Star Trek: Discovery Review, Episode 405: “The Examples”

The Anomaly gets even stranger and more dangerous in the final episode of Star Trek: Discovery. Starfleet ships watch it blink and reappear, traveling a distance of thousands of light years in a matter of moments. It is now spooky near an ancient settlement in the Emerald Range, which is home to thousands of people. Teleporting out of the world will be impossible the closer he gets, which is why Captain Burnham is tasked with leading a full-scale evacuation. Meanwhile, Paul and Saru are working with the arrogant genius Ruon Tarka, whose name I completely nailed on my first try when I Google it up to make sure I spell it correctly, to find out the truth behind the Anomaly. Time is running out in “The Examples”.

Let’s start with story line A. Captain Burnham and Booker are on the Settlement World and encounter a group of prisoners left to die in their cells. These are the “examples” of the title, a group of people sentenced to life for minor offenses. Burnham and Booker’s struggle is to free these prisoners and have them embarked on the Discovery, which is easier said than done. Not only do physical obstacles stand in their way, but prisoners are more likely to flee to freedom than to trust another possible guard.

This is the part of the story that I love. I love the human drama, and I appreciate Star Trek: Discoveryou always find it. My problem is, it doesn’t go far enough. The reluctance of prisoners is treated as another “problem”, like the seals of the cells or the security of the building, which Burnham manages to resolve after a brief commercial hiatus. For example, prisoners will not move if they cannot be assured of freedom on board Discovery, and Burnham secures him with a quick call, making way for the next “problem.” I felt we could have done more here. Maybe they decided to make it easier because the last episode already involved a bunch of strangers having to learn to trust, but I still feel a little bit disappointed.

One of the prisoners is determined to die on the colony world because he has committed a serious crime for which he feels he has to pay penance. He’s inclined to help Burnham if that means freeing his fellow inmates, but he can’t be moved himself. It’s cool, but again, I wanted more of this character. A monologue here and there, the exchange of an “important object” (“Here, take this [blank] I kept my whole life, etc etc)… for me it is the minimum that we can do to make a character stand out from the others. I wish he had been more involved in the plot. But as it is, Burnham and Booker take care of almost anything they come across quite easily.

Paul, Saru and Ruon Tarka have fun on Star Trek: Discovery

Meanwhile, Paul and Saru have a lot to do with scientist Ruon Tarka, who is brought in to “help” explain technology that could be behind the Anomaly. I really enjoyed watching this story. The characters have chemistry and I love the way the feelings change as the episode progresses. Paul, for example, clearly doesn’t like Ruon Tarka. However, as the secret of the Anomaly is about to be uncovered, he ends up siding with Tarka. Plus, seeing Saru grow increasingly frustrated with Tarka’s maniacal control personality was kind of funny, if only because it’s an emotion I haven’t seen from him yet. While this was the quieter part of the episode, the way the characters interacted made it a highlight. Hoping we get more.

And I think we will, as the not-so-subtle mark on Ruon’s neck and the dramatic musical cue that plays him suggests he has a bigger role to play this season.

That’s all for this week of Star Trek: Discovery. At this point, I would like to mention that I was absolutely right in my prediction a few weeks ago: I knew the Anomaly was going to be revealed to be man-made. Of course, I neglected to mention it at the time, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that I was a master at predicting plot twists.

What else am I right about? We will have to wait for the next episode to find out.

Rating: C +

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