Synopsis: “Die Trying” sees the U.S.S. Discovery reunited with Starfleet. . As a result, tensions arise between Saru (Doug Jones) and Burnham, (Sonequa-Martin Green). Both feel differently about the best way to handle things. They must put their differences aside, to help sick alien refugees. Commander Nhan (Rachael Ancheril) joins the away team, which results in lasting changes . . .
Not Quite Home
Following on from last week’s episode, “Die Trying” sees the much anticipated results of “awakening” Admiral Senna Tal. The Admiral is detected within Adira (Blu Del Barrio). Federation security scans have become much more advanced, by now. Crucially, though, these changes aren’t the main concern. The state of The Federation is. There are only a fraction of worlds that are now member states. But there’s a more immediate issue. Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr) is skeptical about the Discovery. He fears they may be “time agents”. The documented records do not match those of the recorded past. This ties in with the cover story which Captain Pike (Anson Mount) came up with, when Discovery went through the wormhole, to the future. Good continuity. What’s worse, is that Vance announces that the crew are to be separated, and reassigned to work on appropriate ships. With the crew already so fragile, this news hits them hard.
Michael Burham appeals to Saru. She tells him they cannot let this happen. Saru reminds Burnham of the importance of following orders. Especially now, with The Federation and Starfleet in such disarray. Burnham’s past is brought up, in an important part of this scene. With emotions so highly charged, this conflict of interest somewhat understandable. Burnham and the crew have given up everything. Being treated with suspicion isn’t easy for them. What’s harder is the threat of separation. Whilst this looms, another issue arises. There are a group of sick, alien refugees. In order to help them, they need a vaccine. It can only be obtained by getting certain seeds, in a Starfleet” seed bank”, which is essentially the U.S.S. Tikhov. If they don’t get there soon, the aliens will die. Burnham explains that the only way to get there and back in time, is via the spore drive. Vance won’t allow it, but Saru manages to convince him. Saru suggests he should remain at Starfleet headquarters, in a bid to foster trust. Enter temporary Captain Burnham, who takes command.
“Problem of the Week”
The Tikhov has been guarded by many people, over multiple generations. The last guardians were a family of Barzans, the species Commander Nhan belongs to. Aboard the ship, Burnham, Dr Culber (Wilson Cruz) and Nhan make a startling discovery. The family have died, except for the father. It turns out (later explained by Tilly (Mary Wiseman) and Stammets (Anthony Rapp) that a nearby by star ejected matter, resulting in a huge radiation burst. At that moment, the father was transporting into the seed bank. His pattern is there but unstable. Burnham sees this, and is deeply concerned. He doesn’t want to leave his family’s bodies. Nhan talks to her fellow Barzan, but in the end it’s Burnham who convinces him to let go. Then, Nhan declares that she will stay there, and ensure their bodies are taken safely back to the Barzan home world, and given burial rites. So, the crew lose Nhan, at least for now.
Return and Resolution
Back at Starfleet Command, the aliens are treated. Doctor Culber had already begun to manufacture a vaccine for the illness they contracted. Impressed by the crews’ performance on the mission, Vance starts to thaw. He accepts the Discovery as a Starfleet vessel. Additionally, though not stated, he must realise the potential usefulness of the spore drive, given the diithium situation because of “The Burn”. He reconsiders and agrees they can remain together, but informs them they must operate under strict scrutiny.
As the crew reunite, Burnham talks with Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh), who behaves extremely out of character. When Burnham confronts Georgiou about it, Georgiou states that there is nothing wrong at all. Some heavy foreshadowing here. Good use of it. The question of what happened to her whilst being interviewed remains. No doubt we’ll learn more in later weeks, as things play out
Rachael Ancheril as Nhan takes the spotlight in “Die Trying”. Really powerful emotional portrayal, as she acts as viewer’s entry point into Barzan culture. In a crowded cast, Ancheril still manages to stand out. Not an easy ask, but her acting acumen meant that she made a powerful impact. To give her character’s departure meaningful resonance, despite barely being in the show, proved her salt.
Putting in another charismatic performance was Michelle Yeoh. It’s obvious she’s enjoying the role, relishing in the fun. Filling the difficult space between friend and foe, protagonist and antagonist is a challenge. Time and time again, Yeoh proves she’s up to the job. Her antics are all the more wonderful to watch due to the sense of impishness and self-assuredness Yeoh abundantly provides.
Generally, a strong week for the show, acting wise. The cast have a great handle on who the characters are. Their personalities and attitudes. This was perfectly shown by Sonequa Martin-Green and Doug Jones’ handling of Burnham and Saru’s difference of opinion.
CGI & Effects
Watching the crew see the future was fantastic. The visuals were so clear. That matters today, as HD tells no lies. One aspect works so well is the lighting. The result is the setting looks like nothing else before, on Star Trek. Of course, that’s the intention. The continued concept of bioorganic materials being a massive part of the future is drawn beautifully. Though there were only fleeting glances of the new generation ships, they looked notably different from any others seen yet in the franchise. Impressive ideas, pulled off superbly.
Crucially, other “futuristic tech” advances look seriously smart. For example, the transporter works in an instant. A simple flash of light and that’s it. In comparison to Discovery’s it looks a visual miracle. This idea really comes through, when you see the crew transported “old-style”. The bridge that folded out as it was walked across was also really cool. It engendered a “future within a future” feel well.
“Die Trying” was the longest episode yet. What worked well balancing the long-awaited reunion with The Federation, and the plot of the episode. Linking the “problem of the week” with the main arc was a clever move. The right one. There was drama, but more importantly a way for Saru and the crew to prove they are still a valuable asset to Starfleet. This was vital, as they will now likely go about fixing other “problems of the week”. Only now, they’ll be doing so under the jurisdiction of Starfleet once more. The unique quality of the U.S.S. Discovery won’t just be the spore-drive, but their strength through unity, forged through their shared ordeals.
A nice nod to Trek canon was the U.S.S. Voyager J being seen, in what remained of The Federation shipyard. Apt that the original ship was also a science vessel. Furthermore the theory about “The Burn” (which we discussed at length in this article), will no doubt be fuelled. If it does turn out to be due to events in Voyager, then the writing in of the ship will be more than just an Easter-egg. Regardless, it was good to see. Now that Discovery has found its feet, it feels very much like it is going to be an important part of Star Trek. As to whether or not Commander Nhan will return, to be a part of the journey, we’ll just have to wait and see. Let’s hope so.
- CGI & Effects9.6