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REVIEW – Star Trek: Discovery – Season 5, Episode 8 “Labyrinths”

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It’s the beginning of the end of the fifth and final season, with Star Trek: Discovery Episode 8 “Labyrinths”. This week, the crew is searching for the final clue to the Progenitor’s technology. As we learned last week in “Erigah”, the final clue is located in the ever-moving Eternal Gallery and Archive. Here we see the crew push through the Badlands to get to the Archive, but can they get to the clue first with the Breen hot on their tail?

Some nice stakes for this late in the season. Especially with this being the final clue, anything could happen. Let’s find out if the crew have what it takes to actually track down the Progenitor tech in our review of the latest Discovery episode. This episode, “Labyrinths” was written by Lauren Wilkinson and Eric J Robbins. It was directed by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour.

WARNING – Full spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode 8 “Labyrinths” below

Photo credit: Paramount+ – Star Trek: Discovery Episode 8 “Labyrinths” – Breen Soldiers

The Badlands

Episode 8 “Labyrinths” returns us to the Badlands for the first time since the franchise was revived in 2017. Every time they’ve shown us a vaguely orange storm, or other big cloud, I’ve just assumed that it was the Badlands. This time, it actually is the Badlands, and they’re just as gorgeous as I expected. We know that the Badlands are a massive plasma storm, and the finer details on show here are unlike what we’ve seen before.

This episode is a real feast for the eyes right from the beginning. However, the Badlands haven’t lost any of their danger over the centuries, almost tearing Discovery apart multiple times. Having them guided around by living customer service parody Hy’Rell (Elena Juatco) was entertaining enough. She’s definitely very calm under pressure. Her telling the crew to shut off their engines in the middle of the storm made for a very interesting moment.

The Discovery’s return to the Badlands was equally shocking. Helping them to hide from the Breen, the ship decides to weather the storm for a while. The ordeal leaves them in less than full operational capacity when it comes time to face them. It’s clear that the Badlands are just as dangerous as ever. It’s so nice to see not just the Badlands but also the damage it inflicts with more modern visual effects. Hard to overstate how great this episode looks.

Photo credit: Paramount+ – Star Trek: Discovery Episode 8 “Labyrinths” – Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham

The Library

The Archive looks as you might expect. Recognizable as a massive library that spans for what looks like forever. From what we see in the episode, most of the manuscripts there are even made of paper and everything. As someone who’s been spending a lot of time in libraries of late, the whole thing felt very true to life. Still, Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) isn’t here to browse, she’s here for Labyrinths of the Mind.

Book (David Ajala) has gone to accompany her, with the Archive having an artifact from Kwejian that they need help cataloging. It’s a little contrived but forces Burnham and Book to have a proper conversation after last week. Burnham agreeing with the decision to hand Moll (Eve Harlow) over to the Breen caused a bit of a rift between them. It’s a solid dramatic moment as they come to a sort of mutual understanding of each other’s positions.

As for Burnham and the manuscript, a viewing room was set up for her, allowing her time to check the book for clues. Interestingly, this is the first time the book has been requested or borrowed ever. It goes some way toward explaining why Reno (Tig Notaro) hadn’t heard of the book in last week’s adventure. After a couple of pages, she finds a metal plate. Touching it, because scanning it first would be overrated, renders her unconscious.

Photo credit: Paramount+ – Star Trek: Discovery Episode 8 “Labyrinths” – Elena Juatco as Hy’Rell

The Final Clue

After being knocked out by a book, we spend much of the episode in Burnham’s unconscious mind. A projection of the library, where she must pass a trial in order to find the final clue. Delving into Burnham’s own labyrinths of the mind could have been a cool opportunity for her to confront projections of her own demons. Instead, it’s the same as the library, and the only person with her is an Avatar, in the form of Book, guiding her to the truth.

There are some solid riddles and puzzles, such as Burnham adventuring through the history of the Dominion War. There are no namedrops of anything too particular, but it’s nice to see how Burnham’s processed the past few weeks as she works on her own. This episode was a great opportunity for her to put her puzzle-solving brain to the test, and it honestly works really well. The solution, is her opening up about her vulnerabilities, her fear and guilt, to prove her worthiness to the scientists. As a final puzzle, it’s very cool.

Back in reality, Book, Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie), and Stamets (Wilson Cruz) are fighting off a Breen army in the library. We only really get to see it on a screen on the Breen ship. Could’ve had some sweet fight choreography, but just didn’t get much. It was also a solid tie-in to Rayner’s backstory we uncovered last week, fighting back against the Breen. A lot of very solid stuff for a B-plot.

Photo credit: Paramount+ – Star Trek: Discovery Episode 8 “Labyrinths”

The Breen

Burnham and the away team, which consists of far too many senior officers, get the clue just in time. They beam back aboard Discovery less than a second before they would’ve been hit by the Breen. Except instead of just a squad of nameless Breen, they’re now facing down the wannabe leaders. Moll’s inserted herself in the command structure of the ship, a dangerous position. Primarch Ruhn (Tony Nappo) wants nothing but more control. The Discovery is in a lot of danger.

They have quite an intimidating presence throughout the episode, right from the cold open. I can’t shake the thought Moll is in over her head here. Wanting to bring her husband back to life is noble, but also also selfish and misguided. It’s totally understandable as a motivation and a part of me hopes she succeeds in that respect. With her takeover at the end, her life is on the line if she fails. Perhaps her search for power in the Imperium, as well as the godlike Progenitor tech will be her undoing?

That’s not to say I think Primarch Ruhn was a good man. Couldn’t be further from. He threatens to destroy the Archive if the Discovery doesn’t hand over the clues and almost destroys the Discovery after getting what he wants. If it weren’t for Moll’s actions, the Archive would’ve been destroyed anyway. He’s not a man of his word and absolutely deserves it. Still, the Breen are en route to the final destination, and the Discovery’s crippled. We’re in for quite a tense episode next week!

Photo credit: Paramount+ – Star Trek: Discovery Episode 8 “Labyrinths”

Conclusion

This week of Star Trek: Discovery was an interesting affair. Where it could’ve shrouded Burnham’s guilt and fear in metaphor, it tackled them very directly. Three episodes from the show’s conclusion, it’s nice to see how far she’s come. It gave us a very personal look at Burnham’s character in a way the show hasn’t been able to before. Her time in the Mindscape was the real highlight of the episode, with Sonequa Martin-Green giving one of her most memorable performances.

The Breen stuff was an interesting aside. Burnham and Moll are both strong women in their own right. However where Burnham’s more openly fragile, we see a series of ill-advised power grabs on Moll’s part. One of these stories looks set to end in tragedy, and it’s not Burnham’s. The rest of the characters are there, but it feels like padding rather than giving them something meaningful to do. Hopefully, next week can rectify this and be a lot more action-heavy.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode 7 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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Connor Schwigtenberg
Connor Schwigtenberg
All round science fiction geek and a passionate Star Trek enthusiast. Can reliably be found nerding out online. Currently exploring the expanded media. A writer at heart, look out for deep dives, reviews, and feature articles.

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