Warning: This article contains spoilers for Season 3, Episode 5 of Star Trek: Discovery.
This season of Star Trek: Discovery has been excellent so far, giving us so much hope in the face of adversity, but the beginning of this episode was the warm blanket I've been hoping for. The last week has been a lot for those of us in the US (and people whose eyes have been on our country), and while there's still a lot of work to do, many of us are experiencing overwhelming relief after years of anxiety and hopelessness. As a result, this episode was incredibly well-timed; Discovery finally finds Federation and Starfleet headquarters, intact and surviving — perhaps even thriving — in this new future. (How about the USS Voyager?! What a lovely sight!)
Before I dive into the episode, though, I want to talk about the relationship that's developed between Saru and Michael. We've seen captains and first officers at odds before — Sisko and Kira, Janeway and Chakotay — but Saru and Michael still feel new and different. We saw these two as bitterly divided rivals at the beginning of Discovery. The way their friendship has developed, the sheer amount of mutual respect and dedication between the two is a sight to behold, and it makes me want to weep.
Of course, as in real life, there's still work to be done, and the welcome that Discovery gets from Starfleet isn't exactly warm. It's not hostile — just guarded. While I want to rail against unfair treatment, it's hard to say that Admiral Vance's suspicion isn't justified, given that none of Captain Saru's story can be verified. I'm glad that Admiral Vance mentioned the Temporal Accords, something we know a lot about from Star Trek: Enterprise. It highlights the fact that there probably is no returning to the past for Discovery — this is their new home.
But Discovery gets the chance to prove itself — a mission to a seed vault to save aliens who are dying. Nhan gets the chance to see her own people once again, and ends up staying behind. Will this be the last we see of her? I doubt it, but anything's possible on this show. As an aside, the shot of Burnham as she ordered a Black Alert was fantastic — I loved the camera work in this episode.
It was an immense act of trust and faith, given what Saru knows about this new Michael, for him to turn his ship — and effectively, the future of Discovery and her crew — over to her for this mission. It's not that Michael isn't capable, everyone knows very well that she can get the job done. But we still don't know what she saw in her year before Discovery arrived, and we know she's disillusioned with this new suspicious Federation. Saru trusts her to get the job done, in the manner Starfleet would expect.
It was honestly really great to see Detmer still working through her trauma. You don't work through major trauma over a single episode. It's clear that it's going to take time for Detmer to work through her PTSD, and I love that she has Owo — and an entire crew — at her side, cheering her on. Jet Reno was also a treasure in this episode, as she is in every one. Between asking for snacks during her debrief and her back-and-forth banter with Stamets ("Can we just irradiate your entire personality?"), this entire crew is just a treasure.
Discovery's mission is successful, which is great news, and it results in Admiral Vance choosing to keep the crew together and trust Captain Saru. It's an uneasy alliance, though, as Saru makes clear when he asks Burnham to watch her words more carefully around the admiral. A fragile trust has been established, but it wouldn't take much for it to disappear in an instant.
I have to ask, at the end of this episode, what happened to Adira? Clearly, they're going through an extensive debrief, but I worry about them. I know that they came to a place of trust with Admiral Vance by the end of the episode, but I hope Adira doesn't have a terrible experience here.
We'll find out later what happened to Adira — but we do see some of Georgiou's debriefing, and it's fascinating. For the first time, she finds herself outmaneuvered, and it throws her off her game. We learn quite a bit here — that the links to the Terran universe are pretty much gone, that Georgiou is alone, and that her interrogator has likely discovered her weakness: Michael Burnham. Is her disorientation at the end of the episode just due to her being taken by surprise, or is there something more going on here?
And let's discuss that question Burnham wanted to ask Philippa: What does she make of the music? How does everyone, even people who are completely isolated, know this tune? I don't even know if I have any theories about what's going on, but the mystery is certainly intriguing.
It's clear at this point that no evidence has been found to tell Starfleet what happened during the Burn. The question is (one that Michael clearly wants the answer to) what does Starfleet believe? Even if there's no concrete evidence, there's likely an overall theory that most of the organization ascribes to. But it's going to take a while, and more trust, before anyone confides what that is to Discovery. And in the meantime, Michael will continue to look for evidence to figure out the truth.