“We have always looked to the stars to discover who we are.” Commander Michael Burnham
Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) narrates, “Space. The final frontier. Above us. Around us. Within us. We have always looked to the stars to discover who we are.” She tells a fable of someone creating the stars. We get a flashback of young Michael (Arista Arhin) with Sarek (James Frain) when he brings her home. Amanda (Mia Kirshner) warmly welcomes Michael. They take her to meet their son, young Spock (Liam Hughes). He is sitting in his room drawing something on a futuristic Etch & Sketch. Sarek tells Spock that Michael will be living with them, and he adds, “I expect you to be friends.” Michael extends her hand and says hello. Spock draws some type of Vulcan dragon and has it fly towards them. He shuts his door in their faces. The U.S.S Enterprise shows up in trouble. Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) asks for permission to come aboard and he’s bringing his science officer with him.
As they walk towards the transporter room to greet Captain Pike and his party, Commander Saru (Doug Jones) can sense that Burnham is nervous, she denies it. Captain Pike introduces Commander Nhan (Rachel Ancheril) and Lt. Connolly (Sean Connolly Affleck) as his science officer. This surprises Burnham because she was expecting Spock to be with him. When she asks about him, Pike cryptically says you should set your expectations low, so you’ll never be disappointed. Pike tells Saru that because the Enterprise is down, Starfleet has authorized him to take command of Discovery. The group walks toward the bridge. Nhan: “I see where the Federation puts its pennies.” Pike: “Do not covet thy neighbor’s starship, Commander. Besides, we got the new uniforms.” Saru: “And lovely uniforms they are, Captain.” Burnham: “Very colorful.” Pike explains that they are investigating a bunch of mysterious red things, seven red bursts occurring in perfect synchronization thousands of light-years away from one another. They are following a signal but they don’t know what it is. Connelly: “Every time we tried to scan, the computer went haywire.” Burnham: “Like a compass at the North Pole.” Pike: “Well put. Why didn’t we think of that Connelly? Huh? Think of all the syllables that gave their lives.” Connelly: “Metaphor seemed a bit simplistic.” Burnham: “I believe it’s a simile.” When they reach the bridge, Pike introduces himself to the bridge crew and tells them he knows what they have been through. He understands if they don’t trust him yet; he emphasizes he is not Lorca.
Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) is looking at an old message from the deceased [for now?] Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz). He had bought tickets to a Kasseelian opera. He knows that Stamets is only going for him. Hugh: “I do love it when you only do things for me. I love it.” Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) interrupts him. She has been assigned to his department and she’s doing some reorganizing for him. When she asks where he wants his equipment, he tells her she can put it in storage. She doesn’t understand, he tells Tilly he has accepted a teaching post with the Vulcan Science Academy, and is leaving the ship. Stamets: “Did you know that a Kasseelian prima donna trains her whole life for one performance? And after she hits that last high E, she plunges a dagger into her own chest and dies. She’s lived an entire lifetime in that last note. And I’ve lived an entire lifetime in what I’ve accomplished here on Discovery.” He can’t stay aboard the Discovery because everything here reminds him of Hugh. Tilly responds, “I understand that this place may be haunted for you but maybe its good haunted. Maybe living with ghosts and energies that are bigger than we are is why you love science.” Stamets sadly smiles and tells her how good a person she is and she’ll make a great captain one day. Stamets: “I need you to repeat after me.” Tilly: “Okay.” Stamets: “I will say…” Tilly: “I will say.” Stamets: “…fewer things.” Tilly: “Fewer th… okay…. I don’t want you to go.”
Burnham has a memory of Amanda reading Alice in Wonderland to her as a child. She is reading the book now. Sarek enters her room and sees the book and he remembers when Amanda used to read the book to young Michael. Burnham is surprised he knew Amanda read the book to her. He tells her that even though he was working upstairs, he could hear Amanda. Sarek: “Her voice gave comfort to us all.” Burnham asks him a question about her and Spock. Burnham: “What did you want Spock to learn from me?” Sarek: “Empathy. Something he would need to understand to successfully interact with humans.” He’s afraid it didn’t work because he doesn’t think Spock ever fully accepted her. She responds that Spock did for a while. Sarek is surprised to hear this. He can tell she is leaving out some details and that it weighs on her. When she is ready to talk about it, he will be available.
On the bridge, Pike asks the bridge crew to introduce themselves, they have traced the signal, and he doesn’t want to go to the source without knowing who he is working with. They all introduce themselves, [I believe it is the first time we’ve heard some of their names on the show.] Lt. Cmdr. Airiam (Hannah Cheesman), Keyla Detmer (Emily Coutts), Gen Rhys (Patrick Kwok-Choon), Joann Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo) and R.A. Bryce (Ronnie Rowe). Pike gives orders to each of them and ends with, “And Detmer? Fly … good.”
“I was expecting a red thing. Where’s my damn red thing?” Captain Christopher Pike
When they drop out of warp they are in an asteroid field. The signal is no longer there. Pike: “I was expecting a red thing. Where’s my damn red thing?” Burnham spots a Federation ship wedged into a large asteroid, which has its own gravitational field. With his superior vision, Saru makes out the ship’s numbers. It is the USS Hiawatha, a Starfleet medical frigate that went missing 10 months ago during the war. Because of the ion distortion, they can’t beam down or take a shuttle to the ship. Saru tries to explain the difficulties and dangers in trying to get to the Hiawatha, especially with them not even knowing if there are any survivors. Pike doesn’t want to hear it, “I didn’t sit out the war with my crew to stand down now.” He won’t abandon fellow Starfleet officers. Pike tells them they can disagree with him, but they have to offer solutions. Burnham says that is what she is trying to do, and adds, “And for the record, there isn’t a member of this crew who would abandon a Starfleet brother or sister…sir.” Pike calms down and agrees with her. She suggests they use the lander pods to reach the ship. Burnham: “We’ll set up pattern enhancers and beam back.” Connelly: “Unless our signals get caught up in all that ion distortion and we rematerialize in a billion pieces.” Pike: “You want out, Connelly, now is the time.” Connelly: “Not a chance, sir. I love roller coasters.” Pike agrees to her plan, so he, Burnham, Connolly, and Nhan will go down to the asteroid.
On the way to the pods, Burnham runs into Tilly. She tells her that this is affecting the spores, the last time the spores reacted like this was with the Tardigrade. Tilly asks if Burnham can bring back a sample. Burnham: “Stamets must be having a field day.” Tilly: “Um. Stamets is transferring off the ship. And if you ask me any more questions, I’m going to start crying like a baby Tribble in the kill zone.” She tells Burnham she can’t lose anyone else and asks her to promise she’ll be back. Burnham is quiet, so she asks her to lie. Burnham promises she’ll be back.
The ride is rough, Burnham was a test pilot on these lander pods, so she know how to pilot them, Connelly thinks he knows everything and won’t listen. While he’s giving an example of his superior knowledge, a piece of an asteroid hits his pod, killing him. Pike’s pod malfunctions, and his is unable to eject out of the pod. Pike: “My damn helmet’s stuck.” Something is also wrong with his suit. Burnham comes up with a plan, the ship will eject Pike from his pod, and Burnham will eject from her pod and catch him and guide them to the ship. He tells her it’s too dangerous, she has to go on without him. Burnham tells him Discovery won’t abandon him. Lieutenants Detmer and Owosekun will have to do all the work on the ship to make it work. Burnham: “We have him, right ladies?” Detmer and Owoskeun: “Yeah, umm.” Pike agrees to the plan, and though it is perilous, it works. They land on the asteroid safely.
“An armistice? With the guys who drink blood wine?” Commander Jett Reno
Commander Nhan joins them, and the three repel down the asteroid to the Hiawatha. Burnham: “I have an incoming target.” They point there phasers at a drone that is made from different ship parts. After it scans them, they hear a voice, “Awesome I know. I built them. You’re welcome. Don’t just stand there. Follow the kids. Come on.” They follow the drone into the ship where they meet its creator, Commander Jett Reno (Tig Notaro), the Hiawatha’s chief engineer. She stayed behind to care for the injured members of her crew. She extends her hand to shake Captain Pike’s hand, but she has blood on it. Reno: “Relax, Tellurite blood is rich in hemelytra. The only place on Earth you’ll find anything like it is marine invertebrates. Evolution’s a fickle bitch, am I right?” She has the ship bobby-trapped in case the Klingons attack. Burnham: “There was an armistice. We’re at peace.” Reno: “An armistice? With the guys who drink blood wine?” She is relieved the war is over. Reno: “We’ve been rockin’ and rollin’ for hours. Can someone tell me what’s going on?” Burnham: “This asteroid is on a collision course with a pulsar. The gravitational field is going to tear this place apart.” Reno: “Huh. What a relief. Thought we were all going to die. Can you get us the hell out of here or what?” They begin setting up the pattern enhancers so they can beam the survivors back up to Discovery. Just as they are making the last transport, Burnham steps away to make a quick repair, everyone else is transported except her. The ship starts falling apart around her, as she runs she sends a message to Discovery to beam her back aboard on her coordinates. She is knocked unconscious for a few minutes and wakes up with a piece of metal through her leg. After roaring in pain, she sees something that looks like an angel, but soon Pike appears. He grabs her and they both transport back to the ship. The sample of the asteroid she was holding doesn’t transport with them.
Burnham is in sickbay. Tilly runs through the crowd to check on her. Burnham tells her the sample she was holding didn’t transport with her. The two begin theorizing that this could be non-baryonic matter, something that would make a great energy source. They are excited about the discovery. While laying on her hospital bed Burnham has been making calculations to retrieve a piece of the asteroid instead of resting. Burnham guesses that makes her a poor patient, Dr. Tracy Pollard (Raven Dauda) walks by and agrees. Tilly goes down to engineering so they can grab a piece of the asteroid. Stamets glibly asks why no one told him. Even though he’s depressed about Hugh, this perks him up. They are able to grab a large chunk of the asteroid and bring it aboard the ship. Tilly excitedly tells everyone in the room, “This is the power of math people!” They all clap in excitement.
“Wherever our mission takes us, we’ll try to have a little fun along the way too, alright? Make a little noise. Ruffle a few feathers.” Captain Christopher Pike
Burnham is back on her feet again. While looking at the Enterprise, Pike tells her the ship will need extensive repairs, so he’ll be aboard Discovery for a while. She asks about Saru and he assures her he already told him. Burnham asks for permission to go aboard the Enterprise to talk to Spock. Pike tells her that Spock isn’t aboard the ship, he took leave. He explains that missing the war while they were on their five year mission was hard on him and the crew. Starfleet was keeping them out of the war because the Enterprise was to be the instrument of last resort if the war went bad [which it did]. Pike quoting Spock, “What is the logic of staying away when there won’t be anything to come back to?” Something was bothering Spock, he wouldn’t tell anyone what it was, but he asked to take leave. Burnham wants to go aboard anyway to inspect Spock’s quarters. Pike gives his permission and shares his thoughts on Discovery’s mission, “Wherever our mission takes us, we’ll try to have a little fun along the way too, alright? Make a little noise. Ruffle a few feathers.”
While in Spock’s quarters [which are really nice] she sees his futuristic Etch & Sketch. She flashes back to another memory when they were kids. Spock left an audio file, he says that the nightmares he has as a child have returned. He has to find out what they are and he is afraid this might be his final transmission aboard the Enterprise. Burnham uses his Etch & Sketch and images of the red things appear.
Captain Christopher Pike takes command of Discovery because the Enterprise was damaged when they were investigating a mysterious phenomenon occurring throughout the galaxy. When Pike boards the ship, his science officer isn’t Mr. Spock, it’s a tool named Connolly. It isn’t until near the end of the episode when Pike reveals that Mr. Spock asked for leave. Burnham finds out he asked for leave because of the red things the Enterprise was investigating. While chasing one of the signals from the mysterious phenomenon, they end up in an asteroid field. That is where Connolly meets his end. They find a missing Federation ship and rescue its survivors. The Discovery is also able to get a very large chunk of the asteroid. Burnham and Tilly believe it is non-baryonic matter. Something to do with black matter I believe. Lt. Stamets has accepted a position with the Vulcan Science Academy because he is still mourning Hugh Culber and the ship reminds him of Hugh too much.
Last season, the show was going for a dark, mature tone. They got the dark part right, though they went so dark sometimes that it became grim. The show didn’t resemble Star Trek, but a poorly made version of Battlestar Galactica. Burnham was so put upon that Job would have said, “Okay, that’s enough.” Near the end they tried to regain the Star Trek feeling, but too little too late. The show wasn’t bad, but it needed to find a way to be a more mature version of Star Trek, while still retaining the optimism that characterizes the show. They begin their first real steps in trying to do that this episode.
One of my big complaints from last year was that aside from the stars of the show, I didn’t even know the names of the rest of the bridge crew. You’d see them every week, but aside from an occasional, “Yes Captain”, you knew nothing about them. The crew didn’t have any real camaraderie, except for Burnham and Tilly. On the other shows, the crews felt like a family. On Discovery, they felt like co-workers who spend as little time as possible with each other. The show runners have begun a real effort to rectify this. Captain Pike had each of them introduce themselves, so we actually heard their names. I knew them before because I’d look it up on IMDB. There was one cute scene when Burnham was telling Pike the Discovery would not abandon him and she asked isn’t that right ‘ladies’ to Detmer and Owosekun. It felt like these were actually people who knew each other and cared about each other. I hope they do a lot more with the crew, but this was a good start.
I’m going to go on the record and say that Captain Pike isn’t evil like Lorca. The Pike character was from the original series and he was in the recent Star Trek movies. He is the classic Starfleet captain and it showed. He was competent and caring. Pike knew what the crew had went through with Lorca and he was being careful not to step on anyone’s toes, but he was still commanding. I think that Anson Mount will be a fine addition to the show. We haven’t met this show’s Mr. Spock yet, but he was prominent in the Burnham storyline. Something happened between the two of them. They haven’t spoken in years. They were close at one time, a fact that surprised Sarek. My question, how close? They are foster siblings, but they aren’t blood related, so who knows what was happening when mom and dad weren’t paying attention. We’ll find out what their relationship was when Spock shows up.
The show continues to look gorgeous, and the scene of the pods in the asteroid field was cinematic and exciting. The episode had humorous moments that fitted the moments. That was mostly thanks to Tig Notaro. I hope she is at least a recurring character this season. I wouldn’t mind if she becomes a regular. She was funny, but felt like a Starfleet officer. Nothing grim or dark happened, unless you count Connolly’s death, and I don’t, I laughed at his demise. I thought Commander Nhan was going to die because she was literally the ‘red shirt’, but it was him instead. A clever move on the show’s part. I enjoyed this episode and I hope this is an indication of the path the show will follow this season.
Here is a look at the rest of the Star Trek: Discovery season.