Star Trek: Discovery – Season 3, Episode 5 Recap: “Die Trying”

Dept. of Admirals and Assignments

Star Trek: Discovery Director | Maja Vrvilo
Season 3 | Episode 5 | 55 minutesWriters | Sean Cochran, James Duff, Sean Cochran
Die Trying
Discovery finally finds Starfleet Headquarters but the crew don’t quite receive the reception they were expecting.

As Star Trek: Discovery approaches the halfway point of its third season, her crew ends one journey at Starfleet Headquarters before finding themselves embarking on a completely new, mostly uphill, one. Grab some snacks and join Iain and Bahir for the debrief.

Might need something to drink too!


Iain McNally: Now that the Discovery crew have finally found Starfleet/The Federation how did it live up to your expectations?

Bahir Yeusuff: Well, on one hand I’m glad that the Federation didn’t receive Discovery with open arms. I mean, it might be obvious to say, but there was never going to be a welcome party between the Federation and the ship. The ship that has traveled 900 years into the future. But it still felt “off” for me.

There’s some of that magic from seasons one and two that’s missing, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. There’s an underlying B-plot and C-plot here that may run throughout the series, but I’m worried the A-plot will now be a series of fetch quests for Discovery.

We’ll get around to it, I’m sure, but there were some cool moments in this episode.

As a lifetime Trekker, how is the season working for you so far?


IMN: Again, this feels like some unnecessary table setting. The whole “discovery crew have to prove themselves to a Starfleet they barely know,” should either be the arc of the rest of the season, or hand waved away with a “we don’t know how your ancient ship works, so we need your crew to operate it. Doing it all in one episode feels weird. If this was part of a 22 episode season, I think I’d be more okay with it, but we’re now almost halfway through the season and I’m still not sure what the big arc of the show is this year – apart from Detmer’s PTSD.

BY: Holy crap you’re right, we are almost halfway through the season.

IMN: Right? Those 900 years just flew by!

In this episode we encounter a very different, very testy Starfleet than what we’re used to. In Star Trek, on average, admirals are not to be trusted. What do you think of Oded Fehr’s Admiral Vance. Can we trust him?

BY: I can’t decide if (storywise) it would be more interesting if the Admiral was crooked or good. 

Admiral Evil?

IMN: In The Next Generation particularly, admirals were almost exclusively the harbingers of bad ideas that our crew would have to execute grudgingly before our captain sorted things out. 

BY: But again, would it be more interesting to the story if he was actually evil? What if in the 900 years Discovery skipped, the Federation had become Nazis? Or would it be better if they were just incompetent, trying to uphold stupid rules like, “no chocolates before dinner?”

IMN: I hope they’re going for somewhere in the middle. The whole Federation going Nazi is a bit too easy to provide a new “unexpected” enemy for Discovery. For a few moments there I wondered if perhaps they hadn’t become Nazis but instead had been replaced by Terrans from the mirror universe!

I hope that it’s just that the Federation is run ragged and our crew will slowly win them over. Hopefully Discovery can help The Federation out of triage so they start taking more proactive steps in the universe.

I was little weirded out by the way he dismissed Adira though. Referring to medical for “a full diagnostic.” There’s a hint he had some beef with her previous host Senna, but it seemed odd. 

Do You Hear What I Hear?

BY: Well, Admiral Tal did keep him waiting because he wanted to see the snow once last time. That would piss anyone off.

IMN: Senna Tal loved him some fresh powder, man.

BY: That’s his jam.

I have to ask, what about that Battlestar Galactica music thing?


IMN: Hah! I literally wrote that in my notes! This is after they already ripped off the memorial hallway for fallen crew members from BSG a few episodes back too! Is Ron D. Moore on staff now!?

Was it only the people in the future who knew the mysterious song or did Burnham know it too? Is it some kind of mass hypnosis? It’s an odd thread for the usually more science based Star Trek. Maybe Control did win and everyone they meet in the future are all Cylons and they don’t know it yet?

Destination Unknown

IMN: Where do you think they’re going with it?

BY: I have honestly no idea. The fact that we are this far in and we still don’t know what the show wants to do is worrying. As I mentioned earlier, there is a B-plot (the music) and C-plot (Detmer and Georgiou being weird) that are interesting, but even if that was made into the big thing of this season, I’d feel a little shortchanged. This almost feels like a bridge season. Like the whole season is one giant setup for NEXT season’s big story arcs.

IMN: Next season where they team up with the crew of the USS Voyager, NCC-74656-J! But yeah, it certainly has that feel. Which makes the A-plot this episode feel weirdly rushed. This away mission should have been so doomed in so many ways! They made so many “wandering around old space station/haunted house” mistakes. 

BY: HAVE THEY NOT SEEN THE OTHER EPISODES???!!! All that wandering around is just crazy!!!

IMN: Those plants did not look safe. Did they never see Spock and the Enterprise crew all go crazy from crazy space spores? Wait, actually, no hey haven’t, because that hadn’t happened by the time they left! Oh God, the Discovery crew are lacking even the basic Starfleet away mission protocols based upon Kirk’s escapades!

Home and Away Team

BY: Is it just me, or was that away mission a little easy for Episode 5 of Season 3? I mean, if it was a new crew, on a new show, and you’re a couple episodes in, then sure, but for a team that’s travelled through time, that’s fought in big battles, this seemed too easy. And yes, from the point of view of maybe-evil-maybe-not Admiral Vance, this would be exactly the kind of mission you’d send them on to see what they’re made of. For the audience, it felt like a bit of a cop-out. An easy out.

IMN: Agreed. The “Burnham commands her crew hyper efficiently” thing was shot like one of those scenes where an over confident character screws up. It felt like it was setting her up for a fall, but because it never came, it put her back in the position of most important person in the universe. Again. A complaint I never really saw, in previous seasons, but I’m starting to see now. Only Michael could convince Dr. Attis to give them what they needed. That felt a little… too convenient as well. Dr. Culber should have totally been able to sort him out. 

BY: It was cool though seeing her call Black Alert and the future security officers looking like what the hell just happened when they went through with the Spore Drive.

Black Alert

BY: Speaking of which, does everyone know about the Spore Drive? Maybe-evil-maybe-not future Admiral seemed pretty cool with the idea of a ship just jumping into a theoretical spore dimension.

IMN: I’m not sure. The admiral and his security team definitely do, and I’m sure some higher ups at Starfleet do, but one thread I hope they pull on is the one about how the time accords banning time travel work both ways. Not only to prevent time travelers from meddling in the past, but to prevent people from the past from impacting the future. It’s an interesting way to look at things. His line about Discovery’s very presence in the 31st century being a crime, opens up all sorts of possibilities. The spore drive could drastically alter the balance of power in this new future and it will be cool to see how that plays out. 

Speaking of tech, what did you think of all the new ship designs, and hologram crewmembers? Were you “”wowed” by the reference to Voyager? 

Now, Voyager

BY: I wanted to ask you that. I mean, I kind of got the reference to Voyager, but I wasn’t sure how I, a newcomer, was supposed to feel. 

IMN: I just took it as a nice reminder that Janeway and all her crew are mostly definitely all dead by now. 😉 

BY: Hah! I do like the hologram stuff. I preferred the “must go to the transporter room to transport stuff” thing though. It feels too easy to just be able to beam from anywhere.


IMN: Yeah “site-to-site” transport was usually a last resort on TNG. It would have been nice if Discovery had received some of those upgrades Admiral Vance was talking about before they headed off on their adventure; even just to explain the upgraded transporter. 

The holograms are obviously a follow on from the Emergency Medical Hologram from Voyager, but isn’t it odd in the hundreds ofyers since then, holograms have gotten less lifelike. I did like ELI the EMH’s dickie bow tie. 

Dickie Bows are eternal

BY: Also, are all A.I. officers in the future that snarky? The A.I. on Star Trek: Picard was pretty mouthy too.

IMN: “Not being a raging asshole” is the hardest part of humanity to recreate in hologram form apparently. They seems a little… robotic… which implies there is just some hard limit for what holograms can do. Like the fact that Georgiou can break them by blinking at them. Which I thought was hilarious. 

I nearly fell out of of my chair when they Georgiou broke the Holograms and DAVID FREAKIN CRONENBERG took over the interrogation. I assume he’s wearing his glasses in a future where everyone can get free super lasik because he is DAVID FREAKIN CRONENBERG and he just felt like wearing them? 

Crash Into Me

BY: I loved that line. I thought he looked a little familiar but it wasn’t until you pointed it out that it all clicked. And I mean, of course David Cronenberg is an agent from the future. Do we know what he does? I don’t think we know what his position was in the Federation. Is he from a future Section 31?

IMN: He was wearing black wasn’t he? And the holo said, “don’t look at him?” (Although, he really could have hid behind a one way mirror or holo wall.) He’s got to be from some sort of successor to Section 31, right? Or a time cop? Or Chief of the Terran Defense division? 

BY: There was a moment at the end of the episode where Burnham stumbles on to Georgiou staring off into (not literal) space. What do you think that was about? Did David Cronenberg drop some truth bomb on her?

IMN: I don’t know. Their previous scene ended with him telling her that no one had crossed over for 500 years, but by DS9, protocols were already in place to try and stop people crossing over in either direction, because it generally caused massive headaches on both sides.

Emperor State of Mind

IMN: The way he phrased it was interesting though. That the “distance” between their universes had increased. Perhaps Georgiou had been along for a joy ride and always had it in the back of her mind that she would go back to her empire at some point. Having it spelled out like that brought home that she could never go home again. 

That, or maybe she was trying to remember if she’d left the oven on. Getting lost in thought seems out of character for Emperor Philippa Georgiou.

BY: Well, that’s going to be some gas bill.

IMN: The whole mirror universe would be on fire by now.

Do you think we’ll get to see Nahn again in some plot pertinent way, or is Discovery shedding crew members to get it down to a more manageable ensemble? 

BY: It feels like the latter. Correct me if I’m wrong, but she was never part of the original crew right? She came on board in one of the previous seasons right?

IMN: She was on the Enterprise with Pike.

Nahn Too Soon

BY: Right. So maybe we’re just going back to the original gang. I did like the way she left though. It was emotional, it was sweet, it was human [Editor: Actually, it was Barzan]. Wanting to see her home planet again, speaking her own language, doing her race proud by finishing their first watch. It was nice. I wonder if Detmer would be next to have feelings and want to go home.

IMN: I hope not. I hope they make dealing with trauma part of the show. It may not be the most Roddenberry thing to do but Trek always speaks to the time it’s made in, and seeing people learning to deal with with the trauma of losing loved ones, in a positive way, is something I think it would be good for everyone to see right now.


BY: Roddenberry: Feelings?! Trauma?! God damnit! All of that is sorted between the episodes!

IMN: No conflict! No drama! We’re past all that! Only now it’s all back again! 

Like that EVA suit we keep seeing beside Saru and Burnham’s favourite porthole on the ship. I hope that gets paid off at some point.

Ships of the Line

IMN: To jump back to the tech a little, along with theme tunes, it seems like new Trek has a massive difficulty coming up with new designs for ships. All the 30th century ships just look plain weird. From that one with exceedingly long warp nacelles, to the more vertical, Romulan Warbird looking ships. They look better than Riker’s cut and paste fleet from the end of Picard, but if you look back at something like the Dominion battle scenes from DS9, the ships, even the ones in the far background looked kinda cool. Did you find any of these future Starfleet ships “cool” enough to have on your desk?

BY: For me, whenever I think Star Trek, the ship that always comes to mind is the TNG one. That for me is a “classic” ‘Trek ship. Unfortunately, everything else since has looked like lame variations of that. Also, there really is a lack of ship shots on this show so far. 

IMN: You heard it here first folks, Bahir is all about that (Enterprise) D. I was annoyed at that too. Too many shots of the new ships were though the viewscreen or in the background. I coudn’t get a good look. The original movie Enterprise and the Reliant from The Wrath of Khan always stick in my mind as cool ships. The Romulan Birds of Prey from TNG were totally new for that show, but in my mind, that’s the canonical look for Romulan ships. New Trek isn’t doing the same for me. The designers seem to be too interested in trying new stuff without bearing in mind the design lineage that has come before.

BY: I love those Birds of Prey.

IMN: It’s a classic!

Hopefully now that Saru is bringing the 3 point perspective to this future Federation, things will settle down to a more manageable plot arc, but I think that’s what you were asking for last week too, right?

Grudge Report: Fail

BY: Yeah but now that I’ve gotten it, I’m not sure if I like it anymore. I’m hoping for more. More of what? I don’t know, but whatever it is, I feel like I haven’t gotten it in these first five e episodes. Also, WHERE’S GRUDGE???!!!

I guess I’ll just have to make do with a Grudge Standee.

Subspace Report

  • While this may be the last we seen of Nahn for now, her race, the Barzan first appeared in the Next Generation episode The Price where they utilised a very different breathing apparatus.
  • If the Voyager J is still knocking around in the future, could a version of the Enterprise J from Enterprise make an appearance this season?

Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, is now streaming on CBS All Access in the U.S., as well as on Netflix internationally. You can check out all our other Star Trek content here.

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