Star Trek: Discovery (DIS) launched in 2017 on the streaming platform CBS All-Access (an ironic name if ever there was one). I waited until it came out on DVD then, to kill time waiting for season two (to be released on DVD), I watched all of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG), Deep Space Nine (DS9), Voyager (VOY) and the fourth season of Enterprise (ENT). By this time, DIS season three is out on DVD and I have yet to watch season two. Frankly, I wasn't all that impressed with season one... at least not as the prequel it is purported to be. As a reboot of the franchise, I liked it fine, yet the showrunners insist it is in continuity, despite the fact it seems to violate canon in a major way. I came to the show knowing that there would be no visual continuity with the original show and I was prepared to accept that, but I did expect there to be story continuity. (When I say "visual continuity," I am referring to the ships and uniforms, not the Klingons.) Honestly, I could have gotten to this discussion much earlier, I really just didn't care to. I am told that season two takes steps to reconcile the continuity differences. We shall see. I plan to start over with season one. Here's a look at what's ahead.
1. The Vulcan Hello - -p1
2. Battle at the Binary Stars - p1
3. Context is for Kings - p1
4. The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry - p1
5. Choose Your Pain - p2
6. Lethe - p2
7. Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad - p2
8. Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum - p2
9. Into the Forest I Go - p2
10. Despite Yourself - p2
11. The Wolf Inside - p2
12. Vaulting Ambition - p3
13. What's Past is Prologue - p3
14. The War Without, the War Within - p3
15. Will You Take My Hand? - p3
1. Brother - p3
2. New Eden - p3
3. Point of Light - p3
4. An Obol for Charon - p4
5. Saints of Imperfection - p4
6. The Sound of Thunder - p4
7. Light and Shadows - p4
8. If Memory Serves - p4
9. Project Daedalus - p4
10. The Red Angel - p5
11. Perpetual Infinity - p5
12. Through the Valley of Shadows - p5
13. Such Sweet Sorrow - p6
14. Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2 - p6
1. That Hope is You, Part 1 - p6
2. Far From Home - p6
3. People of Earth - p6
4. Forget Me Not - p7
5. Die Trying - p7
6. Scavengers - p7
7. Unification III - p7
8. The Sancuary - p8
9. Terra Firma, Part 1 - p8
10. Terra Firma, Part 2 - p8
11. Su'Kal - p8
12. There is a Tide... - p8
13. That Hope is You, Part 2 - p8
1. Kobayashi Maru - p9
2. Anomaly - p9
3. Choose to Live - p9
4. All is Possible - p9
5. The Examples - p9
6. Stormy Weather - p9
7. ...But to Connect - p9
8. All In - p9
9. Rubicon - p9
10. The Galactic Barrier - p10
11. Rosetta - p10
12. Species Ten-C - p10
13. Coming Home - p10
Synchronicity: So... I'm reading Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and I learn: "We Chinese call the land we live in Shenzou. It's meaning is in fact 'The Land of God'." Captain Georgio's ship was the Shenzou, and Michelle Yeoh (who played Georgio) starred in both the movie version of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as well as Star Trek: Discovery.
Saw a video on-line poking fun at the disconnect between Discovery and previous Trek by asking why Voyager couldn't have used the spore drive to get home as a one-time emergency thing.
Looking back, here's what I remember about seasons 1-3: I didn't like season one very much; the entirety of season two was spent recovering from season one; season three moves the action from an alternate past far into an alternate future. At the end of season three, Burnham was given her own command and I was left with the impression that season four was when the show would really begin. Having said that, here is a show that has morphed so far away from Star Trek that I question whether or not it's Star Trek at all.
KOYBAYASHI MARU: The episode begins with a diplomatic mission that does not go well. The Federation is trying to give dilithium away to planets previously dependent on it before "The Burn" (see season three). the "butterfly people" don't understand why Booker has a carnivore (his cat) as a pet, and attempt to free it. He and Burnham end up fleeing for their lives, but leave the dilithium as a gesture of goodwill anyway.
Starfleet Academy has reopened after 125 years. the celebration is interrupted by an emergency distress call from Deep Space Repair 6. Discovery is dispatched immediately. New Federation President Laira Rillak is also present and insists on joining the mission over Burnham's protest. (Nothing is said about it, but Rillak appears to be of human/Cardassian heritage.) As Burnham departs on her mission, Book returns to his home planet to attend his nephew's coming-of-age ceremony. Saru, on his homeworld, contemplates a return to Starfleet.
Deep Space Repair 6, Adira and Tilly beam over to assist the station's with repairs but the situation deteriorates quickly enough that the only option is emergency evacuation. the only problem is that the evac ship is blocked by debris. (Actually, there are two problems because the evacuation will require two trips.) Burnham takes a workbee (after overcoming an objection from President Rillak) and just barely makes it after her workbee is destroyed by floating debris. she clears the blockage and returns to Discovery on the escape pod's first trip. Once back, the President insists that she abandon the rest of the trapped crew (Adira, Tilly and the station commander) because the shields could break down at any time.
The shields do fail, but Burnham does manage to save the ship as well as the second shuttle (although the commander is killed). Later, Rillak reveals that she has been assessing Burnham for the captaincy of Voyager, a ship with the experimental "pathway" drive, but her refusal to accept a "no win scenario" has exempted her from consideration. Later, sensors detect Book's ship drifting in space. He is brought aboard and they return to his planet, only to find that it has been destroyed by a gravitational anomaly.
ANOMALY: Saru returns to the Discovery to serve as first officer. Discovery is assigned to investigate the anomaly which destroyed Book's planet. Dr. Culbert has created a synthetic body for for Gray (who currently exists only in Adira's mind), based on the design of Picard's from Picard.
Discovery cannot get close to the anomaly. Book's ship can, but he's too psychologically compromised (due to the destruction of his planet) to pilot. He insists and Burnham reluctantly agrees. Book's ship is connected to Discovery by a "tether" which is necessary to pull Book's ship back, but also transfer effects of the anomaly (such as periodic losses of artificial gravity) directly to Discovery. Burnham is forced to cut the tether, and Book flakes out for a bit, proving he was not ready for this mission in the first place. Lt. Bryce comes up with an idea how Book can "surf" the waves generated by the anomaly back to Discovery. He returns with the data, but the first thing they learn from it is that is it totally unpredictable and may change course at any time for no discernable reason.
CHOOSE TO LIVE: A group of Qowat Milat (Romulan Warrior nuns) steal a supply of dilitium and kill an officer on guard. The leader of team is identified, and Gabrielle Burnham (Captain Burnham's mother and sister in the order) insists on joining the mission to recover the dilithium and bring the renegades to justice. [The order Qowat Milat is centered on Ni'Var (see season three), but I will probably continue to refer to it as Vulcan.] The recovery team tracks the dilithium to what at first appears to be a small moon but is, in fact, a large spaceship-ark designed to transport an entire population (in suspended animation) to a new world. They have arrived at the designated world (using the stolen dilithium) but, for some reason, they were not revived upon arrival.
The Qowat Milat, you will recall, dedicates itself to "lost causes." The leader of the thieves is also the sister who rescued Gabrielle Burnham when she arrived, as the Red Angel, in the 29th century; she is also the one currently holding a sword to Gabrielle's throat. Using logic, Michael Burnham convinces the Sister to allow Tilly to revive the population of the ark. It is eventually decided to turn her over to the Ni'Varans Vulcans for political reasons, which Captain Burnham objects to because of the Starfleet guard they killed.
Dr. Culber and a Guardian from Trill transfer Gray from Adira's mind but, although Adira can no longer sense Gray's consciousness within her, it has not entered the artificial host body. By the end of the episode, however, Gray regains consciousness. (Just as a reminder to those who may be reading these summaries but not watching the show, Adira and Gray are trans and non-binary characters played by trans and non-binary actors.
Stamets and Book investigate the anomaly, now dubbed DMA (for " dark matter anomaly"). They hypothesize that DMA is a primordial wormhole, however no tachyons are present. Book allows the Ni'Varans Vulcans to initiate a mind meld in the hope of solving the mystery because he was present when the planet was destroyed, despite the fact that it would force him to relive the destruction of his planet. They don't learn what they looking for, but the experience brings closure to Book.
I didn't particularly care for this episode (it has a lot of holes I glossed over), but I do like its theme. The Qowat Milat phrase that gives the episode its title is actually part of a longer saying: "The path you are on has come to an end. Choose to live."
ALL IS POSSIBLE: Final negotiations are underway to admit Ni'Var (Vulcan) to the Federation. Admital Vance is ill and the Federation is to be represented by Burnham and Saru. The Vulcan President makes some quite impossible demands and the negotiations stall right out of the gate. Weighed down by politics, neither the Federation nor the Vulcan President are willing to budge, but Burnham suggests another option. Because she is Starfleet, not Federation per se, she is merely present a third alternative for the two sides to consider.
Meanwhile, Tilly volunteers to lead a group of cadets on a training mission, and a sorry lot they are. They may well be experts in their chosen fields of study, but they have spent their lives isolated to the point of being xenophobic. I'm sure no cadets with attitudes such as theirs would have even been granted entrance to Starfleet Academy back in the 23rd or 24th centuries. Although already an ensign, Adira is assigned to the mission as well. Their shuttle crash lands on a planet with an inhospitable environment (to say the least!) and they are forced to cooperate to survive. (Think "Galileo Seven.")
The theme of this episode is very obviously "cooperation" with the A-plot and the B-plot being mirrors of each other. Book works on his grief with Culber, Gray adapts to the artificial body and meets crewmates, Tilly accepts a teaching position at Starfleet Academy and says goodbye to Discovery.
THE EXAMPLES: As Discovery examines the DMA, it suddenly disappears and reemerges 1000 light years away, threatening a remote colony world. The colonists are evacuated, except for six prisoners who are being held as "examples." Despite the fact they all committed only minor offences, they have been sentenced to life and the governor is willing to abandon them. The prison guards have already been evacuated. Burnham and Book go to rescue the prisoners, but they refuse to leave without being granted asylum. One of the prisoners did actually commit murder during a robbery, but has managed to keep it a secret from his fellow prisoners. He wants to stay on the planet to meet his fate in penance. He stole a n heirloom from the family he robbed and wishes it returned to the girl he orphaned.
Back on Discovery, Stamets and a visiting scientist conduct a dangerous experiment to learn more about the DMA. The scientist is brilliant but obnoxious. They learn that the energy required to maintain the DMA is equivalent to a hypergiant star. Their findings also lead them to believe it is not a naturally occurring phenomenon, but manmade.
Burnham is able to return the heirloom to the girl, now grown. The governor is outraged that the three remaining "examples" are not being held in the brig and threatens to file a formal complaint. Burnham reminds him that he is now a refugee, and better hope that wherever he ends up is kinder to refugees than he has been to his prisoners. This is the second episode in a row in which I have liked the final message, but not the episode itself so much.
Here's something I forgot to mention. In "All is Possible," the ship's computer decided it wanted to be addressed as "Kora." In "The Examples," it confided to Burnham that it has developed emotions (or at least the ability to identify and mimic them).
STORMY WEATHER: Discovery investigates a subspace rift left behind by the DMA. Once inside, they find a total void. they cannot leave by either impulse of spore drive because reasons. Their only way out is to trust to trust the sentient computer's emotions, again because reasons. But "Zora" is feeling guilty about a crew member's death and may crack under pressure. Gray plays a Trill game with Zora to help settle its emotions. Because the crew would not be able to survive the plasma around the rift, they must all go into the transporter's pattern buffer. Burnham attempts to ride it out in an EVA suit, but she eventually succumbs to the intense heat. when she awakens, the ship is back in normal space and the crew is safe. Book sees a vision of his dead father and concludes his entire race might be alive somewhere, somehow. the only thing they really learn this episode is that the DMA originated from somewhere outside the galaxy.
Burnhan is really accepting Zora's transformation in stride, yet when they return home, she does not report it. (I've got a bad feeling about how this is going to play out.) The heirloom Burnham returned to the orphan girl last episode was a family record, a holographic image of a literal tree with little holos of family and ancestors as ancestors. Burnham has since made one of her own. Now Zora constructs a quite large one, with the crew representing her "family."
Oh, the title. When Burnham and Zora are navigating the plasma field by themselves, Zora asks if she can sing a song to calm their nerves. No, it's not the song I was hoping (but not expecting) it would be. Zora has quite the singing voice, not at all like an AI but more like the actress who voices the part.
...BUT TO CONNECT: There are two main plots this episode, each as interesting as the other. The first concerns Zora and whether or not it constitutes a life form; the second is the Federations plans for First Contact with the race behind the DMA, which they have labeled Species 10-C for convenience's sake.
Zora has determined the location of the origin of the DMA... but refuses to divulge it because the knowledge would put the crew at risk. It reasons, correctly, that if they knew where the DMA originated they would go there, and that could prove dangerous. There is a Federation directive against a sentient AI being in control of a starship, and Kovich arrives to make that determination. (A possible solution would be to remove the AI from the computer core and transplant it into an artificial form.) The rest of this plot proceed's very much along the lines of TNG's "The Measure of a Man" concerning Data's rights as a sentient being.
Stamets, recalling Control's actions in the 23rd century (season two) is very much against leaving Zora in control of the ship. Then Adira and Gray, an ensign and a non-member of Starfleet, come bursting into the conference room to argue Zora's case and stretching my willing suspension of disbelief to its breaking point. The chain of command has never been more than a suggestion on this show, but why they weren't immediately show the door is not even addressed. To placate Stamets, Zora creates a failsafe device which would destroy its consciousness should it ever take control of the ship or otherwise refuse to obey orders. Stamets agrees to this but Gray (Gray!) objects, and want to go on discussing whether or not this is ethical rather than moving on the the matter at hand: getting the coordinates of Species 10-C from Zora.
Zora reveals that its primary duty is to protect the crew, but that's not a Starfleet directive. When asked who programmed that directive, Zora reveals it programmed itself. Kovich calls a recess to consider the matter. When the meeting is resumed, Stamets asks if he can make a suggestion. Kovich agrees, but reveals that he has already come to a decision. Zora essentially wants the crews trust, so Stamets convinces her to trust the crew as well, and convinces Zora to reveal the coordinates. Kovich has decides that Zora actually represent a new life form and therefore is not subject to the Federation ban on AIs in control of starships. Then Stamets suggest that Zora join Starfleet, which would put it under Burnham's command and subject to orders. Kovich agrees and reveals that, had Stamets not come around, he would have recommended that Stamets, not Zora, be reassigned elsewhere.
Meanwhile, delegates from the 60 Federation worlds, as well as numerous non-aligned worlds invited by Starfleet, have convened to decide how to proceed: diplomacy or war. President Rillak is pro-diplomacy but remain neutral. Burnham is pro-diplomacy as well, but Book and Tarka (the obnoxious scientist from "The Examples) are both pro-attack. Both Burnham and Book argue their respective points. A vote is taken an diplomacy wins. But Book and Tarka secret plan to deliver Tarka's doomsday device anyway. Burham realizes this when she discovers Book has left Grudge (his cat) behind on Discovery while he undertakes what may well be a suicide mission.
"...But to Connect" is my favorite episode of season four so far, mainly because it is very "Star Trek" and very forward-thinking. I might have expected the Federation to be cast on the "wrong side of history" but both President Rellik and Kovich make the "right" choices. (I thought I wasn't going to like Rellik but, although she is very much the politician, she has proven a strong ally to Burnham, not the antagonist I expected her to be.) I would expect the Federation to advocate for peaceful First Contact.
Also, the decision regarding Zora being a new form of life and admitted to Starfleet was not an outcome I expected. As the episode approached its end, Burnham's speech advocating peace and Stamets' speech regarding cooperation were intercut. The plot regarding the AI not following orders misdirected me so successfully that it did not even occur to me that a human being wouldn't abide by the majority decision (although on this this show I don't know why not). This wouldn't necessarily be a good episode to watch out of context of the season or the series, but it is, as I have said, very "Star Trek."
Whoops. I should have mentioned last time that Gray decided to leave the ship to go live on Trill.
ALL IN: Book and Tarka have escaped with the doomsday weapon, but they still need isolynium to make it work. From her courier days, Burnham knows she may be able to acquire star charts of the unknown (to the Federation) area of space from which species 10-C originated. It is a "wretched hive of scum and villainy" from which Book may also acquire the isolynium and she knows she may encounter him there as well. Booker is there, and has offered to expose cheaters in the casino to pay for the isolynium. Owosekun suggests participating in a "no rules" fight to earn the money. (Owosekun has been a character since the first season, but hasn't been developed much; I guess her inclusion here is an attempt to rectify that.) She loses the first two matches but cleans up on the third.
Haz Mazaro, the big boss, accepts the prize money as an entry fee to play a card game since both parties now claim the isolynium. By this time, two others bidders have become interested as well. Burnham knows that Book knows the game better than she does, but he's not guaranteed to win against three other players plus the house by any means. She suggests that they secretly team-up to force the other two bidders out of the game, which they do. The game is a sort of combination of poker and blackjack, with two cards showing but the hands are from poker (straight, flush, etc.).
Book wins, but Burham, expecting to lose, placed a tracker on the isolynium container. Back on Discovery, Stamets has deduced that the DMA is an automated mining ship used to harvest boronite and is not a weapon at all. Maybe it would not be a good idea to attack such a sophisticated race after all...?
RUBUCON: Admiral Vance orders Burnham to stop Book and Tarka, BUT he assigns another officer with the authority to take command if Burnham's judgement is compromised due to her personal relationship with Book. The officer turns out to be Nhan, the Barzan security officer from Pike's Enterprise in the 23rd century and travelled with Discovery in to the 29th. It was Nhan who blew Ariam out of an airlock when it was discovered her cybernetic components had been corrupted by Section 31's "Control" in order to gain access to the sphere data. She later transferred off Discovery to Starfleet HQ.
Saru commands a cloaked shuttle to take Book and Tarka by surprise while they are assembling the isolytic weapon. Unbeknown to Book, however, Tarka has installed a lethal, autonomous proximity defense system which very nearly destroys the shuttle and all hands, and would have without Book and Burnham working together to allow Discovery to beam them aboard before the shuttle disintegrated. Book leaps away and Discovery follows. An analysis of data has proven that the DMA will take a week to mine the boronite, giving them some wiggle room before it potentially leaps to an inhabited system. Nhan knows of a way to penetrate Book's ship's shields, by targeting the exhaust port and causing a chain reaction, but they agree to try convincing them to try diplomacy first.
Book doesn't know about the time reprieve, but neither is he responding to Burham's hails. They begin a series of jumps and blocks, each firing warning shots, each anticipating the other's moves (as in the card game in the previous episode). Finally, in desperation, Burham pilots a shuttle right to Book's ship's bridge. They speak "face-to-face" and Book agrees to give diplomacy a chance. By the time Burnham gets back to Discovery, however, Tarka has beamed the isolytic weapon into the heart of the DMA, destroying it. A search for the energy source reveals that it was being powered from outside the galaxy. Almost immediately, a second DMA appears in its place.
[Every time I hear "Species 10-C" it makes me think of 10cc.]
This season's threat reminds me of nothing so much as...