Star Trek Discovery: There Is a Tide…(S3E12)

A bit of Die Hard Jefferies Tube action is surprisingly not the main focus of this fun episode. Like the initial episode of the three part finale, there is a lot going on but the balance of the plot is much better.

Osyraa has stolen Discovery and used it to gain access to Federation HQ. Everything is set up for a big spaceship fight as we all assume she is there to cause wanton destruction. Instead, Osyraa’s big plan is much bigger and at a wholly different scale: she wants to go legit. She may be a supervillain but she is a pragmatic supervillain and the way forward for the Emerald Chain is a deal with the Federation where the two groups work together for the greater good of the galaxy.

The episode spends time with Admiral Vance and Osyraa laying out the potential deal and…it actually makes sense. The Federation does not need to compromise much and maybe (maybe) it could actually all be for the best. It is, of course, a trap but it is a trap that is wide open and honest about what it is: the Federation selling out to a criminal enterprise that uses murder, slavery and extortion of whole planets to get what it wants. I like the thought put into this as there have certainly been Star Fleet officials in the past who would have bought into proposed Emerald Chain/Federation joint venture. It’s close enough of a compromise to create real tension because it is close enough that you can’t be sure if the writers actually think it might be a good idea (remember, they just spent two episodes rehabilitating an even more fundamentally evil space despot). Vance’s counter-offer is also very nicely tuned, showing a willingness to listen, compromise and offering an ethical way forward that also cuts to the heart of Osyraa’s duplicity.

Meanwhile, Adira, Hugh, Saru and Barney McGrew are parked off-screen while everybody else struggles for control of Discovery. With Michael infiltrating and Tilly rising to the occasion of captaincy under difficult circumstances, the story gives the emotional heart to neither of them but rather to Stamets. Anthony Rapp does fine work as his character is put through the wringer. Firstly his forced calm as he attempts to turn the psychological tables on Osyraa’s pet scientist is very nicely done. Only to be followed by a pragmatic betrayal by Michael as she forces him off the ship rather than helping him return Discovery to the planet where Hugh is trapped (and facing certain death).

The broader society within the control of the Emerald Chain is not something Discovery has shown us but the episode does a quick sketch of something more than just commercial exchanges and labour camps. It’s thin but just about sufficient, which reveals the luxury past Star Trek has had with fleshing out what the non-Federation societies are like over multiple episodes and series with the Klingons and Romulans (and even Vulcans) being one note societies for long periods, only picking up nuance overtime.

Unfortunately for those same writers, next week there are multiple plot lines that need resolving and (probably) Michael’s mum is going to turn up (maybe to save her from a very angry Stamets).

5 thoughts on “Star Trek Discovery: There Is a Tide…(S3E12)

  1. “Barney McGrew” *snort* 😁

    It’s too bad the finale is going to air in 2021. Lacking in SFF movies as we are, I would have nominated this entire season for the Dramatic Presentation Long Form. Season 5 of “The Expanse” has the same problem.

    And the Sphere data is also going to battle, in the form of the DOTS? (Was there ever an explanation of what that acronym stands for? Although they look an awful lot like Eve from Wall-E.) Osyraa is going to get her ass kicked.

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  2. I enjoyed this one a lot and it was quite nice to have Osyraa a nuanced villain as it had looked like it was going the other way before. But the problem that Osyraa has is that, since the Federation has had to be very circumspect, cautious and pragmatic to survive, she assumed the Discovery crew was going to be the same way, despite the reckless attack by the shuttle on her ship before. As we know, the Discovery crew, even Saru, has never been circumspect, cautious or even very often pragmatic. They don’t quite fit in the new society and the new Federation of the future. Compared to other situations they’ve faced, Osyraa’s gambit is a relative cakewalk to upset. And now they have the Sphere remnant which disguised itself and has given itself robot soldiers. So it was rather believable odds for once without being deus ex machina this installment.

    Anthony Rapp’s acting in the episode was terrific also and it was fun to have Fehr have more to do this episode.

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  3. Bridge crew is really getting something to do. And Vance have also more to do than just looking stern (which admittingly is his superpower). I really enjoyed this! Anthony Rapp is great in this episode. Disco has a lot of great actors, but Stamets rarely gets a chance to shine.
    With the three DOTS showing up at the end Ive got strong Short Circuit (the movie) vibes – Unfortunetly the sphere data seems a fan of Keaton, not the three stooges, so it was not really a reference.

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  4. I’ve just caught up on your DISCO reviews, as I’ve just caught up on the series.

    Hitting the reset button may have redeemed this series. Sure, it’s still uneven, but for the first time it feels like “Star Trek.” Even, for the most part, in its flaws.

    Also, they now clearly have a lot of Trekkies on the writing staff. My son is currently engaged in a DS9 rewatch with a friend, and he caught a number of throwaway references to things established in that series. Despite what’s apparently a tight budget (for example, having the Vulcan thesis defense take place on the ship instead of the planet), they’re doing quite well, and most of the acting is very good. Stamets’s deciding to be Adira’s parent was done adorably — and of course he’s acting less jerkish after Culber had it out with him behind the scenes for his actions at Saru’s disastrous luncheon. I was prepared to hate Adira when they were introduced as a teen genius, but the twist that they had a Trill symbiont changed everything, and they are endearing, not annoying. And I love Culber as proto-ship’s counselor.

    Is it a great TV series, or even a great “Star Trek” series? Not yet, but the improvement is dramatic, and for the first time in 3 seasons I’ve found myself impatient for the finale.

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