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Home Reviews Discovery REVIEW – Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode 3 “Jinaal”

REVIEW – Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode 3 “Jinaal”

The fifth and final season of Star Trek: Discovery is well and truly underway! It’s a little sad to be saying goodbye, but the series isn’t going out quietly. After last week’s double premiere, I was hooked. This season’s story and new characters present a really refreshing twist on Discovery‘s past. Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode 3 is entitled “Jinaal”. The voyages of Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) continue to the planet Trill in the hope of uncovering the technology of the mysterious Progenitors.

The episode was written by Kyle Jarrow and Lauren Wilkinson and was directed by Andi Armaganian. The episode sees the Discovery and her crew arrive on the planet Trill, trying to prove themselves worthy of the next clue. Every step brings them closer and closer to the mysterious Progenitors, who originally seeded life through the galaxy.

WARNING – This review features spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode Three “Jinaal”.


The episode opens with some simple puzzles for the crew, that are solved very quickly and easily. First, the problem of identifying the unique facial marks of Jinaal Bix, the titular Trill character. This one is fixed about as easily as it was introduced, with the computer fixing it almost immediately. Second, a riddle that Guardian Xi (Andreas Apergis) poses to the crew. The answer lies in last episode, where the fourth line of the poem would have led the crew to Betazed.

All of that felt like it was solved very quickly. Nobody was stumped or put in any real crisis, with the problems disappearing almost soon as they appear. This leads to an 11 minute cold-open sequence that really could have been a lot faster. For an episode that’s nearly an hour long, it all could have been a lot shorter. However, this glacial pace the plot moves sometimes isn’t anything new for Discovery, with sometimes very little changing from week to week.

To be honest, it’s why I’m a little worried about this treasure hunt plot for the next few weeks. The main goal of this episode is the exact same as the last one, finding a piece of the map to the Progenitor technologies. It’s fairly safe to assume that the next couple of episodes will be much the same. What happens beyond that is anyone’s guess, but this was a fairly low-stakes affair. Some small steps were made, and the crew got another piece of the map, but otherwise there wasn’t much of anything.


There’s no real enemy to this episode, and it feels like a bit of a detriment. The closest the episode comes to an antagonistic force is Jinaal (Wilson Cruz), who’s honestly more benevolent than anything. Cruz is clearly having a lot of fun in the role, getting to play a character who’s a lot more laid back than Dr Culber. His performance, and this character, is the real highlight of the episode for me.

Jinaal is very much going with the flow, enjoying the journey. He’s only got a couple of hours to be alive, and he’s definitely making the most of it. His attitude really reflects someone who’s been alive for over 800 years and really seen it all. Although it’s unfortunate that he was being so vague with a lot of the information he was giving. The bit about the scientists working on the Progenitor message 800 years ago added to the lore, but also wasn’t much of an answer or explanation.

The closest the episode comes to a big threat would be the Itronoks, a sort of bug-like alien race on the planet Trill. They have a cool and really well realised design. Initially appearing hostile, having Burnham and Book (David Ajala) running around a quarry and firing phasers, they’re totally innocent. Some of the nearby rocks are their eggs, and they’re just being protective. Jinaal sent the crew there to test their resolve and diplomacy. Trying to make sure they’re worthy of the clue, a test they pass with flying colours.

L-R Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Wilson Cruz as Culber in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 3, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

Love is in the Air

Another of the episode’s subplots concerns T’Rina (Tara Rosling) and Saru (Doug Jones) trying to juggle their engagement with their careers as ambassadors. Them trying to announce their engagement is the order of the day. It brings them into a bit of conflict, with both their love lives and political careers experiencing a bit of difficulty. They’re an adorable couple, so it was nice to see them eventually overcome all of these challenges together.

They mentioned T’Rina facing some potential backlash from Vulcan purists back on Ni’Var, for having married an outsider. It’s mentioned by the end that their anger seems almost certain. A sort of recall effort could make for a very intriguing subplot, plunging her career in real jeopardy as a result of her relationship with Saru. Hopefully this is one of those plots that’s able to become a little bit bigger.

They’re not the only power couple in the episode however. Both Adira (Blu del Barrio) and Gray (Ian Alexander) are finally reunited after months apart from one another. I’m a little disappointed by the lack of screentime afforded to them in comparison to the other characters. However, what little we did have left me absolutely beaming. I’m hoping this isn’t the last we see of them in this final season, because this hardly felt like a goodbye.

Doug Jones as Saru in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 3, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

Captain Rayner

Back aboard Discovery, Captain Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie) is getting to know the crew, in his own way. He fails miserably at being a decent person, giving each crew member only a couple of seconds. This brings him into real conflict with Tilly (Mary Wiseman), who’s assigned to him for the day as a sort of chaperone. Pairing a now pretty confident, social person, with a bit of a no-nonsense hardass is a recipe for some real fun.

It turns out he was analysing them in the brief few seconds he shared with each of the crew. However, that’s still not enough. The end of the episode shows him drinking alone means he still needs to try a lot harder. Having an outsider in such a high place in the final season is a bold move. He’s shaking up the dynamic on Discovery a lot, even if he is almost certainly going to warm up a little over the next few episodes.

I’m liking the darker dimensions to Rayner already. Callum Keith Rennie is doing fantastically as the first officer who doesn’t quite know what to do with the second chance he’s been given. His chemistry with Wiseman was great, and I hope he gets to spend a little more than 20 seconds with the other characters over the course of the season. He’s a really refreshing status quo shift for the crew’s final journey.

Callum Keith Rennie as Rayner in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 3, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

Spiritual Crisis

The crew is on an interesting journey. They’re going in search of the origins of life itself, which adds a very interesting spiritual dimension to the characters. Culber is left affected by his time with Jinaal and unsure of his place in the universe. I hope we’re able to explore this more in the final episodes of the series. His conversation with Burnham was a great way to close out the episode.

But that wasn’t the actual end of the episode. Back on Trill, Adira and Gray are parting ways once again. Adorable as usual, despite a bit of a lack of screen time. Complex emotions are in the air, and L’ak (Eve Harlow) is disguised and hiding in the background. There, plants what I can only assume is a tracking device on Adira. How they landed on Trill undetected is unknown and a little scary. They’re clearly very capable villains.

Perhaps our season’s antagonists are closer to the truth than meets the eye, now on the tail of Discovery. I’m really looking forward to learning more about them, and a little disappointed they were absent from the episode. It doesn’t look like they’re going to have a massive role, if any at all, in next week’s episode either. I’d love to spend more time with these characters so they’re not just generic evil villains but three-dimensional characters. That’s my hope, at the very least.


All in all, Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode 3 was a mixed bag. On one hand, the plot was very slow and none of the major threads felt like the developed a lot. On the other however, Jinaal was a great character, brought to life brilliantly by Wilson Cruz. I’m also loving the new, very spiritual aspect to the season. It feels like a fresh direction for the series, and perhaps even the franchise as a whole.

The next episode, “Face the Strange”, will see the Discovery travelling to Tzenkethi space, in search of the next all-important clue. However the synopsis seemingly has other things in mind. The ship’s sabotaged, with Burnham, Rayner, and Stamets (Anthony Rapp) the only ones able to save the ship. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this journey takes Rayner in particular. Hopefully he’s able to gel with the crew more after saving the ship.

Star Trek: Discovery streams via Paramount+ in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Latin America, France, Germany, Brazil, South Korea (via Tving), France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. It is also available on CTV Scifi / Crave in Canada and TVNZ in New Zealand. The show is also available on SkyShowtime in the Nordics, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and Central and Eastern Europe.

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