'Star Trek: Discovery'Season 3 Episode 6 Review: Burnham's newfound independence creates rift between her and Saru
Michael Burnham disobeys a direct order to help Book out of trouble and though the mission is a success, it forever changes her relationship with Saru
Spoilers for 'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 3, Episode 6 'Scavengers'
The USS Discovery's mission has been, in a sense, restoring things to the way they used to be. When faced with the unfamiliar, they sought to recreate what was lost. It's what drives their need to rejoin and rebuild the Federation and as part of that, a lot of them have been settling into new roles. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) has had a lot longer to get used to this new future, though and along the way she gave up on bringing back what was, giving herself wholly to the future instead. The actual return of the ship she's given her life for, time and time again, may have been welcome, but Burnham is having a harder time than ever adjusting to her old life and in this episode, we learn that returning to it might not be an option any longer.
When Book (David Ajala) sends over his ship and his cat Grunge over to the Discovery, Burnham learns that he's been missing for three weeks. He's been seeking out a black box that might give Burnham some clues into discovering how the Burn happened. The Burn, however, is ancient history, and the Federation has a lot of fires to put out in the present - meaning that they can't spare the newly retrofitted Discovery for a rescue mission away. This puts Saru (Doug Jones) in the difficult position of having to tell Burnham that he can't spare her for a rescue mission. Burhnam, in characteristic bull-headedness, goes anyway, taking Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) with her.
While the series continues to put Burnham's story front and center over everything else, this episode really gives Georgiou a chance to shine. Though the rescue may be based off of Burnham's plan and later Book's - it's Georgiou who is in control of every moment, even when their cover is blown. She takes special pleasure in demeaning the slaver in charge, forming a strange and special insulting relationship with him as the episode progresses, and every moment is pure fun. Georgiou has gone from being a major threat to comedic villainy and though it's a stepdown, Michelle Yeoh performs it masterfully.
The plan is a relative success, as Book is rescued and the slavers are taken down in a beautifully destructive action scene, but back at the Federation, Burnham is in trouble. This is a clear case of doing the wrong thing for the right reason and everyone - including Burnham herself - knows it. To rescue Book and follow her own path towards answers, she put Saru in a very difficult position. He has to relieve her of her duties as Number One, and though it's clear that this is the right decision, it's also clear how much it pains him to do so. As Saru points out, earlier in the episode, he's not had to distrust Burnham this much since the series' first episode, where Burnham's rash decisions sparked a Klingon war. He can no longer trust her and that breaks his heart.
Burnham has been drifting further and further away from her life as a Starfleet officer and the return of Book only cements that. As much as Georgiou teases her about her feelings for Book, the show didn't need to show that kiss between them to establish one important fact: Burnham has given her heart to the future and there may not be a way back to the past for her at all.
Still. It was a good kiss.
The next episode of 'Star Trek: Discovery' airs November 26, on CBS All Access.