Star Trek Discovery: 3.05 Die Trying
The latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery continued the dramatic pace of season three by kicking off the reunion with the Federation as the new Starfleet Headquarters was located. It was a joyous opening sequence for the crew and the audience. I'm not sure what was more crowd pleasing; the fabulous Star Trek: Voyager Easter egg and USS Nog paying tribute to Aaron Eisenberg, or the sight of the crew geeking out at the future tech on display.
Die Trying was an episode of transition; there are still plenty of mysteries to resolve, not least the Burn, but this was the point at which the crew of the Discovery finally got their mission statement and their first Starfleet mission under Oded Fehr's Admiral Charles Vance. He's an interesting character; while somewhat antagonistic to Saru, Michael and the crew of Discovery, you couldn't argue with his approach, particularly in light of the revelations regarding the 30th Century fallout of the Temporal wars. The Discovery crew are time travellers after all. Fehr brought a sense of pragmatism and order to the character of Vance, weighed down by the eight of carrying the remnants of a struggling Federation on his shoulders. I think he'll be a decent replacement for Admiral Cornwell.
After all the wonders of a reunion with a futuristic Starfleet, there was certainly some decent drama to be mined from the threat of the crew being split up and Discovery absorbed into the fleet. I genuinely wondered if this was the last we were going to see of the recurring engineering and bridge characters; while there's still plenty more room for development for the likes of Rhys, Owosekun and Bryce, they have become an essential part of the ensemble as of late. The conflict bubbling between Saru and Michael was a nice touch, her assertions to take the data they needed and go off on their own to prove their worth as a crew versus his assertions that they follow the chain of command. As captain and first officer, there is some interesting progression in the relationship between the two; Michael's boldness and Saru's pragmatism ultimately finding the right balance and outcome.
The trip to uncover a cure to a disease on a remote ship trapped in a nebula certainly made this the most Star Trek-y episode to date. There were shades of the Genesis Cave from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in the tropical corridors inside the ship, along with a compelling mystery regarding the fate of the missing inhabitants. This offered Rachael Ancheril a compelling final episode as Commander Nhan, finding a chance to reconnect with her people in a future where her planet was part of the Federation. Brought onto Discovery with Pike at the start of season two, she has been a solid member of the ensemble, playing off well against the likes of Michael and Georgiou and she will be missed.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of Die Trying was the scenes involving Georgiou's interrogation. Her manipulation of the holograms was impressive, Michelle Yeoh continuing to prove herself as the most entertaining member of the ensemble. The debate over Terran physiology and psychology with David Cronenberg's Kovich was the episode's highlight, resulting in another layer of mystery to the season, which suggested she might not be in control as she might think.
I was also glad to see that Detmer's mental health struggles weren't brushed off by a film and a chat last episode (I had horrible memories of Torres' trauma over the slaughter of the Marquis being brushed off with banana pancakes in Star Trek: Voyager). Her struggles continued this episode, observed by Owosekun and Vance; she might have pulled through in a crisis, but it was good to see the show that she isn't okay and her PTSD is going to take time to deal with.
Die Trying was the best episode of Star Trek: Discovery's third season since the opener, with a perfect Star Trek mission, and an interesting exploration of the show's continued recovery and status in the futuristic Federation. With the crew now part of Vance's fleet, ready to lead a Renaissance out of the dark times and help rebuild the Federation, it seems the show has a new mission statement. Once again, by freeing itself of continuity restraints Star Trek: Discovery has found a renewed sense of energy and purpose and that is incredibly exciting to watch.