Back in January 2013, a few months before Man of Steel was released in theaters, writer David S. Goyer made a proclamation that Man of Steel is the “movie the world needs right now.” I remember my expectations increased dramatically after reading this because at the time, the world seemed like a bad place. I thought we could use a little hope and 2013 was around the time when all the movies and all the video games were very dark thanks to the blue filters they applied to them.
David S. Goyer lied. Man of Steel was not a hopeful movie nor was it the movie the world needed right then. I think a Superman movie could have been helpful at that time in our history, but that was not the right script or cinematography. It was dark, dull, and depressing.
Last night, I sat down to watch the first episode of season three of Star Trek Discovery. By the time it was over, I found myself thinking: this is the tv show the world needs right now.
Star Trek Discovery has been a great ride so far, but I can understand old school Trek fan’s complaints. The first season was dark and even confusing at times. The second season infused some hope thanks to the inclusion of some classic Trek characters. Season three sees the crew of the Discovery jump over 900 years into the future and that’s where the first episode begins.
I honestly wasn’t thrilled about the time jump, I’m rarely thrilled about time jumps. It’s probably why I waited a week to watch the first episode. I just wanted to make sure I was in a spot where I could deal with disappointment if it wasn’t my cup of tea. Thankfully, I was wrong and the first episode was great.
This season of Discovery is a sort of soft reboot and a good jumping on point for new viewers. The tone has shifted even a bit more towards the classic Trek vibe and wow did the show hit me with a wave of optimism. In fact, I couldn’t wait to get up this morning to write this because some of the final scenes of the first episode have been so embedded into my head I just needed to share it with the world.
2020 has been hard on everybody. While personally I haven’t encountered in any loss in life due to the pandemic, I have lost something valuable: my faith in humanity. My optimism and hope for the future just hasn’t been strong enough to survive this year. I’ve been let down and disappointed so much that it almost hurts. I even saw myself thinking and becoming something I never wanted to be: a cynic.
There’s been an anger swelling inside me and I just couldn’t find a way to properly deal with it. Then last week, I ran across a book that I plan to discuss on the blog (once I finish it) called The Cow in the Parking Lot and it’s helped tremendously. It helped take the edge off of life the last week and as the book states: you’re hitting your hand with a hammer, if you stop you’ll feel better.
This softening I think opened me up for the message that Star Trek Discovery, in classic Star Trek form, smashed me with last night: despite the odds, don’t give up hope.
I’m going to SPOIL this episode now. If you are watching Discovery or plan on watching Discovery, I’d skip over this part or just stop reading altogether. I’d hate to ruin the effectiveness of the scene with my interpretations.
The show begins with a man getting up, getting dressed, and sitting at a desk. He has a small box with a Starfleet insignia on it. Everything is so barren, I thought that he was possibly an android who was left after the fall of the Federation.
The story begins and we’re introduced to new characters and the state of the universe. Starfleet is no more. The universe is spiraling out of control. There is no cohesion, no one working towards a great good. It’s just chaos, violence, and oppression.
I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of this part of the episode, because it doesn’t really apply to my point today. What struck me was the final scenes, when Michael and her new friend Book arrive at an old Starfleet outpost where we encounter the man we saw at the beginning of the episode.
Turns out, he’s not an android. He’s a man, a descendent of Starfleet officers. His name is Aditya Sahi and he considers himself a Starfleet liaison. Everyday, he gets up, gets dressed and sits at the Starfleet desk. In his own way, he’s holding up the ideals of Starfleet, despite there being no one else around. For forty years, this man got dressed and showed up for something that no longer seemed possible or probable. He didn’t let that his dismay him, he just continued to show up, do his duty, and hope for the best.
The show pushes things a bit further when we realize that the man was never sworn into Starfleet. There was no one left to swear him in. He also never hung the Starfleet flag that was in his family for generations, because by Starfleet protocol it can only be hung by a commissioned officer. Still, everyday, he brought the flag out in the box in hopes of one day raising it.
It was a bit melodramatic, but it hit me so hard in the feels. I’m not even kidding when I say I teared up.
I stopped showing up with hope several months ago. As the extremes wage war in America, corporations continue to abuse and expand, science is ignored, and people no longer care about facts because we are so engulfed in misinformation. These things drained me. They drained other people too. I’ve watched as the people who surround me at work, in stores, on the road, etc. have grown frustrated, hostile, and uncaring. I lost my strength to fight against it and I kind of felt like mankind is getting what it deserved. That wasn’t me though, and it made me unhappy that I was feeling such a way. I guess, I just felt like what was the point in trying to be hopeful and do good if no one else cares.
This episode of Discovery showed me that it doesn’t matter if the world has gone crazy. It doesn’t matter if no one else believes the same way that you. What does matter is that you be true yourself, your beliefs, and you show up. You get up each morning, you go out and do your best, and you don’t concern yourself with trying to change the world. Instead, you play your role in this story of life and just have hope. Hope that one day those small things that you do will make a difference.
The truth is: things don’t change overnight. Corruption, racism, sexism, inequality, etc. will not be solved in a single year, a single decade, or even a single generation or arguably ever. Not one of us can control that, not on our own. But what we can control is what we do. So, what should we do? Show up. Be ourselves, do our best, and hope.
The show was brilliantly titled: That Hope Is You.
I’m reminded of an old saying:
It’s better to light a candle then complain about the dark.