'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 3: Filler Episode 8 on Book's planet sets up war with the Emerald Chain
Michael and Book return to his home planet for a confrontation with the Emerald Chain, as Georgiou and Adira have their own problems to deal with
Spoilers for 'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 3 Episode 8 'The Sanctuary'
There are a lot of important things that happened in this episode. Adira Tal (Blu del Barrio) claiming their they/them pronouns as was promised before the series began, discovering the actual source and origin point of the Burn, Philippa Georgiou's rapid and bizarre degeneration, and to cap it all off, a war started with the Emerald Chain that has the potential to end Starfleet for good. While the highlights themselves are important, especially in context of the season as a whole, the episode itself feels like idle filler, having an adequate amount of fun before the next episode can begin.
The lighter, funnier moments are the ones that really land, this episode. Say what you will about him, returning legend Jonathan Frakes knows what makes crew dynamics work, and as he directs the episode that comes out clearer than anything else. Georgiou's snippery as she is examined, the quiet, paternalistic pride that Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp ) has for Adira as they redefine themselves, and the new nervous but supportive relationship that Saru (Doug Jones) and Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) are easing themselves into in their new roles as Captain and Number One.
It's the ostensible A-plot that falls relatively flat. Book (David Ajala) is called back to his home planet, Kweijan, which has been at the exploitative mercy of the Emerald Chain - a criminal organization that is this season's primary antagonist. We're finally introduced to their leader, the Orion Osyrra (Janet Kidder), who fails to make much of an impact. There's no fault in her performance, the episode itself largely feels like one that wants to relax, have fun, and spend time with the crew. It's one of the first episodes of the season that has Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) in it, but isn't entirely revolving around her.
One thing worth noting is that Adira's non-binary pronoun change isn't something that's given huge fanfare. It's a moment for them, yes, but it's naturalized much in the way that Stamets and Hugh Culber's (Wilson Cruz) relationship is, ignoring one awkward scene where the pair stands over a sleeping Adira where the writers clearly tried to cram in as many instances of gender-neutral pronouns as they possibly could. Adira's still not a fixture of the crew the way that other characters have been, but hopefully, they will soon be allowed to do more on the ship, especially as their algorithm is the one decoding the distress signal coming out from the remains of the burn.
'The Sanctuary' is an episode worth skipping -- or watching a highlights reel of -- if you somehow haven't seen it yet. It's a breather before what looks like a much more high-stakes episode, and a pleasant enough one, for what it's worth.
The next episode of 'Star Trek: Discovery' airs on December 10 on CBS All Access.