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
THE GALACTIC BARRIER: First contact with species 10-C has been fast-tracked. Discovery has been dispatched to the Galactic Barrier (which dates way, way, waaay back to "Where No Man has Gone Before" but looks quite different). President Rillak has turned her duties over to the Vice President of the Federation in order to accompany the mission. Burnham sets some boundaries of how to behave if she expects to be allowed on the bridge (such as "Don't question my orders in front of the crew"). These two are somewhat antagonistic, but play well off each other.
Saru's has been growing close to Vulcan President T'Rina over the past few episodes. T'Rina invited him to have dinner with her but, unsure of how to respond, Saru declined. Dr. Culber encouraged him to show some interest, which he does this episode. But before she can respond, another Vulcan walks up on business and she is unable to respond. Later it is learned that T'Rina, as well, will be part of the mission because the delegate from Ni'Var didn't arrive in time.
Book has finally had enough of Tarka and plans to put him off the ship, but truly needs him if their mission to destroy species 10-C is to even have a chance of succeeding. Tarka knows of a supply of programmable antimatter which will allow them to pierce the Galactic Barrier. Tarka takes Book to an abandoned Emerald Chain camp where he and his friend were being held prisoner. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that he and the other scientist, Oros, didn't get along at first, but grew closer over time. Eventually we learn that Tarka was initially placed in that cell/lab to betray Oros. He changes his mind over time, but that is essentially what happens. Oros forgives him but they are separated and Tarka has been trying to rejoin him ever since. None of this backstory makes me inclined to trust Tarka any more than I have so far, which is not at all.
After a series of trials, Discovery pierces the Galactic Barrier and heads into intergalactic space, but also recieves the news that DMA-2 has changed course and is on a course which will intersect with both Ni'Var and Earth in 71 hours.
ROSETTA: Discovery is beyond the galactic barrier, but I'm not certain where, exactly, they are. Intergalactic space is vast, but they soon find themselves orbiting a former gas giant they reckon was the original homeworld of Species 10-C. That system's sun has Dyson rings surrounding it, and it is speculated that Species 10-C itself is within a large "hyperfield." Discovery is able to discern that the gas giant lost its atmosphere approximately 1000 years prior when it was struck by asteroids. It was around that same time time that the hyperfield was constructed. Burnham decides to visit the dead planet in hope of finding some sort of commonality with humanity before initiating First Contact. Others see this as an unnecessary delay.
Her landing party consists of Saru, Culber and Detmer. Doing a flyover in a shuttle, they spot the remains of some sort of structure. They land to investigate and discover the skeletons of huge, squid-like creatures of low bone density. They speculate that these creatures must have lived in the upper gas layers of the planet. One by one, first Saru then Culber then Burnham succumb to debilitating fear. Detmer is unaffected. They eventually determine that the three came into contact with a kind of blue dust that is affecting their emotions. They modify their protective suits to filter it out and proceed into the structure, which they determine is a nursery. Burnham deliberately turns her filter off, and the emotions she experiences from within the nursery are love and peace. She speculates that being protective of their young may be the commonality between Humanity and Species 10-C she has been seeking. She further speculates that the hydrocarbon "dust" may be used as a "Rosetta Stone" to aid in communication.
Meanwhile, Tarka and Book have secretly beamed aboard Discovery with the intention of creating a "blind spot" in Zora's sesors which would allow them to attack Book's ship to the hull so they can penetrate the hyperfield with Discovery. Thet separate and Book approaches one of the delegates aboard who was in favor of attacking Species 10-C. She agrees to act as a kind of spy for them, but only if their plan to attack is used as a last resort. Tarka is discovered by Jett Reno. Later, when Book returns to his ship (which attached to Discovery now), he is surprised to learn Tarka has taken Reno hostage.
SPECIES TEN-C: As Discovery approaches the hypersphere, there is no response to any of the hails. Little servo-robots are dispatched to deliver a message directly to the surface, which appears to be metal, but ripples like water when touched. After a few seconds, worm-like "spouts" of what looks like water jut out and "suck in" all the robots. Next, a HUGE spout erupts and sucks Discovery in.
Before moving on, I need to back up and introduce two more of the delegation I've neglected to mention so far. the first is General Ndoye, whom I mentioned but did not name yesterday. She is the one who is acting as spy for Book and Tarka (who are still attached to Discovery's hull). Hirai is the linguist they brought along to facilitate communication. He will have a large part to play in this episode. More so than any other species ever encountered in all of Star Trek, Species 10-C has been presented as the most alien because they originate from outside the galaxy. Universal translators won't even work because 10-C is so different. They communicate via emotions, for example.
In the previous episode, the landing party discovered 15 different emotions they were able to identify represented in the hydrocarbon dust they found, Now 10-C sends clouds of that dust representing six of those emotions in various degrees, followed by flashes of light. Discovery tries repeating the light pattern but receive no response. They deduce that the lights and the hydrocarbons are meant to be deciphered together, otherwise the lights are just gibberish. This sequence reminds me quite a bit of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but instead of using musical notes as a method of communication, 10-C are using lights and emotions.
With the help of the linguist Hirai, they are able to decipher the message. It is a simple baseline method of communication using math. With everyone brainstorming, they are able to compose a message to project back to the 10-C. In response, the 10-C send over a large, egg-shaped object. When a door appears in its side, the delegation realizes that it is a "shuttlecraft" and an invitation to enter. Rillak, Burnham, Saru and T'Rina go, Ndoye and Hirai stay behind. (I would think Hirai would be more helpful on the mission and Saru more helpful in command of the ship, but whatever.) I think Ndoye stays behind because, seeing how well attempts at communication are going, regrets assisting Booker and Tarka.
From her forcefield "cell" on Book's ship's bridge, Reno is able to tell that Tarka's has betrayed Book yet again and that his plan will result, not only in the destruction of Discovery and Book's ship, but of Earth and Vulcan as well, just as surely as the DMA would, while Tarka escapes safely into another dimension. Book doesn't understand the engineering, but he knows Tarka is lying when he asks him about it. Unfortunately, Tarka has already reprogrammed the ship's defenses to throw a forcefield around him and repel any attack against the attacker. Books ends up essentially beating the crap out of himself before being tossed in Reno's forcefield cell.
Meanwhile, when the delegates step inside the "shuttle" they find themselves on what appears to be the bridge of Discovery, but is actually an environment created by 10-C to make them feel more comfortable. 10-C manages to ask them about the purpose of the device Tarka used to destroy DMA-1. In response, they manage to convey that they are frightened of the DMA and 10-C responds with sadness. (The process of interpreting messages and answering in a meaningful way is actually much more interesting than I am making it sound here.) It is at this point that Tarka attacks. His sabotage of Discovery causes a nacelle to fire, blasting a hole in the hyperfield through which he escapes in Book's ship. the delegates suddenly find themselves back in Discovery's shuttle bay, having "attacked" their hosts.
Tracy and I were discussing this episode later. She said, in order for her to accept this season, one thing has to happen: Book must be held responsible for his treachery and punished. Given that this series began with a convicted traitor (Burnham) drafted back into Starfleet service, I told her not too hold her breath. Also, in Star Trek: Picard, Jurati literally got away with murder.
One episode to go before we find out.
COMING HOME: Discovery is still stuck within the orb. Book's ship is approaching the DMA's power source. the evacuation of Earth and Ni'Var (Vulcan) has begun, but Admiral Vance estimates that only 450,000 or so from each planet can be saved. He and Tilly remain aboard the Federation HQ satellite in Earth orbit to deflect debris and buy additional time for the fleet to evacuate as many as possible and safely flee. On Discovery, General Ndoye comes clean about sabotaging the warp nacelle and is confined to quarters. In a scene reminiscent of Spock and V'Ger from ST:TMP, T-Rina attempts to contact Species 10-C telepathically but is overwhelmed. She learns that 10-C is a collective consciousness.
Stamets finds a way to break free of the orb but it would burn out the spore drive, meaning it will take tham decades to get home. In desperation, Burnham gives him the go-ahead to proceed. Book finds a way to escape the forcefield and incapacitates Tarka, but its too late: the process cannot be stopped. Reno beams to Discovery with the news and a message from Book to do whatever is necessary to stop his ship. Ndoye, a military tactician, has been released from her confinement to provide whatever advice she is able to. they cannot blast Books ship because that would trigger the attack on the DMA's power source. Detmer volunteers for a suicide mission, but Ndoye insists it is her duty. She rams a shuttle into Book's ship but is nevertheless beamed to safety at the last minute.
Tarka has a last minute change of heart and shuts off life support to provide just enough power to beam Book to safety before the damaged ship explodes. Just as Book begins to materialize on Discovery's bridge, his ship explodes before the transport is complete. With the danger to the DMA now complete, species 10-C transports several of Discovery's crew to their homeworld to parlay. When they learn that their boronite mining operations are causing harm, they express sadness and regret and stop the procedure, saving Earth and Ni'Var (Vulcan). They then notice that Burnham is still sad and ask her why. When she explains that Book was "her one," they restore him to life.
Both Tracy and I audibly groaned at this point. (Species 10-C did not know what the transporter beam was, but they froze it in stasis "just in case.") It's not how he was restored to life that we object to; it's that he was restored. His actions very nearly led to the destruction of both Earth and Ni'Var, and he should be held accountable for that. UIt seems only fitting and proper that he not survive. Species 10-C vows to check more thoroughly for indigenous lifeforms in their minig operations going forward, but that's not good enough for Book. He steps forward and demands that they stop all boronite mining entirely on the basis that it leaves mass destruction in its wake regardless.
But. Species 10-C argues, they need the boronite to maintain their shield against any future disasters such as the one which destroyed they original homeworld a millennium ago. Book gives an inspirational speech about not hiding away from what they fear yadda yadda yadda and they agree to stop just like that. Then they send Discovery back home via wormhole created for the DMA. There is a joyous reunion and celebration, Earth rejoins the Federation, and Book is sent on a mission to aid those displaced by the DMA as (or in lieu of, AFAIAC) his punishment.
I really had high hopes for this season in particular because, now that it has moved 900 years in the future, I thought it would be that much easier to consider it an alternate reality (despite the show-runners' contention that it is canon). Although season four is, in my estimation, the best of the series so far, I still have difficulty accepting it as "true" Star Trek. I'm getting tired of these season-long arcs which threaten "life as we know it" and would like to get back to some episodic exploration.
There is one other thing I should probably mention about "Coming Home" and it involves a SPOILER.
Tracy told me last night that this is something she found out about shortly after the episode aired, but kept it to herself all this time. I'm really glad she did because, had I known there was a spoiler, I would have spent my time anticipating it and I wouldn't've experienced the full effect of the surprise. If simply knowing there's a spoiler doesn't spoil it for you, this is your final chance to look away.
The "spoiler" is a bit of stunt casting that I'm not going to ruin for you, even after all that build-up. (You can Google it yourself if you really want to know.) HINT: The character is the President of United Earth. I cannot even tell you who spoiled it for Tracy, or that would give it away. The "spoiler's" reaction was brilliant, though, which made the casting that much more effective IMO.