Home TV TV Reviews/Recaps Uh oh… “Jinaal” Sees Discovery Slip Back Into Bad Habits

Uh oh… “Jinaal” Sees Discovery Slip Back Into Bad Habits

We had such high hopes...


After a strong start to the final season, episode 503, “Jinaal,” has our crew on the trail of the Progenitors’ mysterious tech. Let’s dive right in, with my co-reviewer, Mary Fan.


Image: Paramount+

MARY: So we’re continuing the treasure hunt this week, with Discovery heading to Trill to find the next clue to the progenitors’ super-tech. With the whole season being set up as a treasure hunt, you can expect a riddle right off the bat, and that’s exactly what we get. And with this being Trill, naturally we see an old host’s personality emerge, which was a delightful acting exercise for Wilson Cruz. I gotta say, I was underwhelmed by the overall plot of this episode. I found it really predictable. But it was worth it to see Wilson Cruz embody a laid-back Trill host.

VICTOR: Wilson Cruz was having a lot of fun this week. “Oh, this body works out!” But yeah, I agree, although I was more annoyed than underwhelmed. There are about four B-plots this week, and none of them are very engaging. And the A-plot of finding the clue was no great shakes either.

MARY: I gotta disagree on one thing. I found Rayner’s subplot delightful. It was nothing unexpected, but I just enjoy watching a curmudgeon be a curmudgeon while Tilly looked on in horror.

Image: Paramount+

VICTOR: I like that he’s a cup of black coffee amongst the unicorn Frappuccinos that make up the Discovery crew.

MARY: That’s what I love about him, haha.

VICTOR: But also, it’s a bad exercise. I get that Burnham wants him to get to know the crew, but that crew has literally lived together for 900 YEARS.There’s no way he can make up for that in an afternoon! (Although Tig Notaro’s engineer seems like a fan.)

MARY: I did like the insights he gave Tilly at the end, though. I had a feeling his grumpy 20-word exercise meant he was reading more than it appeared.

Then there’s Saru worrying about how his engagement will play out among Vulcan racists, excuse me, I meant religious extremists.
Image: Paramount+
MARY: Saru’s engagement storyline was very underwhelming. It was painfully predictable. Almost felt obligatory. Where do you think the Saru/T’Rina storyline is going? I almost think it’s too sunshine-and-rainbows, which means it’s gonna end in heartbreak. Either she gets assassinated, or they have to break up for political reasons.
VICTOR: Hmmm, maybe. Although if you really wanted to fuck with Saru, you’d have T’Rina be the one who hired Moll and L’ak to steal the god machine. I can see her make the argument that the notes are technically Romulan property, so they now belong to reunited Vulcan. But that seems kind of mean for this series.
MARY: Hah! Speaking of Moll, what was with all the portraits of her glamorously staring into the middle distance? And of course we got the tragic back story. I’m tellin’ ya, she’s too pretty to keep evil. They’re already trying to make us feel sympathy. Which makes it really hard to see her as a threat. Which doesn’t make her a very compelling villain.
VICTOR: I’m kind of curious how they got the fifth stanza of the poem on the other planet, since it almost killed Saru and Michael. But, apparently, not a big deal! Moll just casually shows up at a sacred Trill ritual in a Party City Hobbit cloak and puts a tracker on our Trill ensign, Adira. Moll is not doing it for me as a villain so far.
MARY: Not at all. They’ll probably tell us in the next episode but I have a feeling she simply followed Discovery while sending a decoy off to Betazed.
VICTOR: Also, has cloaking technology improved so much in the future that they can put a bug on a Starfleet officer that burrows into their clothing and is undetected by the transporter scanners?
And speaking of Adira, I found their and Gray’s breakup scene waaaay too low key.
MARY: I’m glad it was low key. Their storyline has always seemed extraneous to me.
VICTOR: Yeah, completely agree on that.
Image: Paramount+
MARY: I’m glad these trans characters and actors got to be on the show, but it felt like representation for representation’s sake. The writers didn’t know what to actually DO with them.
VICTOR: I mean, Gray seemed completely ready to ditch the love of his life that he was literally a part of. Just seemed off to me.
MARY: Ah. Well, they implied that there were six months’ of communications where the break-up seemed inevitable. In any case I didn’t care enough about this storyline to have an opinion about how it played out.
VICTOR: I was kind of irritated by the treasure hunt this week. Michael knows something is up when the Trill scientist, Jinaal, is telling them they can’t transport and have to slowly walk over to the quarry with the killer invisible insects, yet is completely surprised when they attack. Of course, it was all a test to make sure that Starfleet was cool and not all murder-y.
MARY: Yeah, and the reveal that the attack was a test was… not much of a reveal because it was blatantly obvious. Pretty sure they used the whole “protecting the nest” thing on Lower Decks last season (Update: They did).
VICTOR: Also, I probably would have failed that test because I would have blasted the killer insects shooting venom darts at me. “Oh, they’re just moms protecting their eggs.” Yeah, well your mom shouldn’t try to kill me so much.
MARY: Michael and Book did try… they just failed. I guess the Trill scientist figured that if the seekers were unworthy, the insects would just eat them. Though I do wonder how a worthy seeker without Book’s animal telepathy ability would have gotten around that.
VICTOR: And that whole brilliant test was circumvented by Moll slapping a tracker on Adira. Womp womp.
MARY: Well, we’ve got to set up next week’s plot!
VICTOR: And the explanation for the scientists hiding the location is bizarre. If you were so worried about someone unworthy finding it, why leave clues? Why not just burn the Romulan’s diaries? Why would the Trill keep themself alive until someone found them?
MARY: Yeah that bothered me. I think that’s the challenge with any treasure hunt story, though. Why hide any treasure then leave clues? Answer: Because it’s fun for the audience, not because it’s logical.
VICTOR: Yeah, true. But part of the fun for the audience is trying to solve the clues.
MARY: At least the show tried to address that. I could see a scientist being unwilling to destroy such valuable technology even if it was wildly dangerous.
VICTOR: Sure, but if that was the case, the six scientists should have moved to the progenitor’s machine and SPENT THEIR TIME STUDYING IT!
MARY: SEE, this is why I was so skeptical of the treasure hunt storyline from the start! YOU were the one who was all excited about it!
VICTOR: I like treasure hunts! As a kid, I had that book where the author had hid a treasure in the real world and you had to find it! But you have to play by the rules!
So it looks like our fears of this season going off the rails may have sadly been prophetic. But I’m willing to give it a few more episodes to see how it goes.
MARY: Honestly, I watch Discovery out of habit more than anything else at this point. So I don’t expect much. As we said before, it’s good with characters and terrible with season arcs. And it’s just Trek-y enough to fulfill the need for more Trek.
Hey this week we even got gratuitous feelings porn. Where characters just sit around and talk about their feelings all misty-eyed.

VICTOR:  Your favorite! We need to have a Tilly and Rayner spin-off. The Odd Couple of the stars.

MARY: Hah, I’d watch that. I love their curmudgeon/sunshine dynamic.
VICTOR: Keep all that feelings nonsense to under 20 words.
MARY: Yes, please. See why I love Rayner?
VICTOR: Yeah, definitely getting the same vibes from him as the cranky starship captain on season three of Picard.
MARY: Shaw! Another fave. I’m telling you, I like curmudgeons!
VICTOR: “I do things my way, with no time for your ‘feelings’ nonsense.”
MARY: I relate to that. Which is a bit paradoxical considering I write YA romances where characters spend 20 pages talking about their feelings. But usually the world is also ending or something.
VICTOR: Even curmudgeons get the feels.
MARY: Predictions?

VICTOR: I’m sticking with “Book teams up with Moll at some point” prediction.

Anything else you want to discuss? Or are we just going to cross our fingers that this is just a mild bump on a good season?
MARY: I’m keeping my expectations low and just enjoying the character moments. I enjoy Rayner and Tilly immensely. I enjoy seeing Saru happy even if I think it’s very temporary. I loved seeing Stamets excited like a little kid at Christmas. And of course, Wilson Cruz ruled this episode. See, Trekkies, I’m not just here to bash the show!
VICTOR: I hope we’ve established by now that we love Trek, and even a lot of Disco. I just want it to be better.
MARY: Same. I wrote this whole speech when I was covering last season’s Quantum Leap about how the reason I’m harsh on it is because I love it.
VICTOR: That’s a whole essay right there. Being a fan doesn’t mean blindly loving everything. There’s a difference between an honest critique and whining about “Star Trek going WOKE!” But that is a few thousand words I don’t want to write at the moment.
MARY: Same. Here’s hoping next week’s ep is better! Star rating?
MARY: I was gonna say the same. It would’ve been 2, but Wilson Cruz killed it.
VICTOR: Angry Tilly bumped it up half a star for me.
MARY: Ha! We gotta include that commentary in the actual review.
Rating: 3/5 stars

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