Thanksgiving brought us a new episode of Star Trek: Discovery to be thankful for. Season 3 Episode 7 “Unification III” finds Michael feeling alone even when she is surrounded by those she loves most. Unification and Reunification are themes that reverberate throughout the episode.
The episode begins with Michael Burnham (played by Sonequa Martin-Green) questioning her place in all of this. Is she still Starfleet material? Or have her experiences and year apart from the crew changed her. Star Trek: Discovery isn’t your cookie-cutter Star Trek show. But I’m sure that many a Star Trek Captain would understand and feel the weight of her experiences. She has a deep sense of obligation and duty to Starfleet. But I have a feeling that by the end of this season, her journey will no longer include The Federation.
Lost in Space
Martin-Green’s acting is so on point. There is an aching and loneliness in her voice. Even when she is narrating her personal log entries, you can feel her pain. It’s something that has been evident ever since the first season. Her tone is solemn, pensive, and full of remorse. Possibly regret. As if she is always unsure of her place in all this. Headstrong and determined to do what feels right to her. Which most often doesn’t align with Starfleet Protocol. She didn’t seem to fit in on the Vulcan homeworld. She was a human child out of her element longing to fit in. In Star Trek: Discovery‘s first episode she gets arrested for not following orders and causing the death of her Captain. And in the future, she is even more lost.
Her entire conflict of not fitting in has the added pressure that an entire ship and it’s crew followed her into the future. Her conflict could be a slap in the face to those who left everything behind for her. In this episode, you see that it has already strained her relationship with Ensign Sylvia Tilly -now acting First Officer (played by Mary Wiseman). Yet as always, Burhamn can do no wrong, as the crew loves her enough to constantly forgive her missteps.
And as her relationship with the crew weakens, her bond with Cleveland “Book” Booker (played by David Ajala) strengthens, and fans finally see the realization of a season worth of longing for one another.
One of the most fan satisfying moments of this episode is the return of Spock. We get to see the return of Burhamn’s adopted brother in flashbacks. The flashback featured both scenes of actor Leonard Nimoy as Spock, and scenes from Star Trek: Discovery season 2 featuring Ethan Peck as Spock.
The Discovery and her crew travel to what used to be the Vulcan homeworld but is now a Vulcan and Romulan occupied planet of Ni’Var. Oh yes! We get to see what has gone so wrong that it caused Vulcan to leave the Federation. Did the Federation turn into the Empire? Is there an Emperor Palpatine in charge? Because for a people as logical as Vulcans to see it necessary to leave the Federation something must be wrong.
When they arrive at Na’Vir, they learn that the political and cultural sensitivity of events surrounding The Burn makes their request for information on SB-19 unlikely. SB-19 was an abandoned classified project that could help answer the questions as to what caused The Burn.
As Burnham invokes ancient Vulcan tradition in her quest for knowledge, she is reunited with her mother. YES, HER MOTHER! Not only do we get to see Spock and Jean-Luc Picard mentions in this episode, AND Burnham and Book finally get together, but Burnham is reunited with her mother. It’s a Thanksgiving Day miracle. Much to be Thankful for. This episode has so much good stuff. ALL THE FEELS.
Her reunion with her mother, Gabrielle Burnham (Sonja Sohn), has gone much better than last season’s reunion. Last season her mother was on a mission to save all life and did not have the luxury to be happy to see a daughter who had been dead to her for centuries during her time travel. Now her mother resides on the Vulcan planet that was once her daughter’s adopted planet.
Her mother has arrived not only to see her but as a member of the Qowat Milat. She is bound to lost causes and she is not convinced that Michael can convince anyone to give her the information from SB-19.
Michael has invoked the T’Kal-in-Ket, which is an ancient and serious request to seek the truth. She must now defend her case to the Qowat Milat and convince them she is right about the cause of The Burn. Her mother will stand at her side as her advocate.
In true Thanksgiving-dinner-family-drama style, her mother, Gabrielle, calls Michael out on her issues in front of everyone. Michael is super embarrassed as are we, the audience, also embarrassed for her. But also, let’s be honest, she needed to be called out. And it is so satisfying that it is her mother that calls her out. It’s probably the most universally relatable issue.
After Michael gives the full “OMG, Mom, shut up look”, Michael gives her honest heartfelt delivery on why she needs the information and why she will be careful with the information entrusted to her. Fears over losing what they love have made it impossible to work together after The Burn. But it is obvious that all parties involved want only the best for their people. This truth may be the thing that all parties have in common and will lead to the unification of these groups.
Captain Saru (Doug Jones) has been a side character for most of this season. Cleaning up Michael’s messes and trying to keep the morale of his crew intact. He now finds himself in a unique situation, where he may be able to bridge diplomatic relations with The Federation and the planet of Na’Vir.
Saru is everything that you’d want from a Starfleet Captain. He is wise, compassionate, and able to see what is needed at the moment. This can be seen in his decision to promote Tilly to acting First Officer and his conversation with the President of Na’Vir.
Now that Michael has gut-wrenchingly proven her worth and her cause during the T’Kal-in-Ket she has withdrawn her request for information on SB-19. So that the people of Na’Vir are not placed in a situation where more infighting will continue. And in doing so has opened a channel for all parties to be one again. And for trusting one another. But obviously, she gets the information she needs. Because Michael always gets her way.
This episode was an emotional rollercoaster and packed with soul searching. Michael’s reunion with her mother was satisfying in all the right ways.