Star Trek #1658: Labyrinths

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Burnham must take an interior journey to find the last clue.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Burnham under the microscope.

WHY WE DON'T: Frustrating wild goose chases.

REVIEW: The Archive still doesn't really work for me. I love the idea of a Library that keeps priceless works and artifacts safe from the forces of history, but its moving about so it can't be found (and if the Badlands are meant to be a big defense system, what did they do in the previous 50-year chunk?), its various rules that seem rather random (you need a library card for a specific item, but how about a tour?), its bubbly librarian (and the very abstract casualties during the Breen attack)... It's a script artifact rather than a real place. I'm also questioning the invitation they extend to Booker as the last Kwejian to view - and even keep! - World Root cuttings from his dead planet. I mean, if you're not THEN going to use the Progenitors' technology to recreate the planet, or at least its ecosystem, what are we even doing here? Keeping Book in play as the co-star was already achieved by giving the test's AI his form, so...

That said, the last piece of the puzzle is a psychological test, which is pretty reasonable, but brings up a crucial point: Since there's no way the Breen (or Moll) could have passed this, Starfleet really should have left well enough alone. It's because the bad guys are following Discovery that they get anything at all. Of course, the Red Directive is to FIND the Progenitor tech, not simply to keep it out of the hands of those who would misuse it. On second watch, all the running around inside Burnham's mindscape, getting trolled by the A.I., hitting dead ends, is as frustrating for us as it is for her. We KNOW the answers she pursues are wrong, and it even seems like she jumps to unjustifiable conclusions. It works in that she's in a rush and acting on instinct, even a bit of panic. It's when she opens up - truly opens up - about what drives her that the episode comes to life. A.I. Book responding like a psychotherapist and finally breaking her down as the lights dim is a great moment for Martin-Green, and it encapsulates the touchy-feely tone Discovery's always had (whether you like it or not). It's a necessary surrender for a character that's psychologically unable to give up, and that usually finds ways NOT to fail when she has (like Kirk).

Meanwhile, Moll is making herself Breen Queen, especially after the Primarch shows he wants power at any cost, even if he has to break every Breen taboo. She shockingly kills him and takes over, streamlining the villains side in time for the finale. But before that can happen, L'ak's uncle makes a play against the Archive while Discovery - with Reese in the chair, as Rayner is on the station - hides in the plasma storms and tries to stop the carnage. Space action and a bit of gunplay, and eventually Burnham, with the last piece of the puzzle in hand, has to give it up to the Breen, exacting a sacret oath that the Archive will be left alone. Knowing an attack on Discovery is imminent, she fakes its destruction as the ship spore drives away... and inadvertently signs the Primarch's death warrant because he chooses not to respect the oath. But once again, events have conspired to make this a dead heat between the two sides...

LESSON: Know thyself.

While the Breen stuff and Burnham's final breakdown compelling, early frustrations keep the episode from achieving greater heights.