Headed into the final episode of the season, things didn’t look good for the crew of the Discovery. The ship was controlled by Osyraa and her Regulators. Burnham and Book were their captives. The bridge crew was about to embark on a seemingly impossible mission to retake the ship. Culber, Adira, Saru were trapped on the dilithium planet getting sicker by the minute, and their fate rested in the hands of a terrified Kelpian.
It didn’t seem like there were many win scenarios in either situation. But of course, Starfleet always finds a way, which might as well be the motto for the finale.
Here are some highlights from the finale episode. Spoilers ahead.
A Future for Ni’Var and the Federation
The episode began with the Federation fleet battling the Discovery and the Viridian, Osyraa’s Emerald Chain flagship. Though Osyraa’s forces were vastly outnumbered, they were holding their own. Vance made it clear that he would rather destroy Discovery and the spore drive than have it under Osyraa’s control.
As the battle raged, the Federation received a hail from a Ni’Varan ship, which informed them that the Ni’Varan fleet was on its way to assist. The Ni’Varan ships began to join the fray and it was clear that Osyraa’s forces were outnumbered. However, Osyraa wasn’t willing to stand down. Burnham negotiated with her, saying that she could get the Federation to stand down so they could make an escape, though she clearly had an ulterior plan.
The appearance of the Ni’Varan ships in the battle between the Federation and the Emerald Chain is significant in terms of the interstellar political landscape. Other than Burnham’s involvement in the battle and her mother’s Ni’Varan connection, Ni’Var really didn’t have a reason to join the battle. They aren’t part of the Federation, and they’ve made it clear they’re not really interested.
However, something made them show up. It’s possible they were simply doing what they thought was right. It’s possible Burnham did send them the data on the Burn and that compelled them to come to the Federation’s aid.
Whatever the reason, Ni’Var changed the landscape of the Federation by showing up. By the end of the episode, the Ni’Varans were in talks with the Federation about membership. It’s very possible that the Ni’Varans will rejoin the Federation after decades of separation in season four.
The Bridge Crew Really Can Do Anything
Aboard Discovery a separate battle was raging, a battle for the control of the ship. Osyraa forced Book to take a truth serum so he would tell her how to safely get to the dilithium planet, but it didn’t work on him. Zareh insisted that Aurellio put the neural lock on him, which is what the Regulators put on Stamets to control him. When he refused, Osyraa choked him out, proving that she could be just as cruel to him as she was to everyone else.
She put the neural lock on Book. Apparently, when the neural lock is resisted, it’s very painful. Book was clearly agonized by its effects. Eventually, Burnham begged them to stop, saying she’d convince Book to tell them. Instead, she stole a Regulator weapon, shot a few of them, freed Book, and put up a forcefield around them. They escaped and began a stealth battle throughout the ship with Zareh and the Regulators.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Bridge crew was trapped on deck five, where Osyraa had turned off life support. Though they were struggling to even breathe, they still tried to regain control of the computer. A message from Burnham, who stole a Regulator badge and hacked into the computer, sparked an idea for planting a bomb in one of the nacelles. This would allow the crew to get off the deck, and it would knock out warp functioning so the Federation forces could catch up with Discovery.
While the rest of the bridge crew was basically dying from oxygen deprivation, Owo — who apparently did some intense low oxygen environment training — was tasked with leaving them behind to set off the bomb. She planted the bomb but wasn’t strong enough to get out of the way of the detonation. So, a Sphere Data robot found her and dragged her to safety.
Elsewhere on the ship, Burnham battled Osyraa and Book battled Zareh. They both came out victorious with Book throwing Zareh out of a turbolift and Burnham shooting Osyraa while escaping from programmable matter. Once Osyraa was dead, Burnham rebooted the ship’s computer, and the crew of Discovery was back in control.
The Monster Was Helping All Along
On the dilithium planet, the situation was deteriorating rapidly. Even with the medications Adira brought to the planet, the Discovery crew members could only survive for a few more hours before the effects of the radiation became fatal.
Saru worked diligently to convince Su’Kal that they needed to shut off the holoprogram and leave the ship. He told Su’Kal about his childhood on Kaminar and how much he loved his home planet and his Kelpian parents. Saru also told Su’Kal he knew how he felt. He shared that he had been forced to leave everything he ever knew behind when he left Kaminar and that the decision to venture into the outside world was terrifying.
The radiation deteriorated the ship’s programs to the point that the holodeck characters started to disappear. Eventually, the only projection left was the monster, who kept periodically appearing, demanding that Su’Kal “see” it.
Once Su’Kal realized that the holo characters were gone, he became more willing to disable the program, though he made it clear he was still very scared. Saru promised that everyone would be with him and support him no matter what. So, Su’Kal finally approached the room where the monster lived, which turned out to be the control room for the holoprogram. The entire time the monster had been appearing, it had been trying to lead him to the control room so he could face his fears.
With Saru, Culber, Adira, and Gray (who was visible to everyone because of the holoprogram) supporting him, Su’Kal finally turned off the holo and then told the computer to show him the last log entry, which he said was necessary for him to face his fear.
The log entry revealed that Su’Kal’s mother had actually enabled the holoprogram before she died and Su’Kal had been living in it for some time. When he was still fairly young, Su’Kal disabled the holoprogram one day and discovered that his entire family had died. His mother was still barely alive. She spoke to him, then died right in front of his eyes. That’s when Su’Kal broke down, causing the Burn.
Su’Kal finally faced the trauma of seeing his family die and acknowledged the fact that he was the cause of the Burn. He voiced his fear that he would cause another Burn to happen. Culber responded, saying that he believed Su’Kal’s genetic makeup had been altered because of the dilithium, and that caused his body to vibrate at the same frequency as the substance. He assured Su’Kal that if they left the planet he wouldn’t be able to cause another Burn.
Once the ship materialized again, they sent a distress call to Discovery, hoping against hope that they’d made it back to the Nebula.
Book Can Control the Spore Drive
Though the Discovery crew was back in control of the ship, they were being towed by the Viridian, which had locked on with a tractor beam after the bomb went off in the nacelle. Burnham proposed a dangerous plan. She suggested they eject the warp core, which would cause an explosion big enough to free them from the Viridian’s hold.
Of course, the crew brought up that this would likely blow them up too, at which point Aurellio, who was still on the bridge, jumped in. He confirmed that Book, as an empath who could communicate with animals, should be able to control the spore drive and jump the ship. So, they solidified the plan to jump to the Verubin Nebula to save their stranded crew members before the warp core explosion hit them.
In typical Star Trek fashion, there was a moment when it seemed like Book might not be able to make the jump, but he pulled it off. The Discovery arrived just in time to beam Culber, Saru, Adira, and Su’Kal off the Kelpian ship.
A Future for the Federation
The end of the episode was a flash-forward to a few weeks or maybe a few months after the battle with Osyraa. The Emerald Chain had crumbled without their primary leadership and the Federation was easily able to deal with the few factions that remained. Planets that were under Emerald Chain control started to join the Federation in droves. The Federation had already begun to re-establish its place as a leader in interstellar politics.
Admiral Vance met with Burnham and told her that the primary mission for the Federation was to assist planets that had been devastated by the Burn and exploited by the Emerald Chain. He said the best way to do that was to start mining the dilithium planet. He gave Burnham command of Discovery and told her to head to the planet.
Instead of leaving fans with a major cliffhanger and dozens of questions about what might happen next season, the season three finale left fans with a heartwarming sense of hope for the future of the Federation. Though fans don’t have many clues about what stories season four may tell, it seems like they could see a much more familiar Federation next season.