November 24, 2020

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Star Trek: Discovery (CBS)

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY 3×05 “Die Trying” review

Neil reviews the fifth episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY season 3. Available now on CBS All Access in the US and Netflix internationally.

Synopsis

After reuniting with what remains of Starfleet and the Federation, the U.S.S. Discovery and its crew must prove that a 930 year old crew and starship are exactly what this new future needs.

Review

Last week I described Star Trek: Discovery as being the most Trek it has ever been in my review of episode 3×04. This week, as the crew of USS Discovery finally catches up with the Federation, it feels like Discovery is getting even Trekkier.

Despite hurtling its crew so far away from their families and all they know there’s still an intense sense of hope in this episode. It first appears when the crew finally reaches the Federation base but it’s woven throughout the episode and is a welcome new emotion for the series.

We’ve seen these crew members happy before. But something in James Duff and Sean Cochran’s story take Discovery to a whole new level. In terms of my own emotional reactions to watching the episode I found myself grinning as the elated crew found another slice of home. Even in the episodes lowest moments there are glimmers of hope.

But first the Federation.

As we’ve come to expect from the post-Burn universe they’re not as welcoming as Burham and co. are hoping for. There’s a distinct lack of trust and a cold shoulder which none of the crew was prepared for. Its cleverly ties back in to the length sequence in the season 2 finale as Spock and those left behind are ordered to never speak of the USS Discovery ever again.

Those events have led to Starfleet records to believe the ship was destroyed and certainly not residing over 300 years in the future with an experimental spore drive.

Like many others, I hoped the spore drive would be a thing of the past in the series. But actually it takes on a whole new narrative standpoint by offering Starfleet the technology to reach out to its lost brothers and sisters across the galaxy. There’s a glint in Admiral Vance’s eye as he learns that Discovery can pop up anywhere in space at a moments notice. Oded Fehr is just one of a number of brilliantly cast guest roles this week.

There is something to be said for just how much conviction Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) has for trying to claw back some semblance of normalcy here. The preview for next week looks like it may flesh out a little more of her time in the 3188 but this episode almost forgets that she had a way to go to get back to being herself. Instead this week Burnham is a capable leaders and the driving force for bringing hope back to the Federation. The journey from prisoner of war to hero of the future has been long but Martin-Green absolutely commands the screen at every turn.

She gives a number of rousing speeches this week, something which is becoming more common place in Discovery‘s third season. But rather than eating up the runtime these feel like a show which is placing itself to become something more political, more diplomatic and certainly a lot more hopeful.

With Discovery heading out to search for evidence as to why The Burn took place and to seek out other lingering Federation planets it certainly seems it will be up to our cast to put the pieces back together.

But “Die Trying” also isn’t without its contrivances. There’s a perfect storm of circumstances which allow Discovery to use its talents to ingratiate itself to the new Federation landscape. One which relies heavily on a ship which has been in service for generations but just so happens to be malfunctioning just when Burnham needs it.

Whilst it is highly convenient I can’t deny that the story plays out by tugging once again at the heartstrings. There’s a typical away missions, a crew goodbye and the beginnings of a very strange mystery which appears to tie together everything we know of the future so far.

There’s clearly more at play here but we don’t yet know enough to piece it together.

The seedling ship does also give Burnham a chance to command the ship for what feels like the first time. It’s great to see her functioning in this way given all that we’ve seen of her so far. Despite not being the captain it really is Burnham who pulls this family (and the show) together to function at their best.

A number of plot threads are left hanging this week. But none are more intriguing than what guest star David Cronenberg’s Kovich did to Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). Did he simply shake her with future knowledge of her universe? Or did he put the whammy on her? What could 3188’s Section 31 be up to?

Verdict

“Die Trying” is yet another excellent episode of Star Trek: Discovery. This is a series which has now hit a brand new stride which is enticing at every turn.


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