Star Trek: Discovery, Season 5 Episode 3 – “Jinaal”

Off the heels of their previous adventure, the crew of the USS Discovery head to Trill in hopes of finding the next clue to the Progenitors’ technology before it ends up in the wrong hands. Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz) and Cleavland Booker (David Ajala) brief Capt. Burnham (Sonqua Martin-Green) on what they’ve discovered about Moll (Eve Harlow) and L’ak (Elias Touifax) before they reach their destination. Booker begs to be included on the away team to Trill due to his distant relation to Moll, which is precisely what gives Capt. Burnham pause.

Capt. Burnham and Dr. Culber head to engineering where Lt. Tilly (Mary Wiseman) and Ensign Tal (Blu del Barrio) are attempting to learn more about their next step. Ensign Tal reveals that they’ve discovered a distinct Trill facial pattern on the puzzle piece that was recovered from the necropolis. Zora (Annabelle Wallis) identifies the Trill as Jinaal Bix, a deceased Starfleet officer from 800 years prior and symbiont within. Ensign Tal suggests that Bix may still be alive after all this time, and Capt. Burnham sets the plan in motion before going to meet with her new executive officer.

Freshly demoted, Cmdr. Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie) waits awkwardly in the ready room. Capt. Burnham tasks Rayner with spending time with crew members to familiarize himself with them and vice versa. Rayner resists at first, but Burnham insists, charging him with the responsibility of connecting with everyone so that they’ll understand her decision to make him Number One. He reluctantly agrees before Burnham introduces him to the bridge crew, and they make the jump to Trill.

Back in engineering, Ensign Tal confides in Cmdrs. Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Reno (Tig Notaro) regarding their apprehension about seeing Gray (Ian Alexander) again for the first time in months. Reno gently guides Adira through their anxieties and sends them on their way before unloading her concerns on Stamets, who – up until that point – remained blissfully unaware that Adira was nervous about seeing Grey.

Capt. Burnham and the away team request permission to beam to the surface of Trill and are immediately denied. Guardian Xi (Andreas Apergis) appears on-screen and insists that they answer a question before they can proceed. Capt. Burnham answers correctly, and the away team is granted access to the surface.

On Trill, Capt. Burnham and the away team are introduced to Kalzara Bix (Clare Coulter), who reveals that she still possesses Jinaal’s consciousness. She explains that Jinaal requires the zhian’tara ritual so that his consciousness may inhabit the body of a living vessel. Dr. Culber volunteers to serve as host.

Blu del Barrio as Adira Tal

Meanwhile at Federation Headquarters, Saru begins to settle into his new life and role as ambassador. President T’Rina (Tara Rosling) helps Saru get settled in his new office and he admits his reservations about what the day’s meetings will bring. T’Rina shows resolve in his abilities, and together they head to work. Along the way, they discuss the semantics of their engagement announcement, scheduled to be released the next day. They are interrupted by T’Rina’s advisor, Duvin (Victor Andres Trelles Turgeon), who expresses cool, Vulcan distaste for Saru.

On DISCO, Lt. Tilly meets with Cmdr. Rayner to acclimate him to the ship and her crew. When she attempts to assert the captain’s wishes, he refuses to tour the ship and orders Tilly to bring the crew to him for one-on-one meetings instead. Tilly grits her teeth and begrudgingly agrees.

Back on Trill, the Shantara ritual begins, and Jinaal Bix’s consciousness is transferred to Dr. Culber’s body. After getting acclimated to his new albeit temporary home, Jinaal Culber settles in comfortably, remarking on the new uniforms and how nice it feels to move around again. He informs the team that he’s hidden the next piece in the canyon beyond the caves, and insists that they walk there. Ensign Tal stays behind to monitor comms.

Saru’s first day as an ambassador is off to a rough start, but he manages to find a temporary solution to the problem at hand, leaving T’Rina impressed. When the vote is cast, a recess is called, and Duvin confronts Saru. The advisor asks Saru to reconsider the timing of their engagement announcement, informing Saru of the volatile Vulcan Purist groups who would consider the president’s engagement off-putting at a crucial and delicate time.

Jinaal Culber leads Burnham and Booker on the path to the next clue. Burnham and Book attempt to pry more information out of their guide when they hear a horrible roar in the distance. Jinaal admits that they’re heading right into the territory of an itronok, a huge beast that he had studied during his life. He explains that 800 years ago, the Federation president charged him and 5 other scientists to learn more about the Progenitors’ message. When they found the Progenitors’ technology, Jinnal and the scientists ultimately hid it for safekeeping, citing the Dominion War as the reason to disavow all knowledge of the tech.

Cmdr. Rayner begins his crew interviews back on DISCO, giving each individual 20 words or less to describe something he wouldn’t find in their file. Tilly grows more and more frustrated with the brevity of these interviews and Rayner’s disinterested attitude.

Ensign Tal and Gray finally reunite, though it is not the joyous occasion one may have hoped for. Instead, the two of them realize that they have both grown attached to their current lifestyles, determining that the relationship would need to adapt to suit their respective needs. Neither of them are willing to give up the life they’ve crafted for themselves and maturely agree to go their separate ways.

Jinaal Culber leads Burnham and Booker into a clearing in the canyon, stating that the next clue would be hidden among the rocks before them. Before they can begin their search, not one but two itronok come into the clearing, obviously aggravated by their presence. Jinaal doesn’t stick around to help them, disappearing into the night. Booker gets hurt by an itronok projectile, and Burnham realizes that the pair are parents protecting a nest full of eggs. Burnham and Book figure out how to calm the irate pair, and slowly back away, hurrying off to confront Jinaal about the deception. He ultimately gives them the next piece to the puzzle, admitting that the setup was a test to measure their capacity for compassion and desire to understand the unknown.

L-R: Lts. () and Tilly (Mary Wiseman)

All in all, the crew of Discovery exhibits some examples of healthy conflict resolution throughout the episode. Tilly admonishes Rayner for his abrasive behavior towards his new crew after he shuts down Stamets in their interview. They address it later in the lounge, and Tilly reminds him that earning respect is a two-way street, leaving him to reevaluate his interpersonal skills. Saru talks out his concerns with T’Rina, and realizes that she wants him as a partner, not a protector. But as Adira says their goodbyes on Trill, we see them get bugged by a cloaked Moll (Eve Harlow), setting a foreboding tone to next week’s episode.

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