Warp Factor Trek

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The two-part opener having ended with the finding of a 3D artefact and the location of another clue — not Betazed but Trill — Star Trek: Discovery embarks on the third installment of its fifth and final season.

Log Entry

The USS Discovery prepares for the journey to Trill. To locate the next clue, Zora has identified the symbiont whose memories they need to access: Bix. Michael orders new First Officer Rayner to get to know the crew. With Book and Rayner aboard, the ship jumps to Trill.

Adira is nervous to see Gray again after six months of distance, Gray having chosen to train to become a Guardian on Trill. Jett Reno gives Stamets better advice about that than they give to Adira.

The crew are denied permission to beam down to Trill. Guardian Xi cryptically asks them where “the fourth” directs an unworthy seeker. Answering Betazed, Burnham passes the test, which Xi explains is a requirement from Bix’s current host, Kalzara. The Discovery crew are allowed to visit the Caves of Mak’ala, where the Trill symbionts live.

The group congregates in a cave on Trill

There, Kalzara Bix meets Burnham, Book, Culber and Adira. Arrangements are made for the away team to “meet” Jinaal, the original host of the Bix symbiont. Bix is so ancient as to long for the peace of death once the duty to judge the worthiness of the seeker is over. Jinaal will talk by linking with the consciousness of the seeker. This is done by a zhian’tara (from DS9’s “Facets”) and involves, fortunately, telepathic possession rather than installing a symbiont. For this, Culber volunteers.

At Federation HQ, Saru is arranging his plants, preparing for his new diplomatic job and his impending nuptials. Meanwhile on Discovery, Rayner takes the instruction to familiarize himself with the crew members to mean giving them five minutes with him in the science lab.

On Trill, Adira and Gray catch up, before the zhian’tara. Jinaal is excitable in Culber’s body but says he will take Michael and Book to the clue and wants to enjoy a walk, after so long.

Saru and T’Rin conversing with multiple alien delegates

Back at Federation HQ, Saru proposes a deal with various aliens to bolster their defences against possible Breen incursions. With T’Rina’s approval, a vote is taken… and accepted. Saru is approached by T’Rina’s assistant, who warns him that, for the sake of her career, he must consider how what the couple say might offend Vulcan purists.

On his walk with Burnham and Book, Jinaal warns them of nearby predators and reveals that, 800 years ago, the Federation assembled a small team of experts — including Jinaal Bix and the Romulan Doctor Vellek — that tracked down the Progenitor’s technology. When one of the experts tried to activate it, he died horribly. The others decided the technology was too dangerous to share, so they covered up the project, with the Dominion War still raging.

Jinaal leading Book and Burnham on their walk

Rayner conducts the individual crew member meetings as opportunities for them to make a short speech to him in the science lab. Tilly objects but relents.

Adira and Gray meanwhile break up. Gray promises to always be there for Adira, if needed.

Jinaal explains that the experts set up clues for a happier and safer time. He leads Book and Burnham to a rock that contains the next clue. However, they are threatened by two of the predators, which can cloak.

Jinaal, Burnham, and Book face off against one of the predators, which are essentially fire-breathing spider-dragons capable of cloaking

Jinaal flees. Unable to fight off the creatures, Book and Michael hide.

Tilly rants at Rayner. Saru and T’Rina debate whether to announce their engagement.

Book and Michael find eggs that the creatures are protecting. Michael realises they need to not present as a threat this time, so they ditch their phasers. The creatures also calm down, allowing an injured Book to use his Kweijian abilities to make contact and apologise. They then escape and find an impressed Jinaal waiting, with the clue that he had all along.

Saru apologises to T’Rina. She sets him straight on how the dangers of diplomacy work.

After the zhian’tara ends, the Bix symbiont finally dies. Adira and Gray hold hands supportively during the funeral… but one of the hooded attendees is actually Moll.

Status Report

Written by Kyle Jarrow and Lauren Wilkinson, this is basically two stories roughly stuck together. Technically three, if we include the comic relief scenes of Rayner’s crew interviews, but basically two. It’s kind of a relationship-themed episode, with the Saru and T’Rina stuff as well as Michael and Book discussing whether Moll’s connection to him will make a difference. Neither of the subplots work that well, especially compared to the two previous episodes.

It’s very hard to accept that Saru is so clumsy and naive on the diplomacy front when he has been the Kelpian Ambassador before, which means the story strand about he, T’Rina and their political careers feels like the Ladybird Book of The West Wing, at best. The actors are fine – Doug Jones is always awesome – but the story is a nice break to go and put the kettle on; you won’t miss anything, unless there turns out to be some Vulcan nationalist hi-jinks later this season. And even if so, just reading about its mention will probably suffice.

A tale of two subplots

As for the story of the next clue, well, it is nice to get some reveals about how the Federation knew about the Progenitor tech and why there’s an Easter-egg-type treasure hunt. It also gives Wilson Cruz a great chance to let his hair down and show a wider range, which is good fun, especially since – unlike most actors called upon to play an alternate or possessed version of their regular role – he doesn’t forget how to act but is actually really good.

Again, we have some genuine location filming where the creatures attack Book and Michael, but it’s so obviously a quarry that it gives an unintentional vibe of 1970s Doctor Who that totally doesn’t fit with the rest of it. On the good side, we’re still getting that 24th century stuff mixed through, complete with the appearance of a cobra-headed Selay from TNG’s “Lonely Among Us”.

The Selay and some of the other attendees of the meeting in this episode
Rating: 3/5

Overall, the season’s arc is going nicely, Reno is back and on form, and Wilson Cruz is a scene-stealer, the highlight of the episode. But otherwise, this is a drop after the previous two episodes, feeling tired and as though it’s just filling a timeslot.

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