Star Trek Discovery: There is a Tide…

The Emerald Chain have seized control of Discovery and used it to infiltrate Federation Headquarters. But Osyraa isn’t there to wage war – instead, she has a proposal for Admiral Vance. Meanwhile, Tilly and crew try to figure out a way to get their ship back.

Before we jump into the review of this episode, let’s take a moment to review my high points of Discovery season three so far. There was the mystery of The Burn (if not so much its apparent solution), the fluffy queen that is Grudge Cat, and the introduction of Adira, the Star Trek galaxy’s first non-binary human who also happens to host a Trill symbiont.

In fact, that’s what I like about sci-fi in general. Interesting characters and intriguing plot devices get the thumbs up. And while I’m not totally against flashy action scenes and reworkings of popular tropes, I am at the point where they’re starting to feel a bit tired. All of which is my way of saying that I actually found this episode a bit boring.

Yes, it’s bad that Discovery has been taken over by the Emerald Chain. But since it seems highly unlikely that that will remain the case, we once again have a case of the writers needing to get from A to B. And in order to do so, they bring out a whole host of tropes. Let’s list some of the worst offenders:

  • Having snuck on board, Burnham goes full John McClane, travelling around the ship and taking on Osyraa’s minions.
  • The bridge crew fake a disagreement so that they can catch their captors off-guard.
  • Osyraa has a scientist working for her who is willing to ignore the moral compromises of his employer because she’s personally been good to him. I wonder if he’ll have to confront some sort of moral dilemma soon.
  • Zareh, the minor villain who was left for dead, turns out to have survived his frosty ordeal. Naturally he’s angry with the Discovery crew, since thanks to them he lost some fingers to frostbite. Remember the first rule of minor villains – if you didn’t vaporise them yourself, they probably aren’t dead.
  • Ryn confronts Osyraa with the classic “I’m not afraid of you any more” speech, now that he’s learnt about the power of love and friendship.

While all this is going on, Osyraa is busy presenting Vance with an offer – the potential unification of the Federation and the Emerald Chain. Although this sounds like a pragmatic move, it also feels like too much of a moral compromise for the Federation. The Federation we know and love is one that sticks to its moral principles even when that puts it at a disadvantage – well, excluding the actions of various corrupt admirals.

Other notes

  • Although I’ve been enjoying the developing rapport between Stamets and Adira, Stamets referring to Adira as his ‘child’ seems a bit premature. From what we’ve seen so far, Stamets has been more of a mentor, helping Adira find a place on Discovery while sharing a love of engineering and the experience of regaining a dead lover. It feels way too soon to be virtually adopting Adira.

Summary – There is a Tide…: Strap in, because the season finale is just around the corner.

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