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‘Star Trek: Discovery’ season 5 episode 3 ‘Jinaal’ is a slow but steady affair

Warning: Spoilers ahead for “Star Trek: Discovery” season 5, episode 3

The latest installment of “Star Trek: Discovery” season 5 on Paramount Plus adds a little water – and possibly some fertilizer – to the various different story seeds sewn last week.

Entitled “Jinaal,” the primary plot revolves around a revisit to the planet Trill and as you may recall, the last time we spent any length of time here was the episode “Forget Me Not” (S03, E04), which was not terrible. In fact, it was undeniable highlight of the third season, which itself had some of the best we’ve seen from “Discovery.” Incidentally, that was first look at the Trill homeworld since “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” episode “Equilibrium” (bizarrely, also S03, E04). (If you need a recap on how to watch Star Trek: Discovery, check out our Star Trek streaming guide for Paramount Plus.)

Curiously, in that episode “Forget Me Not,” Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) was given a rare and welcome chance to shine and he does so once again in this episode as well. To briefly recap, Adira (Blu del Barrio) and her lover, a Trill named Gray (Ian Alexander), were aboard a generation ship way back when. They were both orphans, very much in love, and Gray had just received his symbiote when the ship was struck by an asteroid and everyone was ordered to evacuate. Unfortunately, Gray was fatally injured and the only way to save the symbiote was for Adira to join with it. And that’s how it was for all of season three right up until the fourth season episode “Choose To Live” (S04, E03).

Then, after all of that, Gray Tal has his consciousness transferred out of Adira and into an artificial synth golem before heading back to Trill to complete all that monk-style studying. And now you’re all caught up.

All this has happened before and all of it will happen again. Oh and by the way, Captain Burnham is a Cylon. (Image credit: Paramount Plus)

While a trip back to Trill is nice, you can’t help but start to wonder if this fifth and final season will end up a 10-episode long epilogue as it ties up all its loose ends, almost like season five of “Babylon 5.”  Commander Jett Reno (Tig Notaro) pops up in this episode at last, which more or less just leaves Commander Nhan (Rachael Ancheril), whom we last saw in the episode “Rubicon” S04, E09, to make an appearance. Although Ancheril’s IMDb page does currently say, “Coming up in 2024, Rachael will be seen again in ‘Chucky’ season three [and] ‘Star Trek Discovery’ for its final season,” so who knows.

The big highlight this week was, as we alluded to above, Cruz’s chance to stretch his acting chops just a little bit and he does not disappoint. The two biggest grumbles however, are the dialogue written by a writer who just saw “Lethal Weapon II” for the very first time and that the notion of teleporting around the place instead of just walking, has been taken to ludicrous extremes.

“Star Trek: Discovery” seems to be at peace with lifting from other IPs, sci-fi or otherwise. We’ve seen a nice “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” reference with mashed potato and we’ve even seen a fun nod to “Scooby-Doo,” but these were all subtle. Then there was the extremely unsubtle “Die Hard” thing and then in “Scavengers” (S03, E06) the writers went way beyond homage and practically lifted a set piece directly from the 1987 movie “The Running Man.” The premise was the same, the effect was the same and even the setting was practically identical.

This week’s insight into what classic movie the Gen-Z writers of “Discovery” have recently discovered comes from a legendary scene with equally legendary dialogue between Sgt. Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Sgt. Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) during a rescue attempt after the latter learns that the toilet he’s been sitting on has been rigged with a bomb in the first “Lethal Weapon” sequel. Lest we forget, this underrated action extravaganza also gave us Leo Getz and immortalized phrases like “diplomatik immunitee.” and “but, but…you’re blick.”

Still, at least it was just a line or two of dialogue this time and not an entire set piece. My other main grumble with this episode as we mentioned above is the carefree abandon with which transporters are used. And I’ve touched upon this before. Despite beaming becoming a very common part of everyday life of the 32nd century, to the extent that folk use transporters instead of stairs and even to just change outfits, like we saw in the season four premiere episode — but the thing is, transporters kill you.

The creators of “Star Trek” have never officially confirmed that transporters kill you. However, solely based on the science, transporters do kill you. In simple terms, these teleportation devices scan every molecule in your body and briefly store them in the pattern buffer, while at the same time, the original body is to all intents and purposes, disintegrated. The transporter then converts the scanned copy into energy and beams the data stream to the desired location, where the body is rebuilt, from a sub-atomic level, using technology similar to a replicator. It’s comparable in principle to a fax, except this fax machine destroys the original, to prevent duplication, although that has been known to happen.

The issue is essentially an existential one. Since our bodies are made up of identifiable matter, why won’t transference of consciousness occur? What makes our consciousness so unique? What’s the difference between an identical copy and you? If you were to put your copy into a different room that you hadn’t been into, would you be able to see it? No. It’s a perfect copy, but it’s not you. There is a good article on Ars Technica that really goes into detail on this.

Still, all of this banter aside, this episode is not … terrible. It is very evenly paced and that, despite the not-exactly edge-of-seat storyline, makes it bearable. Every sub-story seems to be given equal time and brief-but-enjoyable interplay between Lt. Tilly (Mary Wiseman) and Captain Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie) is fun. Plus, of course, we get to see the Trill homeworld again, which is nice.

In other “Star Trek” news, “Strange New Worlds” has been renewed for a fourth season, while “Lower Decks” will end with its previously announced upcoming fifth season, expected to air sometime this year. Creator Mike McMahan and executive producer Alex Kurtzman posted a statement on the Star Trek website: “While five seasons of any series these days seems like a miracle, it’s no exaggeration to say that every second we’ve spent making this show has been a dream come true. Our incredible cast, crew and artists have given you everything they have because they love the characters they play, they love the world we’ve built, and more than anything we all love, love, love Star Trek.”

Where once there were four shows airing simultaneously, now there is only one left, “Strange New Worlds” (Image credit: Paramount Plus)

Meanwhile, “Strange New Worlds” is currently in production on its third season, which is set to debut in 2025. It seems that all of this combined with the fact that “Section 31” ended up as a movie, casts doubt over the future of the Starfleet Academy spin-off and hopefully signals the end of the idiotic idea of “Star Trek: Legacy.” Perhaps Paramount should look to cancel other ludicrous endeavors like the proposed Picard movie instead of cancelling decent shows in their efforts to tighten purse strings.

The fifth and final season of “Star Trek: Discovery” and every episode of every “Star Trek” show — with the exception of “Star Trek: Prodigy” — currently streams exclusively on Paramount Plus in the US while “Prodigy” has found a new home on Netflix.

Internationally, the shows are available on Paramount Plus in Australia, Latin America, the UK and South Korea, as well as on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel. They also stream on Paramount Plus in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In Canada, they air on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and stream on Crave.

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