the status of Starfleet Command? Well, true to its title, "People of Earth" answers that very question. When Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the Discovery crew finally arrive back in Earth, then planet they find is beyond anything they imagined - and the Starfleet they knew has been shattered, as one of the Federation's founding members has apparently left its ranks!
Warning - Star Trek: Discovery SPOILERS Follow!
As you can probably guess from the title and premise of the episode, it turns out that Earth has left the Federation. Burnham and the Discovery crew learn that dark truth when they are confronted by the United Earth Defense Force (UEDF), a militant faction that now protects Earth and its dilithium from would-be raiders in this Wild West version of the galaxy. As UEDF Captain Ndoye tells Bernham and (now captain!) Saru (Doug Jones), Starfleet Command pulled up stakes and left Earth a century ago following "The Burn" cataclysm, which claimed millions of lives and crippled the Federation's warp drive technology.
Where the Starfleet has relocated is presently unknown - but Michael and Co. do have a lead, in the form of a transmission from the Starfleet commander that led them to Earth in the first place. However, it doesn't feel like the version of the Federation that the Discovery crew will eventually track down will be anything like the ideal this crew remembers. That will be one of the more exciting developments of season 3!
If you're not familiar with Star Trek lore, the Unite Federation of Planets was founded in 2161 when four worlds came together:
- Earth - the Human homeworld united in science and space exploration.
- Andoria - home of the Andorian Empire.
- Tellar Prime - Home of the pig-like humanoids the Tellarites.
- Vulcan - home of the logical Vulcans.
The early version of what would become The Federation was founded in San Francisco in 2161, with the four aforementioned planets uniting. Conflicts and war between these planets (specifically Earth) and the Romulans would forge a larger coalition to come together for protection; when that Earth-Romulan War ended in 2160, that union was solidified. The Federation ideals focused on "liberty, rights, and equality, and to share their knowledge and resources in peaceful cooperation, scientific development, space exploration, and mutual defense."
As stated: it will be interesting to see how this savage future has bent those Federation principles - and how the Discovery crew redeems that moral fall.
Star Trek: Discovery season 3 is streaming on CBS All Access