Star Trek Discovery Review: “The Sanctuary”

Fans of pop SF know there is no sanctuary. That reference notwithstanding, Discovery must address the twin threats of a swarm of sea-locusts and an Emerald Chain Big Bad.

Meanwhile, Stamets and Adira bond while uncovering the source of the Burn, Book confronts his brother, Detmer gets to be an action hero, the medical team examine Georgiou, and Linus is a-peeling.1

Title: “The Sanctuary”

Directed by Jonathan Frakes
Written by Kenneth Lin, Brandon Schultz, et al.

Doug Jones as Captain Saru
Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
David Ajala as Book
Michelle Yeoh as Philippa Georgiou
Anthony Rapp as Commander Paul Stamets
Mary Wiseman as Ensign Sylvia Tilly
Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber
Emily Coutts as Lt. Keyla Detmer
Blu del Barrio as Adira Tal
Oded Fehr as Admiral Vance
Noah Averbach-Katz as Ryn
Ache Hernandez as Kyheem
Raven Dauda as Dr. Tracy Pollard
Vanessa Jackson as Lt. Audrey Wiilla
Rachael Ancheril as Cmdr. Nhan
Patrick Kwok-Choon as Lt. Gen Rhys
Oyin Oladejo as Lt. Joann Owosekun
Sara Mitich as Lt. Nilsson
Ian Lake as Tolor
Jhaleil Swaby as San
David Benjamin Tomlinson as Linus the Saurian
And introducing:
Janet Kidder as Osyraa who will get you! And your little dog cat, too!


As Stamets and Adira learn more about the source of the Burn, the Discovery engages the Emerald Chain, Book’s brother, and swarms of sea-locusts. The medics continue to explore the mystery surrounding Georgiou’s health.

High Point:

While this episode had one too many plotlines (a point I will address later), the fact that the show is letting more of the cast shine, rather than endlessly focusing on a few characters, bodes well.

Low Points:

Really? Osyraa’s going to all this trouble to get Ryn, because he knows the Emerald Chain is low on dilithium? It seems to me he could solve part of his problem by broadcasting that fact to everyone he meets and, so far as they know, he already has. Doing so would tick off the Chain, to be sure, but even that wouldn’t make him worth collecting, except if he happens to come their way.

A competent crime lord would just put a bounty on the guy’s head and move on. She would not confront the Federation (even in its seriously diminished state) risk herself and her flagship, and take on an entire planet just to collect one individual who has probably already spilled the beans on something that they can’t keep secret for long.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 The episode doesn’t do much that’s particularly original, and one of the central action sequences resembles uncannily Luke taking on the Death Star, with the Wicked Witch of the West subbing for the Emperor.

Effects: 6/6 So long as the effects don’t drive the story, the ability to do so many impressive visuals works to Discovery‘s advantage. I also like that they haven’t forgotten the value of real (if augmented) locations.

Acting: 5/6 We get some effective moments between Stamets (Rapp) and Adira (del Barrio), and Emily Coutts seems to be enjoying herself as Keyla Detmer, badass.

Michelle Yeoh remains an impressive performer, but she’s reduced this week to making smart-aleck and confrontational remarks, as though the one-time Empress has been reduced to impotent Tweetstorming.

Production: 6/6

Emotional Response: 5/6

Story: 4/6: The individual storylines work, generally, but the sheer number of plots diminishes them. As glad as I am to see the whole cast (nearly) at work, we needed one fewer story this week. The multiple lines work in something like Game of Thrones, where we’re invested in each arc. Many of these are contained to this week, or could easily be moved to the b-story of another week without affecting anything.

Overall: 4/6: I enjoyed the episode, but its messiness represents a step down from last week.

In total, “The Sanctuary” receives 32/42


1. So is Linus permanently relegated to “exotic background/comic relief?” While I know little about the Saurian culture’s understandings of personal space, it feels a little off that Burnham offers to let a child pull off his molting skin without so much as consulting him. That sounds a lot like someone wanting to touch the skin or hair of someone because of their background, only more intrusive.

Hey, can I squeeze that pimple for ya?

2 replies on “Star Trek Discovery Review: “The Sanctuary””

  1. I like that they allowed Adira to request their proper pronouns. The scene with it, and the next scene where they are discussing them while they slept felt like a really, really, really forced attempt to use the pronouns as obviously as the show possible could, and that wasn’t as nice. It didn’t need a spotlight.

    (To be fair, I say it didn’t need a spotlight, but I didn’t need it, the majority of the viewing audience might need the spotlight.)

    • Yeah. It was a bit cringe for how long it went on. I’ve decided that the two of them knew Adira was awake the whole time and were doing it specifically to be annoying. Assuming that it was intentional on the characters’ part makes the scene marginally less annoying. Marginally.

      I’m just happy they went with “they” and “them” instead of one of the sets of made up nonsense that is often unpronounceable or just unclear. Singular “they” has centuries of precedent in English and is far more likely to get traction than any of the random neologisms currently out there.

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