Star Trek: Discovery 3.08 The Sanctuary
The Sanctuary was a sanctuary for a number of the season's recurring narrative threads. While still a good episode, maintaining the high standard of Star Trek: Discovery's third year, the episode felt more like a collection of character beats and dangling mysteries, rather than being driven by a central purpose.
The 'A plot' so to speak, was Booker's return to his home planet to locate his missing brother. It wasn't the strongest story line of the season; it felt like there was little here that he didn't already learn in season opener That Hope is You and Scavengers. In fact, it was more a sequel to that sixth season three episode, with the debut of Orion villain in charge of the Emerald Chain, Osyraa. She was teased as a future enemy and sure enough, here she was, in full ruthless villain mode. Whether it was executing her nephew Tolor for his failures, or bombarding a planet to make a point, there was no doubting that she was the 'big bad'.
And yet, despite Janet Kidder's cold, commanding performance and ability not to veer too much into hammy villain mode, Osyraa didn't quite have the impact I think the writers intended. The same with the revelation that the Emerald Chain is running out of Dilithium and wanted to capture Andorian Ryn (Noah Averbach-Katz) because he was the only one that knew Osyraa's secret. Surely everyone is running out of Dilithium? Isn't that the point of the post-Burn galaxy? From Vance's initial discomfort about going up against the Emerald Chain, it appeared they were a formidable threat. While I am certain a conflict with Osyraa's ships might cause considerable harm, Emerald Chain no Romulans, Dominion or Klingons.
Still, the actual trip to Booker's home world was lovely to look at. The floating, luminescent sea locusts floating amid the trees of the autumnal forests were beautiful; there really have been some stunning visuals this season. For a guest role, Ache Hernandez brought, gravitas and a sense of the weight of the world on Kyheem's shoulders. I believed the brotherly connection that David Ajala and Ache Hernandez brought to their performance and there was a real sense of desperation as the threat of famine forced Kyheem to choose between his brother and son.
Perhaps the most exciting element of this whole story line was Lieutenant Keyla Detmer finally engaging in constructive therapy as she piloted Booker's ship against the Emerald Chain mother ship. Emily Coutts really brought that sense of elation as she fired against the superior vessel in a no hands barred attack. It was very Star Wars-y - a rebel fighter going up against a Star Destroyer - and a lovely way to see Detmer gain some of her confidence back after dealing with her own mental health struggles this season.
“If I had time, I’d poison your children.” “If I had time, I’d have children.”
The most entertaining scenes of the episode were those surrounding Hugh Culber's attempts to ascertain what was wrong with Philippa Georgiou. Wilson Cruz certainly conveyed a cool demeanour and no-nonsense sass as the 'Oracle of the Mess Hall' dealing with the former Terran Empress, threatening to upstage Michelle Yeoh, which is no small feat. I loved everything about their dialogue and the mystery concerning her condition is becoming as essential viewing as the investigation into what caused the Burn.
Saru's search for a catch phrase was also a lovely bit of fun, particularly the differing reactions of the bridge crew every time he tried one out. "Carry On" my not be as distinctive as "Make it So" but it is perfectly Saru. It's always nice we we chip away at some of his layers.
This episode was also noteworthy for Adira coming out as non-binary to Stamets. It delivered in such a lovely, understated manner and his immediate acceptance and referring to Adira as they refreshing. It didn't need huge drama or discourse. It just is. They building friendship is quickly becoming the heart of the show.
The Santuary had some lovely character moments; Detmer attacking the enemy ship, Booker and Kyheem's relationship, Saru trying out new catchphrases, Huber treating Georgiou and Adira confiding in Stamets. However the main plot lacked punch and I find myself a little underwhelmed by Osyraa and the Emerald Chain. Was it the weakest episode of season three so far? Quite possibly. Was it still a good episode? Definitely. That speaks to how strong the new and improved Star Trek: Discovery is.