I will say this upfront: In my opinion, “The Sanctuary” is the best episode of Star Trek: Discovery yet. It had it all. Action, suspense, some quiet moments, some gadget stuff, and a lot of the Prime Directive. We also got to meet a new villain. Directed by the real Number One, Jonathan Frakes, “The Sanctuary” raised Discovery to new heights.
We join the story in sickbay, where Philippa Georgiou was under the examination of Dr. Culber. She resisted any help until he told her that she was in the early stages of “brain dysfunction.” Georgiou let Culber scan her system while Burnham watched.
Michael left sickbay and immediately ran into Book. He told her that he must return to his home planet, Kwejian. His brother, Kyheem (Ache Hernandez), contacted Book after 15 years. This, Book figured, must be serious. Kyheem had been dealing with the Emerald Chain.
Book explained to Admiral Vance that the Emerald Chain had given his people a solution to drive the dreaded sea locusts into the ocean and away from their harvests. In exchange, the Chain got the transworms (these were the creatures we met in “That Hope Is You, Part 1”).
Vance was not surprised, saying that the Chain cares not for the Prime Directive, and they are making similar offers to societies everywhere. Saru offered the Discovery, but Vance said no. He would not risk the spore drive. Book said he just wanted transport.
Eventually, Vance agreed to let the Discovery go, but in the role of observer. They were ordered to leave if anything crazy started. Saru agreed.
Back on Hunhau, the junk planet featured on “Scavengers,” the Orion running the place was in trouble. In “Scavengers,” we learned that Tolor was the nephew of Osyraa, who ran the Emerald Chain.
NOTE: As Tolor squirmed, we saw Osyraa fiddling with an old Starfleet badge. This one was from the era of Star Trek: Picard.
Osyraa (Janet Kidder) paid her nephew a visit to Hunhau to express her displeasure. She was angry that all the workers escaped, especially Ryn (Noah Averbach-Katz). We also learned that Osyraa killed Tolor’s father so she could keep control over the “mercantile exchanges.”
Tolor tried to wiggle out of trouble but could not escape. Osyraa beamed him into a cage, where a transworm ripped Tolor apart. Yikes!
NOTE: After that scene ended, we got a perfect look at Osyraa’s ship, the Viridian. Much like Book’s, it looks like nothing that we’ve seen before. Triangular and odd, I really am not sure what I am looking at.
Back on the Discovery, Saru and Tilly discussed what needed to happen before they head to Kwejian. This included keeping Linus in his quarters (since he was shedding). They also discussed a new catchphrase for Saru, which he’d use when the ship would jump to warp or into the mycelial network.
“So far, we have narrowed it down to ‘Execute,’ ‘Hit it,’ and ‘Manifest,’” said Tilly. Saru didn’t like ‘Hit it’ because that was what Captain Pike said. But he said “Hit it” before walking into Stamets’ lab to see the results of the SB-19 research.
“That’s weird — scientifically speaking,” said Tilly.
Stamets found that there was an actual starting point of The Burn. He said they used the black boxes and the SB-19 information to determine that The Burn began in the Verubin Nebula. He said the nebula was home to high radiation and unstable electromagnetic fields.
Adira reported that an audio signal was coming from inside the nebula. It turns out that this is the same music that the Barzans were humming in “Die Trying.” It was also the same tune that Gray and Adira played on “Forget Me Not.”
“That’s weird — scientifically speaking,” said Tilly.
They fiddled with the signals until they discovered a Federation distress signal buried in all the static. Stamets volunteered Adira to write an algorithm that could find the hidden code from the distress signal. Saru liked this.
After Saru and Tilly left, Adira asked Stamets to make all references “they” instead of “she.” Stamets agreed.
NOTE: This is sort of a big deal because when Adira was first introduced to the media as a part of Discovery, the actor, Blu del Barrio, was touted as the first non-binary member of a Star Trek production. When asked, del Barrio said that Adira hadn’t shared too much with the Discovery crew, and that’s why Adira was still a “she.”
Book told Michael that he and Kyheem have not been close lately because Kyheem started hunting transworms for the Chain. Book was not thrilled to see Kyheem, but he was concerned about those who lived on Kwejian. Book said they were “starving.”
On the bridge, Lt. Keyla Detmer was fiddling around with the new controls at her station, which she said were created just for her by Federation engineers. Saru came to the bridge and ordered them to Black Alert. He said to “execute” their jump to Kwejian. No one liked that catchphrase.
NOTE: This reminded me of Captain Styles in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. He ordered the U.S.S. Excelsior use its trans-warp drive to catch the Enterprise. His catchphrase was also “execute.”
They got to Kwejian, where Book and Michael beamed to the surface. Rhys said that a ship “armed to the teeth” was headed their way. That was the Viridian, with Osyraa aboard.
Meanwhile, Georgiou reported to sickbay where Drs. Culber and Pollard were waiting for her. They placed wireless electrodes on her forehead, and Pollard put her to sleep. They began a scan.
In their quarters, Adira played the mystery tune on the cello. Stamets walked in and asked a bunch of questions. Adira said that Gray was not talking lately. Stamets said perhaps Gray needed some space. Eventually, Stamets joined in, playing the piano.
In his ready room, Saru worked with Tilly. Ryn the Andorian barged in and demanded a meeting with the captain. He requested to be transported to Kwejian with Book. Saru said he would. He started to say, “however…” Ryn interrupted.
“There’s always a, however,” he said sarcastically. Ryn said with the Federation, there are always strings attached.
Tilly explained that the Viridian was on its way. Ryn wasn’t so angry after that. As the three spoke, Tilly said the Discovery could not track Michael and Book once they were under the Kwejian defense shield.
On Kwejian, Book showed Michael the little, blue, floating sea locusts. Book was able to get some of them to leave with his powers, but just a few. He said that he can “only ask them” to go.
NOTE: A-HA! I was correct when I said that Book’s powers were similar to the DC Comics hero Aquaman. Some were saying that Book had the Star Trek version of the Force.
Suddenly Book and Michael were surrounded and captured by Kyheem’s men.
On the DISCO, Georgiou started reliving her Mirror Universe nightmares, which were full of blood and daggers. Her vitals were going off the chart, and she was sweating like mad. Oh, and her face turned into pixels for a moment, which was sort of like what happened to the Barzan doctor on “Die Trying.” It looked almost like she was phasing out of existence.
NOTE: Could Georgiou be someone who can transport herself between universes? In the Amazon series Man In The High Castle, a few of the characters could meditate into a state which would allow them to travel from the Nazi-dominated world to ours. Could Georgiou have this power?
We see a mix of confusing images, including… what might be a dead body wearing a mask. Not sure what that’s all about, but it sure is mysterious. She awoke and screamed out, “San!” Culber asked her what happened, but she would tell him nothing. She left sickbay and walked out with one of the electrodes.
Below, on the surface of Kwejian, Book argued with his brother, who called him “Tareckx,” which must have been his given name. Book said that their father and grandfather also sold out to the Emerald Chain.
Kyheem finally admitted that the Discovery was called to the planet just to get Book for Osyraa. A big sham.
As they spoke, the Viridian warped in and began scanning the Discovery. The Viridian scanned and hailed. Saru accepted their hail but told Bryce to contact Burnham. She was ordered to get back to the ship. Osyraa popped onto their viewscreen.
“Well… it’s been a while since we’ve seen a Starfleet vessel,” said Osyraa in an almost sing-song sort of way. Saru said they were just observing, but Osyraa said they were harboring a criminal — Ryn. She demanded that he transport to her ship at once. Osyraa said that Ryn signed a life-long contract, which he broke.
“That sounds suspiciously like slavery,” said Saru. She demanded Ryn again and said that Kwejian would “pay his price.”
In Kyheem’s house, the holographic image of Osyraa appeared. She spoke to Kyheem and told him that she needed Book and “whoever he came with.” He resisted, but Osyraa threatened to starve the planet, which included Kyheem’s young son.
When Kyheem did not respond, Osyraa’s ship started to fire on the planet. Her photon torpedoes hit the defense shield, but that could only last so long.
“I don’t have a lot of time to waste, so bring your brother to me now,” said Osyraa.
Book and Michael escaped during the barrage.
Saru summoned Ryn to the bridge to ask why Osyraa wanted him so badly. He refused to say. Saru told the crew that they would not allow the Viridian to commit “atrocities” on the planet.
At that same time, Georgiou hacked the electrode and watched its readout on screen. Georgiou heard Saru’s announcement and whispered, “Michael.” She turned to leave, but Culber stopped Georgiou in her tracks. He guessed that she would try to help Michael but told Georgiou to “stand down” instead.
“I’m dying,” said Georgiou.
“It’s not that cut and dry,” said Culber. She agreed to talk with him.
Ryn finally told Saru that he knew what the Viridian’s weaknesses were. Saru authorized the crew to fire, but Tilly suggested they use Book’s ship to attack instead. Detmer took a big, deep breath.
She and Ryn launched Book’s ship from the Discovery and attacked. Ryn told Detmer where the weak points were on the Viridian. As he did, Grudge Cat jumped in his lap, scaring him. A funny moment.
Michael and Book paused for a moment to see the battle in the sky. As they did, they were again surrounded by Kyheem’s troops. Michael and Book fought back.
In space, Ryn told Detmer to “go back.” She refused and said that no one had ever stood up to Osyraa before (except Ryn, and she cut off his antennae). She put the ship on manual control and made another pass.
NOTE: This was really nice! With Michael off the Discovery, her crewmates had a chance to shine. Rys, Nilsson, and Bryce all got significant screen time. Detmer (Emily Coutts) also got to do more than glance at Lt. Joann Owosekun. I hope this breaking-the-team-up will continue. It worked so well in the Avengers movies and in Star Trek VI, too.
Kyheem finally showed up. He and Book had a nice little fight, which Book won. Book dared Kyheem to tell Osyraa that Book was now in custody. Kyheem couldn’t do it.
Ryn directed Detmer to the weapons system generator, which she knocked out. Osyraa hailed Saru and said that the Federation would “feel the full weight of the Chain.” She and her ship warped away.
On the planet, Kyheem freaked out. When he saw Osyraa’s ship leave, he said they would all starve now. Michael said that since both Book and Kyheem were empaths, they could use their powers to eliminate the locusts. They agreed to try, and the Discovery used a beam from its deflector dish to amplify their “signal.” It worked!
NOTE: This reminded me of a classic Next Generation episode. The crew used the deflector dish on the Enterprise-D to save a planet. The episode “A Matter of Time” was very different from this one. Still, the use of the deflector dish to save the day was very reminiscent.
Kyheem and Book hugged afterward.
In the mess hall, as Detmer bragged about her flying, Ryn sat alone at a table. Tilly sat down with him, and they chatted. He admitted to her that Osyraa wanted him because he knew she was also running out of dilithium.
Kyheem, Book, Michael, and Kyheem’s son chatted aboard the Discovery. Book told Kyheem that Kwejian was home, but the Federation needed some “empathic” help. The two hugged.
In Stamets’ lab, Culber walked in, and they noticed that Adira was asleep. The teen-genius slept as the computer chugged along with the algorithm which Adira programmed earlier. Culber and Stamets talked about Adira and how they wanted to be addressed and how they were so special. Adira woke and told them that they heard everything that was said.
Later, Book told Michael how he felt about Starfleet. He said he wanted “in.” Michael said that he’d have to discuss it with Captain Saru. She smiled and said that she would start fixing his ship.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
Hey — I was really impressed with “The Sanctuary.” Some may disagree, and that’s their right. But this one felt like an episode of TNG. They came to a planet, beat the bad guy, and helped solve the science problem on the surface. Not even Geordi La Forge could have done it better. All other episodes of Discovery will be measured up to this one.
RATING: 5 out of 5