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The Vulcan Hello redirects here; for for the namesake of this episode, please see Vulcan Hello.

While patrolling Federation space, the USS Shenzhou encounters an object of unknown origin, putting First Officer Michael Burnham to her greatest test yet. (Series premiere)



Klingon eye

T'Kuvma announces his plans to restore honor and glory to the empire.

A Klingon is speaking in a large chamber full of other Klingons. He says that the Klingons have lost their way, and forgotten the Unforgettable, Kahless, and the traditions of honor and glory he set down for them to follow. He mentions the lighting of a beacon, and the need to reunite the Houses and save themselves from an impending threat: an enemy that says "We come in peace" (the Federation, as he says this last phrase in English for emphasis).

Georgiou and Burnham on Crepusculan homeworld

Georgiou and Burnham on the Crepusculan homeworld

Captain Philippa Georgiou and Commander Michael Burnham are on a desert planet attempting to locate a well that has run dry due to radiation from a meteor mining accident. A large storm is brewing overhead. Burnham predicts that an eighty-nine-year drought is imminent, and the non-humanoid species inhabiting the world – the Crepusculans – are facing extinction if they lose their water supply. Georgiou and Burnham's goal is to repair the well and have the USS Shenzhou pick them up undetected, thereby avoiding a violation of Starfleet General Order 1. After walking past a group of egg sacs and eventually locating their objective, Captain Georgiou discharges a type 3 phaser into the well, shifting the water table and allowing water to reemerge from the well in a large geyser. At this point, two natives are visible watching from atop a plateau, and a third is shown crawling along the ground with octopus-like tendrils, seemingly unseen by the two Humans. The pair realize the gathering storm is preventing a transporter lock at their current location, so they begin to walk across the desert, discussing Burnham's future career. Soon the Shenzhou is shown breaking through the storm clouds, and transports them up to the ship. A bird's-eye-view glimpse of the desert reveals that the captain used their footprints to create a Starfleet insignia visible from overhead, allowing them to be located.

Act One[]

"First officer's log, stardate 1207.3. On Earth, it's May 11, 2256, a Sunday. The crew of the USS Shenzhou has been called to the edge of Federation space to investigate damage done to one of our interstellar relays. Blast burns around the hole are inconclusive. Were they caused by an asteroid, or was it deliberately destroyed to limit Starfleet communications? And if so, by whom? Despite the risks of our mission, I remain optimistic. It's hard not to be in the face of such beauty – in this case, a binary star system. Around these two suns, ice, dust, and gasses collide to form planets future generations will call home. A humbling reminder that all life is born from chaos and destruction."
Michael Burnham and Saru

Captain Georgiou's senior officers: Science Officer Saru and First Officer Burnham.

The stardate is 1207.3, or May 11, 2256 in Earth terminology. The Shenzhou has responded to a signal from a damaged relay and arrives in order to make repairs. The relay is located in a region of space in close proximity to a binary star system in a state of stellar collision, and the collision has created a large debris field. Science Officer Saru believes that the relay was intentionally damaged. He picks up a signal from an anomaly in the debris field, but the object is somehow creating a scattering field, and deflecting their attempts to scan it. First Officer Burnham convinces Captain Georgiou to allow her to approach the object with a thruster pack, since the debris is too dense for a transporter lock or a shuttlepod. The large quantity of radiation in the area limits her space walk to twenty minutes. The debris field also has the potential to disrupt communications from the ship.

Thruster suit, 2256

Burnham takes a thruster suit to explore the object.

Commander Burnham uses the thruster pack to travel the two thousand kilometers to the anomaly without incident, but communication to the Shenzhou is disrupted. Burnham floats over to the source of the scattering field, and realizes it is not a normal part of the debris field, but an a intricately-designed, sculpture-like object. As Burnham explores the object, she comes across a platform-like area with ten minutes left on her mission clock. The proximity sensor on her environmental suit is abruptly activated, and she finds herself standing across from a Klingon. As she attempts to make contact, the Klingon swings a bat'leth at her. She manages to activate her thrusters at a crucial moment, driving one side of the bat'leth through the Klingon's suit and body, impaling the Klingon and pushing it away from the platform. While this is happening, the Shenzhou is still unable to establish contact with Burnham.

Act Two[]

T'Kuvma mourns Torchbearer

T'Kuvma mournes the torchbearer.

In the Klingons' chamber, the body of the warrior killed by Burnham, Rejac, lies in a sarcophagus in the center. The leader notes Rejac's place in history for being the first to die in the conflict. It is revealed that the anomaly investigated by Shenzhou is the "sacred beacon" placed by these Klingons. The sarcophagus closes, floats out of the chamber and into space. It comes to rest at a mausoleum-like area, which is open to space and already populated with many other sarcophagi.

Unconscious, Burnham recalls her childhood at the Vulcan Learning Center. There, a computer system quizzes her rapidly on various Klingon and Starfleet-related facts. She becomes overwhelmed by video of a particular Klingon attack and pauses the computer program. Her mentor, a Vulcan named Sarek, arrives and lectures her on the importance of logic over emotion.

Burnham in underwear

Burnham escapes the antiproton chamber to deliver a warning.

Commander Burnham wakes up in an antiproton chamber, covered in wounds. Doctor Nambue tells her three hours have elapsed since she was rescued from the object. She terminates the medical pod's anti-radiation procedure prematurely and climbs out, over his objections. She makes her way to the bridge and notifies her crewmembers about the Klingon she encountered, but they are skeptical since she seems affected by her ordeal. She recounts what happened earlier to Captain Georgiou, and Saru suggests that she is confused due to suffering a concussion and tells her to return to sickbay. Georgiou believes her and locks on to what turns out to be a cloaked Klingon vessel. As soon as the weapons lock is initiated, the Klingon ship decloaks.

Act Three[]

The Shenzhou attempts to hail the Klingon vessel, but they ignore them. On the ship, the Klingons discuss a prophecy and reiterate the need to "light the beacon," now referred to as the "Light of Kahless." Rejac's brother, Or'Eq, is called to take his place, but he questions whether the plan will work – whether the other houses will come. Just then, a light-skinned Klingon, Voq, joins the room and volunteers to light the beacon. He is rebuffed by the leader, since he doesn't belong to a Great House and is unworthy for such a task. Voq assures him of his faith, placing his hand over an open flame and holding it there, causing severe burns yet leaving the Klingon seemingly unfazed. This act seems to change the demeanor of the leader, and, when a report comes in showing movement on long range sensors fulfilling the prophesy, he hands over his bat'leth to Voq and names him Torchbearer.

Georgiou confers with Admiral Anderson

Captain Georgiou confers with Admiral Anderson.

On the Shenzhou, Saru shows Burnham the ceremonial hull of the ship, covered in the sarcophagus-like coffins. While Georgiou informs Admiral Anderson of their situation, Burnham enters. She interrupts their conversion and, breaking the chain of command, recommends attacking to the admiral. The admiral dismisses her harshly and orders Georgiou to stay put while back-up arrives.

Back on the bridge, Captain Georgiou is concerned that Shenzhou is currently the only line of defense between the Klingons and an Andorian colony. Their discussion is interrupted by an ear-piercing electromagnetic signal permeating through the ship and causing the crew extreme discomfort.

Act Four[]

As the crew try to filter the extreme light out, they consider their situation, Burnham recommending an attack and Saru recommending retreat. Georgiou continues to hold, annoyed by Burnham's insistence. Burnham then asks to leave the bridge without explanation, and Georgiou agrees.

She goes to open a subspace channel to Sarek. She wants to understand more about how the Vulcans handled the Klingons since their first encounter. Sarek cautions her that their solution is unique to them and will probably not be theirs. Further, he cautions her from letting the fact that Klingons killed her parents affect her judgement. Burnham insists it is not. Through the discussion, Burnham is convinced that some new leader is causing change within the Klingon Empire.

She goes back to the bridge and recommends to the captain that the Shenzhou attack the Klingon ship immediately, pointing out that the Vulcans have used preemptive strikes in the past to meet threats from the Klingons. Georgiou again dismisses her, noting her past as Sarek did. This prompts an out-of-turn objection from Burnham, and Georgiou orders her into her ready room. There, the captain demands Burnham not contradict her in front of the crew, noting the obvious influence of her past with the Klingons in her behavior. Burnham insists she is thinking about the crew, but Georgiou orders Commander Burnham to stand down. Burnham then seems to accept it, but then quickly disables the captain with a Vulcan nerve pinch. She goes out and takes command of the ship, while lying to the crew about the whereabouts of the captain. She orders an attack on the Klingon vessel and, when Saru objects, Burnham tries to order him down.

Georgiou relieves Burnham of duty

Captain Georgiou pulls a phaser on her first officer.

She's able to order the weapons fired but, just then, Georgiou re-enters the bridge and countermands the order, drawing her phaser. Burnham desperately tries to plead with Georgiou but, before anyone can react, the beacon from the Klingon vessel diminishes entirely. Then, sensors pick up a series of warp signatures on an intercept course. Georgiou inquires if it is Starfleet arriving but Burnham quickly realizes it is the Klingons, greatly outnumbering them.

Memorable quotes[]

They are coming

"They are coming."

"(in Klingonese) They are coming. Atom by atom, they will coil around us and take all that we are. There is one way to confront this threat. By reuniting the twenty-four warring houses of our own empire. We have forgotten the Unforgettable, the last to unify our tribes: Kahless. Together, under one creed, remain Klingon! That is why we light our beacon this day. To assemble our people. To lock arms against those whose fatal greeting is… (in English) we come in peace."

- T'Kuvma's speech to his followers
- This was the very first line of the series.

"We come in peace, that's why we're here. Isn't that the whole idea of Starfleet?"
"Hey – I taught you that."

- Michael Burnham and Philippa Georgiou, while on the Crepusculan's homeworld

"Saru's Kelpien. He thinks everything's malicious."

- Georgiou, on her science officer

"Despite the first officer's constant need to dismiss my ideas…"
"She apparently agrees with you."

- Saru and Georgiou, on the bridge of the Shenzhou

"Ensign Connor, agreement between my senior officers. Note the date and time."
"Noted, captain."

- Georgiou and Connor

"Your world has food chains. Mine does not. Our species map is binary. We are either predator or prey. My people were hunted. Bred. Farmed. We are your livestock of old. We were biologically determined for one purpose and one purpose alone: to sense the coming of death. I sense it coming now."

- Saru

"When emotion brings us ghosts from the past, only logic can root us in the present."

- Sarek

"Two hundred and forty years ago, near H'Atoria, a Vulcan ship crossed into Klingon space. The Klingons attacked immediately. They destroyed the vessel. Vulcans don't make the same mistake twice. From then on, until formal relations were established, whenever the Vulcans crossed paths with Klingons, the Vulcans fired first. They said ‘hello’ in a language the Klingons understood. Violence brought respect. Respect brought peace. Captain, we have to give the Klingons a Vulcan ‘hello’."
"If their intention is to attack, balling up our fists won't dissuade them."
"It would be logical for you to take into account my success rate during our seven years together, and execute my plan without further challenge before we're dragged into war."
"Starfleet doesn't fire first. That's all number one."
"We have to!"

- Michael Burnham and Philippa Georgiou

Log entries[]

"First officer's log, stardate 1207.3. On Earth, it's May 11, 2256, a Sunday. The crew of the USS Shenzhou has been called to the edge of Federation space to investigate damage done to one of our interstellar relays. Blast burns around the hole are inconclusive. Were they caused by an asteroid, or was it deliberately destroyed to limit Starfleet communications? And if so, by whom? Despite the risks of our mission, I remain optimistic. It's hard not to be in the face of such beauty – in this case, a binary star system. Around these two suns, ice, dust, and gasses collide to form planets future generations will call home. A humbling reminder that all life is born from chaos and destruction."

Background information[]


  • This is the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery, which is the first-ever Star Trek series in which an episode title was not seen at the beginning of act one (in keeping with current standards, episode titles have never been displayed on Discovery episodes), and the first series premiere since "Beyond the Farthest Star" to not be a feature-length episode, the episode ending with a cliffhanger instead. It is also the first series premiere not to feature the series' main vessel (ship or station).
  • According to Aaron Harberts in AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?", "The Vulcan Hello" and the following episode, "Battle at the Binary Stars", form a "prologue" of sorts, with the third episode, "Context Is for Kings", being the "pilot". In pre-recorded interview footage from the same episode of After Trek, however, Director David Semel referred to this episode as "the Star Trek pilot." Furthermore, in AT: "Will You Take My Hand?", Harberts referred to this episode as a "pilot", as did Burnham actress Sonequa Martin-Green and After Trek host Matt Mira. In the featurette "Creating Space" from the DIS Season 1 DVD and Blu-ray, not only was the footage of Semel calling this episode a "pilot" reused but Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman also termed it that. Director Hanelle M. Culpepper additionally referred to this installment as "the pilot". [1] Star Trek author Christopher L. Bennett pointed out that neither episode is technically a pilot and that "the first episode is just a premiere." [2]

Story and script[]

  • When David Mack was asked to start work on writing the first DIS tie-in novel to be published (which ultimately became Mack's novel Desperate Hours), this installment was still in very early development. Mack commented, "They had not settled on what the pilot episode was going to be." [3] Although Michael Burnham's formative years on Vulcan and the attack on Doctari Alpha were initially to have been featured in the novel, the writing staff of DIS decided that they wanted to keep these ideas for the TV series. "They also weren't a hundred percent sure where they wanted them to go yet," recalled Mack. This was while Bryan Fuller, who was ultimately credited on-screen for co-writing both the story and teleplay of this episode, was still involved in conceiving the series. [4]
  • Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg felt it was important for this episode to ensure "that the audience was able to empathize and understand why Michael Burnham was doing what she was doing," in Berg's words. ("Star Trek: Discovery: The Voyage of Season 1", DIS Season 1 DVD & Blu-ray special features)
  • According to Robert Meyer Burnett, the original version of this episode's script didn't include the teaser scene where Georgiou and Burnham walk across a desert on a planet's surface. [5]
  • Early script drafts included very few character names or descriptions for the Shenzhou bridge crew. None of the preliminary concept drafts of the script were shown to author David Mack, though he did see production drafts of the teleplay once they had been approved by the studio and were being prepared for production. Even the first three or four drafts of those had many of the Shenzhou's bridge officers still unnamed; although Philippa Georgiou, Michael Burnham, and Saru were already named, the rest of the officers were referred to merely by their duty station. Recalled Mack, "I thought, 'Wow. Okay. In the TV show, to a certain degree, you can get away with that.'" However, because he had been assigned to pen the first DIS tie-in novel (the aforementioned Desperate Hours), Mack, with Kirsten Beyer's permission, invented a couple of those character names, which ended up being used in the actual episode too, as well as backstories for the characters, writing these up as a series of biographies. Influences on this work included production materials and the casting process. [6] Names Mack invented that were used in the episode include "Keyla Detmer", "Kamran Gant", and "Troy Januzzi". [7]
  • When the first scripts were written for Star Trek: Discovery, a Klingon raider was to have been part of this episode's plot. When Burnham investigated the Klingon beacon, she would have literally bumped into the raider as it decloaked right in front of her. "They had a whole sequence when she landed on the beacon; instead of the Torchbearer walking over the top, there was a cloaked raider," explained concept designer John Dickenson. "She got blown off the beacon and she would have landed on the cockpit glass." (Star Trek: Discovery Designing Starships, pp. 142-143 & 151)

Cast and characters[]


  • During pre-production, Bryan Fuller and CBS Broadcasting clashed over who should direct this episode. Whereas CBS opted for David Semel, Fuller felt he wasn't the right person for the job and instead approached multiple alternative directors, including Edgar Wright. Ultimately, CBS hired Semel against Fuller's wishes. (Entertainment Weekly, issue 1476, p. 26)
Crepusculan homeworld concept art

Concept art for the teaser of this episode

  • Pixomondo created pre-visualization footage – essentially animation of how each scene should basically look – for the teaser sequence featuring Burnham and Georgiou. This previz footage indicated that a panning shot across the desert floor was to be filmed with a 27mm lens and that a close-up shot of the pair of characters was to be filmed with a 35mm lens. Previz footage was also done for a shot of the USS Shenzhou's forward hull descending closer to the surface of the planet; the shot depicted the planet's surface in the background with the Shenzhou's dish in the foreground. ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features)
  • Several "key frames", which are essentially mood pieces featuring particular scenes, were produced by John Dickenson to demonstrate Burnham's scripted encounter with a Klingon raider. "I came up with some camera views to show what that might look like," he noted. These illustrations included one in which the raider was shown decloaking and another where it was already decloaked. (Star Trek: Discovery Designing Starships, pp. 142-143 & 151)
  • In total, the spacewalk sequence took approximately five to six months to fully design and render. "The biggest thing to convey," remembered Alex Kurtzman, "was an immersive sense of what it would be like, with the technology of the future, to do a spacewalk like this, and to make sure that all of the shots put the audience inside her experience as she was going through the asteroid field, the sense of a lot of close calls, but mostly, this incredible sense of speed and joy and delight […] It was really interesting to design shots that were really all about putting you inside of Burnham's head and mind and heart." ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features) Many months prior to filming the sequence, Pixomondo started to design previz footage of it. (AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?"; "Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD & Blu-ray special features) The spacewalk sequence was also planned out in storyboards. [10] "We started with the previz to help David [Semel] get a sense of how he wanted to realize the scene," noted VFX Supervisor Jason Zimmerman. "And then, once we did that, we started putting it together with the art department and everybody to have the different set pieces that we needed to know, where the green screen needed to go." ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features) While filming was in progress, David Semel described planning the sequence; "It's really been about descriptively breaking it down from shot to shot, moment to moment. The sophistication of previz these days is so specific that it really helps […] all of us, frankly, to envision what it's going to be." (AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?")
  • The previz footage included at least two shots of Burnham standing on the Shenzhou's hull, looking out at the debris field and the binary star system, pre-takeoff; the first, viewed from behind her, was to be shot with an 18mm lens, whereas the second, taken from in front of Burnham, was to be filmed with a 24mm lens. The latter previz shot was backdropped by the panoramic view of a galaxy, though the final version of the shot instead has a regular starfield as the background. A subsequent previz shot depicted Burnham flying through the debris field, for which she was shown from behind and to be shot with an 18mm lens. Then, in a shot to be filmed with a 32mm lens, Burnham was shown disengaging her jet pack while the camera was in front of her. A couple of previz shots portrayed Burnham flying over the Beacon of Kahless, surveying it; one of these shots was intended to utilize a 60mm lens, whereas another was to use an 18mm lens. A 21mm lens was to be used for the shot of Burnham landing on the beacon's hull, and a 35mm lens was to be used for a view of her flying unconsciously past the camera. ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features)
  • The view of Rejac's ornamental metallic casket flying over many similar Klingon caskets, arrayed over the hull of T'Kuvma's ship, was illustrated in a concept image. (Star Trek: Discovery Designing Starships, p. 133)


  • This is the first live-action episode of Star Trek since TOS: "Turnabout Intruder" to be produced with no involvement by Rick Berman.
  • Green screen was visible through the windows built into the Sarcophagus set, for example while the first scene from this episode was being filmed. ("Discovering Discovery: The Concepts and Casting of Star Trek: Discovery", DIS Season 1 DVD & Blu-ray special features) For the same initial scene, T'Kuvma actor Chris Obi was shot separately, on a rotating podium while a camera was on one side of him and a green screen on the other side. (AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?")
  • The scenes set on the Crepusculan homeworld were filmed in Jordan. As such, shots intended to feature the USS Shenzhou's arrival in the skies of the Crepusculan homeworld originally had bright blue skies. ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features)
The Vulcan Hello greenscreen

Greenscreen filming of Michael Burnham's confrontation with Torchbearer Rejac

  • The creative personnel were additionally tasked with deciding how to film the spacewalk sequence. "How do you convey weightlessness that doesn't feel like she's being puppeted by wires? It was really the challenge of the sequence," Alex Kurtzman recalled. ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features) Ultimately, the sequence was shot using green screen and wire work at Paramount Stage 16. (AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?"; "Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features) Sonequa Martin-Green was very excited to work on the Paramount lot, as she had never shot there before and it had accumulated a lot of Star Trek production history by then. ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features) The chosen method of capturing the necessary footage called for Martin-Green to imagine what Burnham was seeing instead of the green screen. (AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?") "With Sonequa, I'd gone over the sequence to a very fine detail," noted David Semel, who conversed with Martin-Green even during breaks in actually filming the sequence. ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features) For some of the footage, Martin-Green's stunt double Linda Jewell played Burnham. The Klingon torchbearer was also a practical element of the shoot, played by an actual performer. Jason Zimmerman considered the stunt team essential for achieving the sequence, the previz footage of which was displayed on the green-screen stage during the filming. (AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?") This arrangement enabled Semel and the rest of the production crew to intricately match the previz shots with the live-action footage they were shooting while they were filming it. ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features) From the previz, Stunt Coordinator Joel Kramer recreated every shot using whatever equipment was needed, including wire rigs, which supported the performers playing Burnham from above, and parallelograms, on which Martin-Green had to stand, though she had never been on a parallelogram before. The production crew had to create and use a wire system that adjusted to facilitate the shooting of a shot that would depict Burnham landing at a steep angle on the Klingon beacon. For the spaceflight footage, Semel imagined Burnham as though she was a deep-sea diver examining a reef. Although the performer was hanging from wires, the stunt crew had to make Burnham look as if she was neutrally balanced in a zero-g environment, with the thrusters on her jet pack dictating every move, rather than have her seeming basically like a puppet. (AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?") Most of one particular day on the green-screen set was allocated for filming Burnham's arrival on the hull of the Klingon beacon and her confrontation with the torchbearer. ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features) That morning, Linda Jewell spent a while being spun around while hanging from the wires. (AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?"; "Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features) Wearing the jet pack and a harness wasn't easy. Even so, Martin-Green, and the production crew in general, had a lot of fun shooting the spacewalk sequence. (AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?") Stated Martin-Green, "The suit […] was heavy, it was so challenging, but so much fun." (Star Trek Magazine issue 190, p. 22) She also enjoyed participating in the wire work itself. Agreed Zimmerman, "That was really fun to shoot." ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features)


  • The work which was done in post-production included color correcting the location footage used for the teaser scenes on the Crepusculan homeworld. This footage was altered to emphasize the warmer tones. ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features)
  • A lot of this episode was changed in editing. Thus, Hanelle M. Culpepper remarked that it turned out to be "so different" from how it was originally filmed. [11]

Visual effects[]

  • Dust and clouds were digitally inserted into the teaser footage intended to be from the Crepusculan homeworld. For a ground-level shot of Georgiou and Burnham walking between a pair of towering cliff walls that are littered with egg sacs, wireframe temporarily stood-in for the enormous walls, and the relevant location footage was added. The egg sacs were digitally inserted into the footage, complete with the outline of a Crepusculan fetus in each sac, as were multiple CGI ropes between the two walls. CGI was also to depict the adult Crepusculans. For a close-up shot of one of them clambering up to the top of a woodpile so as to observe Georgiou and Burnham, wireframe was temporarily used to represent both the Crepusculan and the stack of wood, and arms, as well as a tail, were added to the view of contortionist Bonnie Morgan performing the action while wearing the Crepusculan costume. The arms and tail were then textured, and the shot was digitally enhanced with the addition of clouds and dust. Of course, the USS Shenzhou was yet another digital element for which multiple layers of CGI were used, as were such other elements as the damaged interstellar relay as well as a worker bee which, in the episode's first act, is shown working on the relay. ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features)

Music and sound[]

  • Composer Jeff Russo read the script of this episode before making his first attempt at writing the series' main title theme music. [12]
  • This episode's score, composed and conducted by Jeff Russo, was recorded on 27 July 2017. [13] Russo utilized the sound of the duduk, an unusual musical instrument in Western musical styles, to delineate between the Klingons and Starfleet. [14] It can be heard in the first piece of music audible in this installment: "We Come In Peace". This composition and various other pieces of music from the episode were released in the soundtrack collections Star Trek: Discovery - Season 1, Chapter 1 and, later, the vinyl LP Star Trek: Discovery - Season 1, Chapters 1 & 2. In addition to "We Come in Peace", the other compositions include: "Stranded", which can be heard in the teaser scene with Georgiou and Burnham on the Crepusculan homeworld; "First Officer's Log", which accompanies the start of the episode's first act; "I'll Go", which accompanies Burnham's spacewalk to the Beacon of Kahless; "Torchbearer", which can be heard during the next scene, depicting Rejac's burial; and "Facing Off", which is featured in the soundtrack for the climactic scenes in which Burnham tries to persuade Georgiou to open fire on the Sarcophagus and a Klingon fleet then arrives. Both "First Officer's Log" and "Facing Off" were released in the initial soundtrack album only, omitted from the vinyl LP.


  • AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?" discusses the making of, and events in, this episode.
  • This episode had a premiere screening at 7:00 pm on 19 September 2017, at the Cinerama Dome at Hollywood's Arclight Theater, on Sunset Boulevard, in Los Angeles. (Star Trek Magazine issue 190, p. 6) The behind-the-scenes DIS staff who attended the event included showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg, Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman, Co-Executive Producer Heather Kadin, writing staffers Akiva Goldsman, Kirsten Beyer, Ted Sullivan, and Nicholas Meyer, Composer Jeff Russo, and make-up artists Glenn Hetrick, Neville Page, and James MacKinnon. The DIS actors who attended the premiere included Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh, Jason Isaacs, Doug Jones, Mary Wiseman, Anthony Rapp, Wilson Cruz, James Frain, Mary Chieffo, Kenneth Mitchell, Shazad Latif, Rainn Wilson, Sam Vartholomeos, and Clare McConnell. Numerous actors from the various earlier Star Trek series were also in attendance, including TOS and TAS stars William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols, TNG stars Jonathan Frakes and Gates McFadden, DS9 stars Nana Visitor and Nicole de Boer, newly engaged couple Terry Farrell and Adam Nimoy, VOY stars Robert Picardo and Roxann Dawson, ENT stars John Billingsley, Linda Park, and Anthony Montgomery, as well as recurring Star Trek guest star John de Lancie. Celebrated fan couple Bjo and John Trimble were present too, as well as many other fans. (Star Trek Magazine issue 190, p. 6; Star Trek Magazine issue 191, pp. 6-8) Following the screening, Star Trek Magazine talked with several of the fans who were there, and the response was overwhelmingly positive, many approving of Saru and Sonequa Martin-Green's portrayal of Burnham. (Star Trek Magazine issue 190, p. 6) Journalist Larry Nemecek admitted that, while watching the premiere, he had been "marveling at the cinematic magic." (Star Trek Magazine issue 191, p. 8)
  • In the UK, TV listings magazine TV & Satellite Week (23-29 Sept 2017 issue, p. 53) included a one-sentence synopsis of "the first weekly episode" of DIS, which the magazine erroneously claimed would be about "a Human trying to save the Vulcans."
  • The CBS airing (and, in Canada, the CTV airing), originally scheduled for 8:30 pm US Eastern Time, started nineteen minutes late due to an overrunning NFL game in the Eastern and Central time zones. [15]
  • This episode is rated TV-14, even though the series as a whole is rated TV-MA.
  • Overnight ratings for the episode estimated that it reached 8.2 million total viewers, getting a 1.6 rating in the Adult 18-49 demographic. [16] Adjusted for the delayed start, the broadcast rated 9.6 million viewers and a 1.9 rating. [17]
  • Immediately after this episode debuted, "Battle at the Binary Stars" was additionally released on CBS All Access.
  • This episode, along with its follow-up, "Battle at the Binary Stars", is the first Star Trek series debut story to not be adapted in literary form, as either a novel, novella, or short story. This practice subsequently continued with Star Trek: Short Treks premiere "Runaway", Star Trek: Picard premiere "Remembrance" and Star Trek: Lower Decks premiere "Second Contact".
  • The episodes that constitute the two-part opening story are among the only examples in US television history in which part one aired on one network (CBS) and part two technically aired on another (CBS All-Access), and similarly are among the only examples where part one was released for free broadcast, whereas (at least in the US) a subscription was required to the streaming service in order to view part two.
  • CBS rebroadcasted this episode on 24 September 2020, exactly three years after its first airing, as part of a special presentation of the entire first season. [18]
  • Heather Kadin approved of the first scene from this episode, finding it "interesting" because "we open the show inside the Klingon ship, hearing them speak, hearing what's happening behind the scenes with them." ("Discovering Discovery: The Concepts and Casting of Star Trek: Discovery", DIS Season 1 DVD & Blu-ray special features)
  • Robert Meyer Burnett was critical of the scientific credibility of the teaser scene, featuring the Starfleet sign that Georgiou and Burnham walk in the sand and which supposedly can be spotted from orbit despite the presence of a storm. [19]
  • Multiple members of the production staff voiced satisfaction with the finalized version of the sequence in which Burnham undertakes a spacewalk. Jason Zimmerman commented, "I love the first episode with the sequence of her going from the Shenzhou to the artifact. I'm really proud of that." David Semel described the sequence as a "fantastic visual," intercut with "great character moments." Alex Kurtzman remarked, "In conjunction with the close-ups of her face, her eyes, to be able to jump to the Shenzhou and experience Georgiou's joy for her surrogate daughter as she's going through this experience is really wonderful […] Ultimately, I feel like we got something really interesting out of it." ("Creating Space", DIS Season 1 DVD/Blu-ray special features)
  • This episode was nominated for a VES Award in the category of Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode.
  • Hanelle M. Culpepper watched this outing in preparation for directing her own DIS episode, "Vaulting Ambition". [20]
  • Some footage from this episode was evidently later reused for a flashback sequence in "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum". Other clips from this installment were reused in "The Wolf Inside".


  • Heather Kadin was of the opinion that this episode has a notably unique opening scene, remarking "you've never seen" how things are progressing with the Klingons behind the scenes prior to this. She went on to say, "It speaks to what we're trying to do with the whole series, which is changing your expectations about our assumptions, whether it's about a race, about a culture, and I think in the past the Klingons have been always portrayed as they're the bad guy, period. In this case, technically compared to Starfleet, I guess they're the bad guy, but you understand that they're doing what they're doing for what they believe are very good reasons, so it depends what your perspective is." ("Discovering Discovery: The Concepts and Casting of Star Trek: Discovery", DIS Season 1 DVD & Blu-ray special features) Indeed, this is the first series premiere to feature no Humans in its first scene, though not the first whose initial scene features a non-Federation perspective, since a Maquis outlook (that of Chakotay's raider and its crew) is depicted at the start of VOY: "Caretaker" whereas a Human civilian outlook (of Henry Archer and his then-young son, Jonathan) is featured at the outset of ENT: "Broken Bow". It is not true that Klingons have consistently been portrayed as "the bad guy," since the introduction of Worf at the beginning of Star Trek: The Next Generation essentially reestablished the Klingons as allies with the Federation, the two sides remaining at peace with each other until the outset of war in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season four opener "The Way of the Warrior", and even after that, the Klingons became allies of the Federation in DS9's fifth season, in order to fight the Dominion together, which they proceeded to do. Furthermore, even Star Trek: Enterprise did not always portray the species as antagonistic, either.
  • This was the first Star Trek episode to depict both a female captain and a female first officer serving aboard the same ship at the same time. (AT: "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?")
  • Burnham states the stardate in her log, then notes that, on Earth, it is "May 11, 2256; a Sunday" – which is the correct day of the week in advance calendars.
  • Given that the episode opens on May 11, 2256, it can be extrapolated that this episode chronologically takes place 101 years, 3 months, and 19 days after the events of ENT: "Terra Prime", the second most recent television episode prior to air to this installment (the most recent having been ENT series finale "These Are the Voyages...", which is technically set in 2370 but also features holodeck footage set in 2161).
  • Captain Georgiou's ready room is shown to contain a bottle of wine from Chateau Picard.
  • The quotation Burnham cannot cite, "Sculptures are crystallized spirituality," is actually a paraphrase of a quote by Amos Bronson Alcott, which reads, "Madame de Staël pronounced architecture to be frozen music; so is statuary crystallized spirituality." [21]
  • While the Klingon death ritual in this episode has some new elements to it, the long-established death howl makes an appearance during Rejac's funeral; the Klingons gathered for the funeral howl not out of grief, but to warn the honored ancestors in Sto-vo-kor that a worthy Klingon warrior is coming to join them. The death howl was first established in TNG: "Heart of Glory".
  • The use of a flashback in this episode, depicting Burnham's emotional reaction to hearing about Doctari Alpha in her childhood, serves as a prelude.
  • The appearance of the Vulcan Learning Center more-or-less matches its appearance in the film Star Trek, although its manifestation in that film was as a location in the alternate reality. The center's inclusion in this episode marks the first instance of an element being introduced in the alternate reality before appearing in the prime timeline.
  • Although this episode includes some footage of Sarek set chronologically earlier than his first appearance in TOS: "Journey to Babel", this is not the first episode to do so. In-universe, young versions of the character also appeared in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and TAS: "Yesteryear".
  • Like previous spin-off premieres, this initial episode of Discovery includes a character making a crossover from a previous role; in this case, Sarek returned, having previously appeared in numerous Star Trek episodes and films. Unlike most previous spin-off premieres, Sarek was not a main character from a series that directly preceded the new series. In the previous cases, Doctor McCoy was seen briefly in the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint"; Captain Jean-Luc Picard appeared in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine pilot, "Emissary"; and Quark had a cameo appearance in the Star Trek: Voyager pilot, "Caretaker", in which DS9 recurring characters Morn and Broik also appeared. Zefram Cochrane had an uncredited cameo appearance in the Star Trek: Enterprise pilot, "Broken Bow", though he (like Sarek in this episode) did not appear in the preceding series, Star Trek: Voyager.
  • Sarek advises Burnham that the warlike Klingons are more likely to respect the Federation shooting first, as to do otherwise is seen as a sign of weakness. This echoes his son Spock's supposition a decade later that the warlike Romulans would respond similarly. (TOS: "Balance of Terror"; SNW: "A Quality of Mercy")
  • Michael Burnham desperately attempting to persuade the commanding officer and crew of the USS Shenzhou of the presence of malevolent Klingons, when Burnham is the only member of the ship's crew to be aware of this, is similar to James T. Kirk attempting, in the film Star Trek, to persuade the commanding officer and crew of the USS Enterprise of the presence of malevolent Romulans, when Kirk is the only member of the ship's crew to be aware of this. Both Burnham and Kirk are recovering from a physical ailment while trying to present the information, and both of their commanding officers, Georgiou and Christopher Pike respectively, are initially doubtful of the news.
  • Multiple characters state Starfleet has barely had any contact with the Klingons for a century, there only having been fleeting run-ins. On one hand, this matches with the Klingons rather heavily interacting with Starfleet during Star Trek: Enterprise, which was almost exactly one hundred years before Star Trek: Discovery. It is currently unclear as to whether this was coincidental or if the Klingons entered into an extended period of isolationism, though the era featured the events of ENT: "Divergence" and the founding of the Federation, two events which might have potentially had a big impact on the Empire. On the other hand, it does not track well with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II", which establish "almost seventy years of unremitting hostility" between the Federation and the Klingon Empire starting in 2223.
  • The USS Shenzhou was armed with phase cannons, a staple of Star Trek: Enterprise, as the NX-class Enterprise was equipped with them.
  • Captain Georgiou ordering that Starfleet be informed, "We have engaged the Klingons," resembles Captain Picard ordering that Starfleet be informed, "We have engaged the Borg," in TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds".
  • Saru characterizes his people as a prey species in this episode; this notion went on to be further explored in the Star Trek: Short Treks episode "The Brightest Star", which is set prior to this installment and details the initial meeting between Saru and Georgiou.
  • As Burnham relays to Georgiou, Sarek explains that the disastrous first contact between Vulcans and Klingons occurred 240 years ago, in the H'atoria system. That system was previously mentioned in TNG: "All Good Things...", as the site of a small Klingon colony near Federation space. In an alternate future timeline seen in that series finale, Worf had become governor of the colony.
  • TNG: "First Contact" had Jean-Luc Picard mention that a disastrous first contact with Klingons led to decades of war, which does not really fit the events of Human-Klingon first contact in ENT: "Broken Bow". It may have been that Picard was referring to Vulcan-Klingon first contact as Vulcans became a founding member of the Federation.
  • The scene in which Burnham renders Georgiou unconscious with a Vulcan nerve pinch is not the first time a non-Vulcan has used the technique. Other people who managed to employ a Vulcan nerve pinch include Humans Jonathan Archer (in ENT: "Kir'Shara") and Jean-Luc Picard (in TNG: "Starship Mine"), as well as the android Data (in TNG: "Unification II" and Star Trek Nemesis), the Changeling Odo (in DS9: "Paradise Lost"), and reclaimed Borg drone Seven of Nine (in VOY: "The Raven").
  • This episode leads directly into the next episode, "Battle at the Binary Stars".

Production history[]

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]



Special guest star[]

Guest starring[]


Uncredited co-stars[]

Stunt double[]



13th century; 2016; 2249; 2256; 2345; accretion disk; acute radiation syndrome; Advanced Interstellar Combat; airlock depressurization sequence; air pressure; Alkaid; albino; Alioth; alloy; atmospheric pressure; ambient radiation; Andoria; Andorian; antenna; antiproton chamber; antiproton therapy regimen; asteroid; atom; away team; bat'leth; battle; Battle of the Binary Stars; Beacon of Kahless; bearing; bedrock; binary system; binary system sector; Black Fleet; blood; blood pressure (BP); body scan; bone; breathing; Burnham, Gabrielle; Burnham, Mike; captain; Celsius; chain of command; calculation; Chateau Picard; chain of command; chief science officer; civilization; cloaking screen; coffin; color; commander; communication module; communicator; concussion; coordinates; course; creed; Crepusculan; Crepusculan homeworld; crusade; culture; crystal; D7-class; d-t plasma; data collection unit; day; death; debris field; deck; dedicated subspace channel 222AA7; deep space communication relay audit; demon; density; Department of Foreign Studies; desert; diplomat; diplomatic authorization; DNA; Doctari Alpha; drought; Dubhe; Eagle-12; egg sac; electromagnetic subspace waveform; emergency shutdown; emotion; empire; enemy; English language; Europa, USS; EV suit; exoskeleton; extinction; eye; fable; faith; family blade; Federation space; flagship; flesh; Flight 819; food chain; footprints; forecast; funeral; fusion temperature; Gamma Hydra; gas; General Order 1; generation; genetic recombination; genetic unspooling; goggles; grade three concussion; greeting; H'atoria system; hail; head; headlamp; heart; heart rate; helmet cam; hologram; holo-communicator; hour; Human; ice; iconography; IDIC; igniter; information; insubordination; interlink frequency; internal sensor; interstellar relay; intestine; jet pack; Kahless; Kelpien; Kelpien homeworld; kidney; kilometer; Klingon; Klingon Empire; Klingon Houses; Klingon House insignia; Klingon language; Klingon political order; Klingon space; Laikan Military Academy; leader; LEAL; lieutenant; life support; light year; liver; livestock; logic; long range sensor scan; lumens per square meter; lung; magnetic confinement fusion; magnetic field; map; Megrez; metal; meteor; meter; milligram per cubic meter; minute; mirror; Mizar; mood; mutiny; name; nanosecond; neck; nitrogen; noodle; number one; optical processor; oxygen; peace; perspiration; phase cannon; phaser; photon torpedo; photon torpedo tube; plasmatic filters; preflight checklist; president; privacy; prophecy; proximity alert; pupil; Qo'noS; quadrant; quantum efficiency spectrum; quantum efficiency (aka "QE"); radiation; reconnaissance mission; record player; red alert; respect; San Francisco Fleet Yards; sarcasm; Sarcophagus; saturation; scattering field; sculpture; second; self-preservation; senior officer; sensor dead zone; Shenzhou, USS; signal emitter; skin; skin pigmentation; sky; Sol III; social order; soldier; species (race); species map; spirituality; star; Star Cross; Starfleet; Starfleet Command; "stat"; status report; stealth mode; stomach; stone; storm; subspace antenna; subspace channel; Sunday; superstructure; sympathetic vibration; tactical log; telemetry; telescope; temperature; three-dimensional chess; thruster pack (jetpack); thunder; torchbearer; tractor beam; transmitter; survivor; tribe; tricorder; type 3 phaser; TX power; United Federation of Planets; village; violence; voiceprint; Vulcan; Vulcan; Vulcan Hello; Vulcan nerve pinch; Vulcan ship; walk; Walker-class; warrior caste; water; water table; watt; weapons signature; well; worker bee; xenoanthropologist; year; yellow alert

USS Shenzhou dedication plaque:

Unreferenced material[]

Georgiou's bookshelf: All Our Yesterdays; Amok Time; Balance of Terror; By Any Other Name; Cage, The; City on the Edge of Forever, The; Deadly Years, The; Empath, The; Mark of Gideon, The; Metamorphosis; Mirror, Mirror; Omega Glory, The; Patterns of Force; Plato's Stepchildren; Return to Tomorrow; That Which Survives; Trouble with Tribbles, The; Way to Eden, The; Whom Gods Destroy

External links[]

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Star Trek: Discovery
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"Battle at the Binary Stars"