Star Trek: Discovery "Su'Kal" Review: The Fellowship of the Burn

On the latest Star Trek: Discovery, the crew thinks they found the final piece of the puzzle plaguing them all season, the origin of the Burn. The 32nd-century phenomenon is described as the disaster in which warp drive was rendered inert due to the mass destabilization of dilithium throughout the galaxy decimating the majority of Starfleet. While the Federation exists as a shell of its former self, the U.S.S. Discovery's latest mission takes them to the Verubian Nebula, where they believe is the Burn's source. With Kelpian life discovered at their destination, Captain Saru (Doug Jones) joins Commander Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz) to transport down while Ensign Tilly (Mary Wiseman) is still acting first-officer and takes her role as acting Captain on the ship.

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Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

When the away team beams down, they discover they're part of what seems to be in multiple hologram programs gone berserk including dealing with their own game of Racial Musical Chairs where Burnham is Trill, Culber is Bajoran, and Saru is human. Given the crumbling foundation of where they transported to and the randomness of the hologram programming, it provides one of the more surreal episodes of Discovery. With the barren nature of where they're at, I couldn't escape the feeling they're trying to make the set look like Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings especially the way Martin-Green looked in the red cloak. All she needed was a sword and an invading army of orcs to fight off.

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Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Directed by Norma Bradley and written by Anne Cofell Saunders (The Boys, Timeless), "Su'Kal" for the most part, finds things for everyone to do giving the principal stars in Jones and Martin-Green the most substance. I understand Culber and Stamets (Anthony Rapp) are always concerned for one another, but they both serve on board a starship. Both will at one point have to serve on dangerous missions on away teams because it's the nature of the duty they both serve. To be overprotective still after everything they been through doesn't seem to make sense to me unless it's a 100 percent suicide mission. Hell, even the "fridging" moment that was supposed to develop Stamets was rendered moot since death wasn't final after that arc. Stakes are obviously raised when Discovery finds themselves predictably in their version of Murphy's Law after they receive a communication from the Federation. Compared to previous episodes, it's a step-down, but not by much. Standout performances from Jones, Martin-Green, and guest stars Bill Irwin and Janet Kidder create another strong outing. Also, we need more Grudge. Don't ask me how just make it so.  Star Trek: Discovery streams Thursdays on CBS All Access.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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