Star Trek Discovery: The Sanctuary (Season 3, Episode 8) brings new information on the ‘Burn’, while raising the stakes between what’s left of the Federation and The Emerald Chain
The latest Star Trek: Discovery episode, The Sanctuary, sends Booker (David Ajala) back to his roots and he needs help from Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). Things have moved on since this season started, and now missions are done by the book, and Starfleet sanctions an away trip with one proviso: be careful, particularly with respect to The Emerald Chain, the current main threat to the Federation. We’ve found that many episodes of this season focus too much on Burnham (such as last week’s Unification III) and we’re pleased to report this week is far more inclusive.
To begin with the focus is on Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) who is now, begrudgingly, seeking medical help with her brain condition. This sets a backdrop for the start of the story, while Tilly (played by Mary Wiseman, now firmly being Number One) gets to supervise progress on finding the source of the ‘Burn’, the catastrophe that destroyed dilithium and wiped out most of Starfleet. We see Adira (Blu del Barrio) assert their non-binary nature and again Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) acts as glue, giving people a chance to talk and share their problems. None of it is essential, but does make Discovery feel like a real ship, crewed by real people.
Booker and Michael land on Kwejian (Booker’s home), there some shooting, running, fighting, betrayal and reconciliation, along with backstory. We also get to see The Emerald Chain in action as the story ties up with Scavengers, and we see Oysraa turn up in her spaceship and start some casual bombing of the planet with photon torpedoes! What can Saru (Doug Jones) do? He is under orders to observe only. Nothing about Detmer (Emily Coutts) not borrowing a ship and taking things into her own hands – in one of her best sequences this season. It was nice to see her freed of the helm of Discovery and take centre stage. In other episodes writers would have had Burnham take the honours, but this is a key example of the better balance in this story.
Of course, as this is Star Trek, there has to be a happy ending – or the best outcome achievable – and, while the episode as a whole works, it just doesn’t shine as brightly as some others. It feels like a stepping stone in the bigger story arcs, not a destination in and of itself. And that’s just fine, you need space for the bigger story to grow and The Sanctuary ticks most of the right boxes, and keeps us firmly hooked as the season reaches the two-thirds’ mark.
We can now understand why Star Trek: Discovery has had a fourth season approved as they’ve now built a credible future galaxy with plenty of question and possibilities to explore for some time.