Dresses, beautiful dresses. Image: Paramount+
Star Trek: Discovery’s Fourth Season, like the seasons that preceded it, has placed great emphasis on the idea that perhaps the most important ideal that any of its heroes, Federation or otherwise, might have is a sense of unity and common understanding. If it goes to a mid-season surprise hi this week, it makes that ideal more necessary than ever – despite what could be a major cost to the lead character.
“…But to Connect” brings out two of the biggest underlying plot points of Discovery’s fourth season and finally takes the space to really focus on the threat of the Dark Matter Anomaly plaguing the galaxy after more than a year. spent a few weeks with reefs in the grounds of the classic Star Trek episode. While the Discovery is in dry dock to repair itself from the damage it sustained last week, two plot threads intertwine on that theme of unity. At Federation headquarters, Michael attends a massive diplomatic summit that brings together worlds from across the galaxy to discuss how the mysterious “Species 10C” (it’s all very “Species 8472”, layered on even more Voyager references this season), the unidentified species behind the DMA. Meanwhile, aboard the ship, Saru and Stamets team up with Kovich – the returning David Cronenberg, and always a joy to watch – as they deal with the wider ramifications of ship computer Zora making her progressive evolution known to the Discovery crew at large. Namely that Zora has calculated a rough location where Species 10C could be hiding in the galaxy… but refuses to share with Stamets due to the emotional reaction that it would endanger the Discovery crew.
Both threads create some fascinating hurdles for our heroes. Michael and federation president Rillak continue their game of politics. The latter subtly pushes the former to become the voice of her agenda once again, when Rillak makes it clear to Michael that even if she’s a Starfleet officer and not a Federation diplomat, her voice will have the power to cast any vote. influence what action to take. take against Species 10C – peaceful first contact or an attack on the DMA itself. Things get complicated when bastard Risian scientist Ruon Tarka (guest star Shawn Doyle) resurfaces to ditch his ego and offer a potential, tantalizing alternative to peace: What if the galaxy committed a minor war crime, as a treat? Tarka’s latest plan to take out the DMA requires breaking one of the most enduring treaties in Federation history, the second Khitomer Accords, to use subspace-damaging isolytic weapons to overload the DMA’s energy systems. It’s a tempting offer to the growing contingent of voices at the top who want a show of power, but Tarka is far more interested in how much the Book forces, who still grapple with his wrath over Kwejian’s destruction and get pulled between Michael’s angel . his shoulder-preaching patience, and Tarka’s offer of immediate response.
Things heat up aboard Discovery with Zora for Stamets, who immediately begins to freak out about the computer’s evolution into a potentially sentient life form for reasons even beyond the fact that she won’t give him the coordinates where he and Adira are. been looking for weeks. You’d think a guy who plugs himself into tech mushrooms every time Discovery has to go somewhere would have more faith in a bio-organic system, but that’s Stamet’s biggest problem with Zora: if she’s essentially a new member of the crew is in this evolved form, she must act upon it, work with a chain of command, and be able to place trust in those around her, even as she fears their decisions will harm them – and she, one with the Discovery. harm.
The answer to both threads is ultimately simple. Whatever happens in either scenario — whether the summit votes for diplomacy or action, or whether Kovich decides that Zora’s feeling violates Federation rules about artificial intelligence in Starfleet ship systems and must remove her completely — the outcome must be shared by all involved. parties are considered together. Divisions between those who get their way and those who don’t can undermine either process, because whether it’s something as drastic as confronting the Anomaly or something as personal as the Discovery crew, losing a new friend in Zora, the only way everyone will be able to move forward with the confidence that the right decision has been made if they do it together. The summit (and Michael in particular, much to the chagrin of Book and Tarka) agrees that the summit should be open with its members to ensure their final decision actually carries the weight it deserves, and Stamets Saru and Kovic agree that the crew’s relationship with Zora has fundamentally changed and must be navigated with trust and open communication from both sides. It’s nothing new to Discovery, the show has always been honest about how it values this idea of unity above all else in its various, often catastrophic, conflicts. But “…But to Connect” throws an interesting key in the making for us to sit with while the series pauses for a few months.
For the most part, that hopeful message of unity saves the day. Stamets and Zora agree to work together to build their trust in each other, and the latter rewards his honesty by expressing his concern for her by finally relinquishing the coordinates Discovery needs. After Rillak pushes Michael on top in one of her signature Big Speeches, the mood overwhelmingly favors first contact over Tarka’s plan. Everything is fine! Until it doesn’t, and this time Discovery reverses its usual problem of a personal crisis with galactic ramifications (although…the jury is still out on whether or not those galactic ramifications will show up). Michael’s intervention at the summit may have been at the behest of Rillak, but in doing so she goes directly against Book, who had already urged Tarka to deliver his own speech advocating immediate action against the DMA. Book’s grief for Kwejian makes his desire for action — and perhaps revenge, as Tarka has prodded and prodded him before — understandable, but it also blinds him to Michael’s goals in advocating a diplomatic, united response. Seeing her go against him and successfully convince the summit seems less like a healthy debate to him, and more like another example of her prioritizing Starfleet’s and the Federation’s needs over her relationship with him…and Book responds. his turn to stay behind. her back with Tarka to go do the scientist’s isolytic attack on the DMA, anyway.
We’ll have to wait a few months to see the ramifications of Book’s choice – the rare one in “…But to Connect” that threatens to sever those titular connections rather than encourage them – but it’s an interesting climax to Discovery. to rest for a while. So much of the show so far (and admittedly, some of the messiest problems) are from a time when Michael’s personal crises are central as being intrinsically linked to the fate of the greater galaxy, and whatever major threat of the season she and the Discovery face. By ensuring that the emotional ramifications of her relationship with Book become the prize for putting aside those concerns for the greater good here, Captain Burnham may have the rare opportunity to face some long-lasting ramifications for her actions, even if she finally did the right thing as a Starfleet captain. Whatever happens, at least she knows she has the confidence of the Discovery crew—and her “new” boyfriend in a re-devoted Zora—to work with her to confront the series’ outcome when it returns.
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