Synopsis: “Scavengers” sees Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) go on an impromptu rogue mission. Though, it is a lifesaving “mercy mission”. Dismayed by Burnham’s actions, Saru (Doug Jones) must explain things to Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr). The reason Burnham must risk everything is for Booker (David Ajala), who has been imprisoned by The Emerald Chain, along with others . . .
The Burn and The Black Box
“Scavengers” has a very different feel from last week’s episode. The tone of the episode represented the pacey, action-based narrative. Once the set up has been done, we’re treated to a traditional “problem of the week” style affair. Burnham discovers that Booker has acquired a black box, that is pre “The Burn”. Potentially, the information on it could lead to Starfleet learning the cause, and therefore how to start really solving the “dilithium problem. Specifically, the lack of it, that is. Though that may be, Saru informs Burnham that Admiral Vance has instructed that the U.S.S. Discovery must remain on standby, as a potentially explosive situation looms, on the planet Argeth. The ship needs to be able to depart, at a moment’s notice. Burnham ignores Saru.
Burnham Goes Rogue
The character of Burnham is once again explored. Despite her knowing how Saru will feel, she chooses to pursue her own course of action. Good to see use of conflict of interest. We predicted that may be the case, in our feature Burnham and The Burn. It seems that Burnham’s year with Booker has meant that her role in Starfleet has come in to question. Not her loyalties to it, per say. Nor the devotion to the ideals. Given Burnham’s past, her choosing to “go it alone” isn’t a decision taken lightly. This is why the dramatic decision really work. Additionally, so does the natural choice to accompany her. Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh), of course. So, the two of them make their way to the surface, with Georgiou posing as a trader, promising the all important dilithium. Georgiou handles the situation in her typically ruthless style, which is always so much fun to watch. She proves she’s a very important asset to have, at times.
There’s no real “B-plot” this week, so to speak. But there are important moments between key crew members. Saru asks Tilly (Mary Wiseman) if she can help explain Burnham’s absence. He already knows the answer, and that he’s asking in vain shows his love for Burnham wonderfully. It proves to be a big moment for Tilly too, who shows her unequivocal dedication to Starfleet by declaring that Vance must know, despite how much she cares for Burnham.
Another important scene is between Stammets (Anthony Rapp) and Adira (Blu Del Barrio). The two bond, and Stammets learns about Adira’s unique relationship with Gray (Ian Alexander). A nice tie in to Stammets’s difficulties with losing Hugh (Wilson Cruz).
Wrap Up and Fallout
With some sense of inevitability, Burnham and Georgiou escape with what they came for. But the fight is fierce, led by a chief member of the mysterious Osira’s gang. A mean and convincing baddy. The world of the slave colony is reminiscent of the Bajoran prison colonies of DS9, and evidently a brutal place, like them. The Andoran being forced to turn jailer was a particularly dark turn, as well his horn mutitlation. Fortunately, Booker manages to lead the others to safety, once Burnham and Georgiou gain access to the perimeter controls and disable them. They almost don’t, as Georgiou has another troubling attack of intense visions, that flaws her temporarily.
Burnham, Georgiou, Booker and his Andoran friend are safely beamed aboard Discovery. The andoran is badly banged up, but lives. Booker and Burnham share a tender embrace, and then Burnham must face the music. A good choice to have Vance let Saru dish out the consequences that he sees fit. Regrettably, he demotes Burnham. This is a very different take on the traditional “crew as family” ideal that sometimes sees people get away with insubordination. As big a moment for Saru as it is for Burnham. The journey of their friensship is a fascinating one and this incident has given it yet another dimension. It sets up an interesting dynamic, going forward
“Scavengers” belongs to Sonequa Martin-Green and David Ajala. Their scenes as Burnham and Booker are the work of two actors on their A game. What they show so well is the proof that they were together for a year. Both capture a sense too that their falling in love was to some extent inevitable. Some fine subtle acting and a great, natural chemistry. When Burnham had to take the rap, her portrayal by Martin-Green really made you feel for this time round. Burnham’s been developed excellently by Martin-Green’s skills.
Doug Jones deserves a big shout out, this week. As usual, awesome as Saru. Such an important character, which we explored in our feature Saru: Alien Territory. Jones made the emotional significance and poignancy count, given his past with Burnham. Sterling work.
The character of Georgiou continues to delight, thanks to Michelle Yeoh. Yeoh is fun, but also able to handle more difficult scenes for her character, as she proved. No doubt being set up as the lead of Star Trek: Section 31. undoubtedly, she’s earned that chance.
CGI & Effects
The ship getting updated to the most recent tech available made for a great bit of viewing. The programmable matter was seamlessly made and looked wholly futuristic. It’s so far apart from everything that we have ever seen. That’s exactly what is intended, and it’s pulled off fantastically. Now the ship is where it needed to be for it to be accepted, the visual effects are absolutely breathtaking.
As they made their escape, the fight between Burnham and the forces trying to kill/recapture Booker and co., were amazing. The ship’s weaponry looked epic. The blue beams turning the Andorans to thin air particularly impressed. There was no chance to evem hear them, as they were obliterated. This worked well, as it set the weapons of the ship apart from hand weaponry, proving how much more powerful they are. Phenomenally well designed computer graphics, that continue to give us treat after treat of visual joy.
Great to see the return of Grudge the cat. Turned out to be a pretty important appearance, too, as she activated the communication array. Albeit, accidentally. What it brought was a much needed dose of humour. That’s been missing from the first two seasons. When it was put there, it rarely worked. Now, they’ve nailed using a light touch, and know just when to apply it and how best to do so. too.
Another example of this was of course seeing Linus (David Benjamin Tomlinson) randomly appear. As well as being hilarious, it also gave a very human spin on having to get used to new technology, and not quite getting it just yet. Moments like this matter, as the humour is all the better received, because the show itself has fully arrived now. The show’s right to have fun has been earned, now.
Jokes aside, this episode was an important one. At an important juncture, too. Choosing now to demote Burnham gives options for the rest of the season’s events. The journey back to rank of Commander won’t be as clear cut. Furthermore, it might not happen at all. With Burnham no longer second in command, her motivations could be very different from now on in. Only the future will tell us . . .
- CGI & Effects9.7