Wow, what a week! Saru introduces us to 32nd century Starfleet’s newest vessel, the U.S.S. Discovery-A. That’s right, the retrofit NCC-1031-A comes equipped with updated internal systems, programmable matter, and detached nacelles to improve maneuverability and performance. Admiral Vance oversees a meeting to hand out assignments to the fleet’s captains, announcing that Saru’s starship will be held in reserve as a rapid response unit in case tensions with the Emerald Chain flare up at Argeth.
The Discovery-A’s crew receives their own upgrades from Lieutenant Willa (Vanessa Jackson) in the form of state-of-the-art combadges that feature integrated holo-PADDs, tricorders, communicators, and personal transporters. The bridge consoles now include programmable matter that reads each officer’s biosigns and adapts to their individual needs. The ship picks up a hailing signal from the queen. No, not the Borg Queen. It’s that other Queen — Grudge!
Cleveland Booker’s Nautilus arrives on auto-pilot to deliver a holorecording of Book, who never returned to his vessel after going to Hunhau in search of a blackbox that might provide a clue to the cause of The Burn. If the cataclysmic event had occurred simultaneously throughout the galaxy, every starship’s blackbox should have terminated at the same instant. However, the two blackboxes that Burnham found during her year alone did not sync up, and a third such device could indicate a potential point-of-origin for The Burn and allow the crew to triangulate the coordinates.
Saru informs Burnham that, as per Vance’s orders, Discovery must stay at Federation headquarters in case of an emergency at Argeth, but Number One goes behind his back to recruit Georgiou for an unsanctioned rescue mission. The duo grab the Nautilus and set course for Hunhau, a trip that furnishes Georgiou with the opportunity to taunt Burnham about her feelings for Book. The first officers gets in an excellent verbal jab of her own (“Your emotional spectrum runs from cranky to homicidal!”), but things turn serious when the former Terran emperor briefly experiences what appears to be a traumatic flashback.
Burnham and Georgiou arrive at Hunhau, a planet controlled by the Orion-Andorian syndicate Emerald Chain that salvages old starship wrecks for scrap. The orbital graveyard boasts plenty of pre-Burn vessels, ranging from 23rd-century medical frigates (like Reno’s U.S.S. Hiawatha) to Cardenas- (like Lorca’s U.S.S. Buran) and Hoover-class (like the U.S.S. De Milo from “The Escape Artist”) ships. Georgiou poses as a buyer to Tolor, an Orion official who happens to be Osyraa’s nephew. The Terran easily outwits the overseer, much as she did with Zareh back in “Far From Home.”
Tolor shows the two undercover officers around the facility, but the only thing Georgiou intends on buying is time for Michael to locate Book (although the Type 2 phaser and self-sealing stem bolts were excellent TNG-era references!). Burnham finds her friend among the syndicate’s slave laborers, where Tolor ruthlessly executes one of Book’s compatriots for stealing a water ration.
Back at headquarters, Tilly learns that Burnham has left when she finds Grudge in her quarters, while Gray’s mysterious visage attempts to convince Adira to do more than eat, sleep, and work. The human host to the Tal symbiont shows off a new spore drive interface to Stamets, who can now operate the propulsion system by using nanogel instead of his forearm shunts. Saru finds out about Burnham’s disappearance and questions Tilly, who surprisingly recommends that the captain secure Vance’s trust by informing him about the first officer’s insubordination.
On Hunhau, Book and Burnham reunite to hatch an escape plan that will free the operation’s entire workforce. Georgiou fashions an impromptu weapon, but she and Burnham are captured by regulators. Tolor plays into the pair’s plan when he brings them aboard the Nautilus to steal the ship’s dilithium supply, as Book and his Andorian friend Ryn launch a diversionary escape attempt. The Terran is momentarily incapacitated by another flashback, but she recovers quickly enough to help Burnham retrieve Tolor’s control device and deactivate the facility’s deadly perimeter shield.
Ryn endures a significant wound from a regulator’s weapon, but Georgiou and Burnham arrive with the Nautilus and transport Book and the Andorian to safety. Having successfully obtained the blackbox, Michael confronts Georgiou and discovers that the deposed emperor is not sure what is causing her debilitating episodes. On the lighter side of things, Stamets provides a friendly face and a safe outlet for Adira, who divulges Gray’s ongoing presence to the astromycologist.
Burnham and Book share a passionate kiss in a turbolift before the first officer must leave to face the consequences for disobeying orders. Vance’s anger boils, but he leaves Burnham’s punishment up to Saru’s discretion. In a gripping moment, Saru declares that he no longer trusts Michael enough to have her continue to serve as his Number One. Although Burnham agrees with her captain’s decision, the episode ends as she ominously removes her Starfleet combadge.
As Discovery and her crew hope for a return to normalcy, “Scavengers” provides them with more than they bargained for when Burnham falls back on the near-mutinous instincts that nearly ended her career at the dawn of the Federation-Klingon War. Humorous moments (Linus’s mishaps with the personal transporter, Tilly’s struggle with Grudge, Georgiou’s one-liners) abound throughout the episode, but Michael’s personal growth creates an even further divide between her and the captain. While we await Burnham’s next step, let’s look on the bright side and remember that Discovery is now officially the U.S.S. Discovery-A. I’ll never get tired of saying that. Stay tuned as we continue to boldly go…
Jay Stobie (he/him) is a freelance writer who has contributed articles to the official Star Trek website and Star Trek Magazine, as well as to Star Wars Insider and the official Star Wars website. Jay also serves as a part-time assistant and consultant advising many actors and creatives who work on his favorite sci-fi shows and films. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @StobiesGalaxy.
Star Trek: Discovery streams on Paramount+ in the United States, airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada, and on Netflix in 190 countries