Discovery Season 3 Reviewed: Scavengers

David Milburn

Trekthis.co.uk writing team are back with their individual takes on the latest Discovery episode ‘Scavengers’.

 I want to start off by talking about the refit of the USS Discovery. It pleased me that it got the upgrade it so desperately needed. As shown in the previous episode ‘People of Earth’, in this future the ship is seriously outgunned. What I don’t fully understand is the detached nacelles. No doubt they look very cool and I could almost imagine the production meeting with the designers when they pitched the idea (high fives all round). On-screen it does look amazing but how does it actually affect functionality? In this episode, Saru states that it helps with maneuverability which I can’t seem to wrap my head around so I am really curious to see this in action and I can’t help escape the feeling that it won’t happen for a few episodes, not until the inevitable class with the mysterious Emerald Chain at least.  

I am also left wondering about the Short Trek episode ‘Calypso’. Its placement in the timeline is still not 100% confirmed but it does appear to be in the current timeline’s future. We have already seen the first emergence of the computer AI in ‘Forget me Not’ so it’s a surprise then that during the refit the ship has been so drastically altered in appearance. The incorporation of the programable matter and the new registry has given the Discovery a completely different look in style to that of the one we saw in the Short Trek. I have faith that the writers have pathed this all out and I am hoping we get an answer at some point, although I do not mind if it does not come in this season. But it does need explaining.

The reappearance of Books ship along with its custodian Grudge was welcome and sets up this episode’s main mission. Book is missing but has found a BlackBox which could lead to revealing what caused the burn and of course, Burnham wants to go after him. The timing could not be worse. With Discovery and its spore drive tech considered ‘advanced technology’ by Admiral Vance, the ship and its crew are needed in case diplomacy fails with the Emerald Chain in the Argeth System. This leads to the inevitable; Burnham will once again disobey direct orders and defy her Captain, only this time, she ropes in Phillipa Georgiou. The mission itself is classic Trek seen across multiple incarnations of the show. Infiltrate, investigate, get found out, and escape while saving people. Michelle Yeoh is brilliant in these scenes and again gets to demonstrate how badass she can be as the former Terran empress gets to beat down on bad guys. However, something is different. She appears to be suffering flashbacks to a traumatic point in her life. Someone is injured or dying, we don’t get to see who but it’s someone important enough to affect Georgiou; to the point that it causes her to blackout and faint. Is this something to do with what happened with Cronenberg’s character in the previous episode? What exactly did place between the two? Has he somehow accessed her repressed memories? More questions.

I stated in a previous review that Burnham and Saru would come to a head at some point and this was that episode. Since Burnham rejoined the crew in episode 2, every subsequent episode has seen her either defy orders or suggest breaking protocol. ‘People of Earth’ she took actions into her own hands, ‘Die Trying’ she suggested stealing information from Starfleet and in this episode, it was a downright disobeying of Sarus orders who is still trying to walk the tightrope with his new Starfleet superior. A demotion for Burnham but for how long. Is this temporary until she proves herself again? I would not want a promotional yoyo with Burnham to run its course during this season.

Overall, this episode for me was a winner. The action on the planet Hunhau was really well done, mixing in some comedic moments for good measure. As stated, Georgiou shines and revels in bullying the Orion who runs the scavenging plant in which Book has been enslaved. The escape scene did scream The Running Man a little bit with a fortified fence that decapitates anyone that crosses. Could have just been coincidental or a homage. We also got some wonderful interactions between Stamets and Adira. The shared experience of losing someone they love but then somehow finding them again is a poignant but touching way for the two to bond and I look forward to him becoming a mentor to them over the course of the remaining episodes.

Dave

Last week I expressed my hope that Oded Fehr will remain a recurring character on Star Trek: Discovery. Judging by this week’s episode – “Scavengers “– it seems that my wish got fulfilled. With the Discovery and its crew being reintegrated into Starfleet, they are now under command of fleet admiral Vance. The admiral’s position is an interesting one, as unlike his predecessors, Vance does not have the luxury of sending five-year exploration missions or establishing first contacts. Instead, Starfleet of the 32nd century uses its limited flotilla to maintain the basic contacts between the headquarters and last remaining member worlds of the fledgling Federation. That’s why the reintegration of Discovery with its revolutionary spore drive (now reclassified) is so essential, and why the captain Saru is suddenly one of the most important officers in Starfleet. Which in turn, makes Michael Burnham one of the most important first officers…and which leads to a problem.

Yes, we all know that Burnham has a rebellious past. After all, her insubordination in the show premiere led to the battle of the Binary stars and the death of her mentor and captain, Philippa Georgiou. But in the last few episodes we have seen the young officer finally finding her inner peace at the side of the captain, and friend, Saru. On the other hand, while waiting for Discovery, Burnham spent a year with Cleveland Booker, in this new unknown world of the future. From the moment Grudge (hello!) appeared on the Discovery’s viewscreen, it was obvious that Burnham is going to rebel, again. After all, she is Book’s only hope. The choice of her ally is not surprising, as the ex-mirror universe empress is not tied to the Starfleet. Plus, Georgiou is more than eager to join an unsanctioned mission. There is a little problem: her sudden and unexpected visions, which point to the unresolved trauma from her past. To further complicate matters, she is hiding this from everyone, including Burnham, which cannot end well. Especially on such a sensitive mission.

Burnham and Georgiou must go undercover to the planet Hunhau, to save Booker from captivity, and to retrieve the so-called black box, the evidence that could aid in resolving the mystery of the Burn. It does not help that the planet is under the control of the nefarious Emerald Chain, the crime syndicate so powerful, that even the Starfleet cannot check them. The Hunhau subplot is fascinating to watch, both it’s funny and horrifying side (Walk with the Prophets, brave Lan,). It made me so happy that the Andorian Ryn survived at the end, nicely subverting the trope. But Osyraa, the mysterious leader of the Emerald Chain, and her arrogant nephew survived. It seems that the crime boss is a big bad of this season, and I am looking forward to a meeting in the following episodes. Burnham saved the slave laborers, including Booker (and we finally got the kiss), but she also felt the consequences of her decision. Demotion is to be expected, and it is completely justified. The problem here is of a different sort. With Burnham removed from the chain of command, will her character be also toned down in the future? Further, what about her relationship with Booker? Where will the writing room go from here? If Burnham would not be a lead, I would not be surprised if she leaves the ship with Book to embark on her personal adventure. As if Burnham rebels again (and that could happen) it is hard to see how she would avoid a harsher penalty. Further, the problem I was highlighting for several weeks, is manifested now. With Burnham stepping down, who will replace her as Saru’s Number One? We barely know the bridge crew, so it is hard to say. My bet would be on Commander Nilsson, but the hierarchy structure is still a bit murky…

That said, “Scavengers” was probably the best episode of the season. It had some welcome and genuine humor, from Tilly and Grudge’s interaction (Grudge is such a scene-stealer) to Linus trying his best to reach the mess hall and failing spectacularly). As a DS9 fan, the mention of self-sealing steambolts filled me with joy. There were also several nice emotional moments with Stamets and Adira Tal (and Gray), and I am looking forward to how this will develop in the future. Also, Discovery got a futuristic refit, with some interesting additions, including detachable nacelles. There was no opportunity to see that in action, but it is only a matter of time. Perhaps the next week, when we are going to visit Vulcans and Romulans!

Vedran

I had to watch this episode twice. It wasn’t due to any great quality or lack thereof. I was waking up every few minutes with pain from my broken ribs and decided to watch the new episode as early as I could. Making hay while the sun shines. Unfortunately, I fell asleep without taking much in. But was it worth watching it again?

A big thing right off the bat: Discovery A? Sure I’ll bite as I like cool Trek fan service but then I thought; it is impossible to update an iPhone released only about half a decade ago, so how exactly in less than a month can a 23rd-century ship be upgraded to a 32nd-century one? Also, those detached nacelles are going to play havoc when it comes to the inevitable Eaglemoss Discovery A model. Although I guess it will just be the existing one with a small bit of clear plastic from the struts to the warp pods.

There is the small issue that the Discovery (and not Discovery A) which is shown abandoned and drifting through space in the Star Trek Short episode ‘Calypso’. It has no detached nacelles or any upgrades that we can see with the exception of the AI that is now the on-board computer. I must say on a linear timeline, this makes little to no sense. But not only do we have half of this season remaining, we have Star Trek Discovery season 4 to possibly explain this. A thought also occurred to me: Calypso could be in an alternate timeline and alternate timelines are nothing new in the history of Star Trek.

This episode had excellent performances from every actor involved, especially the delectable Michelle Yeoh who has been a consistent highlight this season, and in this episode, in particular, she positively chews the scenery alongside Sonequa Martin-Green. Once I saw that the crew’s new Comm badges can be used as a personal site to site transporters, I could see the gag of random beam ins coming from a mile away. However, this was not unwelcome and played too infrequently to be unwelcome. The comedy timing here is to be commended and felt it fit perfectly into the episode, it was not just shoehorned in for the sake of a gag.

Overall, I will recommend ‘Scavenger’, especially as this episode is probably required to make sense of the rest of the season and be the missing link from previous episodes to the next. Speaking of that, one of the next is called ‘Unification III’ a fellow Trekkie I used to work with hopes as I do that this shows that episode will be something of a sequel to the brilliant Unification two-parter featuring Leonard Nimoy’s Spock. Frankly, if it did, it would not be the first time Star Trek Discovery has had featured archive footage to have a Leonard Nimoy cameo. Let us hope. But even if not, I am hoping the subsequent episodes live up to the high standards set by this and previous episodes of the season. A firm 3.5 out of 5 for me. Full power to the engines.

Jack

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