Star Trek Discovery: Pinky Swear

Star Trek: Discovery | Season 2 | Episode 5 : “Saints of Imperfection”
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For a quick read, go to Review.

For a complete summary, go to Recap.

KBear Recap [Read  time: 5-7 min]

“But there is no word for the agony of uncertainty.” Michael Burnham

Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) runs through Discovery’s crowded corridors, trying to get to engineering. We hear her voiceover as they show a montage which includes Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), “Words define who we are. Officer. Orphan. Widower. Shipmate. But there is no word for the agony of uncertainty.” She makes it to engineering to see Stamets standing over the empty cocoon. Stamets is not giving up on finding Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman), but everyone else thinks she’s probably dead. Burnham: “I want to have faith, but in its absence, only duty remains.”

The bridge crew, Lt. Cmdr. Airiam (Hannah Cheesman), Lt. Keyla Detmer (Emily Coutts), Lt. Gen Rhys (Patrick Kwok-Choon), Lt. Joann Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo), and Lt. R.A. Bryce (Ronnie Rowe) detects Spock’s shuttle. The shuttle is running towards a nebula to get away from Discovery. Commander Saru (Doug Jones) suggests to Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) that Spock wouldn’t know that Pike is commanding the ship, so he should hail him. Pike hails Spock’s shuttle to let him know they are there to help him. The shuttle continues towards the nebula, if it gets through, Discovery will lose it. Pike orders them to launch a photon torpedo and detonate it 100 meters from the shuttlecraft to disable it. We get a cool view of the shuttlecraft from the torpedo’s perspective. It successfully disables the shuttle. Pike orders Burnham with him and the security team to greet  Spock in the shuttle bay. The security team surrounds the shuttle with their phasers out. A figure walks out of the shuttle, but it isn’t Spock. Instead it is Emperor Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) with her hands up. Pike greets her, thinking she is Captain Philippa Georgiou. He wonders why Burnham still has her phaser on her old captain as she slowly puts it to her side. Emperor Georgiou [smiling at Burnham]: “Quite the welcome my dear.”

“There are always lives at stake, that’s what keeps us employed. We do what we do, so you can do what you do.” Leland

The three are walking down the corridor while Pike reminisces about Georgiou and him when they attended Starfleet academy together. She could drink the other cadets under the table but she still learned the regulations before they did. Georgiou realizes he is asking why she ran from them and didn’t respond to their hails. Even though her official records say she retired, she shows Pike and Burnham her Section 31 black badge. She was tasked with tracking down Spock. When they walk into Pike’s ready room, the hologram of Leland (Alan Van Sprang) awaits them. He and Pike are old friends, Pike didn’t know that Leland was the head of Section 31, but he isn’t surprised, he knew Leland was always comfortable in the grey areas. As the two men talk, Georgiou eats an apple. Leland tells Pike and Burnham that it would appear he was playing favorites if he let Spock’s commanding officer and sister take part in the search. Pike tells him that Spock has a connection to the signals, and that lives could be at stake. Leland: “There are always lives at stake, that’s what keeps us employed. We do what we do, so you can do what you do.” Pike: “If I didn’t know you better, that would sound like a threat.” Leland: “You know me pretty well.” Leland needs Georgiou back, but he’ll send another agent to be his liaison with the ship.

Burnham escourts Georgiou back to the shuttle bay. Burnham asks if Leland knows who she actually is, Georgiou tells Burnham he doesn’t address her by her full title, but he knows who she is. It’s apparent that Pike doesn’t know, Burnham tells her Starfleet ordered the crew not to discuss the mirror universe, so he is in the dark. Burnham tells Georgiou that Section 31 is keeping an eye on her, but she boasts she does her best work in the open. Burnham warns Georgiou not to harm Spock, Georgiou asks what she will do about it. Burnham looks mad and Georgiou loves it, it reminds her of her Michael. Burnham: “I’m sure you need to get back to your snake pit.” Georgiou hisses like a snake and chuckles as she boards her shuttle.

Stamets is in his lab, when Burnham joins him. He tells her that if Tilly were dead, her atoms would be in the cocoon. He explains that thermodynamics energy can’t be created or destroyed. It can only change states. The test results come in, there is no trace of Tilly. She isn’t dead. Burnham is happy and relieved. Stamets theorizes that May (Bahia Watson) took Tilly to the mycelial network, using the cocoon as an organic transporter. Burnham says that is a large area to search for Tilly. Stamets believes he can use the cocoon aboard Discovery, to find its counterpart in the network.

Tilly wakes up in the cocoon in the mycelial network, and is dragged out of it by May. She is scared at first, but quickly becomes pissed off. She tells May she is leaving this place, no matter what. Some little spore like creatures fly around Tilly and then attack her, May orders them away from Tilly. The little spore like creatures break down matter for the network. May is one and has taken this human form for Tilly’s comfort. Tilly doesn’t appreciate the effort. May tells Tilly her species the jahSepp need her help. Tilly doesn’t think they are that helpless, they have enough scientific knowledge to transport her here and have May get into her mind. May tells her she is the only one who can help them. Tilly: “What do you need me to do?” May: “Kill a monster.”

Captain Pike tells Burnham that the liaison from Section 31 is here. She peaks in the room and sees Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif). Pike isn’t happy to have him aboard. Pike: “He murdered an officer.” Burnham:  “Voq murdered an officer, Ash Tyler is a good man.”  Pike agrees that is probably true, but he was the Klingon Chancellor’s Torchbearer and now he’s in black ops. It doesn’t make him trustworthy. He noticed that something was off about Georgiou, she wasn’t the same person he knew. Burnham tells him the war changed her. Pike: “Call me provincial, but I prefer people whose truth I can take at value. So what truth are you keeping from me?” She asks him to be patient and she’ll be able to discuss it at an appropriate time. Pike agrees to wait, but hopes he isn’t forced to find out the truth.

Burnham meets him in the dining hall. He tells her he’s happy to see her, she feels the same. Ash motions to Commander Nhan (Rachael Ancheril) and says he doesn’t think she is. Burnham tells him she is the ship’s new security chief and it’s her job to keep an eye on things. Burnham asks why he’s not on Qo’noS, he tells her that it is classified, and that most things with Section 31 are. Ash: “I think everyone at 31 thinks of it as a place where they make sense. Not in spite of who they are but because of it. They can be of service, they are good people.” Burnham asks does he include Emperor Georgiou in that group. She tells him she is worried about Georgiou hurting Spock. Ash promises to try to keep Spock safe from her. She has to go to a meeting about Tilly hosted by Stamets. Ash asks about Tilly.

May explains about the creature that is harming her species. They can’t kill it themselves because it has a toxin on it that is dangerous to them. It wears the bark of a tree that has the toxin. The monster appeared after Stamets damaged their ecosystem.

“Starfleet is a promise – I give my life for you, you give your life for me. And no one gets left behind.” Christopher Pike

Stamets gives his presentation on the bridge to Captain Pike, Commander Saru, and the rest of the bridge crew. Everyone is startled when Ash walks in with Burnham. Stamets regains his composure and continues. Whenever the ship makes its jumps, they are in the mycelia network for a brief period. He proposes to make a half jump, with half of the ship in the network and the other half in our universe. They will have an hour to rescue Tilly because the mycelial spores will degrade the integrity of Discovery’s tritanium hull in that time period. Stamets will go in the network, Burnham tells him she will join him. The crew will have to avoid touching the parts of the ship in the network to avoid their bodies being twisted like the crew aboard the Glenn. Pike thinks the plan is crazy, but he’s willing to do it to save Tilly. He addresses the entire ship. Captain Pike: “All personnel, this is Captain Pike. Starfleet is a promise – I give my life for you, you give your life for me. And no one gets left behind. Ensign Sylvia Tilly is out there, and she has every right to expect us. We keep our promises.” Discovery goes on black alert. Burnham joins Stamets in the reaction cube, they can enter the network from there without being harmed. The ship makes the half jump.

Tilly and May hear and feel a big commotion. Tilly looks up and sees Discovery. Tilly: “That’s probably for me.” May thinks that Tilly is going to abandon her and her species. Tilly holds up her pinky finger. May: “What are you doing with your tiny finger?” Tilly: “Pinky swear. I told you I would try to help you. Where I come from we keep our promises.” They pinky swear and head towards the ship. Tilly tells her they’ll need what’s ever in the ship to kill her monster. The two head to the armory and Tilly picks up a big weapon. Burnham and Stamets see her life sign and know she’s in the armory. The corridors are dark and spooky. Tilly and May hear noises. Tilly screams out to whatever is out there, “I’m holding a Type 3 phaser rifle and it is more powerful and generally larger than the Type 1 or Type 2, which is why I guess they call it a 3.”   They run into Burnham and Stamets. Burnham tells her to get down, because she and Stamets are ready to shoot May, but Tilly tells them she is with her. Tilly and Burnham hug. She explains about the monster that is killing the jahSepp. They all hear something moaning, they head towards the sound. They find the monster, it is a disheveled Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz).

Hugh is frightened and takes off running, Stamets chases after him. Burnham reports to the bridge and tells them they have found Tilly but they can’t go yet because they also found who they think is Hugh Culber, and Stamets is chasing after him. Everyone on the bridge is confused. Pike tells them to get back as soon as they can. May explains that the monster is covered in the bark of the Yee tree, which kills them. Burnham thinks he is wearing it as protection. This causes her to think it is actually Hugh and he’s alive.

The jahSepp are eating up the hull, the crew is trying desperately not to fall in the network, but more of the ship is in it. Airiam reports, “The hull of the port nacelle is too compromised!” Ash presses his com badge and asks Leland for help. Pike: “What [the] hell kind of communicator is that?!” An asteroid moves closer to Discovery, suddenly the asteroid transforms into a ship. It is one of the highly advanced ships that Section 31 has. The ship had disguised itself as an asteroid to spy on Discovery. Pike asks for help to keep Discovery from sliding totally in the network, Leland’s ship fires three tractor pods on Discovery and then fire their tractor beams. It stabilizes Discovery, but Leland tells Pike they can only do this for five minutes.

Stamets catches Hugh, Culber doesn’t believe Stamets is real, but Stamets tells him a story of them going to the Metropolitan museum on their third date. Stamets: “I knew everything about you in that moment.” Hugh knows Stamets is real and they hug. When the others reach the room, May grabs Tilly’s gun to kill Hugh. Tilly: “May, look at him. He’s trying to protect himself.” Culber: “It burns. Everywhere it lands on me.” Tilly: “May you see him. To him you are the monster. This is not who you are. If you kill him, it will ruin you.”  May gives Tilly her gun back. Burnham asks how Stamets can even be here. [If this makes sense to you, I’m glad.] Stamets explains that Hugh was reconstituted by the network based on his energy which flowed into the network through Stamets who was connected to it. Hugh’s consciousness used Stamet’s plugged in body as a conduit to travel from our universe into the mycelial dimension. Now it’s time to go back home. The five minutes are over, but Georgiou is able to get them three additional minutes by fooling with the ship and blackmailing Leland. When they get to the reaction cube, Hugh’s arms disappear. He can’t cross over.

So not to harm anymore jahSepp, Hugh scraps off the bark so they can disintegrate him. May tells them he can’t cross over because his body is made up of the mycelial. May was only able to go to our universe because she hitched a ride inside Tilly. Burnham and Tilly figure it out together, the cocoon on Discovery is made from material in our universe, if they put Hugh’s DNA in the cocoon there, he’ll will rematerialize in our universe, like a transporter. May doesn’t want to do it, because the Gateway will collapse, breaking her connection with Tilly. Tilly explains to her how Stamets lost everything when he lost Hugh. She believes that she and May will reconnect somehow in this vast universe. May has her pinky swear. May takes Hugh to the cocoon while the rest of the crew gets in the reaction cube. Discovery jumps back fully in our universe. For a few moments, no one on the bridge knows if Burnham, Stamets, and Tilly made it back. They hear Burnham on comms confirming they are back. In engineering, Stamets waits by the cocoon, it evaporates and a naked Hugh Culber is there [with a new haircut]. The two men hug in relief.

“Come on fellas, cut the manlier-than-thou bullshit.” Admiral Cornwell

Pike beams aboard Leland’s ship. Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) is already there. She informs both men that after Discovery left the asteroid where they followed the signal, Starfleet sent another ship to scan the area. That ship detected a trail of tachyon radiation. Leland says that could be evidence of time travel, but Pike points out it could suggest a cloaking device or a transporter. Cornwell tells them they both could be right. The only thing they know for sure is that Lt. Spock is somehow connected to the signals. She wants the two of them to work together to find Spock. Admiral Cornwell: “Come on fellas, cut the manlier-than-thou bullshit.” The two men follow her advice. Leland: “We go back a long way, Chris. But my job requires me to walk a line and I crossed that with you. And I apologize.” Pike: “It’s accepted. I’ll try to remember my path is sometimes clearer than yours.” She knows Pike doesn’t approve of Section 31’s methods, but she reminds him that nation building is messy.

Georgiou talks to Burnham through a hologram. Burnham knows Georgiou gave them those extra minutes, but she knows Georgiou is going to want something in return. She is afraid what Georgiou will do to Spock. She tells Burnham she isn’t going to do anything to him. Georgiou: “You’re going to have to start trusting me eventually.” Burnham: “Said the scorpion to the frog.” Georgiou: “Have a little faith Michael.” Burnham leaves her quarters and heads to the bridge. We get her final voiceover, with us seeing Stamets watching Hugh in sickbay, and a shot of everyone on the bridge casually talking to each other. They acknowledge her when she walks in and she stands next to Ash. Burnham: “I envy those who can believe there is a greater hand writing our story who chooses to keep chaos at bay. Connection. Joy. Love. And resurrection. With these words the path becomes clearer for a moment, and then disappears. If I have a path I’m still searching for it. We all are.  If there is a greater hand leading us into an uncertain future, I can only hope it guides us well.”

KBear Review [Read time: 1-3 minutes]

Burnham finds out that Tilly is missing, the crew isn’t hopeful that she’s alive, but Stamets hasn’t given up. He figures out that she is still alive, and that May used the cocoon in engineering as an organic transporter. She is in the mycelial network and they can use this cocoon to find the cocoon in the network she transported in. Tilly wakes up in the network, and is plenty mad at May. She calms down when May tells her that a creature is harming her people and Tilly is the only one who can save them. Stamets comes up with a plan, Discovery will make a half jump, with half the ship in the network, and half in our universe. They’ll have an hour to find her before the mycelial eats up their hull. Burnham and Stamets find Tilly and May in the ship. The two are hunting the monster that threatens May’s species. The monster turns out to be Hugh Culber. He’s not dead and you’ll have to read the recap to find out why he’s here. May tries to kill him, but Tilly convinces her he was only trying to protect himself, to him, her species, the jahSepp are the monsters. The jahSepp which are the sentient creatures in the network break down matter for use in the network. They would naturally attack a foreign body like Hugh to disintegrate it. Hugh used the bark of a tree that is toxic to the jahSepp to protect himself. Hence they see him as a monster. Hugh can’t leave the network because his body is made up of the network, but if they put him in the cocoon, his DNA will create a new body in the cocoon aboard Discovery. Hugh Culber is back from the dead!

Discovery finds Spock’s shuttle and gives chase. Captain Pike communicates with the shuttle, but it heads toward a nebula to escape. Pike has the ship fire a photon torpedo to disable it. They bring the shuttlecraft to the shuttle bay, and instead of Spock coming out of the stolen shuttlecraft, it is no one but Emperor Philippa Georgiou. She and Section 31 were assigned the duty of bringing Spock in. Burnham is afraid what Georgiou will do to him. Pike knows something is up, but Starfleet didn’t inform him about the mirror universe, so he doesn’t know that the Georgiou he knew and liked is dead, and the woman before him is a genocidal dictator. Leland, who is also an old friend of Pike’s, sends Ash Tyler to be Section 31’s liaison to Discovery. Pike isn’t happy about that either, he doesn’t trust Tyler or Section 31. When they get in trouble in the mycelial network, the Section 31 ship helps them out. The ship was there because they were spying on Discovery. After Tilly and Hugh are rescued, Pike goes over to Leland’s ship where Admiral Cornwell awaits. She tells them that another ship detected a trail of tachyon radiation from the asteroid that Discovery went to in the first episode which suggests a cloaking device, a transporter, or even time travel. Cornwell orders Pike and Leland to work together to find Spock. How could anything go wrong working with Section 31?

The fifth episode of Season 1, “Choose Your Pain” introduced Ash Tyler. By the end of that episode we had the ship’s crew. This episode is the fifth of this season, and by the end of the episode, except for Lorca, we have the crew from last season back together again. After killing Dr. Culber and faced with criticism from fans and critics, the producers promised the Stamets/Culber story wasn’t over. It appears they have kept their word, they have brought him back from the dead. It was done in a convoluted way, but it’s effective.  Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz did a great job with their reunion. It should be interesting seeing how Hugh tries to readjust to life back on Discovery after being stuck in the mycelial network under constant attack. He’ll also have to deal with the man who killed him. I hope Discovery has a ship counselor aboard. Section 31 will play a large role the rest of the season. For a secret agency, everyone seems to know about them. A lot must have happened to make them go underground, so by the 24th century, Benjamin Sisko didn’t know who they were. The mycelial network looked beautiful. I wouldn’t mind visiting as long as the jahSepp don’t attack me. I’ll buy some Yee tree bark before I visit.

Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
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