Netflix UK TV review: Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Episode 6
Perfunctory rescue mission7
Ian Winterton | On 20, Nov 2020
Warning: This contains spoilers. Not caught up with Star Trek: Discovery? Read our review of the last episode here. New episodes arrive on Fridays within 24 hours of their US broadcast.
Discovery Season 3’s over-arching story continues to grip in Episode 6, although we get another average story-of-the-week. As with last episode, the ongoing story strands are nudged along while a decent but unremarkable story-of-the-week unfolds. Pre-credits, we see Book’s ship hail Discovery from outside the displacement field inside of which Starfleet/the Federation dwells. On screen comes not handsome British actor David Ajala but the massive and over-fed cat, Grudge. A holo-message from Book reveals that he’s investigating a possible black box of a starship (that rarest of things since the Burn destroyed all the galaxy’s warp-capable ships in the same nanosecond). But he’s not on board, meaning something has happened to him.
Continuing, it has to be said, the not so subtle examination of Saru’s slavish devotion to Starfleet regs and Michael’s new maverick persona, what happens next is pretty predictable. USS Discovery – now integrated back into Starfleet and given some swanky new upgrades – is ordered by Captain Vance to stand by within the field, their spore drive only to be utilised in emergencies to preserve its secrecy. Saru, without consulting the Admiral, forbids Michael from leaving to rescue Book – and, quelle surprise, she nicks Book’s ship and heads off.
Lifting the intrigue of the episode is Georgiou, who happily accompanies Michael – seemingly pleased that she’s becoming more like the Michael she knew, and loved as a mother, back in the Mirror Universe of her origin. But might she come to regret that, considering her flashbacks – increasing in intensity from last episode – perhaps reveal she herself stabbed treacherous Mirror Michael to death?
Dropping in on a labour camp, controlled by the gangsterish Emerald Chain group, Michael and Georgiou soon locate Book amongst the slaves. Like the rest of them, he has an explosive charge fitted sub-dermally at the base of his neck and Orion overseer Tolor (Ian Lake) gets bad guy points by cruelly forcing a slave to run for the pylons to test out the new system which – one exploding head later – is confirmed to be in working order.
Georgiou and Michael work well undercover – the former treating the latter as a servant all too convincingly – and give Book time to warn his fellow captives that they’re about to be freed. A minor but intriguing new character comes in the form of Ryn, an Andorian who’s had his antennae amputated. With so many newcomers, both bad guys and good, getting killed before the credits roll, it was great to see Ryn, though badly wounded, still drawing breath at episode’s end. As he’s played by Noah Averbach-Katz, husband of Mary Wiseman who plays Tilly, the chances we’ll see him again are strong.
The slave rebellion, bar some firefights, goes off a little too easily and everything is wrapped up quickly and neatly, and the finale in which Michael and Georgiou exterminate every last bad guy from Book’s ship seems unnecessarily vicious. But, perhaps, showing Michael and Georgiou waging a very un-Starfleet war is intentional. Returning to the displacement field, Michael has a showdown with Saru and it’s here that the episode does a couple of interesting character-related things.
Firstly, Saru seeks Tilly’s advice and she, to both his and her own surprise, says, “She made a choice and now because of that you don’t have one – you have to tell the Admiral… Discovery still has a lot to prove and if Admiral Vance finds out and you’re not the one who told him, the entire crew will get painted with the same brush.” Secondly, Admiral Vance’s admonishment isn’t as straightforward as we might expect. He’s angry at Michael, but also chides Saru too as, had the Captain informed him of Michael’s wishes, he would have considered the promise of intelligence to be worth the risk. That said, he leaves Saru to decide Michael’s fate and is probably, like Michael herself, not too surprised when Saru strips her of her Number One rank, confining her to science officer duties only.
It’s not all bad for Michael, though, as she finally gets to snog Book (although what the hell were they doing for a year?), proving that Georgiou’s incessant (motherly?) teasing throughout the ep was on the money. In other subplots, we get less than inspiring tale of workaholic Stamets bonding with workaholic Adira. It also helps that they both know what it’s like to lose someone they love, and then for that person to return from the dead. (Only in Star Trek…)
As for that season arc, Michael’s acquisition of a third black box recorder seems set to give them a way of finding out how and why the Burn took place. There are hints that not all warp cores went boom at exactly the same time, meaning that – by triangulating the different moments each starship went offline – they can perhaps discover from whence the Burn emanated.
It’s an intriguing plot to drive the season, and is given extra weight by Michael’s emotionally charged closing speech: “For the last year I have spent every single day searching for the source of the Burn. Until we solve the mystery of how it happened, and why, I believe the Federation will never be – can never be – brought back together again.” As dramatic hooks go, it’s huge and, playing out on both a personal and cosmic scale, is – like Discovery as a whole – an example of perfect Star Trek.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 to 3 is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.