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'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 3 Episode 12: Did the Federation make a mistake by turning down Osyraa's deal?

Osyraa's offer was the best deal that the Federation could have hoped for under the circumstances and it was a bad idea to turn it down
Oded Ferh, Brendan Beiser and Janet Kidder (CBS)
Oded Ferh, Brendan Beiser and Janet Kidder (CBS)

Spoilers for 'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 3 Episode 12

Osyraa (Janet Kidder) has been positioned as the Federation's greatest threat to peace in a post-Burn universe, and when she takes control of the Discovery and uses it to infiltrate Federation headquarters, it looks like it's the end for the fallen organization. However, she's not there to make war. Osyraa comes offering peace and the terms she presents to Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr) look to be about as far as he could possibly hope for, and he may have made a major mistake in refusing to accept them.

It's no secret that Osyraa has been a rather ruthless criminal in her rise to power — she's exploited planets, taken slaves, made many attacks on ships not part of the Emerald Chain — she is, quite clearly, a warlord in her own right. However, she comes to the Federation from a bargaining position of extreme power. She not only has the Discovery, but scientists in her employ who can figure out how the spore drive works. There is no reason for her to bargain with the Federation at all, aside from one thing — she wants peace.

This episode, we learn that Osyraa is smart enough to understand that despite the universe losing faith in the Federation, it still represents hope for a lot of people. The Emerald Chain represents fear and crime, and she's willing to look to the future of a universe that isn't ruled by that. She makes a lot of amends — the treaty she offers Admiral Vance shows she stuck her neck out with her compatriots by getting them to agree to outlaw slavery. She offers to share the knowledge gained by studying the spore drive with the universe, to end its dependence on dilithium. She even vowed to withdraw from every planet she's occupied, with the stipulation that she would do so over a 15-year period, knowing full well that a sudden withdrawal from dozens of planets would mean chaos for all concerned.

Admiral Vance recognizes the worth of this treaty but then throws it away on one sticking point. He wants Osyraa to stand trial for her crimes under Federation law. While it's true that Osyraa has a lot to answer for, given all that she's offering, this may not have been the smartest move on Vance's part. As Osyraa pointed out, many were led to desperation after the Burn, and she's not only managed to keep people safe but is vowing to legitimize them and bring them all to Federation standard laws. There is a time and place to hold someone accountable and the universe is still in enough of an emergency crisis for her crimes to matter less.

Osyraa brought the best deal possible to the table, with no hidden agenda besides wanting to be involved in Federation policy through a proxy. It's the best deal the Federation could have hoped for, especially considering that their strongest allies — Earth and Vulcan — have both renounced their membership. The Federation needs all the help it can get and turning down Osyraa's offer was a definite mistake. 

The next episode of 'Star Trek: Discovery' airs on January 7, 2021.