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(written from a Production point of view)

The USS Discovery is tasked with a high priority mission to planet Pahvo and learn the science behind the Klingons' cloaking technology.

Summary Edit

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Act One Edit

The USS Gagarin is under attack from Klingons, calling for help. The USS Discovery has answered, and, during, they realize the Klingons can't fire while invisible. After some fire, Captain Gabriel Lorca orders the ship to get in between the two Bird-of-Prey ships and the Gagarin. Unfortunately, the Gagarin is destroyed and the Discovery is forced to escape via the spore drive.

In engineering, Lieutenant Paul Stamets exits the chamber visibly weak. Oddly, he looks at Cadet Sylvia Tilly, operating the drive, and mistakes her for the captain. When she calls him on it, he gets very irritated and dismisses the mistake.

Lorca has a call with Admiral Terral and questions why his ship is alone in the area. Terral confirms another ambush took place on the USS Hoover and USS Muroc, straining their defenses. Terral also asks about the invisibility cloaks, and stresses they need a way around it, emphasizing their mission to the planet Pahvo.

On Pahvo, Michael Burnham analyzes the planet. Starfleet wants to use a natural antenna and its unique environment on the planet to detect the cloaked ships. Saru has a fast pace, prompting Burnham and Ash Tyler to encourage him to take in the surroundings. Suddenly, a blue haze starts to coalesce, suggesting an alien presence. Saru makes contact, but receives no verbal response. He suggests it wants them to follow.

On the Sarcophagus, L'Rell returns to meet Kol, greeting him by comparing him to T'Kuvma. Kol dismisses it, and also insists she show value beyond just loyalty. L'Rell offers to interrogate the prisoner, and Kol allows it.

Act Two Edit

On the planet, the away team follows the blue creature to an enclosed room. Saru is convinced it isn't dangerous. He asks the being if he can analyze the sounds. It coalesces on his hand and disappears in a burst of light. Saru starts to investigate.

L'Rell enters a cell to interrogate the prisoner, which is Admiral Katrina Cornwell. Once alone, she demands Cornwell scream. She then surprises Cornwell by waiting for the guard to leave and then noting that now they can really talk.

Burnham and Tyler talk a bit during downtime. Tyler expects to go back to his home after the war, and Burnham ponders that she'll go back to prison. Tyler suggests not following through on the mission to keep the war going, and therefore keeping her serving. They kiss.

Tilly has decided to confront Stamets in the mess hall about how he's been acting differently. He tries to order her away, but she stays put. He then reluctantly admits he's sometimes confused about where he is during jumps. He can't admit it to Doctor Hugh Culber since genetic engineering is illegal and it would get him in trouble.

L'Rell asks Cornwell about how the Federation treats prisoners of war. Cornwell replies they're treated well and eventually returned. L'Rell finally says she wants to defect, saying she's alone now that Kol has perverted T'Kuvma's operation and stripped her of her power.

Saru comes back to Tyler and Burnham and reports they're still establishing vocabulary. Interestingly, he says the beings are the planet. He's not sure the antenna is their doing, but there will be more to do the next day, so they adjourn. During the night, however, Saru is extremely uncomfortable and gets up, going back to the creatures and asking them to help. The blue haze comes toward him, possessing him and making him relive events of the past. Once they're done, the noise goes away and he's immensely relieved.

The next day, he meets the away team refreshed, and, oddly, explaining he's already used the antenna to contact the ship. He takes their communicators, breaks them, and says the beings invited them to stay on the planet for good.

Act Three Edit

Saru leaves to inform the creatures they've accepted the offer. Tyler and Burnham are flabbergasted, and try to come up with a plan.

L'Rell leads Cornwell from the cell to leave the ship undetected. Kol sees them from the other end of a long hallway. Acting quickly, Cornwell and L'Rell pretend that Cornwell has escaped and they fight. L'Rell knocks Cornwell unconscious, but pretends she's dead and takes the body to be disposed of.

Saru comes back to find Tyler alone, and Tyler explains Burnham's absence away. To keep Saru occupied, he asks him about the noise, and Saru seems to suggest nothing matters to him. Tyler says he can't forget what the Klingons did to him, but Saru insists the planet will make them forget. Saru then picks up a green stone and offers it. Tyler puts his hand on it, but then jerks it away – Saru is able to tell he's just been stalling him and leaves immediately. Meanwhile, Burnham has reached the antenna and started using it to call the Discovery.

L'Rell drags Cornwell to the sarcophagus room. She pauses when she sees a few people she knows dead. She then promises revenge against Kol.

Act Four Edit

Burnham makes the call but can't see a response. Suddenly, Saru has arrived and throws her back. While they struggle, he tries to destroy the equipment but she makes it to her phaser and knocks him down. She pleads with him, saying he's not himself, but he insists they can't use it. Then, the beings arrive, transporting Tyler there themselves.

L'Rell informs Kol that Cornwell told her about the power of Discovery, but Kol notes she let the prisoner get away from the room. She still insists she got information and starts to leave. Kol stops her from leaving, saying there will be more POWs. He then starts to anoint her as part of the group, but then turns around and calls her a liar, having known about her actions earlier. She has her taken away.

On the Discovery, they find that their modifications on the planet are gone – only a large EM signal is coming from the planet now. They also find another on a frequency that Klingons use – drawing them there, and the Discovery is the planet's only defense.

Memorable quotes Edit

"Mr. Rhys, can I trouble you to fire at something?!"

- Gabriel Lorca

"There will be time to grieve. This is not that time."

- Gabriel Lorca, after the destruction of the USS Gagarin

"Our futures look different. You go back to your lake house, and I go back to prison. My sentence was life. This is just temporary."
"Well, maybe we just leave that transmitter alone. You can't go back to prison if we're still at war."
"The needs of the many–"
"Are worth fighting for. Are worth dying for. But so are the needs of the few."
"Or the one?"

- Michael Burnham and Ash Tyler

"I lied to you. And Lieutenant Tyler. I attacked you. I could've killed you."
"You weren't yourself."
"But I was. We are born afraid, we Kelpiens. It's how we survive. As such, my whole life, I have never known a moment without fear. The freedom of it. Not... one... moment. Until Pahvo."

- Saru and Michael Burnham

Log entries Edit

  • "Personal log, Specialist Michael Burnham, Stardate 1308.9. We landed on Pahvo eighteen hours ago. It's a seemingly uninhabited planet, but a unique and, for us, strategic one. Every tree, rock, and blade of grass here vibrates with its own specific tone. Together these combine to form a kind of music, the signature sound of the planet heard everywhere on the surface. The sound is even broadcast into space by a towering crystal structure, a sort of naturally-occurring transmitter. It is Starfleet's plan to modify the electromagnetic frequency of Pahvo's signal and harness it as a form of SONAR that can detect the presence of cloaked Klingon vessels decimating our fleet, make them visible to our sensors, and turn the tide of war in our favor."

Background information Edit

Title and format Edit

Story and script Edit

  • The notion of featuring an away mission to an alien planet was a directive from the television network. "The network wanted them to get off the ship and go to a planet," stated Production Designer Tamara Deverell. [1]
  • The setting of a forest was chosen for this episode because the site was intended to be extremely idyllic. [2]
  • Regarding how veteran Star Trek novelist Kirsten Beyer devised the episode's plot, Co-Executive Producer Ted Sullivan noted, "This came out of Kirsten Beyer's mind [....] She wanted to explore the idea of peace in the midst of war." (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • When the DIS writing staff decided to pair up L'Rell and Admiral Cornwell in this episode, they weren't entirely sure if that character pairing would work but they were hopeful it would. (After Trek: "Episode 7")

Cast Edit

  • Culber actor Wilson Cruz was highly impressed by the work that Saru actor Doug Jones did on this installment. "This should be the episode he picks up an Emmy," Cruz remarked. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
  • Stamets actor Anthony Rapp similarly found this episode remarkably moving emotionally. "This episode made me weep reading it," he admitted. "It's beautiful, the work, especially Doug's work [....] I happened to be on the set when they were shooting one of the scenes so I just watched the monitor, weeping. Just from a take." (After Trek: "Episode 6")
  • Cornwell actress Jayne Brook was pleased that this episode called for her to perform alongside L'Rell actress Mary Chieffo. "I enjoyed it so much," she reminisced. "There's something about L'Rell and Cornwell together [....] And it worked. There was a nice chemistry between those two characters. They really respect each other, these two very different species. And I had a lot of fun with Mary." [3]

Pre-production Edit

  • Tasked with having an episode that would feature an away mission to an alien planet, the DIS writing staff called the production department and asked them to think about feasible ways of accomplishing the task. In approximately ten minutes, Tamara Deverell thought up the idea of including a yurt-like membrane structure, expecting that such a set would be relatively quick and easy to build. After doing a lot of research into many kinds of natural forms and biomimicry, Deverell and her team based the building's design on a repeated mathematical form, then tilted the entire dome so that it wouldn't seem too perfect. The team created silicone membranes that would resemble the planet's alien inhabitants. The whole building was drawn in the 3D computer program Rhino, and the set was thereafter constructed on a soundstage. Another aspect of this episode which was built as a practical element (albeit only partly) was the Pahvan transmitting tower. On the other hand, the Pahvans themselves turned out to be too ethereal to depict using a costume design. [4]

Production Edit

  • The Pahvo scenes were filmed on location at the Hilton Falls and Kelso Conservation Areas in Milton, Ontario, Canada. [5] The scenes took four very long production days to film. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Even when the shooting company first arrived on location, the working conditions were far from ideal. Ted Sullivan stated, "They were horrible [….] It was hot, it was muggy, and it had just rained a whole bunch, so there was all this standing water [….] There were clouds of mosquitoes. You would breathe, and you'd breathe in mosquitoes. And poor Doug in all of that makeup, he would just take his gloves off and water would pour out of it. It was brutal [….] It was horrible. But […] we needed to go and have an away mission. We needed to go down to [a] planet." (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Three different versions of Saru's footwear were used, including regular boots, "sporty" hoof boots, and Saru's heel-less boots. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Doug Jones' Kelpien makeup completely protected him from the mosquitoes. Ted Sullivan humorously commented, "I was begging for them to put me in a Kelpien outfit. I was desperate […] I would even have walked in the hooves just to cover myself." (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Jayne Brook noted that the moment when her own character and L'Rell admit being surprised by the other's personality "was so very powerful." Brook also had fun performing Cornwell's subsequent fight with L'Rell. "It was really fun," Brook emphasized. "We had to rehearse quite a lot and then jump right in it, and we did the whole fight." Brook commented that she herself and Mary Chieffo really did "go to town" while shooting the fight scene. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Most of Saru's running was performed by Doug Jones' stand-in and photo double, Bauston Cameron, who did so in full makeup and boots. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • It was pouring when the production crew shot the fight scene between Burnham and Saru. Because of the downpour, the ground had to be constantly raked. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Kirsten Beyer was at the location when the Saru-versus-Burnham fight scene went before the cameras. She kept humming well-known combat music from TOS: "Amok Time" while watching the fight on the monitor. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • During the episode's most emotional scenes, Doug Jones kept crying. However, his prosthetics prevented him from blowing his nose. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • After each emotional scene was shot, Director John S. Scott would look at Kirsten Beyer to gauge her reaction. If she was crying, he would then announce, "Okay, we got that, let's move on." (After Trek: "Episode 7") In retrospect, Beyer explained, "Doug (Jones) would just give all of himself, and then we would just sit there and cry on each other for like 20 minutes between setups." [6]
  • Doug Jones enjoyed the scene in which his own character and Michael Burnham make up with each other in the Discovery's sickbay. "[It] was so lovely to play," he noted. (After Trek: "Episode 7")

Post-production Edit

Visual effects Edit

  • The VFX of this episode included creating the physical design of the Pahvans, augmenting the look of their transmitter, and digitally setting the yurt-like building, even the exterior of which was represented by the appropriate set, in the episode's forest locale. There was ultimately more VFX than Tamara Deverell had intended, however. [7]

Editing Edit

  • According to Tilly actress Mary Wiseman, there was initially a short scene extension at the end of the mess hall scene where her character and Stamets, dining together, discuss how using the spore drive has been affecting Stamets' mental health, though he is adamant about not telling Doctor Culber about that. "Culber walks in, and then, like, Tilly has a conniption, 'cause she immediately cannot keep a secret," Wiseman explained. "That's something that I was playing. It was, like, the first sign I got that maybe I don't have to keep it anymore. I was like, 'Phew, this is the secret.'" The actress reckoned that this "little scenelet", as she called it, was probably cut for time. (After Trek: "Episode 8")
  • This installment also originally featured a longer "interrogation" scene between L'Rell and Admiral Cornwell. Jayne Brook recalled, "We had a much longer scene in the brig, where I really assess her [using Cornwell's psychology background]. I say to her, 'You don't have the markings of the house of Kol. You don't speak the language, and you haven't killed me yet. So, what's up?'" (After Trek: "Episode 7") Brook also referred to the scene as "a great moment." Cornwell's doubting of L'Rell's threats and questioning of who L'Rell was led into the Klingon admitting that she wanted to defect to the Federation. [8] The excised moment also gave context for the scene in which Cornwell and L'Rell express surprise about the other's personality. However, Brook was ultimately of the opinion that the deleted footage wasn't really necessary. (After Trek: "Episode 7")

Music and sound Edit

  • When Composer Jeff Russo first began writing music for Star Trek: Discovery, this episode was one he knew he would have to compose music for, including a musical theme for the Pahvans. [9]

Continuity Edit

  • This episode is redolent of some of the other Star Trek television series. Aaron Harberts mused, "If we were to describe this episode, sort of in terms of wine, it has sort of the complex notes of TOS, and sort of several undertones of Next Generation, and always the acidity that is Discovery." (Aaron Harberts' introduction at "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum" screening, Millbank Tower, London, UK, 5 November 2017) Ted Sullivan described the episode as "part Star Trek: TNG, a little TOS, a little Voyager." (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Similar to how the Discovery maneuvers to a position between a fleet of Klingon warships and a heavily damaged Federation starship, the USS Enterprise-D does the same thing to protect the USS Enterprise-C in TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise". Although the USS Gagarin is destroyed in this episode, the Enterprise-C is saved in that installment.
  • There is a long-established Star Trek tradition of, as Burnham and Tyler do here, talking about "the needs of the many" versus those of "the few, or the one." These same subjects were previously discussed by: Kirk and Spock twice in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; Kirk and Sarek during a mind meld (in recitation of the latter of those two earlier discussions) as well as again between Kirk and Spock in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Picard, while requesting Worf donate blood to a dying Romulan in TNG: "The Enemy", Tuvok in a conversation with Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager series finale "Endgame"; T'Pol during a conversation with Lieutenant Reed in ENT: "The Council"; and the alternate-reality Spock in Star Trek Into Darkness. Although Tuvok (in "Endgame") credits "Ambassador Spock" with having said the phrase, T'Pol established (in "The Council") that it was known well before then, and she also referred to it as "a Vulcan axiom." Those statements account for its usage in this episode, set twenty-nine years before Spock's first on-screen utterance of the phrase in The Wrath of Khan.
  • This episode established a romantic relationship between Michael Burnham and Ash Tyler, which follows on from "Lethe", in which they first meet. The romance also proceeds from the start of a romantic affiliation between Burnham and Tyler in an alternate timeline, included in a time loop in the previous episode, "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad". This is similar to how a married, romantic relationship between Worf and Deanna Troi was depicted in another quantum reality in TNG: "Parallels" before they were shown dating in the prime timeline of the TNG series finale "All Good Things...".
  • Admiral Cornwell tells L'Rell that the Federation has no death penalty. Assuming this were true, it would indicate that General Order 7 or its death penalty had not yet been implemented.
  • Like Saru does with a pair of communicators in this episode, Alice 99 crushes a communicator by hand in TOS: "I, Mudd". (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • The Pahvans' attempt to peacefully unite the Federation and the Klingon Empire is similar to how, in TOS: "Errand of Mercy" (which introduced the Klingons), the Organians attempted to peacefully unite those two heretofore warring organizations. The way the Pahvans' exposure to Saru renders him extraordinarily euphoric is similar to how the Omicron spore in TOS: "This Side of Paradise" affect Spock and several other characters in that episode. Both in that regard and in their non-corporeal appearance, the Pahvans are also similar to the Wisps of ENT: "The Crossing".

Reception Edit

  • After Trek "Episode 7" discusses the making of, and events in, this episode.
  • Ted Sullivan was delighted with Kirsten Beyer's work on this episode, believing she did an "amazing" job of writing it. "She wrote a beautiful story [....] She takes ideas and turns them on their head, and I think that's what she did so beautifully in this," he commented, "and I think it was unique to look at it through the point of view of Saru, and she, I think, really wrote to the strengths of what Star Trek does best and explore those types of themes." Sullivan was happy, too, with the look of Pahvo, remarking, "It looked great." He also gave credit to Mary Chieffo and Kol actor Kenneth Mitchell for the corridor scene in which Cornwell and L'Rell fight each other. Later, Sullivan again expressed delight with Chieffo's performance, for the scene in which L'Rell has her face painted by Kol. "[She] is heartbreaking. It's amazing," he remarked. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • DIS author David Mack was also impressed with Kirsten Beyer's work on this installment. "If the show executes as well as the script... I mean, her script was ama[zing]. Her script actually made me cry; it was beautiful," he enthused. "The ending of the script is heartbreaking. I'm hoping that the production team and the editing team and the post team and everybody, I'm hoping they execute that script on the screen as well as she wrote it on the page. If they do their jobs as well as she did hers, there won't be a dry eye in the house on 108." [10]
  • The scene in which Saru, Burnham and Tyler establish first contact with the Pahvans debuted on After Trek: "Episode 6".
  • By the time this episode was due to be released, most people were of the opinion that it was about time DIS had an episode in which the Discovery visited an alien planet. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode debuted with a private screening in London on 5 November 2017, at which the episode was introduced by Aaron Harberts. Opening the proceedings with a speech about this installment and Kirsten Beyer's writing of it, he commented, "What's exciting about this episode is the tenderness with which she treats the peace." The preview screening was immediately followed by a Q&A with guests Sonequa Martin-Green, Jason Isaacs, Shazad Latif, and Aaron Harberts.
  • After Trek host and Star Trek fan Matt Mira was wowed by this episode, glad that it included an away mission and believing Kirsten Beyer had done a "fantastic job" by writing it. "It was such a Star Trek-ian episode," he remarked. (After Trek: "Episode 7") Mira also enthused that the scene which shows a landing party from Discovery meet the Pahvans was "very exciting." (After Trek: "Episode 6")

Production history Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit


Guest starring Edit

Co-starring Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stunt double Edit

Stand-ins Edit

References Edit

apex predator; armada; beach; Cancri IV; cloaking device; communicator; crystal; daydream; death penalty; DNA; electromagnetism; evasive pattern; falling star; first contact; first contact protocol; first contact specialist; Gagarin, USS; General Order One; genetic manipulation; hangar; honor; Hoover, USS; House of Kor; invisibility screen; Kahless; Kelpien; kilometer; kilometers per hour; Klingon battle cruiser; Klingon Bird-of-Prey; Klingon destroyer; Lake Shasta; mek'leth; Muroc, USS; Pahvo; Pahvans; Pahvan transmitter; protein ration; radio silence; RFM Modulator Portapack; sailboat; Sarcophagus; senior officer; Shenzhou, USS; Shepard-class; signal inhibitor; SONAR; specialist; symbiosis; synthetic protein ration; T'Kuvma; T'Plana-Hath, USS; tardigrade; threat ganglia; torture; tribble; tricorder; trout; UFP Serial Code; universal translator; vocabulary

External links Edit

Previous episode:
"Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad"
Star Trek: Discovery
Season 1
Next episode:
"Into the Forest I Go"
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