‘Star Trek Discovery’ Season 3 Episode 12: There Is a Tide…

Burnham does her damnedest to take back Discovery, while Osyraa’s arrival at Federation headquarters brings a surprising twist.

Clarence Brown
Discussing Network

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Regulators! Mount-up!

It would be so easy to only label Star Trek: Discovery ‘There is a Tide…’ as Die Hard in Space, but doing so does the episode a tremendous disservice. Is it blatantly crafted in a way that strikes the same tones as the action-packed classic starring Bruce Willis? Why yes. But some of the intricate nuances presented in this season’s penultimate episode takes said formula so much further.

Season 3, Episode 12: There Is a Tide…

The episode kicks off with Minister Osyraa (Janet Kidder) attempting to get within the Federation distortion field in a ruse that involves the Viridian Battle Cruiser chasing down the U.S.S. Discovery as it flees for its life. What Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr) doesn't know, is that Osyraa is actually aboard Discovery, and the entire thing has been cleverly orchestrated. The lack of any communication from Discovery aids in the performance, as Admiral Vance weighs the pros and cons of letting its most valuable ship back within Federation borders.

Osyraa is on Discovery. And we just let her in the front door.

Meanwhile, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Cleveland Booker (David Ajala) arrive at Federation headquarters by way of a trans-warp conduit. In the process, we get a welcomed explanation of why these conduits aren’t used very much, as space junk makes traversal damn near impossible. Hopefully, we will get some explanation of how the space junk got there sometime next season, but in any case, thank goodness for Book’s reconfigurable ship, which makes a seemingly impossible task feel like a breeze. The duo emerges from subspace with just enough time to make an action-filled crash landing into Discovery’s shuttle bay, just as Admiral Vance allows Discovery within Federation walls. The plan — Burnham will do her best to secure Stamets, making it impossible for Osyraa to jump away with Discovery, while Book will try to find the bridge crew and retake the ship.

Osyraa takes a trip to visit our resident astromycologist and now hostage, Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), where she also meets up with Invigilator Aurelio to inspect his progress on reverse-engineering Discovery’s spore drive. Aurelio is portrayed by the great Kenneth Mitchell; an appearance that hits home in so many profound ways. Mitchell previously portrayed the Klingon characters of Kol, Kol-Sha, and Tenavik, before being diagnosed in August 2018 with ALS — a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. I applaud the Discovery showrunners for writing Mitchell back into the show as this highly relatable scientist, working for the cruel leader of the Emerald Chain; a role in which Mitchell delivers what could be considered one of his best performances. While Mitchell’s previous performances on Discovery were behind the facade of a Klingon veneer, it was something special about seeing the nuance he delivered as Aurelio; added to the fact that some of the writing of the conversation between him and Stamets hit home with what Mitchell may have been experiencing after being diagnosed with ALS.

It must’ve been the golden age of science. Remarkable.

For all intents and purposes, Stamets and Aurelio are both scientists who are two sides of the same coin, with one having been nurtured through the structure of the Federation, and the other being pruned through the dominance of the Emerald Chain. The conversation between Aurelio and Stamets was just one of many expertly written points of conflict in this episode. Even though Aurelio sees Osyraa as someone who saved him when he would have died because of his genetic defect, Stamets attempts to show him that Osyraa is a cruel leader despite any good she’s done — iterating, “I believe you when you say that she’s more than she appears to be. But she is also exactly what she appears to be.” Leading Aurelio to ponder Osyraa’s true nature.

Things seem to be going as planned, and Osyraa makes contact with Admiral Vance in an attempt to open a line of dialog with the Federation. As a gesture of good faith, Osyraa sends all of Discovery’s crew to Federation headquarters with the exception of the ship’s bridge officers. Vance allows Osyraa to beam into Federation Headquarters where the two begin what turns out to be peace negotiations between the Emerald Chain and the Federation. The negotiations seem to be of the utmost importance to Osyraa, not only because of the Chain’s important need for an alternative to dilithium to power their ships, but it is also due to the symbol of hope and optimism that is associated with the Federation as a whole— a legitimacy the Emerald Chain has thus far been unable to obtain. Osyraa emplores to Vance that the union of the two organizations would be a natural fit for the good of the people —with the government of the Federation’s chain of planets joining the Emerald Chain’s federation of mercantile exchanges.

At first, negotiations seem to be going well. Osyraa demands trades be sanctioned and wants an Emerald Chain embassy at Federation headquarters. Vance demands slavery be outlawed throughout the Emerald Chain. Osyraa agrees to step away from any infiltrated world within 15 years and also adhere to the Federation’s Prime Directive going forward. Osyraa presents an armistice that Vance seems to think would work. But despite Osyraa’s best efforts and genuine interest from Admiral Vance, talks break down when the admiral insists Osyraa be put on trial for her war crimes, and another liaison chosen as the ambassador of the Emerald Chain. Osyraa insists Vance is making a mistake in his attempt to hold her accountable for her crimes, stating that we’ve all made mistakes to survive the aftermath of the Burn. Unwilling to comply with the admiral’s demands, Osyraa heads back to Discovery.

Meanwhile, the bridge officers back on Discovery are attempting to devise a plan of their own. Ensign Tilly (Mary Wisemen) pleads with Osyraa’s regulators to let the other hostages go, iterating that you only need the captain for leverage in negotiations. We then immediately see the return of Zareh (Jake Weber) from the second episode of the season, Far From Home. Zareh not only mocks Tilly for her inability to finish the job after their run-in on the parasitic ice planet, but he also taunts the ensign about her short-lived command of Discovery; stating that it took Osyraa only seven minutes to capture Discovery.

Zareh has also managed to capture Book, leaving the door open for Burnham to move about the ship freely, while he will work with Tilly and the bridge crew to devise a method of escape. After Zareh leaves the room, Tilly and the bridge crew eventually overtake their captors and begin to do what they can to re-take the ship. Book and Ryn hang back to buy the crew more time, but the duo are eventually captured by Zareh; an encounter that leaves Ryn dead, and Osyraa ordering Book to be interrogated for anything he knows about the dilithium planet within the Verubin Nebula.

Chair barricades work in the future, right?

In the meantime, Burnham has been lurking about Discovery, hard at work executing her best John McClane impression, picking off the regulators one by one to reach Stamets. An initial run-in to obtain a regulator communications badge, leaves Burnham limping around the ship when she is stabbed in the altercation. After cauterizing the wound, Burnham takes refuge within the Jefferies tubes. Michael then uses the procured communications badge to send a subspace message to momma-Burnham, Gabrielle, with hopes that the Ni’Varian people might come to the Federation’s aid.

It doesn’t take long for Zarah to recognizes an anomaly in the sensor reading, and he sends regulators after the life sign. With regulators closing in on her, Burnham devises a plan to vent the Jefferies tubes, leaving the regulators floating outside the ship, with Burnham only narrowly escaping by the boots on her feet. No literally, a regulator is pulling on Michael’s boots as she is vented out of the ship, with a shoeless Burnham barely holding on before the Jefferies tubes start to repressurize.

“Hey, Zarah. You’re gonna need more regulators.”

Burnham eventually makes it down to Stamets’ lab, where she easily stuns Aurelio and starts to free Stamets. In what is probably the most heartfelt moment of the episode, Stamets pleads to Burnham that Discovery needs to jump back to the Verubin Nebula to save his family — meaning Culber and Adira. Burnham iterates that it is paramount to get him off the ship to protect the interest of the Federation. Things come down to Burnham making a very hard decision for the good of the many, subduing Stamets, and sending him out into the void of space in an emergency escape field to be picked up by the surrounding Federation ships. A notion that Stamets makes difficult at every turn, pleading for the life of his loved ones and iterating the sacrifice that he and the crew of Discovery made so that Burnham would not have to travel to the future alone. Zarah locates Burnham just as Stamets is jettisoned.

Well, this is awkward!

In closing, we leave things with a failed peace deal between the Federation and the Emerald Chain, and our bridge crew doing their darndest to retake Discovery from Osyraa. I find myself pondering if Osyraa’s attempt at peace was a true olive branch or nothing more than an attempt to expand the rule of the Chain. It certainly felt authentic, barring any malfunctions on the part of our holographic lie detector, Eli. But what was the long game here? Seems as if there had to be more to Osyraa’s intentions.

Maybe what is more disturbing than anything is Osyraa’s vast knowledge of Discovery and its systems. She knows almost everything about Discovery, right down to Stamets being the key component that makes the spore drive operate. You would have to think the Emerald Chain would have a massive intelligence operation, but the level of detail they employed to take Discovery does feel a bit offputting. The only thing I can see is that maybe there is a mole within Discovery or some classified information from the 2250s has been uncovered. Maybe we will get an explanation in the finale.

It’s worth mentioning that Osyraa has also re-programmed Discovery’s systems, which we learn is a standard Emerald Chain tactic. And as season two of Star Trek Discovery demonstrated, erasing the entity data, which is stored in Discovery’s systems, is not an easy task. We later find that not only has the entity data survived the system purge, but it has now inhabited the DOT-23 droids, looking to aid in taking back Discovery from Osyraa. So of course I’m looking to see if these DOT-23s will have any impact in the finale.

This episode sets up what is poised to be an exciting end to the season. Ultimately culminating in the bridge officers attempting to secure the ship, then taking a trip back to the Verubin Nebula. I have to say, I initially felt a bit of frustration and disappointment when I realized we were not going to get any information on the dilithium planet and the away team in this episode. But it was a relief in the sense that what the showrunners presented to us was such a freaking meaty stew, keeping the focus on this perfect penultimate dish. An intense negotiation, a ship under siege, the effort to reclaim said ship, what more could you want? We can only hope for a delightfully satisfying dessert in the season finale.

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Other Thoughts and Observations

  • It was almost too convenient for Book’s ship’s communications to fry out right when we needed them most.
  • How in the heck did Book’s ship survive that crash into the shuttle bay? Furthermore, why did Discovery have its shields down when it was supposed to be under attack by the Viridian.
  • If the entity data, or Zora, is able to inhabit the DOT-23s, then maybe she can become a walking talking member of the crew, a la Data.
  • The episode’s title, ‘There Is a Tide…’, comes from Julius Ceaser. Brutus tells Cassius, “There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”
  • Can I please unlearn how replicators work? I’m just saying.

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Clarence Brown
Discussing Network

Podcasting and writing mostly about Star Trek. Somewhere in Texas.