In season 3 episode 6 of Star Trek: Discovery, "Scavengers", we see the following exchange:

BURNHAM: Captain, the Federation cannot stabilize while the cause of the Burn remains a question. And there's a man's life at stake.

SARU: There are many lives. Today, I saw how vulnerable the Federation has become. The admiral would not be convinced by a cat in a ship. I understand this will be difficult, but, please, resume your duties and prepare the crew for a possible jump to Argeth.

BURNHAM: Yes, sir.

What is Saru referring to? It's clear from the montage at the beginning of the episode that a lot of time has passed between the previous episode and this one, so Saru should be well aware of the state the Federation is in. So what has happened "today" that made him see how vulnerable Federation is?

  • 2
    He went to that high-level meeting, where all they were doing was figuring out how to get replicators to some planet, or supplies to some other planet. Maybe this was his first attendance at such a meeting (because Discovery was only just ready to help after her re-fit), and so the first time he realised that, day-to-day, the Federation is expending all its available effort just trying to hold the absolute basics together. Nov 24, 2020 at 17:38
  • "The admiral would not be convinced by a cat in a ship." For some reason that makes me think of "The Trouble with Treaties." :)
    – DavidW
    Nov 24, 2020 at 17:42

2 Answers 2


Scavengers (S3E6) starts off with a rather... tense leadership meeting. Admiral Vance is someone we've only ever seen in a stressed environment, and it's understandable. He's trying to keep alive the last embers of Starfleet, and he doesn't have a lot of resources to work with. It's not unreasonable that Saru draws the conclusion that the severely limited 32nd century Starfleet wouldn't devote any resources on saving one man.


Saru's conclusion is wrong. Vance is more upset in learning that Saru didn't give him all information he had. It's likely that Vance doesn't punish Burnham directly for the reasons Saru thought saving Book wasn't worth Starfleet's time: she's a highly trained officer and he can't waste her as a resource, even if she was insubordinate.


Consider Starfleet's activities in other periods we've seen, while the crews we've followed spent a decent chunk of time on relief efforts and helping people out they were also zipping about quite happily for purely scientific or diplomatic purposes or tie up the entire senior staff for baseball matches or holographic heists.

Now consider what we see in "Scavengers". The talk is all about putting out fires with what few ships they have and there's no war like in season one of Discovery to keep them away from using their super flagship for neat science experiments or giving some peeps who aren't even part of the Federation a taxi ride or even just seeking out strange new worlds, Starfleet being in 'crisis mode' is business as usual now.

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