Star Trek #1523: There Is a Tide...

CAPTAIN'S LOG: As the Chain negotiates with the Federation, the crew of Discovery fights to regain control of their ship.

WHY WE LIKE IT: The realpolitik. Die Hard on a spaceship.

WHY WE DON'T: Has Osyrra's accent changed since we first met her? It's not consistent even here. Distracting.

REVIEW: I don't know if I was suffering from non-specific anxiety coming into it, but I found this one to be a real nail biter, and it wasn't so much the Die Hard element (which, to be fair, was done by TNG in Starship Mine), but rather the politicking between the reasonable (if ruthless Emerald Chain) and a Federation we've been told again and again not to trust. Those scenes were truly riveting. And it's possible, just possible, that not showing us what's happening on the dilithium planet (even as Burnham prevents Stamets from jumping the ship back there because [his] whole LIFE is in that nebula!) creates an unease. Surely, they're not gonna kill off three whole characters (especially Adira who Stamets has just admitted some parental relationship to, she's too new and untapped to be gotten rid of, but that doesn't make everyone safe).

As an action piece, it moves fast and gives everyone lots to do. Burnham is the John McLane, to the point where she has to run around the ship barefoot at one point, getting stabbed and kicking people out into space while she holds on for dear life inside a Jeffreys tube. The part of Holly is played by Stamets, being interrogated by one of Osyrra's scientists who has bought the Chain's propaganda hook, line and sinker (which should ring some bells). Intriguingly, Aurellio is in a wheelchair, born with a congenital condition which you would imagine the super-future could have dealt with less obtrusively. There is a Discovery crew member in a wheelchair, and the show has been good about at least acknowledging differently abled people, but that was another century. It does seem to imply that this century really does have limits, more based on scarcity and prioritizing than on technical advancement. If Discovery in Seasons 1 and 2 was on a wild frontier, so is Season 3's. Stamets almost gets somewhere with him, but ultimately Aurellio will see Osyrra's true nature first hand. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew are holed up in the mess hall, but scheme to get the better of their guards (and Zareh, who somehow survived terminal frostbite). Good stuff for Tilly, but also the rest who win the day. By the end of the episode, the ship will not have been retaken, but Zora (the Sphere Data) has partitioned herself in the DOT robots and Michael's called her mom (her Romulan cult does love a lost cause, so expect them to ride in like the cavalry).

Osyrra's ploy is a nice surprise. She proposes an alliance that would actually rebuild the Federation of old (since the exchanges she represents - in part or in whole - include Andorians, Bajorans, Tellarites, Orions, etc.), and the lie detector confirms she's sincere. She's desperate, as the Chain's resources really are dwindling, and hopes the Federation has its own desperation she can tap. Desperate enough to make true concessions and offer a deal that would actually (though reasonably, over time) restore the galaxy to a more Trekkish utopia (albeit a capitalistic one, but not that different from what we saw on DS9). She's just not desperate enough to submit herself to justice after the treaty is signed. She's still driven by selfishness, not the greater good. Not sure Vance is smart to insist on it at this point, but the entire conversation is laced with reality/pragmatism vs. abstractions/ideals (the apple, the lie detector). Not able to put her money where her mouth is, she returns to Discovery a different kind of desperate (a dangerous one), and Vance proves his Federation of the same stripe as the one we know and love. It's just harder to find moral clarity in his world, but I believe him when he says he fights for it every day. Can this peace be achieved with the Chain if Osyrra is out of the way? She's not going to down without a fight.

LESSON: Don't put all your eggs in the same nebula.

REWATCHABILITY - High: Confirmed, I felt as anxious writing this as I did watching it the first time. A taut political and action thriller where we're on the cusp of everything changing.

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