In a riveting return to the decks of the USS Discovery, the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, titled “Face the Strange,” thrusts our heroes into a dizzying dance through time, blending heart-pounding action with poignant character development (and some winks to Star Treks past).

Following their triumphant mission on Trill, the crew of the Discovery finds themselves plunged into a perilous predicament as they return to their ship. The calm of their homecoming is shattered when it becomes clear that a mysterious device (a “Time Bug”), planted by the enigmatic L’ak, ensnared them in a relentless time loop. The Time Bug is a remnant from the Temporal Cold Wars (and a nice nod to Star Trek: Enterprise). Temporal Loop episodes have become a bit par for the course in Star Trek, so I appreciate the nod (even if I found these episodes a little hand-wavy). 

As the loop ensnares the crew, Michael and Rayner are immune as they were fortuitously attempting to transport during the Bug’s attack. Additionally, Stametz’s Tartigrade DNA provides him with a similar safeguard. United by their unique resilience, the trio embarks on a desperate quest to break free from the shackles of time.

The crew leaps through time, offering glimpses of the past and future. At one point, Michael finds herself decades in the future and talking to Discovery (Zora) where she learns that she and the crew died. The Breen get the coveted Progenitor technology and used it to destroy the Federation. It’s a stark reminder of the stakes at hand, fueling the urgency of their mission.

However, the true heart of the episode lies in Michael’s journey of leadership, which she then uses to teach Rayner the value of building and fostering a relationship with your crew (a cheesy, but very Star Trek lesson). Faced with the daunting task of rallying her comrades in the past (where she was a recent mutineer), she leans into her connections with the crew to get them to trust her plan. At one moment, it was truly touching when she tells Airiam how she will die in just a few months, saving her and the entire crew of Discovery. Even Rayner, the gruff Starfleet captain of the Burn, is compelled to acknowledge the value of fostering relationships within the ranks when he leans on what he learned about his new crew to get them to trust him and Stametz. Again, it’s a little on the nose, but I appreciate the fact that Star Trek: Discovery is returning to a more “feel good” element in Trek. 

The team is able to successfully disable the Time Bug, recentering them in the correct Timeline with a full understanding of the gravity of their quest. If they don’t beat L’ak and Mal to the Progenitor’s technology, then Starfleet is doomed.

Overall, “Face the Strange” was a solid episode. It wasn’t bad, but certainly not the best episode of Discovery thus far. A temporal loop episode is a bit of a cliche in Trek, but I do appreciate that they used it to show us what could lay ahead if Discovery doesn’t get the Progenitor technology in time and add a little more depth to our character. While it was a little cheesy (to say the least), they did use it to sand some of the rough edges off of Rayner. 

More than anything, I’m eager for them to find the next piece to the puzzle.

New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery stream weekly on Thursdays on Paramount+.

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