Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is also still trying to acclimate to the rigid chain of command of Starfleet, even while Saru (Doug Jones) is doing his best to assimilate into Admiral Vance’s way of doing things. The Disco is now Vance’s rapid-responder, so when Book’s ship (and cat, Grudge) shows up with a pre-recorded message from its owner, Michael’s rogue tendencies start to kick in again. Not only is Book (David Ajala) in trouble, but he’s also got a lead on information about The Burn. How can she not go to him, no matter what Saru’s orders may be?
Which is where Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) comes in, always ready to indulge her quasi-daughter when it comes to bucking Starfleet. “I’d rather regret something I did than something I didn’t,” Michael says as she reveals that she’s going to disobey orders and go find Book. Georgiou listens as director Douglas Aarniokoski frames the characters so that Yeoh’s reflection seems to be a third party to the conversation (this is not the only time in this episode that the Mirror Universe aspect of Georgiou is plainly drawn). This bit of visual play also serves to remind us that this season is as much about Burnham being pulled in two different directions as it is anything else.Which also brings us to Georgiou’s crippling flashbacks, if that’s what they are. They started after her run-in with David Cronenberg’s mysterious character last week, with the former emperor having flashes of bloody visions before being rendered temporarily inert. I’m guessing these images will turn out to be memories of the Mirror Michael Burnham, Georgiou’s adopted daughter, whose true fate was obscured enough in Season 1 that there’s room here to find out what really happened to her. Did Georgiou murder Mirror Michael herself? Is that why she’s so interested in the path Prime Michael takes, out of some sort of guilt? Or am I completely off-base here?
Once Michael and Georgiou find Book, who’s been forced into indentured servitude in a junk business to the stars, some typical plot mechanics kick in: the prisoner who tries to escape and is killed; the vicious warden who’ll get his comeuppance; the subterfuge and run and jump of it all to escape. But these tropes are smoothed over by some fine writing, directing, and acting moments, like the haunting image of Burnham finding a bin of old, discarded Starfleet badges, or when she and Book are reunited and can sneak a heartfelt hug… before dunking on each other about whether or not the holo-message he had sent was passive-aggressive or passive-passive. Martin-Green and Ajala continue to play off each other so well, and that continues after Book is saved and they’re safe aboard the Disco again where they can finally — after over a year of being friends and partners — kiss.
But all is not right for Burnham, despite this step forward in that relationship. Even Tilly advised Saru that he needed to tell Vance that his Number One had gone rogue. Michael’s friends are starting to realize that her antics could spell real trouble for them, and they’re siding with Starfleet. Saru relieves Michael of her duties as First Officer by the episode’s end, and she responds not only by saying that he’s doing the right thing but also… by taking her comm badge off. Hmmm…
Meanwhile, Adira (Blu del Barrio) gets a small but nice thread with Stamets (Anthony Rapp) as their friendship deepens. Even while Gray (Ian Alexander) — who may or may not be real — keeps telling Adira that they need to start opening up to the rest of the crew, Stamets realizes that the young Trill host is talking to themself. What a relief that the show isn’t dragging out the “nobody knows Gray is there except Adira” bit of business, but even better is Paul’s response. He gets it, having also loved someone who died and somehow returned: “I believe you,” he tells Adira. Rapp’s character has changed quite a bit from the prickly SOB he was in the early first season, and this scene illustrates that evolution very well.
Questions and Notes from the Q Continuum:
- One other thing about the refit of the Discovery: The ship no longer looks the way it did in the Short Trek “Calypso,” which posited a future decades after the events of Season 3… not that there wouldn’t be a way to resolve this seeming continuity discrepancy at some point.
- We get a mention of the “Bajoran exchange” here and we also see a Bajoran.
- Our long lost pal Ash Tyler gets a name-drop from Georgiou and a funny one at that.
- Self-sealing stem bolts, part of Michael and Georgiou’s cover story here, are of course from a Deep Space Nine story involving Jake and Nog.
- The crew have fancy new comm badges that can basically do… anything and everything. But I still don’t understand how personal transporters work, unless they’re somehow wired to the user’s brain in order to program where to beam to…?
- Book’s ship is growing on me. Does it have a name?