Synopsis: At last, we meet Osyrra, (Janet Kidder), in “The Sanctuary”. She’s searching for Ryn (Noah Averbach-Katz), the Andorian, who she thinks is hiding on Booker’s (David Ajala) home-world, which she attacks. Booker and Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) fight back. Doctor Culber (Wilson Cruz) tries to help a reluctant Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) further explore her strange condition.
An altogether different feel from last week’s episode. But before we get to what went down, there’s something important about this “The Sanctuary”. It’s directed by Jonathan Frakes! Yes, Commander William “The Lean” Riker himself! Straight from the off, his directorial style comes through. A typically intensely cold Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) is talking with Doctor Culber (Wilson Cruz). But nothing comes from their session. Because Georgiou continues to thwart any chance of progress occurring. The result is that we are still left wondering what’s wrong with her. Crucially, we don’t know how this will impact on the character’s arc. And indeed how it might change things for the season, too. At least we’re kept interested and what might be going on. Always good to have intrigue.
Booker (David Ajala) tells Burnham he’s heard from his “brother”. In short, it means trouble. Big trouble. The two haven’t spoken in fifteen years. As is rapidly becoming the norm at the episode start, Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr) is consulted. As established, Vance (Oded Feher) is cautious. What this does is continue to show how lacking Starfleet are in resources. Consequently, this may explain Vance being tentative to respond. Not because he doesn’t feel attack’s a good strategy. At least there’s continuity, expressed by his decisions. Saru (Doug Jones) convinces Vance something must be done. So, Booker and Burnham beam down to Kweijan, Booker’s home-world. Here, he’s reunited with his “brother”. Booker tells Burnham the two are not blood relatives, though once were close.
On the Surface
After she disposes of her nephew, brutally, we see Osyrra (Janet Kidder) in action. She puts the planet under threat of starvation. By using sea locusts to destroy the crops. Osyrra is convinced that if she can get Booker, she’ll get Ryn. When Booker’s brother resists, she starts to blast Kweijan. We assume she’s so keen to get Ryn because of the events in “Scavengers” – Episode Six. Considering that Osyrra was built up as a major baddie, the character’s debut in “The sanctuary” was a little disappointing. Yes, she’s brutal. But there was no genuine menace. Very little screen presence. Sadly, the result was that she felt little more than a plot device, which is a shame.
Adira and Stammets
Back on the ship, Adira (Blu del Barrio) and Stammets (Anthony Rapp) make a discovery. Because of the data Burnham received last week. It turns out there is a ship, trapped somewhere near the co-ordinates Burnham identified. A Federation vessel. It’s emitting a distress call. More use of mystery, and a possible major turning point. The big question is what ship will that be? Who will be aboard?
The issue of Adira’s (Blu del Barrio) preferred pronoun is dealt with. in this episode. The scene is very well done, as it comes clear that Adira is in the midst of coming to terms with what has happened to them. The request to be referred to as they or them, rather than a demand to be, helped foster representation grounded in the reality of so many people. Furthermore, it incorporated Adira’s character, too. In this vital scene, more history was made by Star Trek. The use of, and Stammets’s genuine and warm acceptance of a gender neutral pronoun in a Trek show was great to see in “The sanctuary”. Sadly, there will be criticism drawn, of the negative variety, too .
Detmer’s Big Moment
As Osyrra carries out her threat, and Booker and his brother come to blows, action’s needed. To stop Osyrra’s ship from devastating Kweijan. Understandably, Saru (Doug Jones) is careful to proceed, as per Vance’s orders. Tilly suggest that Detmer (Emily Coutts) pretends to “go rogue”. A bit silly, but the result is a great scene, visually. Detmer (Emily Coutts) targets the weapon systems, that Ryn, who knows Orion ships well, (Noah Averbach-Katz) helps her to find. More of a Star Wars feel to the scene than traditional Trek. But certainly a welcome change. If nothing else comes from this scene, we do continue to see just how fine a pilot Lt. Detmer really is
Ossyra is temporarily defeated, Booker and Burnham escape with Booker’s brother. They all beam onto Discovery. Shortly before the credits there’s further scenes concerning Georgiou’s condition. Yet, no more telling information. Detmer is pleased with her performance. The regained confidence ties in with her barely there characterization. Booker and Burnham share a tender conversation. Burnham tells him that despite the circumstances, she loved seeing where he was from. And with that, “The Sanctuary” closes out.
Blu del Barrio impressed in their main scene. What was shown was a deep understanding of a role. Subtlety and a sense of minimalism was relied upon. This type of acting creates the personality of the character. It becomes evident that the actor is very much leading the character. Working out who the character is. Traits like this help to make memorable moments in a character’s crucial developments.
Yet more fine work from Michelle Yeoh, as Georgiou. In a week where little was asked of any of the main stars, Yeoh once more sizzled. A real sense of who the character has always been comes though, thanks to the skills of Yeoh. If indeed she is to be the face of Star Trek: Section 31, then the show will definitely have a safe pair of hands. Yeoh continues to covet the role of most fun part.
CGI & Action
The future continues to look incredible. For example, the new style of communication. That it was three dimensional looked fantastic. The definition, too. Even though it was holograpahic, the image of Osyrra looked to be right there. That was more Star Wars than Star Trek, too. This use of technology really puts you right at the heart of what you imagine the future to be like. Really cool and smart.
Detmer’s battle was a lot of fun. Not just the weaponry. The programmable matter that;s used for the control console. It’s unlike anything seen before in Star Trek. The use of manual control ony added to the action, as the ship tossed and spun, according to Detmer’s reactions. What the scene lacked in meaning, due to Detmer’s characterisation, it made up for in sheer visual splendour. You don’t watch a sci-fi show only for the action and visuals. But there times that they just dazzle by themselves. This, is absolutely one.
“The Sanctuary” was not a great episode. It was, perhaps, a good choice for Jonathan Frakes to direct. Though none of the scenes stood out for any significant reason, with the exception of Adira’s and Stammets’s, all were blended well. This was very much a “filler episode”. Mostly, Discovery has been really strong, thus far. Not this week. That said, there must be a certain amount of “exposition episodes” in a series. Perhaps this episode needed to be slower. More cerebral. Frakes managed to maintain good balance very well.
One talking point is Tilly (Mary Wiseman). We predicted her promotion in Ensign Tilly – Time for Promotion. We strongly advised against her becoming First Officer. But that happened. We discussed it in Tilly as Number One – Too Much Too Soon?. “The Sanctuary” was the perfect opportunity to do something with the new scenario. Anything. But nothing happened, except for a bit of a change to her attitude. Perhaps her big moment will come. But it needs to arrive in the next two episodes or so, for her promotion to have any real meaning. Otherwise, it risks being only a tag on to the show. Now it’s been done, let’s at least get a story arc out if it.
Final talking points of “The Sanctuary” are the use of lightheartedness, again. Vitally, great to see the return of Grudge the cat. Especially with Ryn never having seen one. The surprise of Grudge jumping on his lap was genuinely funny. A good way to show what’s normal to people may not even be known to other species. And lastly, Saru searching for a phrase of his own, to have the crew respond by, was a really fun touch. That Saru was genuinely searching for one, and didn’t even realize he was being amusing worked particularly well. A positive move towards what will hopefully be some more, much needed, fun to come in Star Trek: Discovery.
Star Trek: Discovery airs weekly. Thursdays on CBS All Access in the U.S. Fridays on Netflix in the U.K. and Europe. Read your weekly review and associated features here at SciFiPulse. And you can tune into our Podcast too, where we discuss season three’s events.
- CGI & Action9.5