Acting Captain Sylvia Tilly, Commander Michael Burnham, Book, and the rest of the U.S.S. Discovery bridge crew try to take the starship back from the Emerald Chain.

Spoilers Below

In Star Trek: Discovery Season Three Episode Twelve, “There Is a Tide …” directed by Jonathan Frakes, Orion Osyraa negotiates with Fleet Admiral Charles Vance to merge the Federation with the Emerald Chain. Osyraa and her foot soldiers trick Starfleet headquarters until letting the commandeered U.S.S. Discovery into their forcefield protected base of operations. She lets most of the crew go but keeps the bridge crew as hostages while the Emerald Chain negotiates with the Federation. The Federation President assigns Vance as his envoy with the talks to Osyraa. The Emerald Chain leader wants their Capitalist crime syndicate to merge with the Federation. Osyraa has a fair armistice ready for the Federation President to sign but talks fall through. Admiral Vance wants the leader to go on trials for her crimes, but Osyraa is unwilling to agree to prison for her actions. Meanwhile, Michael, Book, Tilly, and the rest of the remaining Starfleet officers try to take back the U.S.S. Discovery. “Where Is a Tide …” tackles issues of philosophy, economics, and survival.

Michael’s year way from Starfleet makes her the perfect person to break into U.S.S. Discovery while the Emerald Chain is operating the starship. She no longer blindly follows the rules of the Federation. Michael does anything to keep the ideals alive and survive to fight another day. Zareh, the courier that Tilly and Saru faced off against when they first arrived in the future, comes back in the second to the last episode of the season. He keeps all the bridge crew in line while Osyraa is at Starfleet headquarters. Zareh uses his access to all of the U.S.S. Discovery’s systems to keep track of everybody. Thankfully, Book gives Michael a bracelet that hides her heat signature.

Though Michael soon loses her advantage when she steals one of the guards’ badge, she chocks out.  The guard stabs her before she knocks him out. Michael uses a phaser gun to cauterize the wound, then keeps ongoing. With the guard’s comm, she can hear everything that Emerald Chain is saying to one another. Michael figures out where they are keeping Stamets. She needs to protect Stamets because he is the only person who can control where the U.S. S. Discovery jumps too. Michael sneaks into the vents, but with the badge, Zareh can track her. Time away from Starfleet makes her more willing to take drastic measures. Michael ties herself to the pipes into the vents, just as the gangster has caught up with her. She lights a flame making the starship think that there is a fire in this particular area. U.S.S. Discovery vents the area into space to starve the fire of oxygen. This action kills everybody, but Michael, who is securely connected to the pipes.

Michael sacrifices Stamets for the greater good, something she could never have done before time-traveling to the future. She non-lethally takes out everybody whose keeping Stamets prisoner in the spore drive room. After finding out that both his husband, Dr. Culber, and his “adopted” child Adira are still in the toxic nebula, Stamets tries to jump back there to save their lives. He can’t lose Culber again. But Michael won’t let him. She is heartbroken for Stamets but will do anything to keep the U.S.S. Discovery from permanently falling into the hands of the Emerald Chain. She injects Stamets with something that causes him to pass out. He awakens to Michael, encasing him into a bubbly looking forcefield. She catapults Stamets into space, stopping the Emerald Chain from jumping away with Discovery. Michael will kill one of her best friends to keep the Federation alive. I’m hoping that she designed the forcefield so that Stamets will be safe until somebody can rescue him, but he may die out there. Michael can’t save him now since Zareh captures her.

Capitalism is shown to be a mixed bag in “Where Is a Tide …”. While Osyraa is negotiating with Vance, she points out how one of the Deep Space stations trades with the Emerald Chain. This particular Deep Space station is so far out that Starfleet can’t contact them regularly. They have been dealing with the crime syndicate for hundreds of years. Meaning that Capitalism has already become part of Starfleet even if they disagree with this economic model. Also, Osyraa’s privilege allowed her to save scientist Aurelio’s life when he was ten years old. He had a genetic disease that wasn’t easy to fix because Post-Burn medical resources are scarce. If Aurelio had been alive during Michael’s original timeline, the Federation would have corrected the congenital anomaly at or before birth. But on the other side, the Emerald Chain’s Capitalism leads to slavery and other forms of oppression in non-warp planets like Kwejian. In the end, even though Osyraa desperately wants to join the Federation, she is unwilling to take responsibility for her atrocities.

“There Is a Tide …” is more action-packed than most of Star Trek: Discovery Season Three, but there are some emotional and intellectually stimulating scenes mixed in there.