Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 has a narrative focus and patience that previous seasons have not. We are more than halfway through the season and, while the crew of the Discovery have encountered a variety of obstacles in their new future, they have not yet come up against a true Big Bad. “The Sanctuary” seems poised to bring them one step closer. In the exclusive clip we have from this week’s episode, Admiral Vance and Book give Michael and Saru (and, you know, us) more information on The Emerald Chain, the Andorian-Orion crime syndicate that has been causing trouble in the background of Season 3 for the past few episodes, and the mysterious Orion who runs it all: Osyraa. Check it out…
The Burn may have decimated the Federation and caused major, potentially devastating problems on worlds like Book’s planet, but it was The Emerald Chain that used the power vacuum and the desperation that followed to get a stranglehold on vulnerable worlds and populations. “The Chain has turned prime directive violations into an art form,” Vance explains in the clip above. “They make reckless contact with pre-warp civilizations that have something they want.” Right now, The Chain and Osyraa have their eye on Book’s homeworld. Following The Burn, The Chain gave Book’s world a “repellant” to save their harvest from sea locusts and keep millions of people from starving. In exchange, Book tells us, they took the world’s trance worms. But, now, Osyraa is back for something more, and Book’s brother is reaching out for help.
The way Discovery has been unveiling this potential Season 3 Big Bad is clever: dropping small, ominous clues about the aims and influence of The Emerald Chain for the audience to slowly gather. We first heard of The Chain in the season premiere; the syndicate controls The Mercantile on Hima, the marketplace Book and Michael visited in “That Hope is You, Part 1.” The information comes in the form of a subtle world-building element that we don’t yet have the context to truly appreciate. That comes later. In the premiere, it is one more fascinating piece of this new future both Michael and the audience are trying to piece together.
More recently, in “Scavengers,” we get a closer look at how shitty The Chain truly is. Michael and Georgiou go rogue in order to rescue Book from a Hunhau salvage yard run by Osyraa’s nephew. In our time there, we see how casually The Chain puts people into debt slavery. The conditions are horrific, and the forced laborers are killed for something as small as stealing an extra water ration. Without the Federation to help, they work and die at the whims of the closest Chain thug. In that same episode, the Discovery is dispatched to Argeth, a Federation planet The Chain is rumored to be planning a move against. While we don’t get to see what this high-stakes tension looks like, the background plot communicates to viewers just how broad The Chain’s influence truly is.
“Right now, I’m tracking 50 star systems in the same predicament [as Book’s world],” Vance says in the clip from this week’s episode. Situations like Hunhau, Argeth, or Book’s planet aren’t exceptions to peaceful, just Federation rule; they are commonplace in this post-Burn universe.
We have yet to meet Osyraa, the head of The Chain, and we have yet to see the Discovery truly go head to head with The Chain in any real way. At this point, it seems inevitable. The Chain has been slowly and effectively presented as a powerful bully that the Federation, in its current state, has been unable to truly counter. The addition of the Discovery, with its spore drive capabilities and ferocious optimism, to its resources could change that and I, for one, cannot wait to see it happen. The source of The Burn may be the big mystery of Season 3, but Osyraa and The Chain are poised to be the season’s greatest villains.
New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 drop every Thursday on CBS All-Access.