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‘Discovery’ Gets Lost in “Labyrinths”

5 Minute Read
May 16 2024

After a run of really strong episodes, Star Trek: Discovery slows down a little too much in the badlands of “Labyrinths”.

The Eternal Gallery and Archive is a hidden facility that holds a rare collection of historical and cultural artifacts. Among them is the final piece of the puzzle and the location of the Progenitor’s life-making technology. Discovery knows where the Archive is. Now all they need to do is go and claim their prize. What can possibly go wrong?

“Labyrinths” is a cul de sac of an episode. However, while previous side-questy adventures from this season manage to teach us lessons about characters and philosophy, this one unfortunately misses the mark. We get Michael Burnham inside her own mindscape. And we also see Moll face off against Primarch Ruhn. Each must figure out how to overcome a test. Simple.

But there’s a flaw (and we’ll get to it in more detail as we go dive deeper) but short version is: these stories which obviously should connect, don’t. There’s clear parallels, but they go largely unexplored.

Let’s dig into the plot and then we’ll do that thing we’re not really supposed to do as reviewers—analyze how this tepid adventure could’ve worked better.

Courtesy of Paramount Plus

To Boldly Recap “Labyrinths”

Discovery makes its way through the Badlands on the instruction of Hy’Rell, a representative of the Eternal Gallery. Once there, Michael and Book enter the Archive. Book discovers a clipping from the ancient roots of his lost home world Kwejian. And Burnham finds a hidden metal card inside an ancient Betazoid text which takes her inside her own mind. And inside Burnham’s mind is the archive—but also a version of Book there to guide Burnham to the next clue.

Burnham tries a little of everything. At first she thinks she needs to look at the history of war inside the library. Then she thinks she’s in a maze and literally needs to find her way out to win. But eventually, Burnham concludes that this is about understanding herself. Well, she kind of gets it. Burnham throws a lot of therapy speak at the Book who isn’t Book and none of is right.

Eventually Burnham has to accept that she is afraid of failure, but not death. Her acceptance of her own self doubt is the key. So she gets out, she gets the last piece of the puzzle, and gets back to Discovery.

Unfortunately, while Burnham is out for the count, the Breen show up. And over the course of “Labyrinths” Moll slowly proves to the Breen on her warship that Primarch Ruhn does not care about L’ak or the other Breen. He only cares about power. And Moll uses that to undercut Ruhn, maybe kill him(?) and take over as the de facto leader. The Breen get the puzzle off Discovery but not before the crew figures out the location of the Progenitor tech and fakes their own destruction.


Courtesy of Paramount Plus

To Boldly Review “Labyrinths”

The bones of a great episode are here. That’s the most frustrating thing about this week’s episode of Discovery. Burnham going into her proverbial mind palace opens up a lot of possibilities. But all we get is the same library set and David Ajala in some funky gowns. No shade to Ajala or his gowns. Slay. Get it. However, the path to a better story is right in the title—”Labyrinths”. Heck, Hy’Rell even says the word “oubliette” at one point. The Jim Henson-shaped solution is right there.

Discovery could have (and should have) leaned in on the Labyrinth motif. Let David Ajala go full Goblin King. Heck, utilize multiple members of the existing cast in new roles. Wilson Cruz gives one of his best series performances in “Jinaal” when he plays someone else. “Labyrinths” would be so much more fun and mind-bendy if the rest of the cast also got that chance. Instead we just learn Bunrham needs to acknowledge self doubt—something she already does in “Jinaal”!

Maybe this is a budget thing. I don’t want to assume. But “Labyrinths” ultimately treads familiar ground in a new location. Frankly, if there is a budget limitation here, the focus should be on Moll instead. Her story is very interesting. Moll is in peril, she can die at the hands of Ruhn at any time. Instead, she finds a way to play him and form new alliances. That’s a cool story, but it’s relegated to a couple scenes.

“Labyrinths” is frustrating. It’s not a bad episode. But the aspects of it which actually move us forward in interesting ways take up very little real estate in it. “Needs Muppets” I guess is my verdict.

Courtesy of Paramount Plus

What Star Trek: Discovery Still Has to Do

“Labyrinths” being a little thin isn’t a big deal—under normal circumstances. Part of the frustration is that, with this episode done, we only have two episodes left of Star Trek: Discovery, period. And from that perspective, we cannot waste time. There’s so much still to do.


First thing’s first: what is the Progenitor tech really? Because there’s all this speculation. We know the Progenitors seed their DNA across the universe. In the future we also see what appears to be the Breen using that tech to destroy the Federation. And, at least in theory, the tech can resurrect L’ak—and potentially anyone else, too. But how much of that is legit? What is this tech really?

We also need a resolution on this burgeoning war with the Breen. We know there are other Primarchs out there. But we also know that, as of this moment, the most powerful leader among the Breen is Moll. And, other than a desire to bring back L’ak, we really don’t know Moll’s endgame here. Can war be avoided? How?

And all that is just the plot stuff. There so much character work to hit before the curtain falls. Will Burnham and Book get back together? Where are Saru, Detmer, and Owosekun right now? Is anyone going to die before the end of the season? Where will everyone wind up in the final moments?

There’s so much ground to cover and only around 2 hours to do it. Can Discovery pull it off? We’ll see next week. But for now, “Labyrinths”, for all its fun moments, comes up short.

3/5 stars

Lina Morgan
Author: Lina Morgan
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