Three weeks after finding Starfleet Headquarters, the USS Discovery has gotten a refit with 31st century technology and is ready to return to duty, but on the eve of her first official mission, Burnham learns that Book has been captured by the Emerald Chain and goes AWOL with Georgiou to break him out, leaving Captain Saru dangling over a fire.
I have a love/hate relationship with this episode. By no means is it a bad one. I mean, at worse, I would say that it’s decent, but it does break the phenomenal momentum that Discovery had going for it all season. To go from a season that was getting better and better and better to… this was a major disappointment.
Disappointing further is that, to me at least, this is a major step backwards in Burnham’s development. Where last season it appeared that she was progressing in her return to the fold of Discovery and the routines and importance of her duties, she does a complete 180 here and flips right off into the cosmos on her own without hardly a protest or an alternative. I know that they are trying to show us that she still is unsure of her place in her old life, but I feel like, after so much character development in the last couple of episodes, she didn’t even try to reconcile her options, choosing instead to run head-first into the word possible one.
This story, unfortunately, dominated the narrative of this episode to the point that I wouldn’t even say that there was a “B-plot,” it was more of a series of limited interludes on the Discovery. Yes, I did really enjoy the surprising scene where Saru came to Tilly who, instead of covering for Burnham as I thought she would do, urged him to report Burnham’s unauthorized mission to Admiral Vance. The continued relationship that Staments is developing with Adira is also very cleverly written and the common denominator that they have, that they have both lost a partner and got them back, is so obvious and, yet, completely flew over my head until they outright said it.
I like that this episode has ramifications and I like that her actions held actual consequences. By the end of the episode, Burnham has not only lost professionally, but I fear that her relationship with many of the crew, Saru in particular, has been irreparably damaged. Fans like to play keyboard warrior and claim that Burnham is a Mary Sue, but honestly, the only difference between Burnham and Captain Kirk is that Burnham is held responsible for her actions.
I will say that I am grateful that the writers are finally doing something interesting with Georgiou. She has been the sarcastic furniture on the show the last couple of years, a static and rather dull character played by an amazing actress who, somehow, makes it work. I’m reserving judgement on this particular story arch until I see where it’s going, but I will say that I like the long overdue development.
As I said, this episode was a disappointment. It broke the hot streak and it sent us on a side mission when, honestly, I wanted to stay with Discovery and learn more about her transformation. It’s not a bad episode, but I do feel it was unfortunately placed in the season. This was not the time to bring the story to a halt.