Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

A surprise visitor to the USS Discovery brings shocking news about Spock and dredges up past regrets for Burnham. Following the asteroid incident, Tilly struggles to keep a grip on her reality. L'Rell's authority on Qo'noS is threatened.

Summary Edit

Teaser Edit

"Stardate 1029.46. Personal log, Commander Michael Burnham. Any rational explanation for the seven signals that have appeared across the galaxy continues to escape me. And with it, perhaps, any chance of a relationship with my brother Spock. What did he see in them that I can't? My failure to understand feels like a failure to reach him at a time when he might me need me most."

As Burnham walks the corridors of the USS Discovery, the lights suddenly dim as the computer announces the Command Training Program's half marathon approaching. As the trainees run past Burnham, Sylvia Tilly falls behind as she runs right through May Ahearn – and no one but Tilly is able to see her. Tilly says aloud to May that she had only gone to Musk Junior High School for six months before her mother was moved to another post, that she hadn't spoken to May in years, and that May had in fact died in 2252. Tilly believes May to be the result of an unfit mind, something she was unwilling to deal with, and runs away to catch up to the others, eventually overtaking them before reaching the half marathon's finish line. First Officer Saru congratulates Tilly on her fortitude and dismisses the trainees after reminding them there will be shadow exercises the following day. May tells Tilly that there is no one else she would rather support, which does not reassure Tilly. At that moment, Burnham walks up to Tilly and hands her a water bottle. Saru had told Burnham that not only had Tilly won the race, she had beaten her own personal time. Tilly attributes it to Burnham's training, even as May claims credit.

As Saru and Burnham return to the bridge, the ship is at yellow alert as an unidentified vessel approaches. R.A. Bryce reports he has been hailing them on all frequencies, but they are not responding; Captain Christopher Pike tells him to warn them if they come any closer without identification, they will activate tactical systems. Joann Owosekun reports a small ship, with only two lifeforms aboard. Just then, the ship hails, informing Discovery that they are a private vessel with a diplomatic registry and are not authorized to reveal more; the captain has also requested to transport one aboard. As the vessel comes into range, Saru notes that the vessel is Vulcan; Burnham recognizes it as belonging to Sarek, who assembled the Federation task force investigating the seven signals. Pike speculates that Sarek may be there for another reason - he had informed Starfleet Command of Spock's drawing of the seven signals and his confinement on Starbase 5, and believes word may have reached the ambassador. While Burnham reassures Pike that he did not betray his friend by following protocol, Pike remarks that it's "easy to say, harder to believe". He has also not heard anything from Starbase 5 on Spock's condition. Nonetheless, Pike orders Burnham to greet the ambassador in the transporter room.

As Burnham instructs the transporter operator to energize, she is surprised to see that their guest is not Sarek himself, but his wife Amanda Grayson. As she embraces Burnham, Amanda whispers in her ear telling her not to react – Spock needs their help, and Burnham was the only person Amanda could turn to.

Act One Edit

On Qo'noS, High Chancellor L'Rell addresses the Klingon High Council as she shows them a holographic projection of their newest warship, the D7-class battle cruiser, a symbol of the unity of the Great Houses, and tells them that her Torchbearer, Ash Tyler, will oversee its mass production. Kol-Sha snidely asks in English if L'Rell intends to make Tyler her fleet captain as well, and if they will be forced to speak the Federation Standard language. L'Rell points out that the Torchbearer was anointed by T'Kuvma himself, to which Kol-Sha retorts that Voq was the Torchbearer, and that if L'Rell wanted "whatever this is" as her plaything, she should keep it in her bed, not in the chambers of the High Council. L'Rell makes clear that Tyler's place is where she says it is, and that their union, much like that of the Great Houses, was what made the Klingon Empire strong; she rebukes Kol-Sha for following the old ways, and commands him to remove the paint from his face. Kol-Sha dismisses her union with Tyler as an insult to his son, General Kol, and all others who died due to "Human treachery" during the recent war; he believes it an omen that the seven signals appeared just after L'Rell assumed power – "seven drops of blood ready to rain down on us". Tyler removes the paint from Kol-Sha's face himself, telling him that it was the duty of the Torchbearer – be he Human, Klingon, or in his case, both – to dirty his hands for his Chancellor.

Back aboard Discovery, Burnham asks Amanda about the seven signals; Amanda is aware of them, having learned about them from Sarek, and notes that people are anxious to discover what they are. Burnham reveals that Spock has a connection to them, but that she has no new angles to work on in order to unravel the mystery – except, Amanda tells her, the one she is about to give her. Amanda had visited Starbase 5 before coming to Discovery, but no one there would let her see him, tell him where he was or what his condition was, or even give her his personal effects, despite her being his mother and the wife of a prominent Federation diplomat. So she did the "next logical thing" – she stole Spock's encrypted medical file, and asks Burnham to help her open it.

In the Chancellor's residence, Tyler greets Ujilli, L'Rell's uncle, who does not reply. Tyler vents his frustration that despite giving everything to L'Rell's cause, Ujilli will not speak to him, that he and the other Council members see him as a Human, not as a Klingon. L'Rell counters that the House of Mo'Kai continues to believe in him, that Ujilli is refuting Kol-Sha's claim that Tyler is pushing her to abolish the Great Houses, and that only her opinion of what he is should count. Tyler then demands to know why L'Rell insists on speaking English to him, and demands that if he is to be taken seriously as the Torchbearer, she must treat him like Voq, not Tyler. L'Rell passionately kisses him in response, and tells him that if he was Voq, then he should show his love in return. Haunted by memories of his captivity on L'Rell's prison ship, he admits that he, as Tyler, still feels being touched by her to be a "violation".

In Pike's ready room, Amanda tells him that both Spock and Burnham speak highly of him, and so she believes she was right to come to him for help. Unfortunately, Pike replies, he cannot open the medical file, as it would violate regulations. Burnham points out that there was precedent in Starfleet case law, to which Pike jokingly asks if Burnham was this "bossy" as a child. Amanda replies that on Vulcan they called it "persistence", and that Burnham learned it from her. Pike signals Bryce to open a communication with Captain Diego Vela on Starbase 5, high priority. Vela, an old friend of Pike's, remarks that his grandmother is the only other person besides Pike to communicate using a screen, before apologizing for not returning Pike's call. Pike corrects him with "calls", plural, and asks for an update on Spock. Vela tells him that Spock's case is classified, much to Pike's confusion, since as his captain he would have the right to know Spock's prognosis. Vela then explains that Spock is in fact wanted for murder, having killed three of his doctors before fleeing the starbase. Pike demands to know why Starfleet has not been told to be on the lookout; Vela explains that the situation is "complicated", as some of Spock's medical files had gone missing, but that there were "people" on it. As the channel closes, Amanda rejects the idea that Spock was capable of murder; Burnham concurs, as does Pike, who orders Burnham to unlock the encrypted medical file.

Act Two Edit

Burnham and Amanda review Spock's medical file. The medical officer makes clear that his intellect and capacity for reason remained intact; instead, his issues seemed to be of an emotional nature, with his emotional quotient and his disaffected state indicating "extreme empathy deficits". Logic shows Burnham a number of theories: either Spock was wrongfully accused, or that he was mentally compromised. Amanda recognizes "extreme empathy deficit" as code for psychopathy, and she can't deny the possibility that her son has gone mad; Sarek wanted Spock raised in the Vulcan way, with displays of emotion discouraged, and Amanda had to learn to hide her emotions as not to confuse Spock. Amanda admits that she gave Burnham all of the emotional love and support she had not been permitted to give Spock. As the computer sifts through Spock's file, Amanda recognizes some of Spock's drawings of what he had called the "Red Angel", which he had seen as a child. Just then, the computer indicates an incoming transmission, and Burnham leaves to take the call in her quarters.

The call is from Tyler, on Qo'noS. He tells Burnham that the situation is volatile, and that L'Rell's rule is threatened; if she falls, the peace could fall with her. Burnham promises to pass the information up the chain of command. She remarks on his thick beard, and the rumors that the Klingons have begun growing their hair back in the post-war era; Tyler confirms the rumors, and then asks about Burnham. She mentions her concerns about Spock, and how Amanda was helping her. Tyler admits his own frustrations; he understood his role to help L'Rell, but he is afraid that because he appears Human, he is doing her more harm than good. He admits his admiration for her, to which Burnham points that L'Rell seems to feel likewise about him and values having him there, and advises him to take her at her word.

On Discovery's bridge, Saru welcomes the CTP trainees to their shadow exercises, which will involve the future captains striking a rapport with senior officers. A nervous Tilly, extra edgy because of the presence of May, is paired off with Captain Pike, who remarks on her dedication and jokes that perhaps they should officiate at a wedding. May is confused at the captain's humor, believing that the captain of the ship was not funny, but "terrifying". Tilly believes May is referring to Captain Lorca, to which May asks if he was "shorter, and blonder, and much much whiter" than Pike, because that's who she believes the captain is and who she needs to talk to. Pike, unaware of Tilly's distraction, invites her to sit in the captain's chair to run a systems test. May continues to insist that Pike is not the captain, and that she needs to speak to the "real captain", and that her "plan" is falling apart. Tilly begins speaking aloud to May, whom only she can see; when May becomes even more insistent, Tilly loses her temper and begins yelling, from the perspective of the crew, at Pike himself. Realizing that the entire bridge crew is staring at her, Tilly is mortified, trying to explain about May, but realizing how it sounds, then abruptly says that she is quitting the Command Training Program before entering the turbolift.

On Qo'noS, Tyler anxiously rubs at his hands to remove the paint he had wiped from Kol-Sha's face, when he sees someone moving in the shadows. He rises, grabbing his mek'leth, and follows them into the estate of House Mo'Kai. There, he confronts Ujilli and holds his blade to his throat, demanding to know why he is spying on him. Ujilli tells him to take it up with his niece if he feels aggrieved, and that House Mo'Kai was not the one keeping secrets from him. When Tyler demands to know what secrets, Ujilli explains that while L'Rell would be angry that he broke her trust, he cannot keep secrets from him any further, and leads him into an inner chamber. There, lying in a cradle, is a Klingon infant – the son of L'Rell... and Voq.

Act Three Edit

L'Rell explains that she learned she was pregnant when Voq was undergoing the choH'a' to be transformed into Tyler. She could not activate Voq's hidden memories on Discovery while she was carrying a child, and so the gestation occurred ex utero, which is why the infant was so small. L'Rell has thus never met the child, which does not even have a name, but nonetheless considers it a vulnerability. Tyler is infuriated at all the secrets and lies told over a failed wartime mission, and demands to know what L'Rell gained from it; L'Rell counters by asking if the discovery of his offspring was greater than the pain she herself had carried, and that she had kept the secret from him so that he could return to his Human life without obligation, remarking that he would not be there forever. Tyler reminds her that he chose to return to Qo'noS with her and that he was committed to that decision. L'Rell then asks why he called Burnham, who had been his lover when he was part of Discovery's crew; Tyler admits that Burnham was the only person he could trust, and told her that the High Council planned an insurrection, and that was all. He remarks that he saw one of Voq's memories on their way home, about he and L'Rell walking along the ancestral cliffs of the Mo'Kai. L'Rell remarks that their love was greater than that of Kahless and Lukara, and Tyler confirms Voq had thought the same. When he saw the child, an albino like Voq, he had felt like he was whole again for the first time, and that while he could not bring back the old memories, they would craft their own love story.

Back on Discovery, Amanda explains that the "Red Angel" first appeared to Spock when Burnham had tried to run away to Earth, after the logic extremists had bombed the Vulcan Learning Center. Burnham remembers that she had not even reached the outskirts of ShiKahr before Sarek found her, to which Amanda reveals that when she and Sarek had been about to alert the Vulcan High Command to begin a search effort, it had been Spock who had pinpointed her location, claiming the "Red Angel" had told him, and that Sarek had found Burnham right where Spock had said she was. Amanda and Sarek had thought that Spock had used logic and wrote off the "angel" as a figment of his imagination, but he never wavered from his belief that it was real. Burnham mentions that she had seen the angel during the mission to the first signal, which she too had thought a hallucination. Burnham then admits that she was the cause of the rift between herself and Spock, believing that she was a danger to the family and that if the logic extremists couldn't kill her, they might harm Spock, her "little shadow", instead. So she felt she had to wound him deeply enough to separate them, perhaps irreparably, and though she had tried to make amends over the years, he had refused. She promises Amanda, however, that she would not give up on Spock, and would find him. Amanda tersely replies that she, not Burnham, would be the one to find him, before taking Spock's medical file and storming away.

At the Mo'Kai estate, L'Rell and Tyler enter the inner chamber to find Ujilli dead and hanging from the ceiling, and the child taken from its cradle. Kol-Sha contacts them, holding the child in his arms; he explains that the paint on his face that Tyler had wiped away was saturated with sensor implants to act as a listening device. He had intended only to eavesdrop on L'Rell's political strategy, but instead discovered the secret child she had borne with Voq, and that Tyler had communicated with Burnham. Kol-Sha demands that L'Rell and Tyler meet him at the Chancellor's residence, where he would return the child to them if they gave him control of the Empire.

As Tilly enters their quarters, an emotional Burnham reaches out to her, mentioning that Saru had called down looking for her. Tilly admits that after the incident in the shuttlebay with the dark matter asteroid, she had begun seeing a "ghost". She explains about May, how she had gone to school with her in their youths, but that the May she remembered was meek and "kind of goofy", whereas the May she had been seeing in her mind was insistent, and that she was grooming Tilly for something. Tilly believes she is going insane, and that she has been avoiding sickbay, and doesn't know what she's going to do. When May wonders why Tilly's eyes are dripping, Tilly says aloud that she is crying, and mentions to Burnham that May seems unaware of what crying is. This sets Burnham to thinking: "Show me a teenage girl who's never cried," she tells Tilly. "You can't." If May was a figment of Tilly's imagination, she would know that emotion, because Tilly knew it. If the asteroid shocked Tilly, there was a reason; Burnham had picked up a fragment of it in her hands without any ill effects. The dark matter reacts only to one substance that Burnham and Tilly could think of: the spores that powered the spore drive. Tilly doesn't need sickbay – she needs Stamets.

At L'Rell's residence, Kol-Sha holds out a document of abdication; when L'Rell reminds him she is still Chancellor, he dismisses her as a Federation puppet, a creature who lies with a Human. L'Rell recognizes that she is nothing to him once she turns power over to him, and so warns him to kill both her and Tyler, as whoever survives will hunt him down. L'Rell, Tyler, and Kol-Sha's guards draw blades, and engage in combat. Though Tyler takes a blade to the shoulder, both he and L'Rell kill their opponents relatively easily, before Kol-Sha paralyzes them with his own weapon. He cuts L'Rell's finger and presses it to the abdication document, signing it in blood, then declares that his first act as Chancellor will be to execute Tyler while L'Rell is forced to watch. Just then, a mysterious hooded figure enters with a spinning blade that vaporizes Kol-Sha's remaining guards, before trapping Kol-Sha himself in a floating bubble before releasing L'Rell and Tyler from their paralysis. L'Rell runs Kol-Sha through with her blade, killing him, before turning to their rescuer, who lowers the concealing hood to reveal the former Terran Emperor, Philippa Georgiou.

Act Four Edit

Tyler demands to know why Georgiou has been spying on him, to which she replies that it was necessary to maintain L'Rell in the chancellorship. She corrects Tyler when he addresses her as "emperor", maintaining her cover as the original Georgiou, the "retired" captain of the USS Shenzhou and now a consultant for Starfleet Security. When L'Rell thanks her for the rescue, Georgiou remarks that gratitude was premature so long as the leader of House Kor lay dead on her floor, and demands a private word with the Chancellor. Georgiou warns that the High Council will continue to assume that all decisions L'Rell makes are in fact being made by Tyler, and that both he and the child are a liability; she asks if L'Rell was willing to kill Tyler, which earns her a blade held to her throat. L'Rell refuses to choose between the chancellorship and the lives of Tyler and their son, to which Georgiou coldly replies she was not giving L'Rell a choice.

In Discovery's engineering lab, Tilly apologizes to Saru about not coming forward earlier, but Saru reassures her that thanks to Burnham's insights, they would now be able to find out what was affecting her, so she could return to the Command Training Program. Tilly wonders about Captain Pike, to which Saru replies that while he is not familiar enough with the captain to anticipate his reaction, he knows he has a sense of humor, and that he is fond of Tilly. Stamets arrives to conduct scans, and May identifies Stamets as the "captain", because of his interface with the mycelial network. Stamets discovers that Tilly is hosting a eukaryotic organism, a form of fungus – "obviously multicellular, since it has opinions". Since anyone who works around the spore drive receives inoculation against the spores, Saru wonders how she could have picked it up; Stamets theorizes (to the indignance of "May") that a spore evolved a resistance, like bacteria. Tilly realizes it could be a different spore altogether from the ones used aboard Discovery, remembering that when they escaped from the mirror universe, spores from that reality rained down on engineering, and one attached itself to Tilly. Sure enough, Stamets discovers a multidimensional fungal parasite in Tilly's left shoulder; Saru speculates that it appeared as a figure Tilly knew as a teenager through brain manipulation. Despite "May's" pleas, Tilly asks how it could be removed. Stamets intends to use the dark matter's attraction to the fungus, via the sample taken from the laser core sampler, to remove the parasite from Tilly, warning that it would hurt "a bit". The asteroid sample pulls the parasite out of Tilly, who immediately passes out; Saru orders quarantine protocol Alpha Omega, securing the creature in a force field.

On Qo'noS, L'Rell addresses the High Council, revealing that she had borne Voq's child, and that she had made Tyler her Torchbearer to honor Voq. She then tells them that Tyler had murdered her son and betrayed her to the Federation, claiming that the Empire was fracturing, and that if Kol-Sha had not intervened, she too would be dead. She then lifts Tyler's severed head, along with that of her son, before hurling Tyler's head into the chasm in front of her. She called Kol-Sha's "sacrifice" a lesson, for she too had sacrificed. She would only bear one child; instead, she tells the Council, they were her children now, and she planned to raise her new "family" to greatness. She called upon them to refer to her not as "Chancellor", but by a title she considered fiercer than that: "Mother".

Meanwhile, aboard a strange ship in orbit of Boreth, Tyler – still very much alive – holds his still-alive child, remarking on how Georgiou had been able to synthesize their heads down to the smallest genetic detail, and asks what kind of organization could have that kind of technology. In response, Georgiou shows him the black badge of Section 31. Georgiou asks if Tyler really wants his son to become a monk. Tyler replies it is what L'Rell wants; what he wants is to know where he belongs, and to whom, and who belongs to him. The boy will be raised among the most devout followers of Kahless, and he would never know his parents, but he would be safe. As the child is beamed down to the monastery, Georgiou remarks that Tyler should stay around with her band of "misfits", commenting that "the freaks are more fun". From the upper deck, Leland orders the helm to go to warp. He remarks to Georgiou that Control values Tyler's skill set, but that her recruiting speech needed work. Georgiou tells him not to give her any notes, and that Tyler was "in".

Memorable quotes Edit

"He assembled a Federation task force to study the seven signals. He might have news for us."
"He may want to discuss something else. I reported Spock's advance knowledge of the signals to Command. Information likely got back to the ambassador, with the news that his son admitted himself into a psychiatric hospital."
"You didn't betray your friend, captain. You followed protocol."
"It's easy to say, harder to believe."

- Burnham and Pike, on a possible visit from Sarek

"Was she this bossy as a kid?"
"On Vulcan, we call it 'persistence', and yes, she was. She learned that from me."

- Pike and Amanda, about Burnham

"Are you sure you want your boy to become a monk?"
"It's what L'Rell wants."
"And you?"
"To know where I belong, and to whom, and who belongs to me."

- Georgiou and Tyler, on the baby's fate

"You should consider staying around. Our command believes misfits have merit, so we keep busy."
"I'm surprised you call yourself a misfit, 'emperor'."
"The freaks are more fun."

- Georgiou and Tyler

Log entries Edit

  • "Stardate 1029.46. Personal log, Commander Michael Burnham. Any rational explanation for the seven signals that have appeared across the galaxy continues to escape me. And with it, perhaps, any chance of a relationship with my brother Spock. What did he see in them that I can't? My failure to understand feels like a failure to reach him at a time when he might me need me most."

Background information Edit

Title Edit

Cast Edit

Continuity Edit

Reception and aftermath Edit

Production history Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit


Special guest star Edit

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References Edit

abdication; amethyst; axonol; beard; bisabuela; Boreth; Boreth monastery; Chancellor of the Klingon High Council; Checklist protocol; cliff; Command Training Program; consultant; Control; cortropine; D7-class; dark matter; diplomat; diplomatic registry number; dissociative disorder; dylamadon; ex utero; Federation; fleet captain; Followers of Kahless; freak; fungus; gestation; ghost; Great House; hair; half marathon; House of Mo'Kai; inoculation; intercept course; IQ test; jahSepp; junior high school; Kahless; kilometer; Klingon High Council; Klingon Imperial Fleet; logic extremist; Lorca, Gabriel; Lukara; marathon; marriage; medical file; medical leave; melorazine; misfit; monk; murder; mycelium spore; paint; pajamas; parasite; Pike's mother; psychopathy; Qo'noS; quantum physics lab; Red Angel; red burst; Sarek; Sarek's cruiser; Section 31; Section 31 ship; sensor implant; shadow exercise; ShiKahr; Siobhan; speech; Starbase 5; syllable; task force; tajtIq; tetrovaline; Torchbearer; Voq; Vulcan cruiser; Vulcan High Command; Vulcan Learning Center; yellow alert

External links Edit

Previous episode:
"New Eden"
Star Trek: Discovery
Season 2
Next episode:
"An Obol for Charon"
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