There are a couple of themes in this week's episode of Star Trek: Discovery in "Die Trying": First is "home is where the heart is" and the second is the variation on "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." The episode creates an impasse within the crew since they reached their destination of the remnants of the Federation. I expected to take the series half the season with additional breadcrumbs before they reached. Obviously, the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery finds themselves in a peculiar situation where before they time-traveled to the distant future, they were stricken from Starfleet records, which is handy for the canon that never addresses them further in the timeline.
Now they find themselves strangers in a distant future and an organization they hardly recognize as the Federation is naturally going to be guarded against something so foreign even if it claims to be from their own past. As the lone authority remaining, you have Admiral Charles Vance, played with such strong conviction by Oded Fehr overly protective of his Starfleet given everything they've lost. Equally confrontational is his security officer Lt. Audrey Willa (Vanessa Jackson). Running through the gamut of interrogation and trying to prove themselves in the 32nd century, the Discovery find themselves in an advantageous position being the only ship in the fleet with warp-type travel capabilities since The Burn decimated the majority of the fleet. In a tense agreement, Willia is assigned to the mission to travel on the ship to save an alien species from radiation sickness while Capt. Saru stays behind at Starfleet headquarters.
"Die Trying" is another strong traditional Star Trek episode that embraces the outside-the-box thinking the franchise is known for. While the elements around the cast stay rigid, it's the crew's flexibility that shines in the end. While you have the main core of the cast, it always frustrates me when the auxiliary crew gets more than the 1-2 lines, there's something ominous to their fate. It's an annoying pet peeve when TV shows fall within that trope to write off a character that we might not have cared about before but forced to just for the purpose of the episode.
Aside from the Easter Eggs in the episode, one particular scene stood out to me was Willa's interaction with the engineering crew, which looks to be a metaphor, perhaps a nudge and a wink between the relationship of current fans and those who share cognitive dissonance yet still watch. It's functional chaos no matter what conceived designs there are so have fun. One bit that sets up the narrative for the next episode was the interaction between Michelle Yeoh's Emperor Georgiou and David Cronenberg's Kovich (yeah that David Cronenberg). Their scenes worked on so many levels credit certainly go to the actors and writers James Duff, Sean Cochran, Anthony Maranville, Chris Silvestri,, and Brandon Schultz for that cerebral chess match. The way the season goes, I'd really start making a case for Yeoh to get an Emmy.
The episode is brilliantly directed by Maja Brvilo, who previously directed episodes of Star Trek: Picard and has an extensive background in TV including CBS reboots of Magnum P.I. and MacGyver as well as DC comic series Gotham and Titans. "Die Trying" reinvigorated the sense and wonder of the franchise with its stunning visuals that remind me of when Star Trek made that transition to feature films in The Motion Picture (1979). It's another strong episode of the series. Star Trek: Discovery streams Thursdays on CBS All Access.
This post is part of a multi-part series: Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Reviews.
- Star Trek: Discovery "Forget Me Not" Review: Adira Goes on Trill Ride
- Star Trek: Discovery "People Of Earth": Trek Never Changed, But We Did
- Star Trek: Discovery "Far From Home": Showdown at the Dilithium Corral
- Star Trek: Discovery S03 Review: "The Hope Is In You" Bold New Footing
- Star Trek: Discovery S03 Die Trying Review: Home Is Where The Heart Is