Star Trek: Discovery – Season 3, Episode 8 Recap: “The Sanctuary”

Dept. of the Weight of The Chain

Star Trek: Discovery Director | Jonathan Frakes
Season 3 | Episode 8 | 60 minutesWriters | Kirsten Beyer
The Sanctuary
Discovery’s next mission takes them back to Booker’s home to help his brother against the Emerald Chain while Georgiou finally gets some help with her condition.

There’s a lot going on in this week’s Star Trek: Discovery as the crew embarks on a mission of mercy to Booker’s home planet and a ton of plot points hinted at earlier this season slowly inch forward. Life long Trekkie Iain and (relatively) new-to-the-franchisee Bahir share their feeling on this week’s episode. Spoilers dead ahead!


Iain McNally: While it was a *little* convenient that Discovery was allowed to go on a Booker focused mission this week, there were a lot of the goings on this week felt very “Star Trek,” along with some other plot lines that I have no clue about. How did this feel to you after the diminishing buzz of the past few weeks?

Bahir Yeusuff: Detmer flying Book’s ship was great! But in all seriousness, yes, this felt like a very Star Trek heavy episode. There was the investigation into the music and Adira trying to solve that, the Emerald Chain villainy, visiting Booker’s planet, Georgiou’s issues, and some Federation distrust in the universe. There was a lot going on here. I kind of wish they’d spread out some of those good storylines.

IMN: You’re never happy! 

BY: Don’t get me wrong! I thought this episode was great! It felt very Trek! But it just felt like A LOT of Trek in one episode.

Star Trek AF

IMN: Despite how different Star Trek: Discovery’s structure is from the old TNG style of self contained episodes, with some character development episodes scattered throughout a season, all the small scenes touching base with our crew were exactly what I’ve been wanting to see.

Detmer boasting about being a badass pilot with her colleagues and Stamets and Adira playing music and vibing together felt very Trek to me, albeit far less embarrassing than horny Riker on TNG (Trombone, that is). I found it to be just the right amount of Trek!

BY: Man. That is not what I think of, when I think Trek

IMN: They love ancient (by their standards) music and entertainment in Star Trek.

BY: So, let’s go through the episode one item at a time and see if there’s anything I missed from Star Trek lore. We’ve kind of addressed the Emerald Chain previously but did this episode give you any new insight?

IMN: This episode confirmed them as the big bad this season, and Osyraa was threatening enough, but I think I was kind of hoping for some stunt casting. Maybe it’s just that the green makeup looks a little awkward? There’s not much lore beyond what we’ve already covered as the Chain are more a 32nd century concept. Just that Orions were usually treated as pirates and slavers. I did like their threat though. That the Federation will feel “the full weight of the chain.”

Planet of the Blue Butt Bugs

BY: That was a great line. Okay, Emerald Chain, check. Book’s planet. Was there anything there? I did like those floaty things that seem to be bad for crops. Also, the way the planet seems to be under that water/protective shield thing was cool too.

IMN: Kwejian hasn’t been mentioned outside of Booker’s back story. I have to say I really appreciate the showrunners showing the planet names on some of the screens on the bridge each week so we can spell them correctly. 

The floating blue butt bugs were cool, but this plot line felt meh for me. Are Booker and his “brother” the only empaths on the planet? Had no one tried boosting their “Care Bear stare” before? 

BY: That really felt like an excuse to introduce Osyraa. We didn’t even spend much time on the planet either to be honest. Or at least nothing of real note happened there.

IMN: To be honest it’s also very Star Trek to have a weak A-plot occasionally 😉 

BY: Hah. Okay, Book’s planet, check. 

IMN: On the other hand, I did like the development with Book himself this episode. He‘s staring to see the Federation, or maybe just Discovery as a force for good, and more importantly, where he can do the most good. I wouldn’t mind seeing this as a theme for the rest of the season, with Discovery winning people over to the Federation side with their deeds, instead of just their words. 


BY: I want to see more of Book (and Grudge!). At the moment he really feels like an appendage to Michael and I get it, she’s the star of the show, but just one Book episode doesn’t do enough for me. I am glad that he is finally accepting his place on the ship though. No more fly aways for solo missions. 

IMN: I’m sure he’ll get special “liaison status” or something next week. 

BY: Oh, don’t forget the song. And the Federation ship distress signal. 

IMN: I wasn’t expecting that to be explored, or partially resolved, so quickly. Some captain screwed up real bad in the Verubin nebula, caused The Burn AND turned their distress signal into a hummable earmworm/banger.

Discovering the source of The Burn, and that there was a federation starship at the heart of it, should provide plenty of material for the rest of the season, leading up to the finale, I’m guessing. 

We also got more hints that the Federation is widely seen as untrustworthy in this future. Could whatever this mystery ship in the Verubin nebula be part of that?

Never Trust an Admiral

BY: I think there’s not enough on the table at the moment to speculate about that hidden Federation ship.

IMN: I reckon the Admiral knows! NEVER TRUST AN ADMIRAL!

BY: It’s always the Admirals.


BY: What did you think of Adira’s they/them speech? The timing of it, with Elliot Page’s announcement, was quite eerily coincidental, but I liked it. I think with Adira’s “situation” the they/them pronoun works and I like how it’s bringing that into the Star Trek conversation.

IMN: I think these kind of gender identity storylines are the kind of thing that Star Trek was perfectly placed to address decades ago and I’m very happy with how they’ve handled it. Of course a tolerant future humanity, that has left most of our failings behind wouldn’t bat an eyelid when asked to update their pronouns. It not only dovetails nicely with Elliot Page’s announcement but also with actor Blu Del Barrio’s own journey


IMN: Stamets’ reaction was perfect. And the scene with the two of them and Culber at the end was incredibly sweet and well handled. As the good doctor said to Stamets (and all of Trek fandom): “Pride, it suits you.”

Apparently the inhabitants of Kwejian are not so forward thinking, that snotty nosed kid called Linus “lizard!!!!!”

BY: That was rude. Also, Michael is like “You can pull his face off.” Also very insensitive.

IMN: I figured that was like if you got gum in your hair, Linus would appreciate the help. Now I really want a Linus episode, to turn him from a joke into a real, if slightly nervy, character. Even among the evolved crew of the Discovery he’s an outsider, and I’d like to see that explored with the same treatment Detmer is getting.

BY: Oh, that would be interesting and fun. Although seeing as how long it took us to learn the other bridge members names, I wouldn’t bet the house on seeing that anytime soon! Maybe Star Trek: Discovery could do their own Lower Decks style episode.

Tell Me Where It Hurts

IMN: I think we‘re asking for “The Linus Show” every week now!

BY: YES! Meanwhile back on this show what the hell is happening with Georgiou??? THAT IS SOME CRAZY SHIT SHE’S GOING THROUGH! First off, has anything like that ever happened in Trek’s past? I mean, sure some people got sick through breathing or eating the wrong thing (I’m surprised Kirk never got some alien STD), but this “derezzing” thing that was happening, is that new? 

IMN: I don’t remember seeing anything like it before but that’s probably because the CGI budgets back then weren’t what they are now. I was expecting Dr. Culber to throw in one line of technobabble that might hint at what’s going on. Whether it’s tied to her being in the “wrong” universe for too long, cellular degeneration, or that she was exposed to something weird in the past when she was Emperor. It certainly looked very alarming.

Did some of her characterization feel a little off this episode? Sure she doesn’t trust doctors (or captains, lovers, dentists, pilots, accountants, or anyone really) but by now she should know she can rely on Discovery’s crew to help her out. Her behavior didn’t quite sit right with me. With everything else going on, maybe they just wanted her to be prickly so they could push all the revelation until a later episode.

All we really learned is: IT’S BAD! 

BY: It really felt like Georgiou was playing her part, the prickly bitchy (former) emperor. And I loved it. The next episode looks like a Georgiou and Michael episode. Yeah, I saw the previews.

Plot Trek

BY: Does it feel to you like there’s still a lot of (story) balls up in the air coming into episode 9 of 13? Are they going to leave some storylines for next season (the Federation, and the music would be my bet) or do you think they’re going to be able to sort all this by the end of this season of Star Trek: Discovery?

IMN: If they continue with the same number of plot threads as this episode, I think it’s manageable. I think the The Burn (and the Federation’s part in it, willing or not) will be the main thrust of the finale, with the shock reveal that – DUN DUN DUN – the Admiral knew the truth all along and has been hiding the Federation role in the whole affair!

I’m also wondering if the signal from that Federation ship in the Verubin nebula not only gets into your head but also prevents Dilithium from working, and the Federation just thought, “Well if we can’t be the dominant power in the quadrant, no one can.” 

But that’s probably just my anti-admiral bias talking. 

BY: Hahaha. That is some serious scorched Earth theory right there!

Overall, thuogh, good episode? I enjoyed it, even if it was a little busy.

IMN: I think this is a great groove for the show to settle into, after all the huge universe altering events of the last few weeks. A mission each week with an overall arc for the show, and a few crumbs of character development for all the people who’s names we have to keep looking up each week, would suit me to a T. 

BY: I think I’m with you on that. It’s nice to have a bigger story problem to work through, but some smaller missions that allow us to get more time with the crew is nice. I mean, at this point, I’d watch an episode where Discovery just docks for maintenance and everyone chills out, playing cards, or three dimensional chess.

IMN: Future holodeck episode? NO, thank you!

BY: Grudge Report: Pass!

Subspace Report

  • Tilly’s holographic badge interface was shown in “PADD mode” when she used it while talking to Saru. PADD stands for Personal Access Display Device, which was the name of those tablet style devices that Picard, Sisko, and Janeway used to read documents on. Another invention that Star Trek predicted before they came to be. They were, however, incorrect in thinking that we would need multiple PADD’s for multiple documents.
  • Continuity Error Ahoy! When Tilly and Saru first appear this episode, her 3D PADD was rendered the wrong way around. The text was facing the audience, and not Tilly, which means the text would be backwards to her. In the next scene the text is the right way around, for Tilly.
  • We didn’t notice this in previous episodes but in the shots of Discovery’s exterior you can see that the ship’s registry number has been updated after her refit to “NCC-1031-A.” 
  • Speaking of alterations to the ship, what’s this? Usually the go-to part of any Starfleet vessel to amplify signals or beams is the deflector dish, but this doesn’t look like it’s that?

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.

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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