Warning: This article contains spoilers for Season 3, Episode 6 of Star Trek: Discovery.
We knew it had to happen eventually. Now that Discovery is firmly ensconced in the 31st century, the ship needs to catch up technologically. That's why the first five minutes of "Scavengers" is a montage sequence, designed to bring the Discovery crew — and viewers — up to date with the new technology aboard the ship after its refit. The nacelles have been separated, programmable matter has been integrated into the consoles, comm badges now function as both tricorders and personal transporters. It's a lot to get used to, but I'm excited to see all the new things that Discovery can do.
But before Discovery can get underway on a new mission, an unexpected visitor arrives at Federation HQ — Grudge, the queen herself. It turns out that Book programmed his ship to head to Michael if he didn't return after 24 hours — but it's now been three weeks. He's going after a black box, one that might reveal more information about the Burn.
I've been waiting to hear more about the information Michael collected during her year in the future without Discovery, and finally, we're starting to get it — the Burn didn't all happen at once. These black boxes, two of which Michael has already collected, indicated the ships were not destroyed at the same moment. That implies that the Burn had a point of origin and traveled outward from that point, affecting ships at a greater distance later than those that were closest to it. Now, if Book was able to locate a third box, Michael can use the data to triangulate that point of origin.
It's huge, galaxy-shaking news, and it's probably going to affect the course of the next few episodes, at least. But first, Discovery has to go after Book, which Saru knows isn't possible, so Michael turns to the one person who can run an unsanctioned op without consequences: Georgiou.
Michael has always had a rebellious streak, and it's becoming clear that her adjustment to life aboard Discovery isn't going to be short-term. She may not ever be an ideal Starfleet officer. But the initiative, the understanding of the higher level, the willingness to do what has to be done is what Michael excels at. The question is whether her relationship with Saru and place aboard Discovery will survive this kind of betrayal. Michael is in a leadership position aboard the ship as its First Officer, and while I do understand her decision, this is not a great example to set.
That being said, it's worth asking if Saru should share some of the blame. He understands how important this mission is. While their place in this new Federation is fragile, could there have been a way for him to work with her? Sanction her mission while keeping Discovery out of it? Or ask her to delay her mission by just 12 hours to complete the one they had been tasked with? It's unlikely Admiral Vance would have greenlit a mission into Orion-controlled space, but Saru wasn't willing to work with her much.
Saru seeks out Tilly's thoughts, and she's right in what she says — Discovery has to prove herself, and Michael put the crew in a corner with no real options. It's a situation where no one is fully right, but Michael's choice to unilaterally take action puts everyone in a difficult position.
Aboard Book's ship, as Philippa and Michael engage in some excellent familial banter as they're heading on their unsanctioned rescue mission, the consequences of Georgiou's interrogation start to become clearer. When we saw her completely zoned out at the end of the last episode, it wasn't just her not paying attention. Something strange is going on inside her head —some sort of flashbacks— and she is very unsettled as a result. It's unclear what they are, and whether they're a result of her debrief, the growing distance between the Terran universe and the Prime universe, or something else entirely. Georgiou and Michael successfully locate Book — and the black box — and decide to stage a prison break.
I was a little worried about Adira since we didn't see her after her Starfleet debrief, but she appears to have made herself comfortable in Engineering as a part of Stamets' team. Adira lives and breathes their work — something Gray takes issue with, as he'd love to see more of the ship and this new world they've found together.
The friendship that develops between Adira and Stamets is really amazing. It feels like Stamets is going to develop a similar working relationship with Adira that Saru has developed with Tilly — part mentor/mentee, but also someone he trusts and respects. (Shout out for the always amazing Wilson Cruz as Hugh, as he helps Stamets see that Adira reminds him of himself.) Adira's fluency with technology is incredible, and I can't wait to see what they do with the spore drive, and what Gray's part is in all of this.
Everything ends as well as it can, and Michael and Book finally start to acknowledge their feelings for each other — complete with an incredibly poor (or well, depending on your sense of humor) visit from Linus, followed by a pretty spectacular turbolift makeout session. Unsurprisingly, Saru relieves Michael of her first officer status, showing real leadership by acknowledging that part of the blame lies with him and his desire to find a sense of normalcy in this uncertain future. But still, it doesn't absolve Michael of once again betraying him and her crew.
I'm still incredibly curious about The Burn and the data that the black box holds. And I want to know what's going on with Georgiou, and what kind of new pilot interface Stamets, Adira, and Tilly will build for the spore drive. But the new question I have is where Michael really belongs. Until this episode, I've been of the mind that of course she should be aboard Discovery. But seeing what she accomplished on her own, I'm wondering if she'd be better working with her old crew instead of being a part of it. We'll see what happens, and if Saru and Michael can rebuild the trust they once had.