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Star Trek: 'Burnham Goes Rogue' Has Become Discovery's 'They Shut Down the X-Files'

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Episode 6, "Scavengers," now streaming on CBS All Access.

Star Trek: Discovery protagonist Michael Burnham is responsible for saving the United Federation and all sentient life in the galaxy. In Season 3, she's poised to help restore it in the far-future as well, but she certainly isn't known for doing things by the book. So when Burnham finds herself stonewalled by Saru and forced to follow Starfleet command, the first officer falls back on her worst habit, which is quickly becoming an overused trope for the Star Trek series: Going rogue to pursue her own agenda.

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The Discovery has finally earned the trust of the Starfleet 930 years in the future and is now considered its armada's most versatile, valuable vessel because its engines run on experimental spores rather than dilithium. As a result, Captain Saru has orders to keep the starship available at a moment's notice. This is a problem for Burnham, who discovers a message from Booker indicating that the cataclysmic Burn, an event that combusted all known dilithium in the galaxy, did not occur simultaneously as widely believed. Booker has gone missing in the three weeks since his message was recorded and Burnham wants to investigate, but Saru orders her to stay on hand for Starfleet as they monitor a potential conflict with the Orion-Andorian Syndicate.

Of course, Burnham disobeys Saru and, with Philippa Georgiou, commandeers Booker's ship to rescue him, recover the black box that proves the Burn didn't happen simultaneously and defeat the Orion-Andorian Syndicate. Clearly, the question of her continued disobedience in the face of authority remains a glaring one. Saru says that his distrust for Burnham remains just as strong as it was at the start of the series, when she disobeyed orders to trigger a war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.

Just as The X-Files were regularly shut down by shadowy figures when Mulder and Scully got too close to the truth, or Captain Kirk violated Starfleet's Prime Directive on multiple occasions on the original Star Trek, Discovery is overusing the trope of Burnham going rogue in Season 3. Perhaps more damning, Burnham's repeated violation of orders shows a strong lack of character growth, as Burnham continues to only follow the orders that are convenient for her. She seems to have learned nothing after causing a devastating interstellar war that loomed over Discovery's entire first season, and being tried and convicted of treason before being reassigned to the Discovery.

While Burnham's rogue mission was ultimately a success, Admiral Vance can barely conceal his contempt for her actions while Saru demotes her from her position as First Officer. Burnham must once again prove herself in the eyes of her crew mates but, as history has shown, her propensity for taking matters into her own hands doesn't seem to be abating anytime soon.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Commander Michael Burnham, Doug Jones as Captain Saru, Anthony Rapp as Lt. Commander Paul Stamets, Mary Wiseman as Ensign Sylvia Tilly, Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber, Blu del Barrio as Adira, David Ajala as Cleveland “Book” Booker and Michelle Yeoh as Philippa Georgiou. A new episode arrives on CBS All Access every Thursday through Jan. 7, 2021.

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