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Following a hunch, Captain Burnham tracks Book to an old haunt from their courier days and gets drawn into a high-stakes competition for a powerful weapon.



Fleet Admiral Vance calls for any available ship to pursue Booker's ship, and demands to know how Tarka was able to get his hands on the spore drive prototype, as it required dual authorization to do so. A lieutenant reports that two authorizations were granted, by Tarka... and by Vance himself. As the admiral lets that sink in, President Rillak approaches, not looking particularly happy.

Rillak asks both Vance and Captain Burnham if they had seen such a move coming; both answer that they did not, to which the President then asks how they hadn't seen it coming. Vance had personally backed Tarka and given him free rein, while Burnham's relationship with Booker was not only professional, but personal. While she knew Booker had been struggling since the loss of Kwejian, Burnham insists she had no idea Booker would act in such a way. Rillak then reminds them of the importance of the spore drive in their efforts to move away from dilithium, as well as the erosion of trust when word gets out that it had been stolen; the first contact mission that Burnham had championed just hours earlier would be in jeopardy. Burnham tries to explain Booker's view that he's trying to prevent another disaster like Kwejian, to which Rillak counters they were now trying to stop something worse. Thinking she can help Booker see that, Burnham volunteers to aid in the search, as she knows Tarka needs to find isolynium on the black market in order to build an isolytic weapon, and the USS Discovery's primary repairs are complete. Rillak, however, sees Burnham as too close to the problem, and refuses, before turning to Vance. The admiral confirms that Starfleet Intelligence has found four known vendors of isolynium, and is deploying ships to those locations with orders to apprehend Booker and Tarka on sight. In the meantime, Burnham is ordered to take Discovery to gather data on Unknown Species 10-C.

Meanwhile, Booker's ship flies through the husk of a dead planet, evading Starfleet scanner range. Tarka asks Booker how it felt using the spore drive, as he was the first real "beta tester". Booker is terse, saying that it works and will help stop the DMA, which is all that mattered to him. When asked how long he needed to build the weapon, Tarka assures him it will be finished in 24 hours. Just then, Booker's comm channels chime; Burnham is attempting to contact him again. Booker also sees their entries on the Federation's watch list. Tarka tells Booker that he was aware of what Booker was giving up for this effort. Booker believes it will be worth it, regardless of what sentence he must serve later; Tarka, however, is confident that if their plan works, they'll be heroes, and Rillak will be under political pressure to pardon them for their crime. Tarka begins to explain that he will be able to proceed once Booker secures him some isolynium, which surprises Booker; he had thought the scientist had that part planned out, but Tarka's plan had been dependent on Federation support, something he no longer had. The scientist sarcastically remarks on how couriers could supposedly find anything, while Booker points out the difficulty of finding a rare and dangerous element while also being hunted by Starfleet. However, Booker does know of a seller who would be unknown to Starfleet, though it would cost them. Tarka applauds his initiative, and assures him cost will not be an issue.

In her ready room aboard Discovery, Burnham is visited by Admiral Vance, who explains about his first encounter with Tarka during a lecture ten years earlier, talking about new propulsion systems and his ability to create them. Vance found that he believed Tarka could do it, and he still did. But now, he was left wondering why Tarka would act in such a way. Burnham suggests perhaps it was in response to losing the council vote, but Vance, while acknowledging Tarka was egotistical, is not sure that was the reason. He is now worried that he would have to send his family away again, after just bringing them back, because someone he brought in started a war the Federation could not possibly win, and Burnham assures him she will do anything in her power to help him resolve the situation. The admiral goes on to say that both he and Burnham know Booker will not use known vendors to obtain isolynium. Burnham, recognizing what Vance is implying, reminds him that both he and the President were clear about their orders. Vance acknowledges that he had to present a united front with the President and would not publicly contradict her. At the same time, he would take a page from Rillak's book and "encourage" Burnham, who he considers one of the most creative and adept officers in his service, to do what she could to stop Booker and Tarka, within the parameters of her assigned mission. "You find a way, Captain Burnham," he concludes. "That's also an order."

Act One

In the spore drive lab, Burnham meets with Saru and Stamets, informing them the President wants them to meet Species 10-C sooner rather than later. Both first offer their support to the captain, with Stamets adding his hopes for Booker's safety. Stamets goes on to explain that the data from beyond the galactic barrier was limited, but points out that the orbit of extragalactic stars near the coordinates Zora provided indicate a significant gravitational presence, but in order to find out more, they required a visual confirmation. Stamets then turns the floor over to Zora, who has found information in the Sphere data of a warp-capable civilization known as the Stilph, just inside the barrier, thirty light years from the coordinates. They were close enough and advanced enough to possibly have mapped the area in their standard stellar surveys. Saru asks if the Stilph have ever encountered the Federation, and Zora informs him they have not; however, they have had encounters with the Orions in the past. Rather than go through the Orions, Burnham believes she can make contact with a broker she knows on Porathia. In the meantime, she instructs Stamets to continue going through the data; Zora volunteers to do so herself, as it might be considered "more tedious than is worthy" of their time; Stamets, momentarily wrong-footed, agrees.

Walking through the corridors, Burnham tells Saru that she intends to take Owosekun with her to check the surveys, and to have Discovery keep her distance as the Federation was not exactly welcome in Porathia. Saru asks Burnham about the broker being a connection to his courier days with Booker, and if Rillak and Vance knew she was going after him. Burnham admits that Vance unofficially ordered her to "kill two birds with one stone", and believes that Booker will also go to Porathia to obtain the isolynium. She asks if Saru thinks she is too close; Saru is confident she is the only person who could convince Booker to correct his path, but admits he does not envy her position if he refuses, and tells her to stay safe above all.

Booker arrives at Porathia and brings Tarka to "Haz Mazaro's Karma Barge", explaining that if Mazaro didn't have isolynium, he knew who did. He also mentions that they did not part on the best of terms, and hopes Mazaro has forgotten that, because "it doesn't look like a good day to be here". As he speaks, one of the guards orders a Ferengi to empty their pockets. As Tarka sarcastically comments about wondering "where Emerald Chain dimwits went to die", Booker warns him that Mazaro was "fun, until he's not", and to let Booker do the talking; Tarka promises to be his "shadow". Booker approaches one of the guards and asks to speak to Haz, identifying himself as "Glow-Worm". Haz then suddenly appears, leading them into the back, where he reveals his latest sale of Devore scanners (which Tarka, scientist to the end, sarcastically says couldn't pick a Betazoid out of a Nieser cage). Mazaro wonders first about Booker's "shadow", then about Burnham and their relationship, which Booker assures him remained "none of [his] business". Booker asks for isolynium, and pulls out several bars of latinum; Tarka adds that it had to be pure, not cut with sammonium like the usual. Mazaro takes their latinum, but refuses to agree to a deal, as there was still an old score to settle. Booker explains that he tried to convince Ertel to stop running trance worms as it was dangerous; Mazaro counters that it had not been dangerous until Booker stole Ertel's shipment, costing Mazaro his best customer. As he signals his guards to throw them out, Booker offers to help him deal with card counters and other cheats in his casino. Mazaro confirms he had no idea how many were out there, as his detection tech was unable to find him. Booker proposes a bargain: If he helps figure it out, Mazaro can keep the latinum, and provide them the isolynium. Mazaro agrees.

Aboard their shuttle, Burnham explains to Owosekun that the casino is a "dead zone" by design, so all their weapons and other tech will have to be checked at the door, and there may be other surprises she was not aware of, before asking if there were any questions. Owosekun just has one: Burnham was capable of verifying stellar charts herself, so why bring her along? Burnham tells her that Saru had explained what happened in the subspace rift, how Owosekun had not stood down even after Saru ordered her to. Owosekun acknowledges she had been out of bounds and apologized to Saru for that, but Burnham assures her that she also knew how it felt to want to do something, anything, and how it felt when she couldn't. Just then, the shuttle drops out of warp, and what appears to be a massive sea creature approaches them. It is revealed to be a hologram, and the "Karma Barge" appears before them.

Still in uniform (minus commbadges and weapons), the two Starfleet officers enter, Owosekun remarking on the "friendly" atmosphere. Burnham is then greeted by Mazaro, who nicknamed her "Right Hook" (a tale for another time, she explains to Owosekun), and mentions how he felt like he was in a time warp that day. He asks if Burnham was there as a Starfleet captain or as a friend. "Both," is Burnham's reply as she pulls out two bars of latinum, explaining she was there for extragalactic stellar surveys from the Stilph, who had had run-ins with the Orions. Mazaro thinks he might know an Orion or two with the data, but wonders why she would need information about stars. Burnham then asks about isolynium, and shows the rest of her latinum; Mazaro remarks on how the prices go up with multiple bidders, and there was already one in play... but perhaps she knew that already. Burnham asks if the other bidder was there, and Mazaro confirms that he was "sniffing out vermin" for him. While he went to find Burnham's star charts, he invites her and Owosekun to take a seat at the card tables. After Mazaro leaves, Owosekun notes that Booker must be the other bidder; Burnham confirms she had a hunch, but couldn't be sure, and offers to let Owosekun return to the shuttle. Owosekun reassures her captain that she is there all the way, and that Burnham couldn't have seen what was coming.

Meanwhile, Tarka and Booker are looking around the room, with Tarka giving a negative assessment about Mazaro's judgment when it came to technology. Booker notes a number of card counters, pickpockets, and other cheats, including one using rhythmic blinking while staring at the deck. Tarka leaves his side to investigate; as Booker moves to follow him, he is stopped by Burnham, who takes him aside to talk. Both tell the other they should not be there, and Burnham tries to convince him that whatever Tarka pulled him into was not worth it, and would earn some grace with the Federation if he took the isolynium off the market and kept it out of Tarka's hands. Booker tells her that Tarka did not "pull" him into anything, that they had made the plan together; breaking half a dozen Federation laws, in his view, was worth it if it stopped the DMA from killing more people. Burnham warns him that if he buys the isolynium, he will cross a line he could not come back from; Booker reminds her that when they first met, he had just hijacked someone's ship carrying a cargo of endangered species, and asks if she was truly surprised at his ability to cross lines. He tells her to leave, but she tells him she can't; when he asks what she will do then, she replies that she will stop him.

Act Two

Burnham returns to where Mazaro and Owosekun are in discussion, and Mazaro informs her that he has the surveys, but it will take time. Burnham asks how much latinum he wants to take the isolynium out of play; Mazaro replies it will be three times as much as she has. Burnham agrees, only needing access to a comm channel. But Mazaro refuses, saying that if he allows that, Starfleet will come swooping in, especially when they know Booker is there; he has been monitoring Federation channels, and knows Booker and Tarka are wanted men. Burnham is adamant that Mazaro cannot sell Booker the isolynium, but Mazaro says he can... unless Burnham buys it first. As he leaves, Burnham realizes they have to earn a lot more latinum, and fast. Owosekun glances at the fighting ring, and tells Burnham she has an idea, one she concedes is "a little crazy".

Back aboard Discovery, Stamets enters the quarters he shares with Dr. Culber, finding the doctor furiously (and personally) cleaning every surface in the room, and shouting at a DOT-23 attempting to do the work, telling it to return to its dock. Stamets can see Culber is stressed, and asks if it was about Booker. Culber believes he didn't do enough to help Booker, and that Dr. Kovich had warned him about wearing himself out and failing people. Stamets tries to reassure him that what Booker did was not his fault, but Culber is adamant: He was responsible for the psychological and emotional wellbeing of everyone on the ship, Booker included. Stamets points out that this was an unreasonable expectation to bear. Culber couldn't solve his patients' problems; he had to help them find their own answers. Stamets also has his own anxieties: Dealing with the DMA, wondering how Gray was settling on Trill, the situation with Booker, and how he mishandled the situation with Zora. While they were not the same, Stamets believes both their problems stem from uncertainty, which he admits is terrifying... so, they should be terrified together. Stamets reminds him how Kovich wanted him to take time for himself, and mentions that the holodeck was just updated with the Venabalia bloom from Salata Major, so he suggests they take a stroll through a field full of flowers. Culber admits he would like that, and leaves with Stamets, while the DOT-23 goes back to work.

At the Karma Barge, Owosekun prepares to take on Ato Kurr in the fighting ring, and initially does not do well against the much larger fighter, but remains determined. Meanwhile, Booker tells Tarka that Burnham has found them (much to the doctor's surprise), and will likely try to buy the isolynium from under them. Meanwhile, Tarka identifies the alien Booker saw earlier and grudgingly admits Booker was right about the blinking. As they watch him leave, however, Booker suddenly sees him change into a human-looking form, and realizes the "network" of cheaters is a ring of one: a Changeling. Tarka tells him to keep his eyes open, while he figures out a way to neutralize him. Back in the fighting ring, Owosekun is somewhat worse for wear, and Burnham encourages her to cut her losses, not wanting her to get killed. Owosekun, however, insists on continuing, despite Kurr's larger size. Burnham finally decides to go all in on one last match, betting all of her latinum on Owosekun. In the ring, Kurr taunts Owosekun, telling her that someone should teach her how to quit; Owosekun retorts that someone should teach him and his friend at ringside some manners. As the bell rings, Owosekun opens with a low blow to Kurr's crotch, briefly holds his neck up against the ropes, and finally flings him down to the mat, winning the match. Seeing this, Booker insists that Tarka hurry, but Tarka replies that "you can't rush genius".

As Burnham and Owosekun collect their winnings, Kurr and his manager attempt to take a cut, claiming they were hustled. Owosekun tosses the manager aside, and Kurr produces a knife. Booker rushes to assist, allowing Burnham to knock him out with a right hook (which Owosekun sees explains her nickname). Booker then spots the Changeling, and remarks he could use an assist as well. As Burnham and Booker attempt to corner the Changeling, it turns into a tribble and rolls away, before taking another humanoid form – and then becomes trapped in a force field courtesy of Tarka. As Mazaro teleports in demanding to know what was going on, Burnham tells him she has the latinum he wanted, and Booker adds that he found the cheater. "Looks like we got a draw," Mazaro concludes.

Act Three

As Burnham and Booker argue, Mazaro cuts them off, revealing two buyers to take the isolynium off their hands, and offers to settle the matter in traditional courier fashion: A game of Leonian poker. Booker protests, saying that they had a deal. "My raft, my rules," Mazaro counters. After a moment, Burnham agrees, and immediately so does Booker. Mazaro lays out the rules: He keeps their latinum, the winner gets the isolynium, the rest get nothing, and anyone who acts "like an Armus" will be dropped into the Porathian Ocean with "weighted shoes", and asks if there were any questions. Burnham does have one: Given the stakes, could they verify the purity of the product first? Mazaro agrees, taking the two new contenders in the back first. Burnham and Booker both recognize them as Mat'trub and Zakari, holdouts from the Emerald Chain, hoping to replace the late Osyraa. Burnham knows that she and Booker do not agree on much at the moment, but can agree they cannot get the isolynium. Booker replies that he does not intend to lose it to them... or to Burnham, for that matter. Burnham concedes he is better at Leonian poker than she is, but reminds him of their time on the Schaefer Colony, and how the odds could be modified if they worked together. Mazaro calls for the next inspection, and Burnham is able to see immediately that it was pure isolynium. Mazaro tells her he is not sure what is going on between her and Booker, but hopes their relationship still works out.

As the game progresses, Burnham becomes rather talkative, mentioning that Booker has a tell, rubbing his ear on a good hand; she also mentions playing a game on the Schaefer colony, how someone bet it all on a new wardrobe only to leave with "the Emperor's new clothes", as she puts it... not that anyone was complaining, she adds. All the while, Booker and Burnham communicate in silent code, and manage to eliminate Mat'trub first. Watching on the sidelines, Owosekun warns Tarka how Booker and Burnham made a good team. Tarka asks her what she thinks of what he and Booker are doing, assuming that she would "toe the company line". Owosekun understands why they thought this would be the way to go, but believes that someone taking that kind of risk and hoping it would not blow back on them would require "a hell of a big ego". She asks why he, the "Federation's genius darling", would throw away his career; Tarka replies he didn't care about what the Federation thought of him. Owosekun presses him, asking if this was about someone who died, if it was a kind of revenge... or (unbeknownst to her, correctly) guessing he was keeping a promise to someone who was gone. Abruptly, Tarka says she was "boring" him and tells her to stand somewhere else. Owosekun tells him she knows what it is to lose someone. Tarka finally tells her there were varying degrees of loss, and if she could feel the weight of his, if only for a fleeting moment, she would "reconsider how much choice one has with regards to what comes out of it".

Just then, a loud thump from the table returns their attention to the game: Zakari has been eliminated, leaving it now just between Booker and Burnham. As Mazaro deals the flop, Burnham warns that if Booker won the isolynium, he would incinerate every bridge he had ever built. Booker asks if that meant the one between them as well; Burnham confirms he would leave her no choice, because Starfleet would come after him with everything they had, and she would be one of the tools they used. She pleads with him to end it, and Booker seemingly agrees... as he pushes his chips all in. Burnham does likewise, and turns her cards over, showing a straight. Booker, however, has a flush, winning the game and the isolynium. Booker apologizes to Burnham, and leaves.

Act Four

Back on his ship, Booker stares at a projection of the DMA. Tarka acknowledges that sacrifice was always heavy, and though doing it for the right reasons should help, it never did. He believes that Burnham and the others will understand in time, and Booker thinks it's possible, but what would be worse is if the sacrifice was for nothing, so they should carry on what they planned to do: end the DMA, once and for all.

Back at Federation Headquarters, a somewhat annoyed Rillak expresses her understanding that Burnham was gathering data for first contact, nothing else. Burnham confirms she was there to obtain a rare set of stellar surveys which would shed some light on what lay ahead at the coordinates provided, which were presently being analyzed. She also admits she had a hope of running into Booker as well. Rillak expresses admiration for Burnham's ability to navigate a loophole, and wonders if she had help in doing so (this with a glare at Vance), but was concerned that she had not found a way to make that loophole count, and bring Booker and Tarka in. Vance defends her decision, saying that she was operating outside of Federation territory and had no authority, but Rillak points out that Burnham literally bet everything and lost. Burnham offers a correction, however: Knowing she would lose to Booker's superior skill at Leonian poker, she planted a tracker on the isolynium, similar to that used to track dilithium shipments... a tracker that could be detected multiple sectors away. She brings up a projection, showing the exact location of Booker's ship. Vance notices the ship is not moving, and Burnham knows this is because Tarka is assembling the weapon. Vance realizes they will only have one chance to catch them unawares, and prepares to begin mission planning when Saru chimes in, saying that Stamets has discovered something that cannot wait.

Stamets shows a projection of what was found at the coordinates, showing that the technological capabilities of Species 10-C are beyond their wildest assumptions. Rillak wonders how he can determine this, as it just looks like a "blob" to her. Saru explains that natural astrophysical bodies project black body radiation, but this object does not, meaning it was artificial. Stamets adds that the object in question is 228 million kilometers in radius, which Vance recognizes as being large enough to contain a host star and two or three orbiting bodies. Burnham asks if any signals are coming from the object, and Stamets reports there were none that they could register. He speculates that it was a hyperfield of some kind acting as a Faraday cage, blocking any chance to see inside. Burnham knows this would require an astronomical amount of power, and asks Zora to examine the areas of space left behind after the DMA changed location. She explains that the remaining gases and elements should all fall within known parameters, but what if something specific was missing, like boronite? Saru explains to Rillak that boronite occurs naturally in infinitesimal amounts, but in sufficient quantities could be synthesized to make something far more powerful. The President asks if there would be enough energy for the hyperfield as a result. "And then some," Burnham confirms. Zora confirms that there were no traces of boronite at any of the locations visited by the DMA. Burnham realizes the DMA is not a weapon, but a mining dredge, collecting boronite from planets. Vance sees the problem: If the DMA was just used for mining, what would Species 10-C's actual weapons be like? And if their power source were disrupted, Rillak adds, they would almost certainly see that as a hostile act. She makes it clear that Booker and Tarka must be stopped, whatever the cost. "I know," Burnham acknowledges sadly, realizing the stakes were now much higher.

Memorable quotes

"A swamp cat could've learned the Hortan Hustle since I last saw you."

- Haz Mazaro

"You got yourself a deal. But you jab a brussel fly, and I'll scoot some greenbread. Clear?"

- Haz Mazaro

"I heard we had Starfleet guests, so I just had to scurry like a spider cow to welcome you."

- Haz Mazaro

"I have missed you like a Cardassian misses cake!"

- Haz Mazaro

"Ah! And yet she remembers the way to his heart. It's true what the Elasians say: 'Give a man a tor-bak, and you are warm in the desert.'"

- Haz Mazaro

"Um... Hugh? The ship cleans for us."
"Yeah, well ... sometimes it needs a little zhuzh. No! How many times do I have to say it? RETURN TO DOCK!"

- Stamets and Culber

"What in the katterpod and Calaman sherry is going on here?"

- Haz Mazaro

"Delightful. Usual rules apply. Your latinum buys you in. I keep all of that, of course. The winner gets the isolynium. The rest get nothing. Drop out? Still nothing. Act like an Armus? Swim the Porathian Ocean with weighted boots. Any questions?"

- Haz Mazaro, explaining the terms of the game of Leonian poker

"Now for the fifth stretch. Last bet on the hand. And as the saying goes, to the Souvlo goes the spud."

- Haz Mazaro

Background information


  • The title was noted in the Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Loglines on 7 February 2022. [1]
  • "All In" is a betting term for putting all available funds on a bet, fitting with the episode's casino setting.


Links and references



Guest starring


Uncredited co-stars


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