Thursday, December 3, 2020

REVIEW: 'Star Trek: Discovery' - Michael Joins Book on a Journey to Protect His Home Planet from Destruction in 'The Sanctuary'

CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery - Episode 3.08 "The Sanctuary"

Burnham and the U.S.S. Discovery crew travel to Book's home planet to help rescue it from Osyraa, the formidable leader of the Emerald Chain. Meanwhile, Stamets and Adira continue their search for valuable information on the origin of the Burn.

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.

"The Sanctuary" was written by Kenneth Lin & Brandon Schultz and directed by Jonathan Frakes

It was clear in "Scavengers" that the show was setting up Osyraa as a new antagonist the Discovery crew would have to deal with at some point. Building up the mystery by only referencing her ensured that the audience knew that some danger loomed on the horizon. And now, that threat materializes. She presents as someone who will kill her own family just in order to maintain her power. She won't allow anyone to run away from her. She will force everyone into slavery for as long as they live. Ryn breaking that contract is the only "crime" he did. There is no reason why the Discovery should hand him over. Starfleet operates in this conflict as a neutral observer. And yet, it is also clear that this is a universe in which no one can be respected as a neutral party. Sides have to be drawn. Tilly offers a reasonable solution for how Starfleet can prevent the destruction of Book's home planet without going against the Admiral's orders. They were told to leave as soon as their ship was placed in danger. Saru can't allow a peaceful planet to be destroyed in pursuit of one individual. That is heinous and wrong. It's within his morals to step in and make a difference. That's the way he conducts himself as a representative of Starfleet. It somewhat feels like a missed opportunity for the show to explore the loyalty these characters have to this organization when so much has changed in the hundreds of years they've traversed. The Federation as they believe it to be could be functioning in a completely different way. That concern always seems present on the edges of the story. But it can also be played off as outlets attacking any kind of organization that would put any kind of oversight and accountability over their actions. This episode is fundamentally about convincing Book that Starfleet may actually be an organization he can join. The story certainly expands his backstory and world view a bit. And yet, the narrative also expects a lot of the emotional weight of this conflict to come from him referring to one of Osyraa's men as his brother. That word has an inherent emotional connection to it. It does the heavy lifting here because the story has to focus elsewhere as well. It's clear the show only wants to make incremental movements with some of the mysteries this season. The Burn has been the driving focus for a lot of the plot. Receiving new data from Ni'Var was crucial both for this mystery and the improvement of diplomatic ties. It highlighted how relationships between different groups of people don't just change overnight. It takes a lot of serious effort. Now, Book's home planet undergoes radical change in this hour. The Discovery not only saves the planet from Osyraa's destruction. They also come up with a solution for the biological threat that has done harm for a century. Again, it highlights the ideals of this organization. But it's mostly the ingenuity of this particular crew. They solve problems that others think are too big to ever fix or change. That opens Book's eyes to the possibility of this new world. Michael beams with joy upon that discovery. But the crew is still nowhere closer to figuring out what caused the Burn. It just wants to once again present evidence that a song that transcends several cultures is involved somehow. Meanwhile, Georgiou understands that her mysterious illness is killing her. Culber says it is more complicated than that. However, the show leaves it at that basic understanding. So, not a whole lot of depth is particularly found in the stories this week. That is disappointing. It's exciting and thrilling to see Detmer get her confidence back as a pilot. Her skills are highlighted in a way that provides so much value and camaraderie amongst the crew. It's also fun to see Saru try to leave his mark as a captain with a catchphrase only for it to never really work out for him. Those personal moments are earned. The rest feels a little forced and scattered. But apparently, Osyraa is angered enough to view Starfleet as a legitimate enemy now. That strikes an ominous note especially with what Ryn shares with Tilly at the end of all of this. And yet, that is simply one more complexity added to the pile. It's another complication the crew will have to deal with in a season that is struggling to escalate its stakes in a genuine and daunting way. It has tried to be more character focused. However, certain beats are still skipped over - like Adira correcting Stamets over what their pronouns are and then sharing that Grey has gone away for a bit. Again, these scattered notes build up to a little bit of confusion over how the pacing is bound to create something more meaningful by the end of the season. That has to be a concern right now because eight episodes have already passed.