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Star Trek: Discovery 507 “Erigah” Review: In the Shadow of War

Star Trek: Discovery "Erigah" Review: In the Shadow of War
Image credit: Paramount+

Review: Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode 7 “Erigah”

Moll and L’ak’s quest for freedom takes a drastic turn for the worse as the criminal pair find themselves within the Federation’s grasp – and the Breen are knocking on the door.

After escaping the I.S.S. Enterprise just before Discovery could capture them, Moll (Eve Harlow) and the wounded L’ak (Elias Toufexis) are ensnared by the U.S.S. Locherer. Discovery arrives on the scene so Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) can escort them to Federation HQ, but a last-minute development arrests that plan: the Breen are bringing their biggest, deadliest, meanest-looking dreadnaught to bear against the Federation to get L’ak back.

Admiral Charles Vance (Oded Fehr) initially ordered Burnham to jump away from Federation HQ to protect Moll and L’ak, but Burnham reasons having Discovery stand its ground will ultimately lead to a solution to this political and diplomatic crisis. But why are the Breen bringing so much firepower and risking war just to fulfill a blood bounty?

In “Erigah,” we’re treated to a surprise: the return of Commander D. Nhan (Rachael Ancheril). Fans may remember her last from season four’s “Rubicon,” where she served as a member of Federation Security. Disappointingly, Nhan’s role in this episode feels underutilized. Any member of Federation Security could have filled her position without affecting the plot, which is the telltale sign of a wasted character. What’s missing is any significant development related to her overarching storyline—such as her struggle to reintegrate into her own culture after time-traveling to the future. Given that this is the show’s final season, it’s regrettable that Nhan’s character doesn’t receive a more impactful sendoff. Hopefully, we’ll encounter her again in the remaining three episodes, providing a more fitting conclusion to her journey.

L-R David Ajala as Book and Eve Harlow as Moll in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 7, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Michael Gibson /Paramount+

“The word ‘diplomacy’ isn’t even in their vocabulary.”

“Then we shall teach it to them.”

– Rayner and T’Rina, on the Breen.

Burnham correctly deduces there’s more to the Breen’s interest in L’ak than meets the eye. Six primarchs are aiming for control of the Breen Imperium, and that has led to internal unrest. Moreover, thanks to a report from the still-off-screen Saru (it’s a damn shame Doug Jones isn’t in this season more), we know the Breen’s political quarrels stem from members of the Breen royal family competing for the throne.  A fairly one-sided conversation with the wounded L’ak confirms Burnham’s suspicions: L’ak is a member of the royal family, and is the only way his uncle, Primarch Ruhn (Tony Nappo), can claim the Breen throne. Getting L’ak back goes beyond a blood bounty for Ruhn – it’s the only way to gain power.

While Burnham, Admiral Vance, and President T’Rina (Tara Rosling) – standing in for President Rillak – stare down the Breen, Moll and L’ak try a last shot at freedom. On Discovery, the pair formulate a desperate escape plan; Moll will make a run for it as L’ak hacks his biobed (sure, why not?) and overdoses himself to cause a distraction. The plan works, unbelievably, but only insofar as Moll escapes the forcefield in which she and L’ak are being held. Her escape backfires when L’ak accidentally takes a lethal dose of the drugs, forcing her to say goodbye to her love.

L-R Elias Toufexis as L’ak and Eve Harlow as Moll in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 7, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

“L’ak is your world. I know that. I also know what it’s like to lose one. Don’t miss your chance to be with him. For him.”

– Book to Moll, as L’ak is dying.

Not quite all is lost for Moll, however, as she sees a narrow chance to still get what she wants. Handing herself over to the Breen and helping them find the Progenitor tech means she might be able to clear the blood bounty she and the now-deceased L’ak share, and perhaps bring him back to life using the life-creating properties of the Progenitors’ tech. So, that’s where Moll’s story ends in this episode – hopping on a Breen dreadnaught, nesting in the lair of the enemy, and trying to help the Federation’s adversary find the galaxy’s ultimate treasure first. What could go wrong?

Commander Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie) is more than his typical hard-edged self in this episode. The Breen’s arrival rustled up painful memories, and it takes a bit of convincing for him to tell his captain why he’s so hostile against the alien race.

It turns out his homeworld, Kellerun was once occupied by the Breen, and Rayner saw firsthand how ferocious and unforgivingly violent Breen can be. He even lost his family to the helmeted off-worlders, so yes, Rayner has an axe to grind against the brutalists now on the Federation’s doorstep. Much to T’Rina’s and Burnham’s chagrin, Rayner isn’t afraid to advocate total annihilation of the Federation’s newest enemy. (How long before we get a novel filling in Rayner’s tragic backstory?)

Rayner’s tale does give Burnham an idea for how to deal with Ruhn, but we must wonder: Why doesn’t Rayner voluntarily offer his intel in the face of the Breen’s overwhelming threat, which he has experienced firsthand? Despite the painful memories the Breen elicits for him, shouldn’t he understand every advantage helps Federation leadership concoct a defense against the massive dreadnaught?

Star Trek: Discovery, episode 7, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

An offer to trade an enormous amount of dilithium, likely still uber-valuable in the post-Burn galaxy, doesn’t convince Ruhn to back off wanting L’ak and Moll. So, the Federation plays hardball, and T’Rina asserts that instead of giving Ruhn his bounty, she will hand Moll and L’ak over to another Breen primarch, Tahal, who supposedly gave a competing offer for the criminals. Ruhn thinks the Federation is bluffing, until Rayner supports their ruse with detailed knowledge of Tahal, knowledge he undoubtedly gained from Tahal’s occupation of Kellerun. Ultimately, Ruhn agrees to let the Federation keep L’ak, as that would ensure other Breen primarchs can’t use the royal family member as a shortcut to the throne. But as we’ve seen, Ruhn doesn’t walk away from Federation HQ empty-handed.  

Despite the confrontation with the Breen, Discovery’s crew still needs to figure out the next step in the Progenitor puzzle. A metal card attached to the clue found in the last episode – complete with a Betazoid logo and the phrase “labyrinths of the mind” – points to a Betazoid book authored by Marina Derex, one of the scientists who fabricated the puzzle trail to the Progenitor tech.

The metal card is actually a library pass, a realization Adira Tal (Blu del Barrio) and Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) have thanks to the niche knowledge of Jett Reno (Tig Notaro), who points them in the direction of a traveling library in space, called the Eternal Gallery and Archive. Thanks to Stamets and Cleveland Booker (David Ajala) working on the location of the next clue, we know where this library is now. It’s a familiar place for Deep Space Nine and Voyager fans: the Badlands. We certainly look forward to seeing what this iconic location looks like in 2024.

L-R Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Wilson Cruz as Culber in Star Trek: Discovery, episode 7, season 5, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

There are three episodes left in the season, and plenty of opportunities for twists and turns in the path to the Progenitors tech, never mind time for Discovery to show the audience its take on the Progenitors tech itself, with all the technological and spiritual elements that might entail. Intriguingly, things are a bit more personal after the events of “Erigah.” Now that Moll is working with the Breen, will Book end up doing something foolhardy to protect the only family he has left, and how will he weigh that motivation against his residual love for Burnham? What will Moll sacrifice to bring back her partner? How will Culber’s spiritual journey play out as the crew gets closer to the secret of life itself, and will that journey foreshadow spiritual awakenings other crewmembers might experience? Discovery has set up quite the expectations for the last half of its final season, and we’re holding our breath that they stick the landing.

Stray Thoughts:

  • The Breen attack on Earth hundreds of years ago referenced in this episode was seen in the Deep Space Nine episode “The Changing Face of Evil.”

  • It can’t be a coincidence that the first name of the Betazoid scientist who worked on the Progenitors tech, Marina, has the same first name as Marina Sirtis, the actress who played Star Trek’s most famous Betazoid.

  • Rayner recalls a Romulan saying: “Never turn your back on a Breen.” This same saying was referenced in Deep Space Nine’s “By Inferno’s Light.”

  • Why would Tilly be taking a shuttle to Federation HQ, and not a transporter? Is it perhaps so Stamets could intercept her and keep her on the ship?

  • Besides seeing a Breen dreadnaught in the time bug cycle, how could Burnham be sure it’s the same one as what ultimately arrives at Federation HQ?

  • When Burnham was first learning about who she would pick as her first officer, wouldn’t Rayner’s homeworld’s occupation by the Breen show up in her research?

  • At the end of Rayner’s monologue about his past, Burnham asserts he just gave them a way to deal with the Breen. Why doesn’t Rayner ask how, or what Burnham’s plan is?

  • Who else aren’t fans of the swinging camera technique employed in this episode’s fight scenes?

  • Wouldn’t scans taken after Moll was captured show she has implanted cloaking technology, as Zora (Annabelle Wallis) assumes when Moll mysteriously evades capture?

  • Burnham asserts Rayner did “really well today” at the end of the episode, but did he? If not for Burnham’s persistence, he likely wouldn’t have revealed his knowledge of the Breen, which helped in negotiations with Ruhn, and just continued to be a thorn in the side of Federation leadership.

New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery stream Thursdays on Paramount+, this season stars Sonequa Martin-Green (Captain Michael Burnham), Doug Jones (Saru), Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly), Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber), David Ajala (Cleveland “Book” Booker), Blu del Barrio (Adira) and Callum Keith Rennie (Rayner). Season five also features recurring guest stars Elias Toufexis (L’ak) and Eve Harlow (Moll).


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Written By

Kyle Hadyniak has been a lifelong Star Trek fan, and isn't ashamed to admit that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek: Nemesis are his favorite Star Trek movies. You can follow Kyle on Twitter @khady93.

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