Thursday, November 26, 2020

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Discovery' - Michael Must Confront Her Uncertainties to Achieve Successful Diplomacy in 'Unification III'

CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery - Episode 3.07 "Unification III"

While grappling with the fallout of her recent actions, and what her future might hold, Burnham agrees to represent the Federation in an intense debate about the release of politically sensitive - but highly valuable - Burn data.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery.

"Unification III" was written by Kirsten Beyer and directed by Jon Dudkowski

Michael has been lost. That has been her primary characteristic this season so far. She lived in this future for a year before the Discovery arrived. As such, she got to experience a different life than her colleagues. That was only really seen in the premiere. A lot has been inferred since then. It has been a fascinating journey. It's one that couldn't be sustainable for too long. That's what gives this episode so much power. She is forced to confront her internal turmoil in the name of diplomacy. It advances the plot as it pertains to solving the mystery of the Burn. But it remains focused on her uncertainty. If she projects that attitude while serving as a representative for Starfleet, then why should anyone trust that the support of a new Federation will succeed. It's a crucial and pivotal question as well. One that is forced into the conflict through the art of absolute candor. Now, the show pushes the melodrama of this particular story a lot by having Michael's mother, Gabrielle, serve as her representative as she presents her case to a tribunal on Ni'Var - the planet that used to be known as Vulcan. The future has changed a great deal in how these societies interact with one another. The Vulcans and Romulans are living in an extended period of peace though it's still quite tentative between the two species. But it's more dire that this society pulled out of the Federation completely early on. It was an action that was forced as well. It was the only logical conclusion because Starfleet was pushing its resources to the limit long before the Burn occurred. Michael gets the showy role of serving as the ambassador to try to establish diplomatic ties between Starfleet and Ni'Var. However, Saru does a great deal more to convince the President of the planet that returning to this organization can be beneficial once more. It's not all solved in one meeting though. It mostly just opens the door to continue a conversation. That's still a meaningful start. The nuances of that discussion could get lost a little bit because of how splashy Michael's character struggle is here. And yet, it is still quite effective because Michael remains the focus of the series. She stands out as a member of the Discovery crew. Her colleagues all show their support to Tilly when she is asked to become the acting first officer. Saru gives her that position because he trusts her and her commitment to Starfleet. Michael couldn't give that to the ship and its crew at the moment. She could no longer deny that reality. She is still forced into this position of being the only one who can enter these negotiations. She does so very tentatively. She believes her happiness may come outside of Starfleet. That is a new sensation for her. She has embraced her blossoming romance with Book fully now. Unlike the rest of the crew, she has family outside of the ship as well. That makes her different. She can't provide the necessary support the crew needs because she doesn't have herself figured out at the moment. She is no longer grounded in a sense of duty and joy. She eventually receives that clarity though. She accepts that her ideals of what Starfleet can be once more are still her driving principle. She wants to solve the mystery of the Burn in order to ensure a more prosperous union. It's not a mystery that needs to be solved to fulfill some personal desire of saving the entire world. She certainly does take on that burden time and time again. It's used as evidence against her as well. She and her brother dreamed big in their ambitions of what the world could be. This version of Ni'Var may be what Spock always wanted to achieve. This future is still radically different than what the Discovery expected. They remain together as a crew. They support Tilly. She deserves this promotion. It will ensure greater unity amongst the ship. Michael can continue to operate as a separate entity. She works out of the Discovery. She also embraces her romance with Book. She can have all these things in her world. They can come together to create an even more rewarding existence for her. She has to accept that joy. She can't always place this burden on herself to fear the disaster and the unknown. She can have her doubts from time to time. The crew still doesn't know everything about the new organization of Starfleet. Some twist could still happen. Michael is committed to its success though. That is a proud declaration that she admits here. It's because she presents that vulnerable side that she is gifted the information necessary to propel her mission forward. She does so while promising to keep this line of communication open. Showing the world as much bigger than oneself is humbling but necessary. Michael has endured so much. Her life has changed. She was lost. She is finding herself again. That is a compelling character arc that now has the freedom to operate with more confidence as the mystery intensifies with the true dangers of this world revealing themselves.