Star Trek: Discovery just can’t stay consistent.
After two weeks of very Star Trek plots, we’re back to Burnham doing whatever she wants to. Oh, and Tilly catsitting.
It’s a frustrating cycle. Especially in a world where The Mandalorian is producing material completely in line with its source material. Meanwhile, Star Trek: Discovery tries its hardest to explore the seedy side of the Trek universe. Usually without bothering to tell a Star Trek story.
The potential is there. We’ve seen it. But Star Trek: Discovery just won’t live up to it consistently.
After the Discovery goes through extensive upgrades to add 32nd century technology, Captain Saru (Doug Jones) receives the ship’s new standing orders. The Discovery is on hot standby to answer the threat of the Emerald Chain. An Andorian-Orion crime syndicate first seen in the season’s first episode.
As the crew gets used to the retrofitted ship, Discovery receives a distress signal. From Grudge the cat. Book (David Ajala) has run afoul of the Emerald Chain. When looking for the black box, which offers clue to the Burn’s origins, Book was captured. Naturally, Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) wants to mount a rescue. And naturally, Saru shoots her down. Discovery is under standing orders to stay put. And just to cap off this conflict of natural behavior, Burnham shirks the order and recruits Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) for a covert operation to rescue Book and retrieve the box.
Back on the Discovery, Tilly (Mary Wiseman) tries to manage an uncooperative Grudge. And Stamets (Anthony Rapp) receives an upgrade of his own. Adira (Blu del Barrio) retrofitted his interface to the spore drive. All while continuing to see visions of Gray (Ian Alexander), her former lover.
David Ajala is a routine highlight of Star Trek: Discovery this season. He plays Book in such a way that he could easily fit into The Mandalorian. By the way, I’m going to keep referencing Star Trek’s more exciting cousin.
Book is world-weary and knows the underbelly of the Star Trek universe. It makes him an interesting character. And Ajala injects him with the credibility that suggests he’d be able to guide Burnham and crew around an unfamiliar galaxy.
The only other highlight is Yeoh as Mirror Georgiou. For the first time this season, Yeoh makes the Mirror Georgiou as interesting as Star Trek: Discovery wants us to think she is. Doug Jones continues to convey credibility and gravitas as Captain Saru. He’s every bit as disappointed in Burham as I am, and it shows.
Then there’s Burnham. Sonequa Martin-Green is completely checked out at this point. Going through the motions. Running on auto-pilot. Other analogies. Martin-Green seems like she’s finished with Burnham, and the writers seem finished with trying to make anything worthwhile of the character.
Writing And Directing
“Scavengers,” written by Anne Cofell Saunders, is as pedestrian as it gets.
A lame prison break story that doesn’t get us anywhere in terms of the overall story. I mean, the script serves the function of Discovery getting its hands on the black box. So it’s another step toward learning the secrets of the Burn. But in terms of growing the characters, it’s a complete throw-away episode. We don’t learn anything about anyone we didn’t already know.
Burnham is insubordinate, Georgiou is evil, and Saru has had it with both. Wash, rinse, repeat. The Mandalorian works with formulaic stuff, too. But it freshens things up. The music changes, but the lyrics stay the same. That works with Star Wars. It doesn’t work with Star Trek. The music and lyrics need to change in lockstep.
Worst of all, the script gives Burnham an out. As always, Star Trek: Discovery lets Burnham make the wrongest choice possible and get away with it. There is some measure of consequence for Burnham’s actions. All it does is undo something that’s been established for less than three episodes. And if we’re honest, I’m beyond sick of it.
Direction is still the behind-the-scenes constant when it comes to Star Trek: Discovery. Douglas Aarniokoski manages to patchwork the haphazard and disjointed story elements together. It’s well-paced, well-lit, and it strings together a solid narrative. The action is arranged well, and the editing helps elevate the less-than-stellar writing.
I don’t remember off the top of my head the motto on the Discovery‘s dedication plaque. But whatever it is, “One step forward, two steps back” is a more fitting one.
Every time Star Trek: Discovery gets closer to the heart of what Star Trek really is? Its producers drag it back to mindless action and tired character beats.
As for Commaner Burnham? I tried. I really, really tried. But I’m done with it. The Mary Sue stuff? I dealt with it. The incessant crying and screaming and always-being-right? I went along with it. This episode of Star Trek: Discovery didn’t do anything better or worse with those troublesome elements. But it was just one time too many.
It’s time for Burnham to evolve. But I doubt she will. And it’s time for Star Trek: Discovery to be done with her.
Star Trek: Discovery streams new episodes every Thursday on CBS All Access.
All images courtesy of startrek.com.
'Star Trek: Discovery' - Scavengers
- Solid direction
- I dig the upgrades to the Discovery
- Mirror Georgiou might actually be interesting after all
- Same-old same-old with Burnham
- Burnham going back to the cliches that make her a tired character in the first place