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Reunited with Burnham, Discovery heads to Earth to find out what has happened to the Federation in the last thousand years.



Burnham's life searching for clues as a courier

In a log entry set to be automatically transmitted if and when USS Discovery is ever found, Michael Burnham describes her year spent apart from the ship in the future, as well as the nature of the Burn and the collapse of the Federation. She explains that she became a courier in order to search for clues about what caused the Burn, look for ways to reunite the Federation and search for Discovery. Burnham apparently spends some time traveling in a small craft on her own, but also shows she works with and is friends with Cleveland Booker. Burnham reveals she has accepted the fact that she may never see her former crewmates again — but her log is interrupted when she receives a notification that Discovery has been detected.

Having rescued the ship from the parasitic ice on The Colony, Burnham beams aboard Discovery and embraces her crewmates while sharing a nod with Philippa Georgiou. Burnham and Saru catch up while walking through the corridors. Burnham says she sent a transmission to Terralysium, but that the response took months to arrive and the residents had no knowledge of her mother. Burnham also promised to give Booker some of Discovery's dilithium, which Saru promises to honor.

The Burn decimates the Federation fleet

On the bridge, Burnham describes how the Burn killed millions, though Paul Stamets says nothing could have affected all dilithium across space at the same time. She reveals she discovered a twelve-year-old transmission on an obsolete Starfleet channel. The message from Admiral Senna Tal says he awaits any remaining Starfleet personnel on Earth. Burnham proposes using the spore drive to jump to Earth, which is distant enough that she was unable to journey that far. Stamets asks whether he should prepare for a jump, but looks back and forth between Saru and Burnham, unsure who is in command. Saru notes the two of them must decide who will become captain, but Burnham declines and tells Saru he should be in command and says she is unsure if she was ever right for such a position. Saru sits in the captain’s chair and tells the crew to prepare for their mission, prompting the crew to respond "Aye, captain."

Act One

Outside Discovery, various work pods and DOT-7s repair the ship's hull. Inside, Ensign Sylvia Tilly looks at a memorial wall with Starfleet insignia. She tells Burnham she has not had time to grieve those who died or were left behind in the past, including her mother, cousins and other family. They lived their lives and died centuries ago, she says tearfully. She hopes to find something familiar on Earth to ground her, such as the Gateway Arch, the Great Pyramid, or homemade hummingbird cake. "Cake is eternal," Burnham responds lightly. Tilly says she knows Burnham had let the Discovery crew go, which Burnham does not deny, and the two embrace. Tilly says Burnham also seems "lighter somehow."

Booker beams aboard Discovery and is surprised to find not Keyla Detmer or Tilly at the controls but Georgiou, about whom he says Burnham warned him. She interrogates Booker about whether his relationship with Burnham is romantic; he initially denies it, then refuses to discuss the matter with her further. Georgiou says she is no longer certain the Burnham of 3189 will still be "earnest and doing the right thing."

Discovery's dilithium supply, an appealing target for raiders in the 32nd century

Later, Burnham extracts some dilithium from Discovery's core. The amount of dilithium amazes Book, who says it could run as many as a dozen sectors. Burnham reveals the ship feels "familiar" but "far away," and Booker tells her she does not necessarily owe the Discovery crew anything. He also warns that their stash of dilithium will make the ship a target. She offers to bring Booker with them to Earth, where she says he would be safe from those who he has angered. He says he believes in his conservation work and does not wish to give it up, but she says Discovery needs his help to mask their dilithium stores.

In the ready room, Saru tells Burnham he is uncertain about trusting her judgment and that while he is grateful she supported his captaincy, he was surprised at her lack of interest in the job. Burnham says she adapted to the unexpected new future in which they found themselves. Booker's ship is brought into the shuttlebay, where the dilithium is loaded and it is cloaked. Using the spore drive, Discovery jumps to the Sol system, near Saturn. Book, impressed, says Burnham did not tell him about "the spinning part."

Earth's defenses begin to activate

As Discovery approaches Earth, a system of advanced force field-generating arrays activates, creating an impenetrable barrier around the planet. Two non-Starfleet vessels approach as Discovery goes to red alert. They are hailed by Captain Ndoye of the United Earth Defense Force, who finds their viewscreen method of communication "quaint." She informs Saru that Discovery has violated regulations C1922 and F031 of the United Earth charter and orders the ship to leave immediately.

Act Two

Saru presents Discovery's cover story – that it was on a long-term classified scientific expedition when it was effectively stranded by the Burn, and that they are the descendants of the original crew. Ndoye notes the ship's design and metallurgy indicate it was built between the 23rd and 25th centuries and expresses skepticism that so old a ship would still be in service. Burnham and Book, both wearing civilian clothes, quietly leave the bridge. Ndoye insists the ship be inspected, and abruptly beams her inspectors in across the ship, startling the Discovery crew.

In Burnham's quarters, she and Booker dress in Starfleet uniforms so as to not to arouse suspicion, though Booker complains about the livery. It is "just a uniform," Burnham responds. In the corridor, she encounters Georgiou, who has also dressed in a Starfleet uniform, albeit with an admiral's rank. She notes Burnham does not appear to be thrilled to be back in uniform and speculates she grew used to living by her own rules, which allowed Burnham to discover who she really was.

Captain Ndoye of the United Earth Defense Force

In the ready room, Saru tells Ndoye he was perplexed by Earth's gruff welcome. She replies that Earth was built to be self-sustainable following the Burn even as raiders tried to seize their remaining dilithium. She says the raiders' current leader is a "relentless" man named Wen. Ndoye tells them the Federation and Starfleet left earth a century prior, having left for an unknown destination. She says many of the ships destroyed in the Burn were Federation, and that many felt if it was an attack and could happen again that their presence on Earth made it a target. Burnham asks about the message from Senna Tal, which was sent twelve years ago; Ndoye's records show he died on an outbound ship two years before.

In engineering, United Earth inspectors look over the equipment, annoying the crew. Adira, a young officer, questions why the spore cube is connected to Discovery's bridge controls. Stamets explains that he uses the cube for controlled spore reactions, which requires coordination with the bridge. Adira responds that the ship is "practically a museum." Adira tells Stamets they are just sixteen years old, but another inspector cautions them not to engage the Discovery crew. Suddenly, the ship sounds red alert.

Five vessels approach – Wen's ships, Ndoye warns. Saru answers Wen's hail, and the helmeted raider tells them to surrender their dilithium immediately, unconvinced that the ship has none. Ndoye orders Discovery to leave Earth and they will deal with Wen, but she and her inspectors unexpectedly find themselves unable to beam away.

Act Three

Commander Burnham

Burnham finds Booker in the ship's mess, where he has been unknowingly drinking synthehol. She says she has a plan but that she has not gotten permission from Saru.

In engineering, Tilly and Stamets find an unknown device tapped into their systems inside a console. It has tapped into Discovery's deflector system to block the inspectors' transporters and will take hours to disable safely. The two quickly grow suspicious of Adira, who had been examining that console earlier and was suspiciously knowledgeable of their 900-year-old starship's systems. They are confused as to why Adira would trap her own people on board, but Stamets speculates she was trying to buy time for something.

Burnham and Booker leave on his ship, along with Discovery's supply of dilithium. Saru is angry but realizes Burnham must have a plan. Ndoye orders her ships to target the raider vessels, saying Wen cannot be allowed to obtain the dilithium. On his ship, Booker says the raider ships are much less powerful than those he is used to. As Grudge lounges nearby, Burnham and Booker discuss strategy in a shorthand that highlights their familiarity and history working together. Burnham tells Wen they will beam the dilithium over if he agrees to leave Earth's orbit immediately.

Saru places Discovery in the United Earth ships' line of fire in order to protect Burnham. Quantum torpedoes, fired from the Earth vessels, completely collapse Discovery's shields and cause explosions on the bridge, but Saru's sacrifice has only briefly delayed a battle. Wen tells Burnham and Booker he will lower his shields to allow the dilithium to be beamed aboard. As tensions rise, Joann Owosekun reports that Booker's ship has cloaked and Gen Rhys says the raiders are powering down weapons.

The turbolift doors open to reveal Burnham and Booker holding Wen captive. They beamed him off his ship and onto Discovery, and the raiders are unwilling to fire on them with Wen held hostage. Burnham says it is time for Ndoye and Wen to talk.

Act Four

The raider Wen

Wen complains that Earth hoards its dilithium without using it, leaving others to suffer. Burnham urges them to speak face-to-face. Wen is uncooperative, but an impatient Georgiou attacks him and removes his helmet, revealing him to be Human.

Meanwhile, Stamets finds Adira in a Jefferies tube, studying the ship. He asks why they sabotaged Discovery, and they explain that they found the ship's technology suspicious. He explains that Discovery uses the spore drive as an alternate form of faster-than-light travel and that he is the system's unique Human navigator. Stamets reveals Discovery is from the year 2258 and demands Adira reveal their secret as well. Adira explains they became an inspector in the hopes of finding a Federation starship and that they wish to accompany Discovery on its mission. They say they know Tal.

In the ready room, Burnham notes Wen's vessel is crowded and broken down. Wen reveals he is from an old research colony on Titan that became independent from Earth a century ago but was devastated by an accident at its liquid hydrocarbon research facility that destroyed a third of the habitats, ruined their tillable soil, and left them without long-range communications. He says the first ship sent to Earth seeking help was destroyed, and that Titan's population knew they were on their own. Ndoye says Earth was unaware of Titan's troubles. The Starfleet officers propose a trade, with Earth providing relief and Titan sharing its research findings.

Ndoye subsequently praises Saru's handling of Wen and invites Discovery's crew to visit Earth. She also has authorized Adira to remain aboard Discovery, and wishes them luck in searching for Starfleet. Saru says Stamets told him Adira knows how to find Tal. "I am Admiral Tal," Adira reveals. Saru later tells Burnham that Adira, though Human, was joined with a Trill symbiont. Burnham said they have seen Trills at the exchanges but was unaware that they carried symbionts. Saru says the Sphere data indicates the symbionts are sentient, benevolent and long-lived, transitioning between hosts who can access prior hosts' memories. However, Adira has some trouble accessing Tal's memories, possibly because Adira is Human, not Trill. Burnham admits she should have informed Saru of her plan beforehand. She adds that she would be proud to serve as his first officer, but that her year alone in the future meant she let go over certain things on Discovery and she will need time to "find her way back to them." Saru says he will trust her to grow through her change.

Burnham bids farewell for now to Booker. He says she owes him, though Burnham retorts that she provided him with dilithium and life in a new quadrant.

San Francisco life in the 32nd century

On the bridge, Burnham finds Saru watching an image of the building that used to house Starfleet Academy on the viewscreen. The rest of the bridge crew has gone to the surface for a visit, but Burnham says she will admire the view from Discovery alongside Saru. On the surface, Tilly, Owosekun, Detmer, Rhys, Nilsson, and Bryce visit a tree many of them used to study under at the academy, now grown into an enormous round trunk. Rhys notes they have now stood in the same spot 930 years apart. Saru hails Tilly, who asks for five more minutes on the planet, a request Saru grants.

Log entries

  • "Personal log, Commander Michael Burnham. Stardate 865211.3. Automatic transmissions to USS Discovery, wherever or whenever it might be. I'm sending you this message because you need to know what I've learned here. I hope that by some miracle you will receive it some day. Seven hundred years after we left, dilithium supplies dried up. The Federation trialed alternative warp drive designs but none proved reliable. Then came the Burn. No one knows how or why it happened but in an instant, all dilithium went inert. Any ship with an active warp core detonated. The Federation, as we know it, disappeared overnight. It's now just a shadow of its former self. We didn't give everything for this version of the future and I'll be damned if I let it stand. I've become a courier. I transport goods in exchange for dilithium to keep exploring sector by sector. Searching for clues as to what caused The Burn. Answers that might help to bring the Federation together again. Wherever I go, I look for you, my friends. I listen for any sign of your arrival but communication remains severely limited. Even if I did find you, I know it would be different, because I am different. But I will always love you. I've had to accept I may never see you again. You can love someone and still let them go. It feels like a dream, this world. A strange, terrible, beautiful dream. Luckily, I'm not alone on this journey. I found a friend in the truest sense of the word. This is my life now and I..."

Memorable quotes

"That's impossible. Nothing could affect all dilithium all at once."
"Says a man who jumps a starship through mushroom space."

- Stamets and Georgiou, upon learning of The Burn

"You brought this ship through time. You carried this crew on your shoulders. You are a captain in the truest sense of the word."

- Burnham, to Saru, declining captaincy of the Discovery

"This ship bears the name Discovery. Never has that been more fitting, or more prescient. She has carried us into the future, and it will be our privilege to make that future bright. Let us begin. Together."

- Saru, first command as captain of the Discovery

"I've never been to Earth."
"I've never been to this one."

- Booker and Burnham

"Oh shit! Hey, you didn't tell me about the spinning part! Huh?"

- Booker, after Discovery jumps to the Solar System

"A viewscreen. How quaint."

- Ndoye

"You're 'Lieutenant Booker' now."
"Aye, aye, commander."
"One 'aye'. We're not pirates."

- Burnham and Booker

"This science vessel's practically a museum."
"Okay, well, museums are cool, so..."
"That's what someone who lives in a museum would say."
"I don't live in a museum."

- Adira and Tilly

"We will not attack Earth! Starfleet does not fire first!"

- Saru

"Diplomacy is so slow."

- Georgiou

"Are there others like you?"
"There's no one like me."

- Adira and Stamets, discussing his role as the spore drive's navigator

Background information

Earth poster for this episode

Cast and characters


  • This episode reveals that Earth left the United Federation of Planets in the aftermath of the Burn a century prior. The status of the colonies on Luna was not revealed, although the moon appears to be represented in the UEDF logo. Earth apparently does not communicate with other worlds in the Sol system such as Titan.
  • "People of Earth" also elaborates on the nature of the Burn itself. Rather than simply detonating, as Book had oversimplified in "That Hope Is You, Part 1", dilithium spontaneously went inert and caused any starship with an active warp core to suffer a containment breach and explode. Burnham estimates that the event killed millions of people and caused the Federation to collapse almost overnight as much of Starfleet was destroyed.
  • This is the first episode to show 31st century Starfleet ships prior to their destruction as we have only seen the ships after they had been destroyed during the Burn.
  • This is the first episode or film to use a six-digit stardate, not including the decimal. The first three digits (865) are consistent with the year 3188 in the stardate system used on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Lower Decks.
  • Paul Stamets confirms to Adira that Discovery and her crew left from the year 2258. This means that the later part of season 2 takes place at the same time as Star Trek in the alternate reality.
  • Episode director Jonathan Frakes played a Human hosting a Trill symbiont, like Adira is revealed to be, in "The Host".
  • As of 2367, Humans could not serve as hosts to Trill symbionts for more than a short period. (TNG: "The Host") That has apparently changed by 3189, though Adira's difficulty accessing Tal's memories could indicate the joining is still unstable.
  • Burnham, a trained Xenoanthropologist from the 23rd Century, mentions that she had no idea about the existence of Trill symbionts. This is consistent with the aforementioned "The Host", which takes place in 2367, in which Dr. Crusher was also unaware about their existence prior to the episode.


Production history

Links and references



Special guest star

Guest starring


Uncredited co-stars

Stunt double



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External links

Previous episode:
"Far From Home"
Star Trek: Discovery
Season 3
Next episode:
"Forget Me Not"