In Review: Star Trek Discovery – Su’Kal (S.3 Ep.11)

"Su'Kal" The crew trace co-ordinates from the Kelpian vessel. As a result that leads to a huge development relating to "The Burn"

Synopsis: In “Su’Kal” The crew trace co-ordinates from the Kelpian vessel. As a result that leads to a huge development relating to “The Burn”. Consequently, Saru (Doug Jones) has must head up a vital away mission. It’s one that involves Michael Burnham (Sonequa-Martin Green). So, it’s finally time for Tilly (Mary Wiseman) to step up to the plate and take her turn  in the big chair . . .





The action picks up immediately following last week’s episode . The crew must dust themselves down, following the departure of Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). News come in about a survivor. From the Kelpian ship discovered by the black-box data. A good way to keep things moving, and to refocus attention on “The Burn”. We’ve all been desperate to know more, since we first pondered it, in The Burn: The Burning Question. Before we get more on it, there’s a revelation. A Kelpian survivor is on the planet near the source of “The Burn”. Turns out, having Saru (Doug Jones) lead an away team is a smart move. It means it’s “Tilly-Time”, that’s been badly needed.


Away Mission

We’ve established our feelings on the significance of Saru being Captain. In Saru: Alien Territory. That feature talks about the character in the context of him being a non-human Captain. Specifically, in terms of him being the first to feature in a Trek show, in that capacity. Given that the survivor is Kelpian, Saru’s mettle is seriously tested. Having decided to go and rescue the survivor, he takes Burham along. Doctor Culber (Wilson Cruz) volunteers himself to come. A classic “away team” story set up, with a unique spin.

Using holodeck technology in the way the episode did worked well. And it was fun seeing the away team appear physically different. One aspect that worked particularly well was the crew having no experience of holodecks. So, didn’t know what to expect. More evidence Discovery working well being set in the future. We assessed that in Discovery: Finding its Feet in the Future. As for the episode plot, it went with a tried and tested device: difficulties beaming the away team out. Due to shields, etc. Simple, but it worked.

Tilly Takes Charge

An important step for the show. We keep going on about it, but development really is vital. Especially in a character led show. Our two recent features focused on Tilly. Tilly for Promotion predicted Tilly would rise through the ranks. But Too Much Too Soon then outlined that it was exactly that. Regardless, “Su’Kal” sees her have her big moment. The pep talk from Burnham (Sonequa-Martin Green) worked well. And Tilly (Mary Wiseman) did manage to hold her own against Osyrra (Janet Kidder), returning from her debut in “The Sanctuary” (episode 8). The face off set up a very exciting prospect. Tilly will have total responsibility now, to win and retake the ship.



It was no fault of Tilly’s that the ship was overtaken. For example, the warning Osyrra (Janet Kidder) gave couldn’t have prepared her for what was to come. Leaving things in Tilly’s hands is the right move. very much so. We’re all set up for an exciting conclusion, now. No doubt Tilly will emerge as victor, but what will be more important is the way it happens. And how she grows from the experience.


A good week for Mary Wiseman. Where she showed skill was her “poker face”. We all knew that she was terrified. But she hid that well. Ultimately, the character of Tilly is in the position of First Officer. And Wiseman does a great job of being thrust into power. There’s very much a learning on the job aspect to things. Not an easy ask to do this. When you’re asked to step up and have a bigger part, if you don’t, you can end up looking very much a spare part. The opposite was true. Wiseman is very much fully owning the role now.

CGI & Effects

The technology continues to look incredible, on Discovery Season Three. The way the scanning of space looks is astounding. What will be interesting is how Strange New Worlds responds. We also have some Concerns Around Cast & Characters, in that upcoming show. And we also spoke about What We’d Like to See in Strange New Worlds. As this episode showed, advances made mean that the distinction between past and future should be very clear. No doubting that this episode looked awesomely impressive. A great job.

One aspect of the visuals that went brilliantly was the “species swap”. Seeing Dr Culber (Wilson Cruz) as a Bajoran was very imaginative. It felt like bit of classic Trek, but made for today. The show continues to show what’s now possible with effects wizardry.


An interesting episode. For many reasons. Firstly, the revelation about “The Burn”. We had to find out more at some point. But in “Su’Kal” we got pretty much everything. Though we also got much more, too. The last two episodes have relied on the canonical past (see Discovery and Star Trek’s Past). But this was very much one set in current times. There was a lot going on, in a single episode, too. Yet, the pacing was good. And the balance between exposition and action. Everyone got involved, and the ending made for a very serious development. All whilst the other situations are at foot. Separation between a crew always makes for drama. So that was well planned. As mentioned, they went with a simple formula. And that was the right choice. It’s set up serious anticipation for next week.


In Review: Star Trek Discovery (S.3 Ep.11)
  • Story
  • CG I& Effects
  • Acting
  • Overall
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