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On Trill, Burnham, Booker, and Culber must pass a dangerous test to prove themselves worthy of the next clue. Adira reconnects with Gray, and Saru's first day as ambassador is complicated by his engagement to T'Rina.



Aboard the USS Discovery, docked at Federation Headquarters, Captain Michael Burnham is briefed by Doctor Hugh Culber and Cleveland Booker. The two have nothing further on L'ak, but inform her Moll was born on Callor V. Moll's mentor left her when she was 8, her mother died when she was 14, she joined a courier guild at 17 and served at least two terms in an Emerald Chain prison. With all that she's been through while still coming out on top, Booker thinks this makes her dangerous and wants to come along to Trill. But as Trill is a Federation world, Burnham must bring along a uniformed team. She is further reluctant that Booker's personal connection to Moll will make him a liability. Booker argues that he is learning from his personal choices and going on this mission will help him to get his life back. Burnham promises to consider it.

Booker exits the corridor and Dr. Culber notices the toll this mission has taken on Burnham. Both admit to having gotten little sleep and Culber suggests Burnham try Vulcan meditation, which helped her as a child.

Jinaal Bix

Symbiont host: Jinaal Bix

Burnham and Culber enter the science lab and Tilly informs them that with Trill's surface area of five hundred million square kilometers, the next clue will be difficult to pinpoint. Commander Stamets' analysis of the Romulan tricorder has also yet to yield any results. Adira reports a decryption algorithm has further failed to find any hidden messages in the Romulan revlav. However, they have found a pattern matching Trill facial spots on the metal piece that Burnham recovered on Lyrek. The spot's match a 24th century Trill named Jinaal Bix. Adira believes Jinaal to have been a symbiont host. While unusual for a symbiont to live 800 years, it is not unheard of. Burnham orders an away team consisting of Adira, Culber, Booker, and herself to contact the Guardians and find the current host. Tilly will inform them when sensors indicate L'ak and Moll have returned to Lyrek. Burnham leaves to meet with her first officer and informs the team to be ready in ten minutes.

In the ready room, Burnham welcomes now-Commander Rayner aboard. He notes his quarters are smaller than what he was used to when serving as a captain, something he intended as a joke to "break the ice." Burnham wants Rayner to work on his personal connections with the crew while she is on Trill. Rayner has already read their files and would rather spend his time tracking L'ak and Moll, but Burnham insists he "break the ice" and show the crew that he is right for the job of First Officer .

Burnham and Rayner enter the bridge, the former introducing the latter to the bridge crew and informing him he will meet the rest later. Burnham takes her seat and orders black alert for the jump to Trill.

Trill, 3191

Discovery returns to Trill

As Discovery arrives in orbit around Trill, Adira confesses to Reno that they can't believe they will see Gray again after six months of them holo-chatting as if nothing were the matter. They nervously ask Reno how they look, before admitting to forgetting how many Raktajinos they've had. They want everything to be perfect. Stamets nonchalantly asks Adira to give Gray his love, just before they are called to the bridge. Reno asks Stamets if he is thinking what she is. Stamets, too caught up in his work, merely mentions not being able to make sense of the jumble of numbers before him. Reno is actually talking about Adira's nervousness after not seeing Gray for six months and what that means. Stamets thinks Reno is getting at the couple's sex life, but Reno actually suspects relationship problems, comparing Adira to a lamb on its way to the slaughterhouse. Stamets believes the two will be fine, but then is unsure if he should be worried. Reno explains that while everyone's on a journey, coming together and apart, the two will ultimately be fine because "everything's got a half-life." This prompts Stamets to think…

On the bridge, Lieutenant Christopher reports that permission to transport to Trill has been denied. Guardian Xi hails Discovery and informs Burnham the information they seek has been protected for centuries. To proceed they must answer a riddle: "Where does the fourth point?" Burnham recognizes that Xi is referring to the poem from Lyrek, the fourth stanza of which pointed to Betazed. Upon hearing the correct answer, Xi informs them the Bix symbiont is still alive in the current host Kalzara Bix, who will only speak to those able to answer that riddle, and they are the first to come asking. The team is given permission to transport to the Caves of Mak'ala, but Xi has no further information. From here on out, Burnham and her crew will be on their own.

Act One[]

In the Caves of Mak'ala on Trill, the away team arrives and finds Xi and Gray among the Guardians. Kalzara Bix informs Burnham that only the original Bix host, Jinaal, can help her find the next clue. She explains that Jinaal joined with the Bix symbiont so that it could carry his knowledge across the generations until someone worthy arrived. Adira and Gray explain a zhian'tara transferring Jinaal's consciousness to another body is required for communication. Culber volunteers to be host per his familiarity with "emotionally overwhelming" experiences, which zhian'tara will likely entail.

Saru's office at Federation HQ

Ambassador Saru's new office

Meanwhile at Federation Headquarters, T'Rina brings Saru a gift for his new office – a favinit plant. She hopes to ease his transition after having Discovery as his home for so many years. He admits to missing his former crewmates, but is excited and trepidatious for his first day and will soon be speaking at a resource committee meeting to advocate a controversial position. T'Rina is sure he will perform his duties commendably and the two head for the meeting. On the way, Saru mentions that the phrase, "the handsome and erudite Captain Saru" on their engagement announcement may warrant reconsideration, and T'Rina assures him that it could be removed if he finds it embarrassing, but it is accurate.

Favinit plant 3191

A Vulcan favinit planet

The two are approached by Duvin, whom T'Rina introduces to Saru. T'Rina informs Duvin that their engagement announcement will have one small edit and instructs him to be ready to transmit it after making it. T'Rina enters the meeting room and leaves Saru to get ready for his first day as an ambassador.

On Discovery, Tilly finds Rayner combing through sensor data for signs of Moll and L'ak's ship. She has been ordered to show Rayner around the ship to facilitate crew introductions and is insistent Rayner follow Burnham's orders, especially considering Zora is already monitoring the scanners. Rayner responds that he did not grant Tilly permission to speak freely, yet relents and says that he can "walk and chew gum," which he explains is an Earth expression to a confused Tilly. Active duty crew can report to him every five minutes while he continues to work in the science lab.

Back on Trill, Adira and Gray hug for the first time in months. Adira wants to see Gray's quarters or meet other Guardian trainees once the mission is over. Gray agrees, but thinks the two also have some things they should talk about. The ceremony begins. Gray places a candle inside a small bowl of opaline water made into the rock structure. Xi places his hands on Culber and Kalzara, then recites a prayer as everyone else stands in a circle around them, the Guardians crossing their arms over their chests. From Culber's perspective Xi's words begin to fade into an echo and Kalzara is enshrined by a glowing light that obscures the surroundings.

The transference of Jinaal into Culber's body is complete. Jinaal opens Culber's eyes and asks what year it is. Burnham greets Jinaal and responds that it is 3191. Jinaal recognizes her Starfleet uniform and states that he loves what they have done with it in the years since the 24th century. He loosens his own uniform and asks about Booker, who informs him that he is an "unaffiliated professional associate." Jinaal is impressed that they have solved the poem and the riddle, but he does not have the next clue. He is, however, willing to take them to it in a nearby canyon. Burnham informs him of the existence of personal transporters but Jinaal claims to not remember the coordinates, only the path. Besides, he misses walking. Burnham thinks they do not have time for this, but also has little choice other than to follow Jinaal. She orders Adira to stay with Kalzara and keep comms open before following Jinaal along with Book. As they exit the caves, Jinaal, getting used to the new body, notes that Culber really works out.

Act Two[]

At the resource committee meeting, one delegate argues against a debated policy change because his planet needs a new starbase for defense against the warring factions on Breen. Saru placates him by offering an increase of patrols in his sector, which the delegate accepts. After a vote, the revision is adopted and the delegates take a recess.

Duvin takes Saru aside and asks if T'Rina has informed him of her coalition's conflicts with Vulcan purists. He worries that they may turn Saru's remarks into political fodder, i.e. criticism of the larger world of Ni'Var. Further, the fact that she voted the same as Saru could give off the appearance that she is swayed by her personal relationship and impending marriage to him. Announcing T'Rina's betrothal to someone from another world now, would be a proverbial spark to the keg of cabrodine that is her political career.

As Jinaal leads Burnham and Booker across the canyon, they ask him about the next clue and Doctor Vellek. The three hear a roar in the distance and Jinaal explains it is an itronok, a carnivorous quadruped about six meters high. The canyons they are in are their hunting grounds, which made them perfect for hiding the clue. Jinaal warns Burnham that the answers they are seeking could cost her life, but she is sure that it's worth it. Jinaal explains that eight hundred years ago the Federation President secretly assembled six scientists, including himself and Doctor Vellek, to research the Progenitor message found by Captain Picard. Years of research led them to discover a technology in deep space that horribly killed one of their team, so the remaining scientists made a pact to hide the location of their discovery. They could not have handed the technology to the Federation during the Dominion War when it could have been used for such great destruction. The group hears a louder itronok roar, indicating that they are much closer, and so they pick up the pace.

Commander Rayner

Rayner reluctantly gets to know the crew

Back on Discovery, Tilly escorts Lt. Cmdr. Gen Rhys to his meeting with Rayner, who has just discovered that Moll and L'ak have returned to Lyrek, though Tilly knows this, as Zora has already reported it. Rayner orders Rhys to tell him something about himself that he could not otherwise read in his file, in twenty words or less. Rhys says that he is a "ship-head" who loves the Crossfield-class and the 23rd century Constitution-class, and is then thanked and dismissed by Rayner. Next, Dr. Tracy Pollard says the worst thing she ever saw in sickbay was a Bynar with a Dakalan bore worm eating its synaptic processor. Lt. Cmdr. Asha reveals that her nicknames were "Full Monopoly" and "Bluff Master" while growing up on Bajor and she is unbeatable at tongo. Lt. jg Linus says that while Saurians reproduce asexually, they don't meet their progeny, as they are raised by the community; he himself has laid three clutches. Lt. Christopher says that Nilsson gave him a pet tribble, but not to worry – it has been neutered. Reno simply complains that the last time she did introductions, she was given chips. Lt. Gallo decides to save their drag racing story for next time.

Tilly criticizes Rayner for having such short meetings of thirty seconds with each crewmember, but he assures her that the meetings are as long as needed. Not satisfied, Tilly nevertheless leaves to retrieve the next crewmember, Commander Owosekun.

In the caves on Trill, Adira tells Gray that trouble may eventually be coming now that Moll and L'ak are likely in possession of the actual clue from Lyrek that points to Trill. Gray recognizes that things have been going great for both of them, yet also feel different between the two. Adira agrees, and Gray explains that the two used to be connected, yet now are following separate paths. Adira offers to transfer or take leave so the two can spend more time together, but Gray wouldn't want that just as Adira wouldn't want Gray to give up his guardianship for them. Gray suggests changing the nature of their relationship, but Adira doesn't believe they can do this any other way. The two agree to break up, yet still always be there for each other.

Meanwhile, in the canyon, Jinaal dismisses telling Burnham the location of the Progenitor technology outright. The clues themselves were created so the technology could be found by a worthy seeker at a time when species had evolved enough to only use it for peaceful purposes. Booker says that this is indeed a time of peace, and a less-sure Burnham only says that the Federation is driven by a will to do good. Jinaal is skeptical that most sentient beings are driven by good will, but Burnham counters that Jinaal must believe that the good outweighs the bad, otherwise they would not have left any clues to be found at all. Booker then notices the nearby corpse of an animal that Jinaal identifies as an ina raptor, prey of the itronok. The fresh kill means that they are closer than previously thought. Burnham and Booker materialize their phasers and press on.

Act Three[]

By nightfall Jinaal has led Burnham to a group of rocks some distance away. He says they contain the clue in a compartment with an opening just below a carving. Burnham activates a holographic display to magnify the carving and matches it to the schematic found in Vellek's journal. She starts towards the rocks, but a partly-visible itronok lands in her path. A confused Burnham believes they can cloak, but Jinaal explains itronok scales control the way light refracts. The itronok begins firing projectile barbs and the group takes cover behind a rock. Jinaal explains that once agitated, an itronok does not back down and there is no way they will be getting the clue tonight. Seemingly to protect Culber's body, and thus his life, Jinaal retreats.


A pair of itronoks

Booker attempts to empathically communicate with the itronok, but is blocked. He and Burnham then agree on "plan B," with Booker running as a distraction to draw the itronok's fire while Burnham transports to the rocks. Booker is knocked down by one of the barb blasts and transports to a safe vantage point while Burnham examines the carving. Having lost track of the intonok, Booker advises Burnham to hurry when another arrives. He transports to her location an pushes her out of the way just a barb impacts on the carved rocks, though in so doing is pierced in the leg with a second projectile. Still taking fire, Burnham helps Booker hobble to cover.

On Discovery, Rayner wonders aloud that surely Moll and L'ak must have found the poem on Lyrek by now. Stamets enters and believes he has cracked the data on the Romulan tricorder. He has now accounted for half-life since the Progenitor's technology is several billion years old and has several decayed isotopes. From what he does understand, Stamets thinks the technology could be used to design lifeforms, accelerate evolution, modify ecosystems and potentially reanimate dead organisms. Rayner recognizes how dangerous this all sounds in the wrong hands, but Stamets is thrilled by the potential good of a discovery that could overshadow the spore drive. With no more data to report, a deflated Stamets is dismissed.

Rayner attempts to return to his scans of Moll and L'ak, but an incensed Tilly demands to know why Rayner shut down Stamets' excitement. Rayner plainly tells her that he received the needed information and is ready to move on to the next crewmember. Without permission to speak freely, Tilly elects to "take it." She cannot fathom what Burnham sees in Rayner and offers her own "twenty words," accusing him of hiding the difficulty of his demotion "…by being a giant…" stopping herself short when realizing she's reached twenty words.

In Saru's office, T'Rina confirms their engagement will be announced within a few hours, while Saru considers postponing. He attempts to justify postponing a declaration that could bring pressure during a busy time for both of them, but T'Rina sees right through it and concludes it was Duvin who persuaded him. T'Rina states that she best understands her own interests and does not need a caretaker to protect her from the challenges of Vulcan purists. She is then called away to work with President Rillak.

On Trill, Burnham rips the intonok barb out of Booker's leg while using a dermal regenerator to stop the bleeding. Booker then notices intonok eggs in a distant rock pile and the two realize the intonok have just been protecting their young. With no justification for antagonizing the creatures, the two prepare to beam out and return later for the clue. Minerals in the rockface interfere with transport, however. Burnham elects to show the intonok respect, stepping out from cover and dematerializing her phaser so as to not seem like a threat. This time Booker is successfully able to communicate that they are sorry and will be leaving the creatures' nesting grounds. The two intonok de-camouflage and allow Burnham and Booker to pass, though they still have to find a way to reach the clue.

Act Four[]

Walking back, Burnham scoffs at finding an aloof Jinaal laying back on a rock stargazing. Burnham asks why Jinaal intentionally led them into the intonok nesting ground with phasers drawn to incite them. Jinaal explains that he needed to know what they'd do when encountering a vastly different lifeform – see it as an enemy... or try to connect? Connection is vital for whoever possesses the Progenitor's technology, he argues while removing some rocks to reveal the next clue. Jinnal affirms his belief in the potential for goodness in all beings, and hands the next clue to Burnham. He warns her and Booker to proceed wisely and confirms the carving on the rock in the nesting grounds was only a red herring. When Booker asks, Jinaal confirms he would have let them die if they had proven unworthy. Jinaal wishes Burnham luck and the three head back.

Meanwhile, Saru has caught a moment with T'Rina and admits to being uneasy since last they spoke. He apologizes for attempting to postpone the announcement despite it not being what she needed nor asked for. She accepts and puts the matter in the past, to Saru's surprise. Saru expected a worse outcome, explaining he has never experienced conflict with someone he loved in this way. T'Rina thinks that conflict is natural and not to be feared, fully expecting the Vulcan purists to be enflamed by the announcement, but that being preferable to her citizen's trust being eroded by the discovery of an unannounced engagement. She assures Saru that they have nothing to hide. Saru would like to announce as soon as possible and vows to stand beside T'Rina, facing any difficulties together. The two reconcile.

Back in the Caves of Mak'ala, Xi terminates the zhian'tara and Culber returns to control of his body. Kalzara expresses Jinaal's gratitude for the extra life Culber granted him. Culber can't find the words for the experience. Burnham then warns Xi that the dangerous Moll and L'ak are likely on their way, and offers to assign a security team for protection. Xi assures her there is no need as Trill security can handle them. Culber and Booker then beam to sickbay, and Burnham tells Adira she will see them shipside before beaming aboard herself.

In Discovery's bar, Rayner catches up with Tilly while she enjoys a glass of Slug-o-Cola. He explains to her that leadership and friendship are different, and professional distance keeps that distinction clear. His crew understood that and he had a mutual trust with them. Tilly thinks it would help matters if the crew thought he cared about them. Rayner lists off conclusions he has drawn from the crew interviews: Rhys' interest in starships goes beyond the tactical and could serve him in a command division position, Pollard is frightened of nothing and Linus values stability and tradition. Tilly argues that analyzing the crew is not the same as connecting or showing respect, and the two agree that respect needs to be earned, with Tilly emphasizing that goes both ways.

Burnham takes a seat with Culber and informs him they are preparing to jump to the coordinates of the next clue, in Tzenkethi space, which requires diplomats to clear approval first. Culber reflects on his experience and questions how he can even begin to explain having another consciousness inside him. It reminds him of his abuela, a doctor who filled her home with religious icons as a reminder that not everything needs an answer. Culber is not sure he can accept such a lack of answers and Burnham sympathizes, revealing Jinaal was right about her searching. She reflects that with the journey for the Progenitor technology, the closest they can come to the beings that designed life, perhaps they will both find the answers.

In the Caves of Mak'ala, Gray gives a speech for the funeral of Kalzara about the life of a symbiont being changed by its hosts over the centuries, and changing each of them in turn. Simultaneously, Booker contemplates his relationship to Moll, T'Rina aids Saru in his botany, Culber reflects on his zhian'tara experience, Rayner observes Tilly's ease socializing with the crew, Stamets adds the newest clue to Vellek's map, and Burnham sits in her quarters engaged in Vulcan meditation. Gray concludes that the connections people make will lead them to the meaning in their lives, and takes Adira's hand in his.

Their ceremony concluded, Xi offers a prayer and releases the Bix symbiont into the water. The Guardians and Adira exchange embraces. One hooded "Guardian" takes the opportunity to plant a small device on Adira's sleeve, which quickly disappears. Still hiding her face under the hood, Moll quietly makes her exit.

Memorable quotes[]

"Everyone's on a journey. We come together, we come apart… wow. I just sounded like a woo-woo asshole."

- Reno, to Stamets

"It cannot be a joined host, but others from your team may serve as a vessel. I should warn you, however, that it can be an emotionally overwhelming experience."
"Captain, Jinaal can use me. "Emotionally overwhelming" is what I do best."

- Xi, to Culber, after he agrees to let Jinaal Bix inhabit his body

"Come on, keep up. You have a lifetime, I only have a few hours. Wow, this guy really works out!"

- Jinaal, in Culber's body, to Burnham and Booker

"The Dominion War was raging. Everyone saw an enemy in everyone else. And we knew that technology could be used for great destruction. Protecting it became the focus of our lives. Nothing was more important."

- Jinaal, explaining why he hid the Progenitor's technology to Burnham and Booker

"In twenty words or less, tell me something about yourself I couldn't read in your file."
"I'm a real ship-head. Love the Crossfield but something about the curves of a 23rd century Constitution-class just gets me."
"That was twenty-two words. Thank you. Dismissed."

- Rayner, getting to know Rhys

"Last time I did this, they gave me chips."

- Reno, to Rayner

"Since you won't give me permission to speak freely, I'm just going to take it. Captain Burnham, she sees something in you but for the life of me I have no idea what it is. So how about this, how about I'm next? Here are my twenty words: You're. On. A. New. Ship. Fresh. Off. A. Demotion. Trying. To. Hide. How. Hard. That. Is. By. Being. A. Giant–"

- Tilly, to Rayner

Background information[]


Story and script[]



Links and references[]



Guest starring[]


Uncredited co-stars[]


Alpha Quadrant; ambassador; Archer Spacedock; Bajor; Betazed; Breen; Buddhism; Bynar; Callor V; Catholic Church; Caves of Mak'ala; Constitution-class; Constitution-class (31st century); Crossfield-class; Dakalan boreworm; Dominion War; drag racing; Earth; Emerald Chain; Federation; Federation Headquarters; Ferengi; Friendship-class; golem; Human; ina raptor; Itronok; Kelpien; Kwejian; Locherer, USS; Lyrek; Merian-class; Multilateral DMA Strategy Assembly; NCC; Ni'Var; Nilsson; Noble, USS; Osnullus; Pax-class; phaser; Picard, Jean-Luc; Progenitors; Q'mau; Red's; Santeria; Saturn-class; Saurian; star; Starfleet; tribble; Trill; Trill (planet); Trill symbiont; Tzenkethi space; Vellek; Voyager-J, USS; Vulcan; Vulcan purist

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Star Trek: Discovery
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