Season three approaches its halfway point and for the first time gives us an episode that doesn't really feel momentous, although it certainly has its significant moments. That's not to decry the episode; "Scavengers" is a solidly entertaining hour of space adventure and forwards the overall season story arc nicely. It's merely that after episodes where we 1) arrive in the far future; 2) reunite with the crew; 3) reach Earth; 4) visit Trill and explore brand new characters and 5) rejoin Starfleet, this is the first case of business-as-usual for the Discovery crew. However, business-as-usual for Burnham means disobedience, bordering on mutiny, so it's not uneventful.
Admiral Vance has accepted Discovery into the fold and Saru and co. have accepted the refit, although they're still somewhat distanced from the rest of the fleet. Three weeks doesn't seem long enough to refit the entire ship with 900 years worth of advancements, nor to train the crew up on everything they've missed. Still, it's all very swish. The USS Discovery NCC-1031-A, as it now stands, has been kitted out with everything from free-floating warp nacelles to programmable matter, and super-advanced badges which act as communicators, holographic tricorders and personal teleporters. It all screams "far future!" and I love it.
On the outer edge, though, life's still grim as hell, and Book is in irons on the planet Hunhau, part of the Emerald Chain. Burnham wants to go rescue him, especially as he was looking for a black box from one of the destroyed ships. The plan being that by collecting enough of these, they can triangulate the origin point of the Burn, which is a solid idea and it's hard to see why no one has thought of trying it at any point in the last 120 years.
Of course, Saru has other ideas. Discovery is now Starfleet's rapid response ship, thanks to the spore drive, and Vance has presented the crew with their own mission. So Burnham goes off against orders, because of course she does. I mean, she's not wrong (even Vance accepts that the intel was worth it, and chastises Saru for not coming to him) but she can't continually disobey direct orders and finally gets busted down because of it. Not that I imagine being science officer instead of First Officer will make much difference in the long run, but at least it's something.
Out on Hunhau, Burnham and Georgiou (I don't know, she's probably bored) play as antique hunters looking for vintage tech (I laughed more than was sensible at the reference to self-sealing stem bolts, and still no one seems to know what they're for). Georgiou finally has some character beyond "EVIL" now, and she and Burnham make a solid double-act. Empress of the Galaxy is also having some serious flashbacks to traumatic events in the Mirror Universe (if that's not a tautology), which seemingly stem from whatever happened between her and Cronenberg.
It's a packed actioner, with exploding heads, blaster fights against alien militiamen and death-defying escapes. It's hardly the deepest episode, but a good shoot-em-up goes a long way to keep things entertaining. Book remains one of the best things in this season - his presence was sorely missed during the last couple of episodes - and he has his own solid friendship with Ryn, an Andorian who's fallen out with the head of the Chain. I really enjoyed the poor, mutilated Andorian, and I breathed a sigh of relief when he made it through the episode. He could be an interesting addition to the ongoing cast, if he sticks around, and at the very least, I feel he's going to lead us towards a final confrontation with the Emerald Chain.
Of course, he chemistry between our two double-acts is nothing compared to that between Burnham and Book, who finally kiss... although it's actually not been all that long for us as viewers. It's a canny move; we get all the tension of a year-long "will-they/won't-they" without any of the boredom, as they go straight into "yes they will."
There's a charming subplot in which Stamets bonds with Adira, whose unique position is keeping her isolated from the rest of the Disconauts. It results in a fun three-way pseudo-conversation between the two of the them and the ghost of super-cutie Gray. It's refreshing to see Stamets just accept that Adira's dead boyfriend still talks to her, after all the weirdness he's experienced and his own boyfriend coming back from the dead. There's some fun chemistry between Rapp and del Bario too, and we could end up with an interesting friendship between the two geniuses.
A solid episode, if not a groundbreaking one, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Some fans have a weird problem with the addition of the "A" to Discovery's registration, something we've only seen used for successor ships before. It makes perfect sense, though. The ship is listed as destroyed, and its presence is a violation of the Temporal Accords, so labelling it as a new ship is a logical subterfuge. Or maybe they've just changed the registry system over the course of nine centuries.
Noah Averbach-Katz, who plays Ryn the Andorian, is Mary "Tilly" Wiseman's husband. He also runs a D&D group with Anthony Rapp, Emily Coutts, Blu del Bario and Ian Alexander, which is very cute.
There's a fun running gag where Linus the Saurian continually materialises in the wrong place. In fairness, it's not clear how anyone's supposed to instruct their personal transporters, since they don't give them verbal commands and there's no visible interface.
Book was heading to the Bajoran Exchange, hinting at a link between Bajor and the Emerald Chain. Then again, there's a Bajoran among the slaves on Hunhau, so relations can't be peachy keen between the two groups.