In the third episode of Star Trek: Discovery season 5, Adira Tal (Blu del Barrio) returns to Trill and reunites with Gray Tal (Ian Alexander). “Jinaal” was written by Kyle Jarrow and Lauren Wilkinson and directed by Andi Armaganian.

RELATED: Read our recap of the previous Star Trek: Discovery episode, “Under the Twin Moons.”

The USS Discovery is docked at Starfleet HQ. Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is briefed by Doctor Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) and Cleveland “Book” Booker (David Ajala) as they walk through the ship. Book recounts what they know about Moll (Eve Harlow) and L’ak (Elias Toufexis). 

They know nothing about L’ak. Moll was born on Kalla V. However, Moll’s father (Book’s mentor) left when she was 8. Her mother died, and Moll joined the Couriers Guild at age 17. This led to stints in an Emerald Chain prison. Book warns of danger if Moll and L’ak reach Trill. He insists he’s the best person to join the away team. Burnham agrees to consider it. Culber checks in on Michael’s state of mind. He suggests that Vulcan meditation could help amend sleep patterns.

In the lab, Burnham and Culber are briefed by Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) and Adira. Tilly notes the vast surface area of Trill and a complication in locating the clue. She notes that Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) is working on the tricorder recovered from the ancient Romulan ship. Meanwhile, Adira and Tilly have been working on the previous clues: the poem and the metal piece. The latter has yielded a Trill facial spot pattern. These are unique to each individual. Zora (Annabelle Wallis) identifies the pattern as belonging to Jinaal Bix.


Zora explains that Jinaal lived 800 years ago, a contemporary of the Romulan scientist (see: “Red Directive”). However, Jinaal was a symbiont host. And it’s possible for a symbiont to live 800 years. If it’s alive, its current host will have Jinaal’s memories. Burnham notes the Guardians should have records to help them locate said host. The away team will include Burnham, Culber, Adira and Book.

Burnham is informed that the new crew member has arrived. She excuses herself to meet him in her ready room, telling the team they have ten minutes. It’s her new First Officer, Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie). Burnham notes Rayner uses an Earth idiom. Rayner states that since he’s reporting to a human captain, he wants to be prepared. Burnham tells Rayner that during the trip to Trill, he’ll be meeting with Discovery’s crew for individual interviews. Rayner resists. Burnham insists. She tells him it’s his chance to assuage the crew’s suspicion after the events of the season premiere.

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Burnham and Rayner arrive on the bridge, and she introduces the current bridge crew. Then, the spore drive takes them to Trill. Elsewhere aboard Discovery, Adira chats nervously with Jett Reno (Tig Notaro) about the impending reunion with Gray. Reno reassures them (but asks how many raktajinos they’ve had). Stamets asks Adira to give his love to Gray before they beam to the bridge. Then Reno gives Stamets a negative forecast for Adira’s relationship with Gray.

On the bridge, Lt. Christopher (Orville Cummings) informs Burnham that Trill is denying their request to beam down. Guardian Xi (Andreas Apergis) establishes communication with the ship.

Xi Talk

Xi states that the information they protect can only be accessed after answering a question. The question: “Where does the fourth point?” The riddle alludes to the fourth stanza of the poem from the previous episode, which points towards Betazed. Xi states that the current host of the symbiote they seek, Kalzara Bix (Clare Coulter), will only speak with outsiders who can answer that riddle.

Xi presses his hands to Culber and Kalzara's foreheads in the caves of Trill.

Photo Credit: John Medland /Paramount+

In the caves of Trill, Xi greets the away team. Kalzara approaches. Burnham asks for the clue. But Kalzara says only Jinaal can help them in the search. She explains that Jinaal joined with their symbiont so as to carry his memories across the ages, awaiting a worthy seeker. It is necessary that they speak with Jinaal directly via the Zhian’tara. Gray explains this will allow Jinaal’s consciousness to temporarily inhabit another person. Culber volunteers. Xi asks Gray to assist.

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Back at Starfleet HQ, Saru (Doug Jones) is setting up his new office. President T’Rina (Tara Rosling) arrives and gives him a plant. Saru confesses that he’s nervous about speaking at a meeting. Then, he asks if T’Rina could amend a phrase on their wedding invitation, which is being sent out that day. T’Rina’s assistant, Duvin (Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon), arrives. She introduces him to Saru.

Saru wears a navy blue Starfleet uniform while moving about Starfleet headquarters on Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Episode 3, "Jinaal."

Photo Credit: Marni Grossman /Paramount+

On Discovery, Tilly approaches Rayner. She explains that Burnham instructed her to show Rayner around the ship to facilitate introductions. Rayner resists. Tilly points out it’s the captain’s orders. Rayner concedes to five-minute meetings with each crew member in his office.


On Trill, Adira and Gray reunite and embrace. Adira suggests they spend some time together. Gray says there are some things they should talk about. But the conversation is interrupted by the Zhian’tara. Soon, Jinaal’s consciousness has been transferred to Culber. He asks the year and compliments the Starfleet uniform. Jinaal assesses Burnham and Book. Then he says he doesn’t have the clue, but he can take them to it. And they can’t beam to it because he doesn’t know the coordinates, only the path. But he’s looking forward to the walk. Burnham protests. Jinaal leads the way.

Saru and T'Rina attend a meeting of Federation delegates at Starfleet HQ.

Photo Credit: Grossman /Paramount+

At Starfleet HQ, Saru and T’Rina’s meeting is underway. In light of Breen activity, one of the planets is asking for more resources. The revision is adopted. After the meeting, Duvin pulls Saru aside. He suggests Saru’s statements could be politically damaging to Ni’Var. Duvin doesn’t like Saru’s relationship with T’Rina and doesn’t want their wedding announced. He suggests it could destroy T’Rina’s career.

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On Trill, Jinaal leads Burnham and Book through a canyon. Soon they hear the sound of a monstrous alien. Jinaal studied them. They hunt in these canyons. Hence, Jinaal chose the location as the hiding spot for the clue. Jinaal tells Burnham that if he gives her the answers she seeks, the price could be her life. But Burnham persists.

So Jinaal explains that eight centuries earlier, he and a coalition of five other scientists were brought together. Their mission was to research the progenitors and their message (see: Star Trek: The Next Generation season 3, “The Chase”). After years, they found the life-giving technology. 

The Next Last Crusade

However, attempting to activate the tech killed one of their crew. The survivors made a pact: They’d lie about their success, destroy their research, and hide the location they found. Burnham asks why they didn’t entrust the information to the Federation. Jinaal says the Dominion War was raging. Everyone sought technology to give them a tactical advantage. The tech could be a devastating weapon. They decided to protect the information with their lives.

Tilly arrives in Rayner’s quarters with Rhys (Patrick Kwok-Choon). Rayner asks a brusque question, then dismisses him. A montage shows several other crew members sharing information with Rayner that is not in their file. Working with Rayner is grating on Tilly.

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On Trill, Gray approaches Adira. Gray observes that they’ve both been doing well. But both agree things seem different. Gray notes their divergent paths. When Adira says they’re not sure what to do, Gray suggests they consider trying something different. Gray notes there are many different kinds of relationships. Adira says they don’t know if they can do it any other way. Gray asks if they’re breaking up. Adira says they guess so. Gray says he thinks it’s right, but they’ll always be there for each other.

Adira and Gray in the caves of Trill. Adira wears a Starfleet uniform, Gray wears their Guardian robes.

Photo Credit: Medland /Paramount+

In the canyon, Burnham grows impatient. But Jinaal says the clues were created with purpose. The only person who should access the tech must be worthy. They come upon prey that was freshly killed by the hunting animals. Night falls. They arrive at the location where Jinaal hid the clue within a carved rock. But then they’re attacked by the animals. These are capable of cloak-like camouflage. Jinaal leaves them to obtain the clue.

Caves & Canyons

Book in the canyons of Trill, holding a phaser with a spine embedded in the rock beside him.

Photo Credit: Grossman /Paramount+

Book fails to connect with the animals. He tries to distract the animal while Burnham goes to the carved rock. But more animals arrive. In addition to cloaking, they fire exploding spines. One hits Book’s leg. On Discovery, Stamets arrives in Rayner’s office. He offers some technobabble about his progress with the tricorder. Stamets is excited about the potential of progenitor tech. He suggests this could include resurrection. Stamets says this tech would make the spore drive look piddling.

Rayner dismisses Stamets. Tilly snaps at Rayner. Refusing to back down, she shouts at him about his behavior before excusing herself. At Starfleet HQ, Saru brings up the announcement with T’Rina. He suggests postponement. T’Rina surmises Duvin had spoken with Saru. She notes Duvin previously suggested postponement to her. T’Rina says no one can presume to understand her interests better than herself. She says it’s unclear what gave Saru the impression she needed a caretaker. T’Rina exits.

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On Trill, Burnham removes the spine from Book’s leg. They are still being hunted. Book spots a nest with eggs. He says they have no excuse for antagonizing them. The clue will have to wait. They agree to beam out and catch up with Jinaal. But transporters are inoperative. The mineral composition of the rock is interfering with the transport signal (see also: Star Trek: Lower Decks season 4’s “Caves”).

Burnham suggests they show respect to the hunters. The animals approach. Burnham asks Book to tell them they’re sorry and they’re leaving. The animals allow them to go. 

The Red Herring

Later, Burham and Book catch up with a stargazing Jinaal. Burnham asks why he set them up to be attacked by the animals. Jinaal says he “had to know what [they’d] do when encountering a lifeform vastly different from [their] own.” Because they saw a way to connect instead of finding an enemy, and because of Burnham’s earlier statements, Jinaal surrenders the clue to them. The carving on the rock was a red herring.

T'Rina, President of Ni'Var, sitting at a table.

Photo Credit: Grossman /Paramount+

At Starfleet HQ, Saru apologizes to T’Rina. She accepts. Saru admits this is his first conflict in a relationship. T’Rina says conflict is natural in relationships and in politics. They agree to announce the wedding as soon as possible, and stand together against any consequences.

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On Trill, Jinaal’s consciousness leaves Culber. Burnham warns Xi that some dangerous people may pursue them to Trill. Xi assures him their security teams can handle it. Burnham instructs Culber and Book to beam back to sick bay before beaming away herself.

Rayner sits beside Tilly at the Discovery bar.

Photo Credit: Grossman /Paramount+

In Discovery’s bar, Tilly has a glass of Slug-o-Cola. Rayner sits beside her. He says they got off on the wrong foot. Rayner continues that leadership and friendship are two different things. Tilly counters that her experience suggests it helps when the crew can tell the leader cares about them. Rayner proves he absorbed information about each individual. Tilly says this isn’t the same as connection. Rayner says respect has to be earned. Tilly agrees and says it goes both ways, leaving him at the bar.

Star Trek: Discovery’s The Chase

Elsewhere in the bar, Burnham approaches Culber. He reflects on the strange experience. Then, he brings up his abuela and some of her advice about not everything having an answer. Culber isn’t sure he’s ok with that.

In the Discovery bar, Culber stares contemplatively into the fire.

Photo Credit: Grossman /Paramount+

Burnham tells Culber that this tech is the closest they’ve ever gotten to the beings that designed them. Maybe at the end of the journey, they’ll both have answers. On Trill, Gray and the other Guardians are observed by Adira. Over a monologue by Gray, a montage shows Book staring at a hologram of Moll, Saru and T’Rina together, Tilly with friends, and Culber and Rayner alone. Stamets continues working on the clues. Burnham has returned to Vulcan meditation. 

RELATED: Catch up with all of our Star Trek: Discovery recaps by clicking here.

The Bix symbiote is returned to the lake. Gray and Adira smile at each other. Adira greets other Guardians. But one is secretly Moll, who plants something on their uniform.

The first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery are currently available to stream on Paramount+. New episodes air on Thursdays.

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