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Tilly and Adira lead a team of Starfleet Academy cadets on a training mission that takes a dangerous turn. Meanwhile, Burnham is pulled into tense negotiations on Ni'Var.



The USS Discovery remains in orbit around Ni'Var a week after Captain Burnham's mission with the Qowat Milat. Ni'Var is fast-tracking negotiations to rejoin the Federation, but Burnham notes in her log that she is unaware of where things stand. Acting on advice from Dr. Culber, she has mandated downtime for the crew in order to ensure their psychological and emotional wellbeing, but Commander Stamets remains at work, unable to let himself rest until he solves the mystery of the Dark Matter Anomaly, particularly for Booker. Burnham also notes her concern about Booker, noting that while the mind meld he had with T'Rina had given him peace at the time, it had proved fleeting. She has recommended he sit down with Dr. Culber, but feels Booker is pulling into himself, a natural reaction to grief.

Burnham meets with Captain Saru, who tells her that President Rillak has requested their presence at the negotiating table down on Ni'Var. According to Rillak, Fleet Admiral Vance has become ill with a Malindian stomach worm, and the medical advice was to allow the worm to gestate before extracting it, which would require 24 hours. Burnham and Saru are to replace the admiral in his diplomatic capacity. While Burnham admits she would like to be present when Ni'Var rejoins the Federation, the analysis of the DMA must take priority. Saru clarifies that Rillak was not giving them a choice, and that they were to "remain silent and look official, nothing more".

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Tilly meets with Dr. Culber, admitting she still feels lost. She tells him that the mission with Burnham and the Qowat Milat helped, and that she applied their "Way of Absolute Candor" to herself. She believed that she was on a straight-line path to the captain's chair and had been trying to get there as fast as she could, but that now she was looking for a detour, remarking on her efforts to step outside her "comfort zone": hunting down J'Vini, eating foods that she hated (noting a particular disgust for Rigelian rutabagas, much to the doctor's amusement). But she considers these to be "baby steps", and is looking for a real way to challenge herself, like working in astrometrics or studying medicine. Culber suggests clearing her mind before making any choices, but Tilly admits that was the problem – she couldn't clear her mind, especially now with the threat from the DMA. Culber mentions he had been contacted by Dr. Kovich, who is consulting with Starfleet Academy; he had requested a member of Discovery's crew to accompany a group of cadets in a team-building exercise, believing they had something special to offer since they had served before the Burn. When Tilly questions how she could leave the work with Stamets to lead an exercise, Culber points out that Captain Burnham had mandated downtime for the crew, and this could count as Tilly's. When Tilly agrees, Culber asks for a favor.

In their quarters, Ensign Adira Tal wonders why Tilly has ordered them on this mission, as they were already a commissioned officer. Gray, who believes the Academy is "awesome", points out that it would be part of Adira's responsibility as Tal's host, to add new experiences from both them and the symbiont. Adira mentions that Jovar had taught at the Academy before the Burn, so Tal already had that experience, but Gray retorts that there was always something new to learn... and besides, orders were orders. When Adira asks what he would do besides his zhian'tal exercises, Gray expresses a desire to check out the crew games in the forward lounge. Adira is somewhat concerned, since Gray doesn't know anyone on the crew, but Gray is confident; he would just walk in and say hello, then he would know someone. He suggests it would be the same for Adira and the cadets. Adira jokes that they can't even eat soup without scanning it first, and admits they haven't done anything new without Gray there in some form. Gray tells them it was their chance to learn, and playfully ushers them out the door.

Tilly and Adira arrive at Federation Headquarters, where they are greeted by Kovich. He directs Adira to Shuttlecraft 11, where the team of cadets – Val Sasha, a Human; Harral, an Orion; and Taahz Gorev, a Tellarite – are waiting, and suggests introducing themselves to them. The cadets look distinctly uneasy, looking suspiciously at one another if they look in each other's directions at all. As Adira walks away, Tilly thanks Kovich for letting her bring Adira along, as Dr. Culber believed they could use some work in team-building. Kovich is all too familiar with that issue, as it was a problem seen in all of the Starfleet cadets, hence why he was a consultant; while they were the best their worlds had to offer, they had grown up isolated and disconnected, and found it hard to work as a team, especially with people they didn't know. Tilly sees the problem: with the threat posed by the DMA, Starfleet is desperate for new personnel, but how could they work at all if they couldn't work together? Kovich confirms this, and adds that this exercise could be seen as being about the very future of Starfleet itself.

Aboard the shuttle, now at warp, Tilly explains that the exercise was a typical survey mission. Their pilot, Lieutenant Callum, would bring them to Geryon, a class M desert moon orbiting Theta Helios, where they could conduct a full planetary survey. While Tilly presents an upbeat demeanor, trying to rally some excitement about new worlds and new lifeforms, the others (even Adira) maintain neutral expressions. Upon arrival, they would have six hours to complete the survey, by which point they would rendezvous with the USS Armstrong, which would return them to Federation Headquarters. Tilly notes they have been at the Academy for a couple of months, and must know one another by this point. Sasha replies that they really don't, and Harral adding that academics kept them busy. As it was supposed to be a team-building exercise, Tilly decides to start, introducing herself and remarking that she remembered her first training exercise, which involved dropping her utility kit down a methane vent. The others look at her for a moment, then back at their consoles. Callum reports they would be dropping out of warp in one minute, at which point Tilly gives out the assignments. Adira would handle the magnetospheric scan, Harral the geological, Sasha the microbial, and Gorev the atmospheric. Adira quietly expresses to Tilly that they thought they were just along as her aide to keep an eye on the cadets, but Tilly suggests they look at themselves as another cadet, as they had a lot to learn.

The shuttlecraft is thrown off course towards a moon

Just then, the shuttle violently shakes. Callum reports they have been hit by a rogue gamma-ray burst, which has disabled the engines and helm controls. Sasha volunteers to help as she was a pilot, but Tilly orders her back to her station. The shuttle deploys its emergency shield as Tilly asks Callum if he could bring up auxiliary systems. Callum reports he cannot, and that the shuttle was going down. Tilly orders them all to brace for impact.

Act One

Tilly comes to aboard the crashed shuttle, and asks if the others are alright. She hears Callum weakly call for help, and grabs the shuttle's emergency medkit, but by then it is too late – Callum is dead. Tilly attempts to contact the Armstrong, but Adira points out the gamma ray burst would have knocked out the communications. Deactivating the shield covering the viewports, they are all dismayed to see they have not landed on Geryon, but on Kokytos, a class L ice moon; the air was breathable, but the conditions were hazardous to sentient life. Harral thinks it was all part of the exercise, that they were in some kind of a holosimulation, but Tilly apologetically tells him it's not – the situation was real. The emergency distress beacon would have activated on impact, so Tilly sets Gorev to work on the life support, Sasha to try and activate the flight systems, and Harral to work with her to bring up the long-range comms. Adira volunteers to bring sensors back up. Gorev bumps into Harral on his way to the console, and both are clearly itching to fight before Tilly steps in between them. Trying to work on the team-building, Tilly tells them they should introduce themselves. Adira starts, mentioning growing up on a generational ship before being assigned to Discovery. Sasha grew up on Titan, and learned to pilot when she was 12 years old, and that she had never met non-Humans before the Academy. Gorev mentions his family was trapped in Emerald Chain territory after the Burn, and that they weren't treated very well – this being said with a glare at Harral. Harral finishes, saying that as an Orion he felt he had to work twice as hard to be taken seriously, and was at the top of his class. Tilly notes that now they know each other a little better, as she looks worriedly out the viewport.

Meanwhile, the representatives of both Ni'Var and the Federation meet in Ni'Var's capital. Saru is pleasantly surprised when one of T'Rina's aides places a traditional Kelpien tea bowl in front of him. Burnham, noting the quiet interaction between T'Rina and Saru, notes that he appears to have a fan. Just then, Rillak rises to speak, noting that there have been several similar summits over the past four months, but now they had reached the end of the long process to return Ni'Var to the Federation. The Federation has looked over the agreement and is satisfied, and is ready to welcome Ni'Var back into the Federation. T'Rina then rises, stating that she too is glad to be nearing the restoration of their alliance. However, there is one final matter she wishes to settle on, remarking on the threat posed by the DMA. She requests an amendment be added to the agreement, allowing Ni'Var an "exit clause" – immediate and unconditional withdrawal from the Federation, should the need arise. Rillak notes that this was unprecedented, but T'Rina reminds her that before the Burn, Ni'Var and other member worlds felt the Federation was unable to see the individual needs of its member worlds, causing an erosion of trust. Ni'Var would not consider rejoining the Federation without some measure in place that would protect them should a situation arise again. Rillak points out that times had changed, but T'Rina remains firm. While the Federation accepts that they cannot force worlds to remain against their will – Ni'Var being an example – allowing unconditional withdrawal for Ni'Var would open the door for other worlds to request similar clauses, resulting in a weaker Federation. T'Rina believes it illogical to rejoin an organization that puts conditions on their judgment, and believes perhaps they have moved too quickly. Burnham then rises, noting that with the tremendous strides to reach that point, it was illogical to forfeit it all over a single issue. T'Rina reminds her that Ni'Var has endured without the Federation for over a century, but Burnham points out there is a difference between enduring and thriving. Rillak proposes a recess, and T'Rina agrees. Burnham is suspicious; the issues Ni'Var raises have existed for more than a century, before the DMA. She suggests to Saru that he speak to T'Rina to find out what was going on. Rillak then asks to speak to Burnham.

Back aboard Discovery, Booker meets with Dr. Culber at Burnham's suggestion. Burnham has told Culber that Booker is not sleeping, which Booker attributes to Grudge, saying she has been "especially needy" lately. Culber then begins to explain the concept of a "standing funeral", an uncommon Earth custom practiced by his family, in which a deceased family member is embalmed and posed in a way that evoked their life. His uncle Cesar was a "card shark", and so his family posed him at a poker table, but Culber and his cousins snapped off Cesar's thumb trying to get the cards into his hand. Culber used his medical expertise to reattach it... and then snapped off the index finger, which caused them all to laugh throughout the funeral. He notes that in conventional therapy, he was not supposed to share such personal details, but as crewmates, they knew a great deal about one another anyway. Booker is initially dismissive, noting how grief was complicated, and how he had to let himself experience it when it came. Culber tells him he had been devastated when his uncle died, and had gone to the funeral angry, believing nothing would make him feel better. Culber suggests using their remaining time for a different approach. Booker agrees, so long as he could keep his fingers, to which the doctor jokingly shrugs, suggesting "maybe".

Saru meets with T'Rina, thanking her for the traditional tea. He is dismayed at how things have turned out, and offers his assistance however he can. Both express their desire to see Ni'Var and the Federation rejoined, but T'Rina is bound first and foremost by her obligations to her people, and can do nothing more if the Federation is unwilling to compromise, something Saru understands. T'Rina leaves to spend the remainder of the recess in solitary meditation. At the same time, Burnham speaks to Rillak, who notes that she and T'Rina represent not only themselves, but a host of other interests. Burnham insists there must be a way to compromise, but Rillak is adamant that compromise would be a sign of weakness, and that her hands were tied. With no other options, it seems, the Federation was done on Ni'Var. Rillak rejoins her aides and transports away. Burnham is then rejoined by Saru, and expresses her belief that Rillak wants them to find a solution. Saru confirms he had a similar feeling from T'Rina. Burnham is convinced that it was political theater, and that Vance's "illness" was a ruse. But Saru wonders – why them? Burnham believes that is what they have to find out.

On Kokytos, Gorev has brought life support back up to seventy percent, but Sasha reports the flight controls are fried, and Harral has been unable to find anyone on comms. Gorev notes that Theta Helios has 46 moons, wondering how a ship would be able to find a 12-meter shuttle in that large a space. Adira points out that panicking would not help, noting that their past lives showed it could be worse, earning sarcastic thanks from Gorev. Tilly asks about sensors, and Adira reports they are online – and detecting thousands of lifeforms right outside the shuttle. The shuttle is shaken up, leaving them to wonder what was outside. Just then, they see a creature pound against the viewport. "Whatever it is," Adira sums up, "it's not good."

Act Two

Adira brings up a tricorder and identifies the lifeform as a Tuscadian pyrosome, a colony species made up of thousands of interconnected zooid lifeforms, mostly preying on bioluminescent crustaceans, tracking them via electromagnetic signatures. Tilly sees that it was the same frequency as used by Starfleet equipment. When Gorev takes up his phaser, Tilly stops him, telling them all to shut down their equipment; if the pyrosome couldn't detect EM signatures, it couldn't see them. As the shuttle goes dark, the attack stops. It had gone away, but it would be back. They could not use the comms in the shuttle, and they would freeze before anyone found them. The best thing, Tilly suggests, is to get out of that valley, up onto the nearby ridge, and use their personal communicators to reach the Armstrong; the vantage point would also allow them to see the "jellyfish from hell" before it attacked. Gorev protests at the idea, as does Adira, who believes the cadets are not ready. They would go alone, as they worked better by themselves anyway. Harral speaks up, saying he had survival training. Sasha considers them both to be crazy, thinking they should stay with the shuttle; Gorev bluntly tells them they can risk their lives all they want. Tilly firmly takes charge, telling them that whatever they did, they would all go together.

On Discovery, Booker expresses frustration at what he deems a "sad attempt" to replicate Kwei'tholum'Kwei, the Kwejian healing ritual. The problem is, those invoking the ritual were healed by Kwejian itself, using sand from the Mameckx'sha River, asking the Tuli Forests for their blessings, and the Great Storms of Naillem'kwai. What he was using was programmable matter to look like sand, and accuses Culber using "cheap tricks" from his holopadd to try and substitute his homeworld. Culber concedes that it would never be the same as the real thing, noting that Kwejian had been one of the most beautiful worlds in the known galaxy, and its loss was profound. He would never know the relief of Kwei'tholum'Kwei again. Booker is torn between anguish and humorless laughter, as he asks how long he was supposed to endure the pain. "A long-ass time," Culber admits.

On Ni'Var, Saru approaches T'Rina in private. T'Rina asks if Saru is there as a friend, or as a representative of the Federation. Saru assures her he is there of his own volition, while Burnham seeks an audience with Rillak, believing they could change her mind. T'Rina has been meditating on a question: "Is trust in another's commitment to a shared goal enough, despite the scars of history?" Saru notes that trust is a journey. The DMA has awakened old and new fears alike, with some, like the Vulcan purists, gravitating towards isolationism. To continue their support for Ni'Var's coalition, T'Rina has had to present a logical framework to hold the Federation accountable, and that the exit clause provided it. Saru thanks her for her trust, and offers to leave her to her thoughts, but asks in the future if he could have some instruction in Vulcan meditative techniques. When T'Rina asks why, Saru explains that while she weighed political questions, he asked questions about place and purpose, and admits he finds it more challenging given the uncertainty. T'Rina instructs him in the thresh-tor kashek, or "shared mind", taught to children.

Aboard Discovery, Burnham orders Lieutenant Christopher to connect her to the President. Rillak tells her they were about to break orbit, so Burnham decides to be direct: Saru is meeting with T'Rina to convince her to return to negotiations, and when she does, the Federation needs a compromise. Burnham knows that both Rillak and T'Rina have taken positions in order to retain their political support, and cannot budge from them, but if a third party offered a compromise, they could just listen. Intrigued, Rillak asks to hear Burnham's proposal.

Dangerous spider lightning

On Kokytos, the cadets head to the high ridge, with Tilly instructing them to keep an eye out for the pyrosome. Just then, the sky crackles with lightning, which Adira (through the memories of Kasha Tal) recognizes as "spider lightning", which could travel for kilometers. Behind and below them, the pyrosome emerges, and splits its form into two before burrowing back down. It couldn't see them without their equipment active, and Tilly pushes them forward to the ridge. Gorev is concerned about the lightning, and Adira tries to tell them to stay ahead of the storm, but Gorev tells them to stop acting like they knew everything, because as far as he was concerned, they knew as little about the moon as the rest of them. Harral suggests finding a cave to get out of the elements, which Sasha sarcastically calls a "genius idea" that would allow the pyrosome to eat them. Adira, fed up with the fighting, offers to go off alone. Tilly asserts command again, saying she was usually an upbeat person, but right now her only concern was getting them all out alive. Just then, a lightning strike right next to them causes the ice to melt and flash-freeze around Adira's legs, trapping them in place.

Act Three

Tilly has Harral toss her the emergency kit, which contained a bandage roll. Tilly tosses one end to Adira, then instructs the others to take the other end while Sasha grabs Adira once they were free of the ice. Working together, they manage to break Adira loose, and bring them to safety. Tilly encourages them to continue up to the ridge and raise the Armstrong, but Harral is worried the pyrosome will come after them if they sense the EM signal. Tilly tries to encourage them to continue to work together like they did to save Adira. Gorev, however, believes it would be easier if they didn't have to rely on an Orion, accusing Harral of looking out only for himself. He reveals that when he was ten years old, he and his family had their replicators commandeered by an Emerald Chain raiding party, simply because they could. He watched his grandmother starve to death, and had to bury her himself because his parents were too weak, having given what food they had to him so that he could live. Tilly understands Gorev's grievances, but asks if he knew Harral's own history with the Chain. Adira reveals that Harral was the son of Bashorat Harral, an activist who had pushed for the slave emancipation clause in the proposed armistice that was eventually brought to the Federation the year before; he had died a political prisoner, before the armistice was even considered. Harral adds that his father had told him being an Orion meant they had even greater responsibility to speak out against the Chain's methods. Both Gorev and Sasha look at him with more respect now, with Sasha apologizing for shutting down the idea of finding shelter. Tilly, pleased to see the cadets bonding at last, again emphasizes heading to the ridge, and they are much more enthusiastic as they move out.

On Ni'Var, both sides reconvene, with Saru and Burnham standing between both delegations. Burnham notes that the fact they were both there meant they were ready to look forward. T'Rina replies that had never been in dispute, yet Burnham counters that she was allowing past mistakes to define the future. To T'Rina, logic dictated that the lessons learned should inform such choices, but Burnham points out hat choices were not always logical; emotions were always involved. Saru references his own history, particularly his personal challenges in trusting the Ba'ul after the culling of his family and ancestors, but that Kaminar was much stronger now that the Ba'ul and the Kelpiens had united. Burnham adds the same could be said of Ni'Var, how the millennia of mistrust between the Vulcans and the Romulans had led them to forget they had been one people, and yet they had reunited as well. She also points out Rillak's combined Human/Bajoran/Cardassian ancestry, and how Cardassia had waged war against both Bajor and Earth in the past, yet now all three were at peace because they chose to grow, to change. T'Rina commends Burnham for her inspiring words, but points out words were not sufficient, and remarks that both Burnham and Saru had a proposed compromise. Burnham explains that in Starfleet, disputes between high-ranking officers are settled by a committee, whose sole purpose is to provide objectivity and help both sides find a resolution; she proposes a similar body, independent of Federation leadership, to conduct regular reviews with all member worlds. Rillak protests that Ni'Var has already refused such oversight without one of their own members, while T'Rina asks if that was any more egregious than allowing Starfleet, more or less a military body, to have a voice in a civilian quorum. Burnham volunteers herself to serve on the proposed committee, as she is a citizen of both Ni'Var and the Federation, and could act as a bridge between the two until such time as a bridge was no longer needed. After an initial hesitation, both agree, T'Rina dubbing it an "elegant solution".

Back on Kokytos, the team reaches the top of the ridge. Tilly notes the storm will interfere with their personal transporters, which meant they would need 60 seconds before the Armstrong could get a lock onto them. Adira points out that 60 seconds would be long enough for the pyrosome to reach them, and volunteers to turn on their comms and run, distracting the creature. Harral believes this a terrible idea, and Gorev agrees. Adira points out the cadets had saved their life, and now they would save the others. Tilly knows Adira is right, but volunteers herself instead, as commander of the mission. Once Tilly is clear, Adira is to call for the Armstrong, and not stop. She assures them all of her confidence in them, and prepares herself.

Act Four

The Tuscadian pyrosome

Tilly steps back down into the valley, before looking back up at the ridge and asking if the others were ready; all confirm they are. She reminds them that the moment they get a signal, call the Armstrong. She then draws her phaser and activates her comms; within a few seconds, the pyrosome bursts out of the ice behind her. As Adira begins signalling, they see the pyrosome is too close to Tilly, and instructs the others to draw their phasers and try and draw its attention. To their dismay, the "other half" of the pyrosome bursts out and begins heading right up towards them, but Adira orders the others to maintain their fire. As the second begins climbing the ridge, Adira is relieved to hear Captain Imahara of the Armstrong respond, and shouts down to Tilly that they had made contact. Adira and the cadets are transported out first, as the first pyrosome approaches Tilly. Just as it reaches her, she too is transported to safety.

The Armstrong returns them to Federation Headquarters, where Tilly watches proudly while Adira and the cadets happily talk with one another. Kovich approaches, having read the Armstrong's report. He notes the loss of Lieutenant Callum was a tragedy, and expresses surprise any of them survived. Tilly attributes that to the cadets pulling together when it mattered, and believes they would be an excellent addition to a starship crew – something, Kovich agrees, they would be able to thank her for when they got the opportunity. He remembers when Discovery first arrived, and how no one had trusted them. It hadn't just been the fact they had arrived in a 930-year-old starship and never heard of the Burn, but also the way they carried themselves, how they had grown up in a world where they believed anything was possible. Kovich admits the idea had stung at first, but believes that was the kind of attitude the new generation of cadets needed as the Federation rebuilds. He offers Tilly a teaching position at Starfleet Academy, though he notes that the recent experience would mean the idea was "unlikely to fall on willing ears". As Kovich leaves, Adira walks up to Tilly, and admits they were glad they came along; much to their surprise, they had befriended the cadets, although they wish they knew how to make friends without "nearly getting eaten by a blob". Tilly considers Adira one of the most brilliant people she had ever met, and asks why they always started with "I can't" when making new connections. Adira concedes it often feels impossible. To Tilly, looking at Adira and all they have been through, all they have accomplished, was a reminder that everything was possible.

Ni'Var rejoins the Federation

On Ni'Var, Rillak hands T'Rina a folded Federation flag and welcomes Ni'Var back into the fold. She notes that billions of futures had been changed because of what had happened today, and thanks Burnham and Saru for their contribution to the successful negotiation. Burnham thanks T'Rina for taking that first step with the Federation, then admits she has a matter on her mind. T'Rina recognizes that Burnham is wondering about the fate of J'Vini after her capture on the Abronian moonship. She tells Burnham that J'Vini would be taken to Pijar, a monastic world in the Pella system, to devote herself to deep rehabilitative meditation under the guidance of Burnham's mother Gabrielle, and that they would leave that night. J'Vini had been the one to help Gabrielle put her broken life back together, and now their roles were reversed; in time, T'Rina adds, J'Vini would make amends to the family of Patrick Fickett, the Starfleet officer she had killed. T'Rina then invites Saru to join her for tea, which he accepts. As they leave, Rillak comments to Burnham that, despite her aversion to politics, she showed an aptitude for it. Burnham asks if Admiral Vance had made a recovery from his "illness", and Rillak agrees he did look better last she saw him. She admits she had received intelligence that morning about the exit clause, and had to protect her source – T'Rina herself. Burnham tells her she would have helped if it had been asked of her, but the President admits she was unsure Burnham was right for the job. Burnham concedes that transparency was not always possible in Rillak's position, but that it was what she needed to serve both the President and the Federation, and makes it clear she would appreciate if Rillak were more forthcoming in the future. Rillak agrees, and tells Burnham she would see her back at Headquarters in a few days.

Aboard Discovery, Booker continues to work with Culber. Booker sees he has a lot to work out, and asks what he does with what he's crafted. Culber replies that once the mandala is finished, it can be just wiped away. Booker asks if Culber does this himself, if he has things that need to be "wiped away". Culber replies he does. Booker asks if he would like to talk about it. "Someday," Culber replies.

Meanwhile, Tilly sits alone in her quarters when Burnham stops in to check on her, having heard what happened on the mission. Tilly jokingly calls it a "typical day", but Burnham sees something is on her mind. Tilly realizes they have not sat together like this since Burnham became Discovery's captain, and thinks back to when they first became roommates. She admits she had been scared to bunk with a "famous mutineer", and constantly lay awake at night worrying that Burnham would stick a knife through her back. Burnham jokes that she had considered it given how Tilly snored when she slept, and that she had to get the computer to block out the sound frequency so she could sleep, but after a few days, she "kind of" started to like it. She recognizes that Tilly wants to go back to the Academy, and Tilly admits she does. She calls her promotion to lieutenant "the worst day of [her] life"; she had wondered how her mother could be a diplomat, given that she was a "hardass" at home, without compromise, and had planned everything out, even Tilly's own life - which changed when Tilly joined Starfleet instead of the Federation Diplomatic Corps. Tilly admits she had thought she was just doing it for herself, but when she got promoted, she suddenly realized her mother was 900 years in the past, and would never see her wear her rank pips; she wondered if a Starfleet career was really what she wanted, or if she just wanted to be seen, an experience she considered humbling... but also a good perspective for a teacher. Burnham tells Tilly she would miss seeing her face every day, but Tilly reassures her it was not forever, that she would be at Federation Headquarters, then jokes she could have Zora record her sleeping since Burnham enjoyed her snores so much.

As Tilly bids farewell to the crew, Adira is surprised to see Tilly's snowglobe, with the Enterprise NX-01 suspended within it, sitting in their quarters, with the words "All Is Possible" written on the base. They look out the window of their quarters at Tilly's shuttle, seeing her looking back, before the shuttle jumps to warp.

Log entries

  • "Captain's log, stardate 865661.2. It's been a week since my mission with the Qowat Milat. Since then, we've stayed in orbit above Ni'Var, working with the Ni'Var Science Institute and the Federation task force that's tracking and studying the DMA. No other inhabited worlds have been threatened yet, but of course that can change at any moment. Ni'Var has fast-tracked negotiations to rejoin the Federation. I haven't yet heard how they're going. We're all living in uncertainty. Even for a crew as familiar with the unknown as this one, the stress is taking its toll. I'm following Dr. Culber's advice, mandating downtime to help with their psychological and emotional well-being. But Stamets won't let himself slow down, even for a second. He wants to solve this for all of us, especially Book. Book. Even though the mind meld with T'Rina helped at the time, the peace he felt has been... fleeting. I've encouraged him to talk to Dr. Culber, but I feel him pulling into himself. A natural response to grief, crisis, all of this. But he can't do this alone. None of us can."

Memorable quotes

"Thank you for letting me bring Adira along. Dr. Culber thought it could be beneficial. They could use a little work in the team-building department."
"It's a problem we're seeing with all of our Starfleet cadets. That's why I'm consulting. They may be the best their worlds have to offer, but they grew up isolated and disconnected. Many of them find it hard to function as a team with individuals they don't already know, especially those of species they've never encountered."
"But with the DMA... Starfleet needs personnel now more than ever, but if people can't even work together..."
"Precisely. One might say that today's exercise is about the very future of Starfleet."

- Tilly and Kovich

"You know, I-I could never figure out how my mother became a diplomat. She was such a hardass at home. No compromise. She had everything planned out. She had my whole life planned out. So when I told her I wanted to join Starfleet instead of the Diplomatic Corps, sh... so I always thought that I was doing this for me. But then, when I got the pips... all of a sudden I realized, like, my mom is 900 years in the past. She's never gonna see me wear them. And I started wondering if this is what I really wanted, or if I just really wanted to be seen. You know? And that was humbling. But I think it could be a useful perspective for a teacher."

- Tilly, telling Burnham she is leaving Discovery to teach at the Academy

Background information



  • Kovich is identified in dialog for the first time. He is also stated to be a doctor.

Links and references



Guest starring


Uncredited co-stars

Stunt double


2258; 40 Eridani A; activist; Agreement; alliance; analysis; armistice; Armstrong, USS; Astrometrics; ATW-11; auxiliary system; Ba'ul; Bajor; Bajoran; briefing room; Burn, The; Burnham, Gabrielle; cadet; captain's chair; card shark; Cardassian; cave; Cesar; Cho; citizen; class L; class M; coalition; colony species; comfort zone; Constitution-class; creature; crustacean; Culber's cousins; day; desert moon; diplomat; DMA; DOT-23; Dr.; Earth; Eisenberg-class; el muerto parado (standing funeral); electrical storm; Emancipation Bill; embalming; Emerald Chain; emergency distress beacon; emergency kit; emergency ration; emotion; Enterprise NX-01; exit clause; eye; Federation; Federation Diplomatic Corps; Federation Headquarters; Federation Task Force; Fickett, Patrick; finger; food replicator; forward lounge; frequency; friend; Friendship-class; funeral; gamma-ray burst; Gateway Arch; generation ship; Geryon; Gorev's parents; Gorev's grandmother; gravitational anomaly; Great Storms of Naillem'kwai; grief; Grudge; hand; Harral, Bashorat; hell; helm; holoPADD; holo simulation; host; hour; Humanity; ice moon; Imahara; index finger; individual; isolationism; J'Vini; jellyfish; Kaminar; Kelpien; Kelpien tea; kilometer; Kokytos; Kwei'tholum'Kwei; Kwejian (planet); Kwejian (species); lifeform; life support system; logic; Malindian stomach worm; Mameckx'sha River; mandala; Mars-class; medicine; meditation; meter; methane; Milky Way Galaxy; mind meld; mission; monster; month; moon; Moore; path; mutineer; negotiation; Ni'Var; Ni'Var Science Institute; Noble, USS; nun; NX-class; orbit; order; Orion; Pella system; phaser; Pijar; pilot; poker; political prisoner; politics; programmable matter; protective shielding; proximity scan; public address system; Qowat Milat; raiding party; representative; ridge; Rigelian rutabaga; Romulan; sand; second; sensor; Siobhan; sleeping; snoring; snow globe; soup; Spanish language; species; spider lightning; Starfleet; Starfleet Academy; Starfleet Medal of Honor; storm; stress; summit; survey mission; survival training; Tal; Tal, Jovar; Tal, Kasha; tea; teacher; team building; Tellarite; therapy; Theta Helios; thought; thresh-tor kashek; thumb; Titan; training exercise (training mission); tricorder; Tulí Forests; Tuscadian pyrosome; UFP-02; UFP-05 (Shuttle 5); UFP-11 (Shuttlecraft 11); UFP-02-type; utility kit; valley; Vulcan; Vulcan language; Vulcan purists; warp; week; worker bee (23rd century); worker bee (32nd century); wound; year; zhian'tal; Zora

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"Choose to Live"
Star Trek: Discovery
Season 4
Next episode:
"The Examples"