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Review

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY 3×08 “The Santuary” Review

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

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Star Trek: Discovery (CBS)

Synopsis

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.

Review

As we tip the scales in Star Trek: Discovery and begin our descent toward the season finale it was inevitable that the show would wheel out a side quest. But even a simply adequate episode such as “The Sanctuary” is a solid hour of television where this series is concerned.

“The Sanctuary” is another episode which seeks to move several pieces on the board as Discovery sets itself up for its finale. By juggling a number of on going plot lines the episode does, at least, illustrate the complexity of the stories currently in play.

The episode opens with Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) reluctantly undergoing tests for her worsening condition. The Georgiou/Culber (Wilson Cruz) dynamic isn’t something which Discovery has openly explored before. The actors have great chemistry and the results are a surprisingly sparky scene and a great opening to the episode.

Clearly things are getting worse for Georgiou and, as the promo for next week explains, we’re about to shift focus to hopefully solve the problem in the very near future. When all is said and done it will be interesting to see how Discovery pivots the character. I can’t decide if they will use this to soften her darker edges or to ultimately solidify her combative nature.

Yeoh has become a central character to the series. The potential of losing her would be devastating to Discovery but conversely the series is a huge commitment for Yeoh. But this only adds to the sense of jeopardy as the situation escalates.

“The Sanctuary” also does a successful job in moving along the Burn plot. But the scenes in this episode work two-fold in also advancing Adira’s story. When Tilly (Mary Wiseman) and Saru (Doug Jones) visit engineering to update on the Vulcan/Romulan data alongside the black box data we get a glimpse of Star Trek activating its core principals of acceptance and diversity.

Stamets (Anthony Rapp) proudly exclaims that he and Adira (Blu del Barrio) have pinpointed the origin of the Burn. With some help from Tilly they discover what appears to be a Federation signal coming from within the nebula where the Burn started.

Firstly… WHICH SHIP COULD IT BE!? Is Discovery about to give us a huge historical nod by wheeling out an Enterprise? Or a Voyager? Maybe the original Defiant was still in action and got caught in the nebula. There are so many options for how this storyline could resolve itself and tie back to Trek history.

But more impactful in this scene is the relationship between Stamets and Adira. When he explains to Saru that Adira can write an algorithm to decrypt the distress call he refers to them as “she.” It brings light on Adira’s gender identity as they correct him on their pronouns. The pronouns do become a focal point in later scenes and overall is portrayed a little heavy-handedly but this is counterbalanced by the wonderful relationship between the characters.

Culber comments later in the episode that Stamets has become somewhat of an adoptive father figure for Adira. Their interactions throughout the episode perfectly depict this. A knowing, fatherly glance when they explain their pronouns encapsulates all Stamets feelings without ever needing words.

The bulk of “The Sanctuary” story is taken up by a trip to Book’s home world of Kwejian. Book (David Ajala) is called home to help save the planet from Osyraa (Janet Kidder), the villain teased a couple of weeks back in “Scavengers. Osyraa has a hold over the people of Kwejian and this includes Book’s brother Kyheem (Ache Hernandez).

As is typical of Discovery season three neither the Federation, nor Book, are particularly welcome at Kwejian. But following on from last weeks emotional turning point, Burnham at least puts the request to save Kwejian through the Starfleet chain of command.

Down on the planet’s surface there’s plenty of exposition to flesh out the character of Book. We learn of his brother, Osyraa’s hold over the planet and all seems relatively lost until Burnham is able to use that pesky Federation diplomacy to bring families together and solve the problems.

The storyline is perfectly rooted in everything which makes Trek the success that it is. But with so many storylines in play, and being so close to an exciting development with the Burn, that this story feels like somewhat of a diversion from where we want to be at this stage in the season.

But as I said in the beginning of this review, even an adequate episode of Discovery is a solid hour of television. There’s absolutely no faulting the production on this show. I’m simply just ready to be further along in its ongoing narratives.

Verdict

“The Sanctuary” puts Star Trek: Discovery in a holding pattern whilst it manoeuvres itself towards the endgame.


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