Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 11 Review: Su'Kal

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Straight up, this has been a really fabulous season, and Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 11 takes us headlong into the final rush of the finale arc with barely a moment to breathe.

I do worry that they've written more cheques than they can cash but am willing to trust in The Powers That Be they'll be able to bring this home in a satisfying manner.

In the meantime, how amazing must it have been for Doug Jones to NOT have to sit in the make-up chair for hours?

LOL, I audibly squealed to see his actual face on my TV.

Captain Saru - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 11

In a strange echo of Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 8, where then-pre-vaharai Saru becomes addicted to an anxiety-free existence on the planet Pahvo, Captain Saru here is again distracted by a personal need.

In this case, it's a need to connect with other Kelpians which is beautifully contrasted with Su'Kal's fear of everything outside his knowledge and comfort.

Su'Kal: There used to be lots of holos that talked about 'outside'. But the outside never came inside. Probably the outside is dead by now.
Burnham: Well, I was also programmed to help you understand what is outside.
Su'Kal: I'm sorry to have to tell you you are obsolete.

Burnham's awareness of Saru's emotional bias in the case of the Khi'eth isn't singular.

Book picks up on it on the bridge as Saru hesitates in his command, putting the ship in danger.

Burnham: I'm going with Saru and Culber.
Book: And Saru worries you?
Burnham: I'm not sure he can be objective. How he'll handle it if he has to make a hard call. A painful one. One that costs him. But that's what it means to be a captain.

There's also a finesse to Burnham's concerns about Saru when he, as recently as Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 6, confided in Tilly that he was distrustful of Burnham's decisions.

Braced for Turbulence - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 11

Vance's acknowledgment of Saru's choice to lead the mission and leave Tilly in command is the loudest silence ever.

Which can't have helped Tilly's insecurity at all. So Burnham's little pep talk was fitting and appropriate but definitely slowed the pace of the story significantly.

Well it's like my Granna Adela always used to say,'Until you've flown a starship into a flaming nebula and gotten everyone out alive, you haven't lived.' She didn't actually say that.


Especially since poor Tilly ended up having the worst first day ever.

Seriously, after taking damage at Kweijian, staging military exercises near Kaminar, and, I assume, continuing to run a trans-galactic trade syndicate, how fixated is Osyraa that she jumps through a transwarp tunnel, masks her ship as Federation, and then goes full-pirate on Discovery?

Ensign has the Con - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 11

I appreciate that they attempted to shore up some of the plot holes with the discussion of how Osyraa was able to track Discovery to the nebula.

However, it's pretty frightening that the Emerald Chain's tech is so much more advanced than the Federation's in that it can not only boost signals through subspace (as demonstrated by Book on Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 10), but they can scan for ship signatures entire quadrants away.

I'm still having a hard time not seeing Osyraa as the Wicked Witch of the West but that's on me.

A certain nineteenth-century Earth neurologist would say that you've just proven the idea of projection. You tell me I'm a fraud because, deep down inside, you kind of feel like a fraud. It's interesting. It's not just a human defense mechanism, it's GALACTIC.


To give Tilly credit, she holds up pretty well in the face of the Orion's full-on verbal assault.

And props to Mary Wiseman for delivering the lines with bravado while still projecting the almost debilitating fear Tilly is experiencing.

Reporting In - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 11

Tilly was never the most obvious choice for First Officer but she's kind of a metaphor for Discovery in this new environment.

She's capable but is out-of-step and awkward. She has skills, but she lacks experience.

She knows she can trust her crew but worries she can't keep them safe.

Osyraa: Get up.
Tilly: No, you're going to have to kill me first.
Osyraa: And get blood all over the chair? Please.

And, when it comes down to it, Osyraa may (possibly) admire Tilly's chutzpah but she's not going to buy into it or back down from her plan when she knows she holds all the cards.

Book's always referred to Osyraa with a tone of respect for her tyranny and ability to run the Emerald Chain.

Whole and Hale - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 11

And she's undeniably good at tactics.

Whatever that tentacle-y device was that she used to incapacitate Discovery while her teams beamed aboard with military precision, the Federation really should have developed a counter for it before now.

As they obviously didn't retrofit Discovery with it, if they have it, things ran like clockwork to Osyraa's plans.

I'd really like to know where she got her intel on Stamets and the spore cube controls.

(Also, not sure when we started calling the navigation chamber a "spore cube" but I'll go with it.)

Call of Duty - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 11

Taking a different tack at the events at the Verubin Nebula, it's very interesting to note that this is the first time in the series that Burnham wasn't able to save, not one, but TWO of her teams.

She wasn't able to communicate with Su'Kal's monster-holo although she tried.

So long as he will not face [the monster], he will remain in this place.


She wasn't able to calm and connect with Su'Kal either.

She had to leave Culber and Saru behind in order to return to Discovery.

And then she loses her ship.

Expecting the Worst - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 11

If Tilly had a bad first day, Burnham had one of her first really bad days in a while.

For someone who saves everyone -- and, I'll admit I get a bit tired of it myself -- this is a new experience for Burnham.

Burnham: Stay back.
Book: You're dangerously radioactive. Big deal.

So, what's next?

Does Osyraa breach Federation HQ and blow the place up?

Will Burnham save the day? Will Tilly? Maybe Grudge?

Will Adira manage to hold onto their supplies when they arrive on the Khi'eth? And what will they look like in the holo program?

Answer me this as you watch Star Trek: Discovery online, why do Burnham and Culber get transformed by the program to non-human species when Saru is turned human? If Su'Kal was accustomed to humans, why couldn't Burnham and Culber have just stayed themselves?

Carrying the Queen - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 11

We've found the source of The Burn -- most probably Su'Kal's grief when his mother died -- and it's apparent that he's capable of triggering another.

What is the solution when such destructive power is wielded unknowingly by a person with the emotional control of a child?

I suspect Saru will be faced with an incredibly difficult decision very soon.

Throw your thoughts on the potential paths to the finale into the comments! Let's hash it out for the holidays!

Su'Kal Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Rating: 2.2 / 5.0 (74 Votes)

Diana Keng was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond 'til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on X.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 11 Quotes

I need to go for me. I was so lost when I came back. And, ever since we came to this future, I found a purpose I didn't even know I was looking for.


Burnham: I'm going with Saru and Culber.
Book: And Saru worries you?
Burnham: I'm not sure he can be objective. How he'll handle it if he has to make a hard call. A painful one. One that costs him. But that's what it means to be a captain.