Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode 8 Review – Labyrinths

The Discovery crew is on the hunt for the Progenitors' final puzzle piece in the library of our dreams, but to find it Michael must first look inward.

Photo: Photo: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

This Star Trek: Discovery review contains spoilers.

Having fun isn’t hard if you’ve got a library card on the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, which sees Captain Michael Burnham and company visit the Eternal Gallery and Archive, a mobile knowledge bank that is, hands down, the absolute coolest of the five locations we’ve visited on this season-long clue hunt. To be fair, “Labyrinths” isn’t an episode where all that much happens, but its premise still makes for a surprisingly satisfying hour, and the slow-moving approach of the Breen adds some nice tension to Michael’s vision quest into her own psyche. 

Full of one-of-a-kind manuscripts, rare artifacts, and other priceless items from cultures both present and lost, the Archive is exactly the kind of location that fits the adventure-themed feel of the season. It also looks cool as hell, packed to the gills with books and viewing rooms holding various priceless items from long-dead cultures. Arriving within it basically feels like the sci-fi version of that bit from Beauty and the Beast where Belle discovers all the books she now has access to, and if someone wanted to make an entire spin-off focused on the mysteries of this place and the people who came to visit it I would be glued to the screen every week. 

The Archive is currently located in the Badlands, an area that will be intimately familiar to Star Trek fans as it has important connections to both Deep Space Nine and Voyager, though for some reason Discovery does almost nothing with that fact. (Sorry folks on the lookout for some version of a famous space station, I guess.) The still-raging plasma storms that once caused such trouble for Voyager do make the Archive more difficult to find and offer it a modicum of protection. The site is currently run by Hy’rell, an Efrosian librarian who is one of the most entertaining supporting characters Discovery has introduced in some time. Almost passive-aggressively cheerful, her relentless friendliness makes her iron spine about the Archive’s rules and mission, and it’s always fun to watch Micahel go up against someone who doesn’t immediately give her what she wants. Hy’rell feels an awful lot like the Star Trek version of The Guide from What We Do in the Shadows, is what I’m saying. (Also, I love her.) 

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Burnham uses the library card she and the crew deciphered last week to access the last remaining copy of Labyrinths of the Mind, a text left behind by Betazoid scientist Marina Derex that’s meant to point the way to the final clue to the location of the Progenitor technology. But it turns out the book itself doesn’t really have all that much to do with the final test—it’s merely a case for another card, one that, upon touch, launches a program that takes Michael into a mindscape version of the Archive’s library. There, she must find the location of the last clue to access it in the real world. Like the other tests that Burnham and the Discovery crew have encountered, it’s tied to exploring a specific facet of the participant’s worthiness to access the information they’re seeking and whether they’re the sort of person who will properly use something so powerful as whatever it is the Progenitors left behind.  

The idea that Michael finds the answer only when she admits and confronts her deepest fears—of failure, both professionally and personally, in terms of letting down those she cares about—is peak Discovery, the sort of endless navel-gazing these characters are constantly asked to engage in. On some level, this particular test might have been more interesting if someone other than Michael had been forced to take it. We’re all well acquainted with her failings and flaws at this point, and I don’t know that anyone is going to be shocked to learn that she’s got a perfectionism complex a mile wide, no matter how strong a performance Sonequa Martin-Green gives in this moment (which, by the way, is very good).

The only interesting part of this is that it finally gives us a little clarity about her feelings for Book, and how much she regrets pulling away from him. It’s a nice bit of emotional work for the romantic reunion that the show is so clearly telegraphing. Bonus points to David Ajala for pulling double duty this week as both Book and the AI administering Michael’s test, which she sees in his form. The uber-dramatic outfit and quiet sarcasm are quite fun and make for a very different vibe between the actors.

Elsewhere, the Breen are hot on Discovery’s heels, especially once Moll convinces them all that she’ll be able to resurrect L’ak once they track down the Progenitor tech. Unsurprisingly, Primark Ruhn is less enthused about restoring the life of a dead scion of the Breen Imperium than he is about finding a weapon powerful enough to allow him to claim the throne for himself, so it’s not all that much of a shock that he spends the bulk of this hour betraying and threatening people.

That he blackmails Michael into handing over the completed map is probably the least surprising thing to happen this entire season, though the idea that the hour ends with Moll killing the Primark and taking charge of his faction thanks to her role as L’ak’s wife is almost hilariously ridiculous. Thanks for making sure he didn’t destroy the Archive first though, I guess? We know so little about Moll outside of her relationship with L’ak that it’s easy for Discovery to make her character be whatever it needs to be at any particular moment, but she certainly never seemed like someone who would care all that much about the destruction of valuable cultural artifacts. (Or even innocent lives, come to that.) Oh, well, at least Hy’rell is safe!! 

With two episodes left to go in Discovery’s run, it’s anybody’s guess how this is all going to end. Oh, we can likely figure out some of it: the race to the location of the Progenitors’ supposedly life-restoring tech is on, but it’s almost certainly not going to turn out to be what any of the people chasing it expect. Will it even be real? Or is this going to be one of those stories where the journey was always more important than the destination?

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4 out of 5