Star Trek: Discovery – Season 5 Episode 9

May 23, 2024 | Posted by in TV

“Lagrange Point”

Star Trek: Discovery introduces another complication in the quest for the Progenitor tech when the Breen appropriate the final puzzle piece forcing Burnham to engineer a heist to gain ownership.

One of the persistent problems noted in every review I’ve written about this season is that the structure of solving puzzles that lead to the next clue is repetitive and uninteresting. It does provide a framework to explain why episodic adventures happen but there’s an abiding sense that the show is on the way to the story rather than telling the story. The Progenitor technology is presented as a goal with infinite potential should they reach it rather than something tangible that can actually be explored. Assembling clues is a tease of the story rather than the story itself and prolonging the search gets more frustrating the longer it drags on. Discovery has previously been guilty of taking too long to deliver what was promised such as Species Ten-C finally appearing in the penultimate episode of last season after 11 episodes of speculation.


Of all the places to land

This season is shorter than the last so there is less time spent teasing the Progenitor technology, but a larger percentage of the season is spent on the quest. This episode marks another delay as the crew is presented with another puzzle that is basically no different from the others beyond confirming that it is definitely the final hurdle. Annoyingly that hurdle isn’t even cleared as the show presents another challenge to overcome before the final puzzle can be solved.

The challenge is to liberate the container of the technology from the Breen when they take ownership of it before Discovery does. This was made possible by the damage sustained in the previous episode preventing the Spore Drive from accurately taking them to the location. A further delay was caused by having to escape the gravity of a black hole in an exciting and well-executed sequence so the crew of Discovery quickly found themselves in a race against time that they ultimately lost.

Burnham’s plan to liberate the technology is a heist involving two teams infiltrating the Breen Dreadnought to execute a two-pronged hack that will allow Discovery to beam the container out. Heists can be a lot of fun if executed well as they are a great vehicle for tension and showcasing character ingenuity. The structure of planning and adapting as things don’t play out as intended is well known and there’s plenty of scope to play around within that framework to deliver an entertaining experience.


Here at last!

This is a good example of a heist as the objective is clear, the two-team plan is simple and there’s a constant sense of threat created by the characters constantly at risk of being discovered. The Breen being largely mysterious means that nobody on either team knows exactly what to expect so it’s very possible that a mistake could be made that outs them as infiltrators. The episode doesn’t do enough with the possibility of being discovered so the threat to the teams often doesn’t come across. There are a couple of instances of being questioned that are easily solved so the Breen end up looking inept for not doing more to investigate the suspicious behaviour right in front of them. The formula is that they are confronted, there’s a suspicious pause and someone -usually Burnham- says the right thing to end the interaction. The threat level is further devalued by Burnham and Book stopping mid-mission to talk about their relationship. It follows on from Burnham’s emotional vulnerability in the previous episode where she confronted the reasons for pulling away from Book. She is finally being honest with him and apologises which prompts Book to admit that he did the same thing for the same reason before also apologising. It’s a good scene that makes strong use of Sonequa Martin-Green and David Ajala’s chemistry but in the middle of a high-stakes mission aboard a Breen Dreadnought is neither the time or the place to be having conversations like that. Their focus should be on the mission with personal issues tabled for a more convenient time. Burnham as Captain knows this and Book as a professional Courier also knows this. It stands out as being out of character for both of them and is perhaps deemed a necessity as there’s no other time in what little remains of the season to cover this part of the relationship arc before, presumably, reaching its conclusion in the final episode.

The most competent opposition comes from Moll who immediately figures out that someone is interfering with normal operations and takes steps to combat it. It’s another example of what makes Moll formidable and is expected behaviour but the Breen shouldn’t be so inept if they are to be believable as a threat. The Breen lacking effectiveness as an intelligent adversary is an extension of the Primarch being written as a shallow cartoon villain who would be twiddling a moustache if it wasn’t concealed behind his helmet. His crew are no better which may be deliberate to highlight Moll’s competence but the writing for her is strong enough to not need her to be competent among incompetents.

Moll’s decisive actions throw the entire mission into disarray, leading to an impressive set piece involving Discovery flying right into the Breen ship to cause a massive disruption that frees the tech and allows them to retrieve the two teams safely. Moll and Burnham are inside the mysterious light that conceals the final challenge so it’s likely they will have to match wits in the final episode to gain access to the coveted technology. Going into the finale with a puzzle to solve as well as wrapping up the show is concerning as there is a lot to cover in a very short period of time.


Blending in

Burnham being completely unreachable finally puts Rayner in the position of having to take full command of Discovery. This episode again features a scenario where he waits for Burnham to return and offers remote support. Attention is drawn to a previously unknown quirk of Rayner never sitting in the Captain’s chair when in command and framing that as evidence of his lacking confidence in his ability to lead. Tilly encourages him to sit down as he is making the crew nervous with his pacing and he shouldn’t be apprehensive to sit in the chair because Burnham trusts him to lead them and the crew does as well. Rayner’s rebuttal is that he doesn’t need her emotional support and will continue to command in his own way.

This is resolved by the end of the episode when Rayner sits in the chair as if it’s the triumphant completion of a character arc but this isn’t something that has been featured prior to this episode and betrays a lack of focus on Rayner’s development as Discovery’s first officer. There was coverage earlier in the season of his lack of desire to connect to the crew on a personal level and steps taken towards being more personable with some of the other characters but this anxiety about sitting in the Captain’s chair begins and ends in this episode. If there had been a number of missions where Rayner took command of Discovery to do more than offer support then there could easily have been an ongoing thread around him remaining standing on the bridge when in command. Sitting in the Captain’s chair would be a sign of him feeling like he is part of the crew rather than temporarily assigned to him. Instead, it’s an underwhelming complication that exists in a handful of scenes before being dropped completely. A consistent thing this season has been the mishandling of Rayner and this draws attention to the myriad wasted opportunities with this character.

Scope is added to the situation by the scenes taking place at Federation HQ. President Rillak works to open a dialogue with the Breen to prevent a War and find a way to help Discovery from afar. The dialogue helps enhance the threat that the Breen represent by highlighting how formidable they are and how volatile the political situation is due to the warring factions. The faction that Moll is aligned with is being pursued by another and Rillak wants to negotiate with them. Rayner offers that faction and  Moll Federation protection in exchange for standing down but it is declined and it’s likely that the pursuing Primarch won’t be receptive to any diplomatic overtures, particularly if a Starship makes the trip to make contact.


A tender moment on the eve of danger

Saru comes up with the idea of sending a shuttle as it’s less likely to be seen as an aggressor due to it being nowhere close to a match for Breen firepower. He volunteers for the mission which leads to a tender scene between him and T’Rina where they revisit the conversation about their personal lives and feelings being in conflict with the professional. They both understand that Saru is the best candidate for this mission but T’Rina can’t hide the fact that she’s worried about him. This emphasises their commitment to one another as well as the complications their chosen vocations create for their relationship. They are both fully aware of how challenging it is to be together but neither are in any doubt about their dedication to making their relationship -and soon to be marriage- work. It’s a wonderfully acted scene that puts across the conflicting points of view brilliantly and serves as a further example of the quiet maturity of this relationship.

These scenes certainly widen the scope of the threat but it’s also very intangible. Moll and her Breen allies are a very obvious threat to Discovery but the threat to the Federation never materialises as it’s nothing more than something that is talked about so it’s theoretical. The Primarch currently has no actual presence and no direct contact is shown between the Federation and the Breen. It is a plot point that they are unresponsive but having a significant threat be intangible this late in the season lessens the impact of that threat.

Another issue is that there’s no time to let the magnitude of being at the end of this long quest sink in. The stakes need to be raised because the finale is so close but the sense of awe at being so close to the literal power of creation just isn’t there. Burnham and her crew are focused on the situation they are presented with as they should be but it’s more of a structural problem for the season as a whole that there’s no time to just take a moment and take stock of what they’re presented with. The moment of seeing the container of the technology should be wondrous and instead it’s just another item ticked of the to-do list.

There is also no coverage of the ongoing character arcs beyond the Burnham/Book relationship and the misguided crisis of confidence that Adira has been dealing with. Culber’s spiritual awakening hasn’t received any attention since “Whistlespeak“, Stamets need for legacy has barely received any coverage at all and Burnham’s search for a sense of purpose isn’t mentioned. It’s right that the focus is on freeing the container from the Breen but it’s concerning that so many threads are dangling going into the final episode and there is one last puzzle to solve.


Sitting down and being counted


An equal parts engaging and frustrating episode that delivers engaging material but represents another delay on the way to the story.

  • 6.5/10
    "Lagrange Point" - 6.5/10


Kneel Before…

  • a good example of a heist with a clear objective and simple two-team plan
  • the emotional honesty in Burnham and Book’s conversation about their relationship
  • Moll once again proving herself to be a formidable and intelligent opponent
  • adding scope to the threat with the scenes set in Federation HQ
  • the wonderfully acted Saru and T’Rina scene emphasising their commitment to one another as well as the struggles they face in their relationship
  • the impressive set piece involving Discovery flying into the Breen Dreadnought


Rise Against…

  • The Breen never coming across as competent or threatening
  • Burnham and Book stopping in the middle of a dangerous and urgent mission to discuss their relationship
  • the previously unseen quirk of Rayner never sitting in the Captain’s chair making the crew nervous and resolving it as if its the triumphant completion of a character arc
  • the Breen threat as discussed in Federation HQ being intangible
  • no time to let the magnitude of being at the end of the quest sink in
  • no attention given to most of the ongoing character arcs


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