Shit, meet fan. Fan, meet shit.
(As usual, here there be spoilers.)
The episode begins pretty much where the last one left off, with the Klingons warping into to view. We then get a flashback to when the captain and Burnham first met seven years prior, with Sarek and his ward transporting onto the ship.
Georgiou greets the two warmly. Sarek returns said greeting, if not warmly, then politely. He introduces Burnham to her, and the captain congratulates her on her recent graduation, before extending her hand for a shake. Burnham responds, quite less politely, “Respect is earned, as is friendliness.”
Sarek, with about as much annoyance as a Vulcan can muster, tells her, “Yet diplomatic niceties must be observes.” Burnham points out that this isn’t a negotiation; Georgiou cheerfully refers to it as “first contact, then,” and then asking if Burnham can see the analogy. She doesn’t.
At this point, Sarek says that he must be going, and heads back to the transporter pad. As he’s leaving, he whispers “behave” to his ward, then beams out. The remaining two then start to head to the bridge. While on the way, Burnham says that Vulcan no longer uses that type of transporter technology because it requires a lot of power. Georgiu explains that Starfleet has phased it out as well, but the Shenzou is an older vessel, “but she gets us where we need to go.”
She asks Burnham if the ship’s up to her standards; she responds, “I have no standards when it comes to this ship,” and adds that she was planning on joining a Vulcan expedition.
Georgiou tells her, “Sometimes the universe allows for the making of unexpected memories.” Burnham responds with “emotional platitudes are not what I was hoping for.” The captain comments that she’s definitely been away from humans for a long time as they make it to the turbolift. After boarding, she adds, “I’d say you’re too confident for your own good, but I’ve seen your record,” adding that Burnham’s confidence is justified. Burnham says that she’s seen the captain’s record, and has concluded the same of here.
They make it to the bridge, and Burnham takes a look around. Georgiou says, “Not too shabby, huh?” Burnham says that the ship seems to be functional. The captain tells her that she understands how hard this is for Burnham, also saying that “this can be your new home, if you want it to be.
The scene then shifts back to the bridge, where we left off before the flashback. The captain, still pointing her phaser at Burnham, asks how many Klingon vessels there are. Saru answers that there are 24, and Burnham turns to the captain, pointing out that there are 24 great Klingon houses, and that this can’t be a coincidence. Georgiou responds to this information by having security throw her first officer into the brig.
After the opening credits, we find ourselves back with the Klingons. More specifically, Voq is speaking with the members of the Klingon high council, through holograms. They aren’t too happy to speak with him, since they had specially called to speak with T’Kuvma, and aren’t too happy to be pushed off onto his albino underling.
One of the members, a woman, asks what threat there is to the Empire here. Another member tells Voq to bring T’Kuvma and to stop wasting his time.
At this point, T’Kuvma makes his entrance, saying, “‘My presence.’ ‘My voyage.’ ‘My time.’ No one speaks of ‘my duty’ or ‘my honor.'” One of the councilors tells him to show the proper respect, and that T’Kuvma’s house has not earned the right to join the council. T’Kuvma responds, “And yet, I am the one who leads the way to our empire’s resurrection.”
There’s a flashback to T’Kuvma finding the very ship he’s standing on now, with a voice over explaining that it had belonged to his father, and had been left to rot until he found it. On the ship, we see a group of Klingon children scuffling, and a young T’Kuvma chides them to show respect. And he promptly gets his ass kicked.
T’Kuvma then says that “there is no honor without unity. There is no home for any of us unless it is shared by all.”
The councilor who was berating Voq earlier, whose name is Kol, basically tells T’Kuvma that he thinks he’s full of shit, and it’s disgraceful that he’s let a bunch of outcasts into his house. T’Kuvma retorts that his house is open to anyone “bonded by a single doctrine: remain Klingon.”
Kol says that he doesn’t have to sit and listen to this, but the female Klingon says that she would like to hear some more, as do the other houses. Kol, not happy about this turn of events, tells T’Kuvma that someday he’ll put him in his place before cutting the transmission.
The lady Klingon asks T’Kuvma how he plans on achieving his goal; he tells her, “We have become complacent in the time since we last battled the Federation at Donatu V. Our purity is a threat to them. They wish to drag us into the much where humans, Vulcans, Tellarites, and filthy Andorians mix.”
One of the councilors calls the Shenzou “but a fleck,” and as such isn’t really a threat. T’Kuvma says that everything that he’s told them will come to pass, and that moment a bunch of other Federation ships warp in.
We then cut back to the Shenzou’s bridge, where Connor is listing off the ships that have made it so far as Georgiou watches the scene unfold. She asks where Admiral Anderson is; Saru reports that his ship, the Europa is still a ways out. Connor says that the Klingons aren’t jamming communications anymore, and the captain tells Januzzi to open a channel.
He does so, and she hails the Klingon ship. We then cut to said Klingon ship, where we see a hologram of Georgiou addressing them. She says that the Klingons and the beacon are in Federation space, and though she regrets the death of their warrior, she must ask them to either leave or talk to them and try and work something out. She adds that she hopes they choose the latter option, so that they can prove to them that “we come in peace.”
The transmission ends, and T’Kuma shouts, “No! They do not! They come to destroy our individuality. Shall we rise up together, and give them the fight they deserve?” The answer is a definite and resounding yes, and T’Kuvma gives the order to fire on the Federation ships.
Back on the Shenzou, Georgiou orders everyone to battlestations just before a shot from the Klingon vessel hits the bridge. The captain tasks Connor for a damage report, but an explosion from his console knocks him out of his chair. Another crew member transfers ops to his station and reports that it was a direct hit, and several decks are reporting hull breaches. However, the force fields in place are holding for now.
Georgiou asks after the shields; Saru reports that they’re currently at maximum and are holding. She then orders evasive maneuvers before asking Connor if he can get himself to sick bay. He says that he can make it as Saru reports that another ship nearby is taking heavy fire. She tells Detmer to head towards it, asking if phasers are locked on to a target. They are, and she gives the order to fire.
In the brig, Burnham is trying to get the computer to tell her how bad the damage to the ship is, but it won’t give her an answer because she’s a prisoner. At that point, a visibly confused Connor walks in. He walks closer to her cell, and asks where all the medical officers are. Burnham asks him what happened; he blinks and tells her that the bridge was hit. She asks if the captain is all right. Connor responds by saying she told him to get to sick bay, then realizes that he’s not in sickbay.
He tells her that she should be on the bridge; she gently reminds him that she’s locked up for mutiny. Connor than says despairingly, “Why are we fighting? We’re Starfleet. We’re explorers, not soldiers.” Burnham shakes her head, and tells Connor to get to use the comm panel to call a doctor to take him to sickbay.
He says that he will, but before he can do so, the room explodes and he’s sucked out into space.
We then see Burnham unconscious, then there’s a flashback to the Vulcan Science Academy on fire. Sarek is looking through the wreckage for Michael, and eventually finds her in very rough shape. He mind melds with her in order to save her life. Remember this part; it’s important later.
The scene cuts back to the brig, where Burnham regains consciousness to find that the brig’s force field is currently the only thing keeping her from Connor’s fate.
On the bridge, Georgiou asks for a status update. Saru tells her that there’s massive hull breaches on several decks, pausing for a moment on deck 9. The captain, with a grim expression, whispers, “The brig,” at which point the scene cuts back to said brig.
Burnham is sitting with her back against the wall as the computer says that shields are down to 15%. It adds that power is being routed from damaged areas to the bridge, and that the force field around her cell is going to fail soon. There’s a close up on Burnham’s face, and suddenly she appears to be somewhere else.
To her surprise, Sarek is also there, apparently communicating with her telepathically.
She asks him how he managed to mind meld with her from a thousand light years away; he explains that this goes a bit deeper than that. Basically, when he mind melded with her after the Vulcan Science Acadamy exploded, he left a bit of his sould behind. You may recognize this as a plot point from Star Trek III: The Search For Spock.
He shifts the subject a bit, dryly saying, “I see by your imprisonment that my counsel concerning the Klingons did not yield the results you hoped for.” She explains that she couldn’t convince Georgiou to fire first, “so I took matters into my own hands.” She adds that Sarek must be disappointed in her; he assures her that he hasn’t come to judge her, but that he was drawn by her despair.
He winces a bit, and Burnham asks if he’s all right. Sarek explains that communicating like this takes a physical toll, and Burnham tells him that he should leave. He tells her:
Did you think I came here just to say farewell? I would not put my well-being at risk for such sentimentality. The death and destruction raining down on Starfleet, that was to be expected. What I cannot abide is a waste of resources. You’re gifted. You are brave. You must do better. Because I know you can.
Burnham points out that his bolstering her self-esteem like this is out of character for him. Sarek responds that is an area where he had failed her. He tells her to find a way to help her crew, gives her the Vulcan salute, and takes his leave.
Burnham wakes up, then approaches the force field around her cell.
The battle rages on, and on the bridge, a crew member reports that another ship has locked onto them. Georgiou says to divert power to the aft shields. There’s another explosion, and a force field seals a hull breach on the bridge. The Shenzou starts drifting, and Saru reports that the last explosion has taken out their shields and impulse engines. Detmer adds that there are still Klingon ships heading for them, weapons activated. One of those ships swoops toward the Shenzou…and the veers off again.
Detmer asks why the Klingons didn’t just finish them off, and Saru responds, “They don’t have to.” Because the binary stars are pulling the ship towards them.
Georgiou says to fire reverse thrusters, but those are out too. She starts to order an evacuation, but just then the ship stops as it’s caught by a tractor beam. The Europa has arrived and pulled their asses out of the fire.
The captain calls Admiral Anderson to thank him for the timely rescue, to which he responds by asking what the hell just happened. Georgiou tells him, “We hailed. they fired.” She explains that her ship and two others are down currently, and they’ve taken heavy casualties.
Anderson points out that the Klingons have taken a lot of casualties too, and that they might be ready to deal. He has his crew hail T’Kuvma’s ship, and proposes a cease fire so they can try and talk this out.
On T’Kuvma’s ship, Voq asks him if he wants to respond. He nods, then tells the admiral that he’s glad he’s there, as they “have been waiting for someone worthy of our attention.” He says that he accepts the cease-fire, and will be sending an envoy shortly. The transmission ends, and T’Kuvma ominously states that he’ll now prove that he can turn his ship invisible.
Back on the Shenzou, Anderson is giving orders to Georgiou. Then the image flickers a bit, with Anderson barking orders to his own crew, before it cuts out completely. Then we see why.
The hull of the Europa buckles, and explodes, and then T’Kuvma’s vessel decloaks.
Escape pods begin peeling off the exploding ship, and on the Shenzou Saru reports that there is a voluntary antimatter containment breach on the Europa. Georgiou says that they’re going to self-destruct, and the bridge crew watches in horror as the other vessel explodes.
On his own vessel, T’Kuvma says that while they’ve suffered losses, the Federation has suffered far more. He then tells the council to go back to Qo’nos to spread the news of their victory. Voq adds that they should all follow T’Kuvma for this victory, and other Klingon declares him T’Kuvma the Unforgettable, with the rest taking this up as a victory cry. The Klingon ships then leave, leaving the flagship behind.
Saru reports this to Georgiou, adding that T’Kuvma’s ship is hailing them. We then see his face on the screen as he says:
Members of the Federation. What you call your most remote borders, I call too close to Klingon territory. You only live now to serve as witnesses of Klingon supremacy, to be my herald. We do not desire to know you. But you will know our great houses, standing as one under Kahless, reborn in me, T’Kuvma!
The transmission ends, and we cut back to Burnham in the same situation we last saw her in.
She’s trying to get the computer to let her out, but it won’t because if it does, she’ll die. However, as she points out, if she’s still there when the force field goes kaput, she’ll die. Burnham asks the computer if the area behind the blast door still has air; it does but the computer points out that she’d die before she gets there. So she proposes the following: punch a meter wide hole into the field so the rapid depressurization forces her out, and have the computer open the blast door. Amazingly, the computer actually complies to this request, and she manages to make it out. And it is awesome.
Back on the bridge, Georgiou says to Saru, “‘All warfare is based on deception. When you are able to attack, you must seem unable.'” Saru recognizes the quote from Sun Tzu, and points out that they’re not really doing any deceiving on that front, since they actually can’t attack.
On T’Kuvma’s vessel, one of his crew tells him that the Federation ships are either hiding or scattered, and T’Kuma replies that they’ve won.
On the Shenzou, Saru tells the captain that they have photon torpedoes, but no way to actually fire them. However, he does add that they can put a torpedo warhead on a transport and ram it into the ship. Georgiou responds, “Devious, Saru. I approve.”
On the flagship, he asks after the dead. His compatriot tells him that they’re drifting, and will be lost soon. He orders that everyone work on gathering the corpses, and somberly states that he will take care of entombing them himself.
Back with Georgiou and Saru, they make plans for attacking the Klingon ship. The captain says that they can use a transport called a worker bee, since it’s small and likely to be mistaken for debris. Saru says that he’ll start looking for a weak point on the ship, but also says that the worker bees don’t have autopilot so someone’s going to have to fly it there. Georgiou says that won’t be a problem, and that she’ll be the one flying it.
Saru objects, telling her that it’s a suicide mission; she opts to ignore this and tells him to work on getting their engines back online so they can fly out as soon as the Klingon ship blows. Then Burnham, who has arrived on the bridge, tells the captain that she can’t do this.
In the captain’s ready room, she explains why:
T’Kuvma has anointed himself the next Klingon messiah. If you kill him, you make him into a martyr, someone they can fight for endlessly. That might even be what he wants. But if you capture him, you make him a symbol of defeat. Of shame. And if you take him as a prisoner of war, you give the Federation leverage to sue for peace.
Georgiou, however, is still hurt by Burnham’s betrayal, and asks her how she could do what she did. Burnham says that it was because she thought it was the only way to avoid a war. Georgiou says:
When you first came aboard seven years ago, I worried your Vulcan training might someday trump your humanity. Do you know why Sarek asks me to take you one? I was a human who had seen a life of loss, but still chose hope. What an ego I had, thinking I could pick away the shell the Vulcans put around you. I was so sure I could do it. Even convinced that you were ready for the captain’s chair. To think I knew you so little.
Burnham responds says that she “believed saving you and the crew was more important that Starfleet’s principles,” before volunteering to deliver the warheads in the captain’s place. At that point, there’s an odd noise, so they look out the window. To see the Klingons gathering their dead with tractor beams.
This gives the captain an idea. She goes over to the intercom on her desk, calls Saru, and tells him to scrap the worker bee plan and have engineering meet them in the transporter bay with a torpedo warhead.
On the Klingon vessel, we see T’Kuvma solemnly presiding over his dead. This is intercut with shots of Saru preparing the photon torpedo warhead. Over this, we hear T’Kuvma say:
A warrior who dies in his sleep is no more than flesh and bone. A warrior who perishes honorably in battle is blessed. A hero’s demise brings pride for a life given in defense of our race, and comfort in the knowledge that a new life awaits in Sto-Vo-Kor.”
Saru then transports the warhead onto a Klingon corpse, which is then pulled into T’Kuvma’s ship. Where is promptly explodes.
In the transporter bay, Georgiou and Burnham are equipped and ready to move out. Saru lets them know that he’ll beam them to an area with few life signs. The two women share a look, then the captain says, “Let’s go get our prisoner” before they beam aboard.
Once there, they take out a couple of Klingon officers, after which Burnham says that they’re on the bridge, so T’Kuvma should be somewhere nearby. They fan out an search for a bit, but T’Kuvma attacks the captain just as Voq tackles Burnham.
T’Kuvma manages to disarm Georgiou as Voq attempts to crush Burnham’s head in his hands. The captain, however, is not out yet and smacks T’Kuvma with some debris before managing to give him quite a fight.
Burnham, in the meantime, manages to get Voq off her her by jamming a thumb into one of his eyes, then knocking him out with a chunk of debris. She then goes to help her captain, but is too late.
T’Kuvma gains the upper hand, and stabs Georgiou in the chest.
Burnham, who has managed to locate her phaser and is quite angry, shoot T’Kuvma, fatally wounding him. Saru calls in, saying that he’s lost the captain’s life signs; Burnham tells him to get them both out of there but he can’t transport the captain without a life sign. Burnham says that she won’t leave without her body, but Saru says that if the captain’s dead and she’s in danger, he needs to pull her out of there. He transports her back just as she reaches Georgiou.
On the transporter pad, a kneeling Burnham just starts sobbing.
We cut back to the ship, where Voq is cradling a dying T’Kuvma. He says that T’Kuvma will be remembered, and that his death will unite the empire. He asks Voq if he remembers “the words that we said as children. In Kahless’s honor. Whom do we seek?”
Voq answers, “Kahless.”
T’Kuvma asks, “How do we find him?
Voq answers, “Together.”
“Will he hide from us always?”
Then T’Kuvma finally dies.
We then see some escape pods leaving the Shenzou, then we cut to Burnham at her court martial. She pleads guilty to all counts, and the court asks if she’d like to make any final statements. She does:
From my youth on Vulcan, I was raised to believe that service was my purpose. And I carried that conviction to Starfleet. I dreamed of the day when I would command my own vessel, and further the noble objectives of this great institution. That dream is over, the only ship I know in ruins. My crew…gone. My captain…my friend, I wanted to protect them from war, from the enemy. Now we are war…and I am the enemy.
The court then strips her of her rank, and sentences her to life in prison.
So, first off: even though I knew it was coming, I was still pissed off at Georgiou’s death. She was an awesome character, and Michelle Yeoh portrayed her absolutely flawlessly. Then, I saw a TV Guide article stating that she was going to come back. Not really sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, I kind of feel that would cheapen the character’s death; on the other hand awesome character.
There’s also the matter of T’Kuvma. It would have just been so easy to make him a one-dimensional villain, but they managed to not do that. There are moments that work to make him somewhat sympathetic, such as the scene where he’s taking care of the funeral rites for those who had fallen in battle. I’m kind of bummed that he died too.
Also, I was thinking that this episode seemed shorter than the last, and realized that basically it is. The last several minutes are devoted to a “this season on Discovery preview, which I don’t think was particularly necessary.
Still, really digging this series so far.