When Book’s ship turns up on autopilot with only Grudge on board, Burnham learns that he got in trouble while tracking down the black box of an old Federation ship -an important clue to the nature of The Burn. Having decided that Book’s welfare is more important than obeying her captain’s orders, Burnham takes Georgiou on an unauthorised mission to rescue him and retrieve the valuable black box.
As with the previous episode, what we have here is a pretty standard sci-fi adventure – the classic “rescuing an ally imprisoned in an alien labour camp” plot. It’s been a Star Trek staple for decades, and now it’s Discovery’s turn to tread this familiar ground. The plot is serviceable, but it’s not particularly absorbing or original – for that, we must turn to the characters.
Ever since her year with Book, we’ve seen Burnham chafing under the restraints of Starfleet regulations, and this episode marks the final straw. After being told by Saru that prepping Discovery for a Federation mission is more important than Book and the black box, Burnham predictably decides to ignore her captain’s orders and head out anyway. Naturally, Georgiou is her choice of backup for this mission, what with the Terran’s seeming invincibility and lack of regard for the rules.
Naturally, the mission is ultimately a success, but it’s not without cost. Sure, Burnham finally gets to indulge some of that smouldering sexual tension by sharing a long kiss with Book, but she also gets fired from her position as Saru’s first officer. It’s an understandable move by Saru, whose carefully rebuilt trust in Burnham has been shattered by her maverick behaviour and frequent disobedience. But even though Burnham must, on some level, have surely anticipated this turn of events, we see her struggle to hold back her tears in front of her captain. It’s an excellent piece of acting from the always brilliant Sonequa Martin-Green.
What now for Burnham? While I’m still hoping for her to fly off and have adventures with Book and Grudge, the show is called Star Trek Discovery, so I guess we’ll be sticking with the USS Discovery for a while longer.
Other character notes
- Georgiou is suffering from intrusive memories and dissociative episodes, but why? Is it something to do with Section 31, or perhaps with her encounter with Kovich in the last episode? Is it related to Georgiou personally, or something to do with being away from her home universe for too long?
- Adira somewhat reverts to teen genius in this episode, which felt like a bit of a step backwards. However, she does confide in Stamets about her visions of Gray, and the pair bond over the shared experience of having an ‘undead’ lover.
Wanted: A Number One
Who’s going to be the new first officer? I’d love for it to be Tilly, but it seems unlikely that she would suddenly be promoted from ensign to first officer, especially when there are many senior officers on board. Let’s think of who else it could be.
- Nilsson: it might give her something to do, but right now, the prospect of a character with zero development taking on the first officer role is hardly appealing. She doesn’t even have a first name.
- Willa: It’s possible Vance will impose his own choice of first officer to keep Discovery on a tighter leash.
- Grudge: she’s a queen!
- One I forgot to include last episode – what’s up with this melody that somehow seems universally known despite the general lack of information exchange across the galaxy? Perhaps it’s something embedded in the subconscious of every living being that will cause something momentous to happen later in the series.
- Who is going to turn out to be responsible for The Burn, and will it be someone we already know? Perhaps an old power like the Klingons, Romulans or Cardassians. Maybe it will even turn out that the Federation did it to themselves, either by accident, or in order to combat a greater evil.
Summary – Scavengers: Burn, baby burn, Federation inferno!