Star Trek: Discovery's Latest Episode Examines the Beauty of Connection
In times of great uncertainty, it's memories that can keep us anchored and remind us where we came from. And while Star Trek: Discovery has spent its third season focused on the new unknown that is the future, it takes some time in Episode 4 to look back, as characters old and new get a blast from the past in more ways than one.
"Forget Me Not" opens with a first: A personal log from Culber (Wilson Cruz). It's understandable, as the doctor has been given the task of checking the physical and mental wellness of the crew. And if Detmer's (Emily Coutts) condition is any indicator, Discovery has been afflicted with a serious case of denial. As Culber puts it, the double-edged sword of having a ship full of intelligent overachievers is they never know when to ask for help.
Culber's examination ends with a scan of Adira (Blu Del Barrio), who was revealed at the end of the last episode to be a host for a Trill symbiont. They have no memories of the symbiont's prior hosts, though, and only remembers waking up in an escape pod a year ago. Culber outlines the options: do some invasive brain surgery, or try to seek assistance on the Trill homeworld. For Adira's sake, they choose to do the latter -- and considering the reaction that Discovery receives when they reach Trill, with the greeting commissioner calling Adira's arrival a "blessing," it was a good decision.
Though the mission to beam down to Trill is underway, Saru (Doug Jones) takes an opportunity to check in with the crew, namely Stamets (Anthony Rapp). Despite the injuries he sustained before they entered the wormhole, the engineer is insistent on using his body to run the spore drive, as the dilithium scarcity means it's the only reliable form of travel. Tilly (Mary Wiseman) offers an alternative with dark matter energy, but Stamets sticks to his phasers and refuses to even entertain the option.
Elsewhere, Culber approaches Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), requesting she go with Adira down to Trill. He points out that they both have experience with having everything stripped away. While hesitant, Michael indeed joins Adira, who is palpably nervous to encounter what's down on the planet. Culber then checks in with Saru, letting him know that the crew is physically sound, but mentally stressed. From there, this captain's next mission is to find something to bring them all together.
Michael and Adira are greeted on Trill by lush foliage, flying fish and a warming group of Trill elders. But once they find out Adira's origin story, that smile immediately turns to a frown. They're hostile to the "abomination" of a human host, and order them to leave Trill immediately. Even though "The Burn" nearly decimated the Trill population, their ideals are still alive, -- and it's those ideals that push Michael and Adira away.
Back on Discovery, Saru brainstorms with the computer on morale boosters for the crew, but something odd occurs when the sphere data begins to seep into the system, taking on a brand-new voice. And that voice comes with a personality, suggesting that Saru pursue unconventional means like giving everyone the night off and screening Buster Keaton films. Trekkies may recognize the computer's new voice as Zara from the Short Treks episode "Calypso," filling in the gaps as to how the ship winds up abandoned hundreds of years from now.
Michael and Adira find their own unlikely ally in Xi (Andres Apergis), one of the Trill guardians. He sees Adira as a hope to save their population and strikes out from his people in taking them to the Sacred Caves. Timid, Adira walks into the milky-white pools of the cave, entering a state of communion. But as the rest of the cavalry storm the premises, they begin to jerk violently, eventually pulled underneath the murky surface. Trill and human alike are shocked, but Michael immediately jumps into action, entering communion herself, hoping to get Adira back Stranger Things-style.
It looks like Saru has taken the computer's new advice, as he brings together the senior officers and Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) for an intimate dinner. Though initially awkward, the captain brings things back to their unified decision to go into the wormhole after Michael, reminding them of the conviction they had before. Talk then turns to whimsical haikus, until Detmer gets put on the spot. Already acting distant, she puts a dark pall over the dinner by laughing over Stamets' blood all over Sick Bay. That prompts an argument between the two, as they contest who is more important to the ship. That brings the meal to an abrupt end, with the crew storming off.
Michael does find Adira at the bottom of the pool, which is an indescribable feat of cinematography. The two seem trapped in a void, surrounded by red threads that reach out to Adira. Michael deduces they're Adira's repressed memories trying to reach out. Through her encouragement, Adira is able to literally embrace their past, connecting with the treads and manifesting their memories in front of them.
Those memories are primarily linked to Grey (Ian Alexander), Adira's Trill boyfriend. The two connected over orphans and were on a ship searching for Federation headquarters when Grey received the Tal symbiont currently residing in Adira. Their relationship is intimate and endearing, even with Adira's worries over "losing" their partner to the other hosts. But Grey is able to soothe them with words and cello music, one of the many skills he picked up with the transplant.
But his tenure is prematurely cut short when the ship gets rocked and Grey receives a life-threatening piece of shrapnel. He is certain to die, and the symbiont with him. Thinking quickly, Adira decides to take on Tal to survive, even if her partner cannot. As she cradles a dying Grey in her past, Michael does the same in her present, as Adira's real identity becomes crystal clear. A group of individuals suddenly enter, all representing Tal's previous hosts, including Senna Tal -- the Starfleet officer whose lost communication is what Discovery has its hopes pinned on -- and even Grey. They officially welcome Adira into "The Circle," finally integrating host and symbiont.
Adira and Michael return to the surface of the pool, drenched but enlightened. Adira can now easily list off the repertoire of hosts, which calms down the Trill leaders. Walking back their hostility, they offer to mentor Adira as they continue on their path to full integration. But Adira courteously declines, feeling their place is on Discovery, now able to serve as their own representative for the Trill. And there's even an extra dose of hope, as the Trill hint to Michael that they would tackle their own form of integration should the Federation ever return.
Back on the ship, Saru sits despondently over his ruined meal. Tilly and Stamets return to apologize, with the latter even deciding to reopen the alternative energy source discussion. Detmer, for her part, has also been grounded by the argument, finally admitting to Culbert that she needs help. The entire crew then comes together in the shuttle bay for a movie night, as Saru apparently took the advice of his new computer ally and is screening Buster Keaton to a rapturous response.
The episode ends intimately, as Adira uses her newly-discovered memories to program a path to Federation HQ. But it turns out they are hiding more as they let it, as it's revealed Grey exists once more, assumingly in Adira's head. Neither knows how this could be possible, but they count their blessings they're in each other's lives, as the lull of cello music takes us out of the episode.
"Forget Me Not" comes at a key time when the world outside Star Trek is currently wringing its hands over the future and what ideals will prevail. This episode is a great reminder of how much the connections and convictions that we've made in the past can be a rock to cling to in a sea of dark space. Whether it's integrating with a new family or coming together for movie night, this show reminds us that people will prevail.
Streaming on CBS All Access,Star Trek: Discovery stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Commander Michael Burnham, Doug Jones as Commander Saru, Anthony Rapp as Lt. Commander Paul Stamets, Mary Wiseman as Ensign Sylvia Tilly, Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber, David Ajala as Cleveland "Book" Booker, Blu del Barrio as Adira, Ian Alexander as Grey, Tig Notaro as Chief Engineer Reno and Michelle Yeoh as Philippa Georgiou. New episodes of Season 3 air on Thursdays.
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