Star Trek : Discovery S03E08 focused on Book (David Ajala) and his home planet of Kwejian, which is in league with the Emerald Chain (reluctantly). Now, the Emerald Chain is the villain of Season 3 and is a syndicate of Andorians and Orions that rose to prominence in the wake of the Burn, the cataclysmic event that has defined the 32nd century.
Star Trek : Discovery S03E08, entitled “The Sanctuary” follows on from the events of episode 6, when Commander Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) rescued Book and the Andorian Ryn (Noah Averbach-Katz), from the Emerald Chain. The leader of the Chain, Osyraa (Janet Kidder), uses her sway over Kwejian to force Book’s brother Kyheem (Ache Hernandez) to surrender Book and Ryn. Discovery, of course, has different ideas.
While this is the central plot of Star Trek : Discovery S03E08, there are two interesting sub-plots that hint at what is to come in future episodes. First and foremost, the serious problem with Georgiou threatens her very life. She is experiencing physiological issues which medical officer Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) is having difficulties diagnosing and curing. The other relates to the ongoing investigation into the cause of the Burn, as Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Adira Tal (Blu Del Barrio) get closer to its origins.
The latter sub-plot is of further interest due to an exploration of Adira’s gender identity. Here Adira reveals that they should not be identified with the ‘she’ and ‘her’ pronouns but “they/them” instead. This is particularly poignant as due to their bonding with a Symbiont, the use of “they/them” might be literal as well, as they carry the memories of previous hosts. Actress Del Barrio identifies as non-binary transgender and thus this aspect had many layers to be explored.
Considering the trail-blazing progressiveness the original series had in respect of race – with an African-American and Japanese-American amongst its crew – this development makes complete sense. Already there is a gay couple (viz. Stamets and Culber) and a lesbian engineer viz Jett Reno (Tig Notaro), so why not a non-binary transgender?
Notwithstanding all these worthy story thematic explorations, Star Trek : Discovery S03E08 was flawed in giving Book’s story the time and space needed to give it the emotional resonance it deserved. I felt nothing about Book’s reunion with his brother Kyheem and there was not enough development invested in making Kwajian feel like a real planet. World building curiously lacking in this case.
In the final analysis, Star Trek : Discovery S03E08 was a wasted opportunity even if the ending brought a desired result for Discovery and Burnham personally. Looking forward to next episode’s focus on Georgiou.
… still there’s more …