Star Trek: Discovery 3.12 There Is A Tide
The penultimate episode of Star Trek: Discovery's third was certainly a tightly-paced affair, balancing the crew's attempts to retake the ship from Emerald Chain while Osyraa laid out her demands to Admiral Vance. With Saru and the rest of the away team absent from the episode, There Is A Tide's tight focus gave us probably the strongest episode since Unification III.
I still remain unconvinced by Osyraa and the Emerald Chain as a credible threat. Partly it is because we've largely been told how big a deal they are, with very little actually shown outside small bands of criminal gangs and Osyraa and her big, menacing star ship. There was more of that in this week's episode; as Osyraa faced off against Admiral Vance at the negotiation table there was a lot of talk of the siege of Kaminar and her abuse of pre-warp civilisations. Still, Janet Kidder brings enough to her performance as Osyraa that you believe she is as ruthless as we have been told.
The 'negotiation' was the most interesting aspect of There Is A Tide. I wonder how serious Osyraa really was in her intentions to bring the Emerald Chain and the Federation together. With her wealth of scientists, she certainly has assets valuable to the Federation and they are desperate enough post-Burn that they might need to compromise on their ideals. The suggestion that they recognise trade and currency is an interesting one. The idea that the Federation had no need of it always rang hollow; indeed, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine explored the idea that even its Starfleet officers would trade at Quarks and the rest of the Promenade. The suggestion that capitalism is not a totally evil thing is both an anathema to Star Trek's idealistic future and something of a myth.
There were even moments when it felt as if Vance, talking on behalf of the absent President, might even take Osyraa's olive branch, particularly with the truth-detecting hologram to back her up. But when it looked as if Star Trek: Discovery might actually consider a more realistic, nuanced future, Vance called her bluff. Any assertion that Osyraa stand trial or her crimes as part of the treaty was soon rebuffed, revealing her real motivation - power.
While the negotiations were underway, the crew of the Discovery strived to take back the ship. It was a delight to see Tilly in command, leading the bridge crew in the breakout. Rhys and Bryce using of Morse Code to plan the jail break felt very classic-era Star Trek and the escape allowed everyone to kick ass, Owosekun and Detmer included. The real surprise of the episode was the cliff-hanger appearance of the sphere data-controlled Dot-23 bots there to help take back the ship. It was certainly a crowd-pleasing moment to end on.
Making it back onto the ship, There Is A Tide also had Michael in Die Hard mode, right down to the barefoot running around the ship, taking out bad guys and laying some clever traps for the Emerald Chain terrrorists. The new 31st Century phasers were a very cool addition too. I'm also expecting another reunion with her mother in the finale after sending out a distress signal to Qowat Milat Gabrielle. I am slightly nervous for Booker though; will he survive the season, after he and Michael properly admitted their love for each other? With Osyraa having already executed poor Ryn on the bridge, he could easily be next.
The other big moments of the episode surrounded Stamets. His conversation with Emerald Chain scientist Aurellio (Kenneth Mitchell's third role in Star Trek: Discovery) was interesting, referring to Adira as his child. Michael choosing the fate of the Federation over the fate of the away crew - and all Stamets held dear - felt like a horribly betrayal. She may have ejected out of the ship to safety, but I fear that the damage to their relationship will take some time to rebuild.
There Is A Tide was a solidly entertaining episode of Star Trek: Discovery. Given the grand setting of season three, the stakes feel relatively low-key going into the season finale compared to the finales for seasons one and two and I wonder if perhaps the steam has run out on the big themes - the Emerald Chain conflict and mystery of the Burn. I'm hoping that next week's episode will offer something of a satisfying conclusion. A few narrative slumps lately aside, this has been the strongest season of Star Trek: Discovery yet and I'm hoping it does go out with a bang.