Star Trek Discovery ‘New Eden’ – A Steady Hand On The Tiller

Most of ‘New Eden’ made me feel happy.

The second episode of DISCO’s second season was a relatively well put-together work of fiction. There were stakes, there were debates, there were expressions of self-doubt by the characters. There was an away mission, which was lovely, and in classic Trek style it was to an M-Class planet, the “M” standing for “Much like California.”

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Tilly & Co. once again getting excited by science stuff and doing science things with science objects. The science-solution to the science-problem was about as lucid as Trek gets with this sort of stuff and it broadly fits with the concept of a gravity tractor.

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Detmer and Owosekun have graduated from “having lines” to “being plot-relevant”. Detmer’s a cocky little deviant and that’s just fine. Owosekun is apparently a Luddite, which is an… interesting concept for a community of people living in a tech-driven neo-Utopia. Particularly since the Luddites were a protest group whose opposition to machinery was due to fear of losing their jobs.

Airiam gets one more line this episode, taking her up to a franchise-total of four lines. What species is she? Who knows! I’m fine with leaving some character development for later, but she’s the most visually distinctive member of the crew and it would be nice for her to at least have some degree of characterisation beyond “none at all.”

Hands-down my favourite Stupid Pike Moment of this episode is the crew explaining to Pike the concept of the Spore Drive and Stamets’ role in making it work. I get that Pike’s the Supply Captain, but surely he’s been briefed a little since he took command? Surely it’s important to know that your chief engineer is half-tardigrade?

Another stinker is the receipt of the distress call and Pike’s immediate command to “ready photon torpedoes.” The distress call clearly refers to some kind of ground attack, Pike, so unless you want to atomise the victims as well as the attackers in some kind of callous display of indifferent, godly power, maybe just chill a bit?

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Have you considered switching to decaf, captain?

Pike pushes hard on the whole “Well maybe there IS a god, did you ever think about that?” cul-de-sac of thought, further cementing his role as the lovable, dim, handsome captain who’s just glad to be along for the ride.

I didn’t have anything coherent to say about his ‘F’ grade in Astrophysics last time, and I’m not sure I do yet. On the one hand, it’s fine for leaders to have flaws.

On the other hand, the leaders of SPACESHIPS should probably know at least a little about “the branch of astronomy concerned with the physical nature of stars and other celestial bodies, and the application of the laws and theories of physics to the interpretation of astronomical observations.” I dunno, just give him an ‘F’ in Botany or something instead.

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Overall, ‘New Eden’ was kind-of fine. Tilly was fun, if cringey. Burnham’s and Pike’s relationship is complicating nicely. It felt like a very standard episode of Star Trek. Jonathan Frakes’ directorial input was evident in the focused, tight scenes that didn’t leap from plot point to plot point just to Shelby the audience into submission.

I was glad that there was no unnecessary action scene. Pike’s phaser-blast to the chest seemed like a contrived means of forcing the away team to seek a return to Discovery before the planetary story had reached a natural conclusion. But there was also no ridiculous, budget-soaking asteroid pod-race. This was a show about people in rooms, talking, but this time the conversations changed the nature of the problem that the crew was facing.

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Where will you be when Tilly strikes?

It was lovely to see the crew not just doing Science Stuff, but working together whilst doing so. There’s a part of me that hated Detmer’s delivery of the line “Extinction-Level Event”, but then I loved the way she and a hospital-robed-Tilly just started bouncing off each other trying to solve the Problem of the Week. It reminded me of Geordi and Data stood at the pool table on the Enterprise-D in ‘Deja Q’, talking excitedly about tractor beams and warp fields.

The Star Trek Grinch in me wants to criticise the “dumming-down” of the language, with talk of pulling doughnuts and the computer confirming Tilly’s assertion that things might go “boom”. But again, seeing Tilly with her Nerd-Goggles and Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator warmed the geek-cockles of my heart.

Likewise, Saru giving Tilly a stern but affectionate talking-to in sickbay was pretty touching, and felt like a nice relationship for these characters to have – uniting on their shared insecurities and self-doubt. Nothing wrong with that.

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Stamets kept up the pathos and the sensitivity, which is also great. Anthony Rapp’s shown us a few different sides of the character, and Stamets has become a genuinely engaging element of the show.

The biggest failing of this episode was insufficient focus or development of the New Eden colony, their culture and their way of life. It felt like it had been heavily edited, stripped down for time, or potentially not fleshed out at all in the script. Which is a shame, as the last episode was a full sixty minutes, and I’d have been fine with this 45-minute episode running a little longer so that we could get more emotionally invested in the people of New Eden.

Specifically, Jacob was a fascinating character on the surface, but we just never got to fully understand his background, nor why his family remained devoted to science and technology.

This also leads into the absurd line by Burnham: “Say my religion is science.” That just doesn’t make sense from anybody’s perspective – either from the New Eden colonists, who despite their low-tech way of life all seem relatively intelligent, nor to Burnham herself, who as a Science officer and anthropologist should understand that science isn’t a belief system, but rather an approach to characterised by “testable explanations and predictions about the universe.”

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Oh, come on, Burnham, you’re better than this.

Moreover, it’s entirely possible to be both religious and scientific – to hold irrational beliefs covering abstract concepts that cannot be tested, such as purpose, meaning and destiny, whilst still approaching all physical, observable phenomena via the rational, empirical method.

This notion that “science” is somehow an equally valid religious choice alongside Taoism, Islam, Christianity or even Wicca is so bizarre and just reeks of Kurtzman.


One curious point that struck me in this episode was all of the space-based CGI looking suddenly… better. I can’t for the life of me put my finger on it, if it’s higher detail models, better textures, better lighting, or all three, but the show is suddenly looking more like a high-budget TV show and less like screencaps from Star Trek Online.

For comparison, here’s the beauty shot from our first view of Discovery back in Season One’s ‘Context is for Kings’:

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And here, from the end of ‘New Eden’:

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Overall, this episode felt like it had a steady hand on the tiller. I don’t know if that really is the influence of Frakes, as his previous entry in the franchise was nonsensical and dull as sin. Either way, I was left feeling that if this is a level of quality that ‘Discovery’ can maintain, it might end up being a compelling show.

And one further point – with the introduction of the ship’s new grumpy doctor, and the increased importance of the bridge crew, I’m no longer feeling the need to track female interactions – women talk to each other, and do plot things, and in general manage to avoid just being victims all the time. It’s great! It’s how it should have been from the very beginning.

‘Star Trek: Re/Discovery’ – Battle at the Binary Stars Part 7

The previous installment can be found here.


Aboard the Shenzhou, Saru strides onto the bridge, Detmer in tow. She hurries forwards to the helm station and relieves the stand-in. As she sits down, the navigation officer leans over to her. “Are you sure you should be flying the ship? Weren’t you unconscious ten minutes ago?”

Detmer shrugs. “Well, I feel like I spent the night sleeping inside a warp coil, but the doc gave me a stimulant and cleared me. I’ll be fine.”

Saru steps up behind the captain’s chair and grips the back of it with both hands. “Status report, please.”

The ops officer responds. “Still no word from the captain, sir. We’ve detected some strange readings from the object, even through the scattering field. Tachyon emissions, building up over time.”

“Tachyon?” Saru queries, baffled. His threat-ganglia sprout from the sides of his head. “What could possibly-”

He’s interrupted as the bridge fills with blinding white light, and a painful shriek fills the air.


On the Klingon station, Burnham moves slowly into the main hall. It’s dark, lit only by the torches on the walls scattered between huge statues of Klingon warriors. On the main floor of the hall, there are piles of Starfleet torpedoes. Past them, at the far end of the hall beneath a great window into space, is a raised dais, and on it is T’Kuvma, with Georgiou on the floor beside him. Her hands are cuffed and her shoulder is still bandaged, but she is otherwise unharmed.

In front of T’Kuvma is a raised control panel. He cries out something in Klingon, and then he activates it. The hall fills with a dull hum, which gradually increases in pitch and volume. Burnham covers her ears, as does Georgiou, but T’Kuvma merely spreads his arms in triumph.

As the noise reaches its most deafening point, the entire hall disappears in a burst of white light. Burnham looks around, but she can barely make aything out beyond faint outlines. As her eyes adjust, other details slowly render into view, and the shape of the hall becomes apparent again – except now it is pure, brilliant white, with no refuge for the oppressive, murky shadows by which it was previously characterised.

Burnham, in her blue uniform, now appears as a glowing azurite idol in the brilliant light. Georgiou’s shoulder wound shines red and vivid, her uniform darkened by the blood. T’Kuvma, with his onyx Klingon skin and ornate, jet armour remains untouched by the light.

T’Kuvma stands facing the window, staring out at the darkness of space. The stars have vanished, unable to compete with the light from the station. The rocks and asteroids around the station, however, are bathed in the light, each one shining brighter than the full moon as they tumble and roll past the window.

Burnham takes the opportunity to move forwards, towards Georgiou and her captor. She advances up the middle of the hall, directly behind them both, darting from cover to cover.

As she reaches the half-way mark, the deafening shriek abates, followed immediately by a single loud, low, thudding pulse.

On the dais, T’Kuvma turns to Georgiou. “Time for the Galaxy to hear our truth,” he says.


On the bridge of the Shenzhou, the crew struggle to maintain their duties whilst blinded and deafened. Information and updates are shouted from one station to another, whilst Saru stands in the middle of it all, baffled. His ganglia stand proud on the sides of his head.

The noise abates whilst the light remains, and many of the bridge officers sag with relief at this respite. Saru doesn’t move, but stammers out a request. “Status report? Anybody?”

The ops officer volunteers an explanation. “A massive subspace disturbance, sir. That was a bang that the whole quadrant could hear.”

“What kind of a bang, lieutenant?”

“Single-frequency, massive amplitude. It…” The officer processes the data. “Wow.”

“’Wow’, lieutenant?” Saru’s expression is one of confusion and frustration.

“No, it’s, it’s one thousand, four hundred and twenty megahertz, sir. The Wow signal.”

Saru ponders for a second or two, before the comms officer chimes in. “Mister Saru, there’s an incoming transmission. From the station.”

Saru turns his head to her. “They’re hailing us now?”

“No, sir. They’re broadcasting everywhere. Putting it on screen.”

The image of T’Kuvma fades in on the main screen, stark against the brilliant white background. He holds his arms out before announcing himself. “Warriors of the Empire, and lesser nations across the stars, I am T’Kuvma. I am the appointed emmissary of Kah’less, Steward of His Holy Beacon, on which I now stand. Inheritor of ancient tradition, and guardian of the faith of my people.”


Aboard the Buran, Lorca, Tyler and crew watch the same transmission, silent and perplexed.

T’Kuvma continues, “A short time ago, this sacred shrine was assaulted by Starfleet soldiers. They sought to continue their campaign of cultural vandalism, by destroying this beacon and assassinating me.”

His image is replaced by footage from the internal sensors of the station’s hangar, as Burnham’s shuttle flies in and wipes out the squad of waiting Klingons. T’Kuvma speaks over the footage. “These operatives failed in their mission to erase yet more of our traditions, our way of life.”


Aboard a Klingon ship, a commander in vibrant armour decorated with gruesome trophies watches in outrage as the footage switches to Burnham, shooting the wounded Klingon and stepping over the body.

T’Kuvma’s voice continues. “Despite Starfleet’s brutality, my fellow warriors and I were able to counter this traitorous and dishonourable sneak attack, but the Empire must know – Starfleet means to end us. Klingon honour and Federation sensitivities cannot co-exist, and so they seek to pre-emptively gain supremacy.”


Back on the Shenzhou, Saru, Detmer and the others are still watching. T’Kuvma’s image returns to the screen. “I cannot abide such treachery!” he roars. “I am Klingon! We all are Klingon, and we cannot allow such trespasses against us!”

He reaches down and hauls Georgiou to her feet by her neck. “The Federation must pay for its transgressions! Starting with this one, this assassin and spy!” He shakes her. “Tell them! Tell them who you are! Tell them what you came here to do!”

Georgiou, visibly in pain, does her best to retain her composure. The harsh light amplifies the dirt on her face, and the wound on her shoulder. T’Kuvma’s hand chokes her, but she fights to speak audibly. “My name is Captain Phillipa Georgiou. We came here in a spirit of peace. We intend no harm to the Klingon Empire, we seek only-“

“FEDERATION LIES!” T’Kuvma roars, screams. He squeezes Georgiou’s neck tighter, and with his free hand draws a Klingon dagger. “In the name of the Empire!” he shouts, as he plunges the dagger into her chest, straight through her heart.

The crew of the Shenzhou gasp, and cry out. Saru staggers backward, aghast. Detmer shudders, her hands over her gaping mouth, her eyes wide in fright and shock.


In the main hall, behind T’Kuvma, Burnham watches as he releases his grip on Georgiou and lets her body drop limply to the floor.

Burnham doesn’t respond at first. She stays motionless, knelt behind cover. Her breathing grows deeper, and more ragged. She stares at Georgiou’s body. Silence pervades.

Burnham closes her eyes.


Saru is still stood up, but only in the strictest sense. His entire upper body hunches over, his head low and held in his hands. One of the officers weeps quietly. Detmer’s hands are still covering her face.

T’Kuvma starts talking again. “Such is the price of dishonour. My fellow Klingons, you already know the true face of the Federation. You are familiar with the beast that. To the rest of the galaxy I say this: the Federation has too long hidden its fangs behind the false nobility of its own enlightenment. At its heart, it is a crueller, more violent tyranny than even-“

He chokes, and then shudders. The centre of his chest glows, and then disintegrates. Red particles cascade across his body leaving grey dust in their wake. T’Kuvma’s body vaporises, vanishing to reveal behind it the figure of Michael Burnham, a phaser in her hand and her face twisted in anger and grief.


On the station, the blinding white light fades away, and the hall returns to its torch-lit murk. Burnham drops her phaser and sinks to her knees besides the body of Georgiou. She cradles her captain’s head in her lap and begins sobbing, overcome with everything that had come to pass so far.

Burnham gathers Georgiou’s body in her arms and awkwardly gets to her feet.


Aboard the unknown Klingon vessel, the Klingon commander, in her ornate armour covered in trophies, watches as the image of Burnham, phaser in hand, fades away. One of her subordinates approaches her. “Your orders, General L’Rell?”

L’Rell’s eyes narrow. “Set course for the binary star system.”


Let’s talk about the above events as they’re portrayed in the show.

Nothing that the crew does has any impact on what transpires. More specifically, none of Burnham’s actions change any of what happens. All of the drama around her mutiny is nullified, because she’s apprehended before she can actually do anything. The war is started because T’Kuvma gives the order to fire. That’s it.

In my version, T’Kuvma’s gambling. And the truth is, his plan may not have worked. In fact, it probably wouldn’t have worked at all. Until Burnham goes rogue – twice. First, by attacking the Klingon squad with the shuttle, and then sealing the deal by revenge-killing T’Kuvma. Now, there is clear, definitive evidence of Starfleet wrongdoing – even if it was all precipitated by T’Kuvma’s own violent actions, it casts the Federation, with its reputation for temperance, in a very new light.

Is this new version of the story perfect? No, absolutely not. But at least it ties things in together a little more. Now there is some justification for the crew’s hatred of Burnham – she may have avenged a beloved captain, but she has also bound them all into a war with the Klingons.

Also, L’Rell makes an appearance. It never made sense to me to have L’Rell as such a low ranking member of the Klingon Empire. It turns her into a bit of a spare wheel, and makes her arc of becoming leader of the whole Empire nonsensical. If she’d had her own ambitions, I’d buy it, but she spends all of her time in support of either T’Kuvma or Voq, which means that when she is simply handed leadership at the very end, it’s somewhat unsatisfying.

So now, she’s a General. It means she has much more scope to interact with the story around her, and in my mind, sets up much better any leadership arc upon which she may later find herself.

Also, L’Rell refers to “the binary star system,” as if there’s only one. Obviously, there are many binary star systems in the galaxy. But the Klingons certainly wouldn’t use an Earth designation for it, and using a different name means explaining somewhere in a story that’s already overly long just what the Klingons call the star system in question. Referring to it as The binary star system means that everyone, including the audience, understands exactly what she’s referring to, in the fewest possible number of words.

‘Star Trek: Re/Discovery’ – Battle at the Binary Stars Part 6

The previous installment can be found here.


On the bridge of the Shenzhou, Saru paces anxiously in front of the captain’s chair. He taps his fingers together in a variety of rhythmic patterns, a Kelpien stress behaviour. He addresses the Ops officer. “Mission elapsed time, lieutenant?”

“Forty-seven minutes, sir.”

Saru keeps pacing. “Any further data on that object? Have you pierced the scattering field?”

“Negative, sir, but- hang on. Mister Saru, I’m picking up two incoming objects, they’ve just left the field’s area of influence.”

Saru’s threat ganglia sprout from the side of his head in alarm. He gently presses them down, and does his best to maintain his composure. “What objects? What are they?” He strides over to his science station.

The Ops officer keeps studying her console. “Sir, they’re life pods, from the shuttle! Two human life signs, it’s…” The Ops officer looks up in shock. “It’s Detmer, sir, and Furlan.”

Saru taps away at his console. His mouth drops open as he reads the display. “Con… confirmed. I, I don’t, does that mean…”

“Sir, those pods have been beaten up pretty badly on their way out of the debris field. Permission to beam them aboard? Sir?” Saru is non-responsive for moment. “Sir? Mister Saru?”

Saru stirs. “Yes. Yes, beam them directly to sickbay. And…” He pauses. “I will meet them there.” He leaves the bridge without another word. The captain’s chair remains empty.


Saru enters sickbay to Detmer sat on a biobed, and Furlan prone on another. The ship’s surgeon attends Furlan, treating a blast wound to his chest.

Saru surveys the situation. “Detmer, what happened? Where is the captain? Where is Captain Georgiou?”

Detmer is rubbing the side of her neck, where Burnham gripped her. “I don’t know, sir. She’s on the station, I think. They both are.”

“Both?”

“Burnham wanted to go back for her. For the captain. She… she shot Furlan, and she, I don’t know, she must have taken the shuttle back, but the Klingons…”

“Klingons?” Saru’s ganglia sprout again. “That’s a Klingon station?”

Detmer nods awkwardly. “They attacked. They attacked the shuttle, we had to fly out of there. We beamed Burnham out, but it was a mistake, it was meant to be the captain.” She shakes her head, as if to clear it. “Saru, she said it was a trap. The captain said they want to start a war, that we can’t let them. She told us not to do anything, to keep the peace, she said. Keep the peace.”

Saru ponders this new information. “Wait, where is Burnham?”


Inside the Klingon station, Burnham moves slowly, silently, along a dark corridor. She has her phaser drawn and held in front of her, ready to fire. Her eyes dart about, watching every nook and cranny.

She can hear guttural voices from down one corridor. She peeks her head around the corner to see a group of Klingon silhouettes in the distance. Their rough, alien speech is incomprehensible, so Burnham pulls Georgiou’s slim-line communicator out.

“… really work?” one Klingon voice asks.

“We are a strong people,” another responds. “T’Kuvma will remind us how much stronger we can be united. And we will help him.”

A  third voice interjects. “The last of the explosives have been loaded, captain. They have been linked to the detonator.”

“Good! Then we are ready. Let us rejoin the fleet. I am tired of waiting, and of carrying things.” This silhouette produced some kind of instrument, and spoke into it. “This is the captain. We are ready. Energise.”

The whine of a transporter fills the corridor, and the Klingons disappear in glowing red flares of light. As they do, Burnham sees another, identical transporter beam, in the courtyard of a Federation settlement. She’s a child, and she watches from behind cover, watches as the Klingons open fire as soon as they materialise, indiscriminately murdering colonists. Outside the courtyard, explosions detonate, and flames fill the sky, as do screams and wails and angry roars of triumph.

As an adult, Burnham hyperventilates, her eyes wide in fright. She’s back in the corridor, now empty. The Klingons are gone, but she can still hear the screams, and her mother’s voice calling out to her.


In the main hall of the station, Georgiou sits on the floor with her hands cuffed in rigid metal clasps. There is no one else in the hall except T’Kuvma, who watches on a console display as Burnham flies the shuttle into the hangar and wipes out the Klingon soldiers waiting there. He zooms the feed in on her as she shoots the wounded warrior and steps over him. T’Kuvma laughs. “Your soldier is fierce, Captain.”

Georgiou is unimpressed. “She is no soldier, she’s a Starfleet officer.”

“We are all soldiers, Captain, in the great cultural war of our age. You should accept that fact, and embrace it.” He gestures at the image of Burnham. “She has. She moves with cold puprose, as though in the shadow of death.”

“The Federation is not at war with the Klingon Empire, cultural or otherwise. We seek only peaceful coexistence and cooperation.”

“THAT IS A WAR!” T’Kuvma roars, furious. “Cooperation,” he spits, “co-existence. These words mean one thing: assimilation. Tell me, Captain: were we to coexist and cooperate, would the Federation stand by whilst the Klingon Empire pursued our destiny of conquest? Would you sit idle whilst we took from weaker cultures what our strength entitles us to take?” he asks, clenching his fist. “No, you would step in, force us to lay down our weapons, and police the galaxy, as you do. The Federation are conquerors, worse than the Klingons, for whilst we conquer with ships and weapons, you, you, conquer with lies and manipulation, one hand outstretched, the other holding a chain of bondage.” He holds his arms out, as though addressing a crowd. “We Klingons are beings of conflict, and we must be allowed to seek conflict, or else we are nothing, just more Federation pawns like the Vulcans, the Andorians and the Tellarites.”

Georgiou remains defiant. “If this is a war of cultures, as you say, then you must be losing. You’re already speaking our language; you use it more than you use your own.”

T’Kuvma rounds on her and grabs her by the throat.  “I use your delicate, frivolous words because I must.” He releases her. “Many of my people honour Kahless as the greatest warrior who ever lived, but they are fools.” He walks up to an old bronze statue of a Klingon warrior and gazes up at it. “Kahless did not unite our people because he was the mightiest warrior, he united our people because he was the greatest communicator. His words carried such power and meaning to our ancestors that he was able to forge a new empire, the grandest empire this Galaxy will ever know.”

“And you think you can follow in his footsteps? Unite your people and lead them to victory?” Georgiou asks, incredulously.

“No,” T’Kuvma answers, turning to face her. “I will not lead my people, Captain, another will have to carry that burden. But I shall unite them. My name will burn for a thousand lifetimes in the hearts of my people – yours will not. Which is unfortunate, Captain, because you, and your soldier,” he says, nodding at the image of Burnham again, “will be making the same sacrifice as me.”

Georgiou shakes her head. “Michael is too smart to make a martyr out of the likes of you.”

“Maybe,” T’Kuvma concedes. He hits a button on a control panel, and dozens of metallic containers are beamed into the hall. He gestures at them. “My ships have been collecting Federation weapons for some time,” he says, “and now they deliver them here, to this holy sanctuary.” He taps one of the torpedoes with a fingernail. “Very simple to modify, for such advanced technology,” he says. “Rigged for proximity detonation.”

He strolls through the piles of torpedoes. “I believe that your soldier will come here to kill me,” he explains, “but even if she does not, it will not matter, because as soon as your ship approaches, we will all be destroyed. And when my people arrive to find the wreckage of their ancestral temple scattered in the shadow of a Federation warship, they will not hesitate to strike back, united in their outrage.”

A Klingon voice sounds over the comm system. T’Kuvma responds with a few guttural words. Georgiou can’t understand any of it, nor can she loosen the cuffs around her wrists, despite her best efforts.

The Klingonese conversation ends. T’Kuvma inhales deeply, exhales slowly. He salutes the statue he was previously regarding, before addressing Georgiou. “The preparations are complete. It is time to light the beacon.”


This segment was far longer than I intended it to be, and way more talky than I wanted it to be, but there’s a lot going on here that needs setting up before we get to the juicy bit.

Most importantly, we need to understand T’Kuvma’s plan. We’ve had a lot of T’Kuvma talking in these last two parts of the story, but this all hangs on his plans to start a war, so we need to clarify it as much as possible. In short, if the audience isn’t bought into what he plans to do, and if it isn’t all as clear as possible, then no matter how climactic and exciting the final stretch is, it’s going to ring empty.

We also need to understand T’Kuvma’s motives. He’s a complex character with complex beliefs, so I did the best I could to break it down: he sees friendship with the Federation as a trap, not an opportunity, and so war is the only option for him.

It’s also important for us to understand a little more of what’s going on in Burnham’s head. She clearly has some past trauma around Klingons, and that’s vital knowledge if you’re to understand why she reacts so violently to this new situation.

We start off this part of the story with a catch-up with Saru. Here, he represents the Shenzhou in general, and its detachment from what’s going on aboard the station. When he finally gets some news about what’s happened, he’s just as confused as he was before, if not more so.

Next up, we’re going to finally see the start of that battle that makes up the title of this story, by way of a little bit of murder and quite a lot of revenge. Exciting times.

‘Star Trek: Re/Discovery’ – Battle at the Binary Stars Part 5

The previous instalment can be found here.


Burnham awakes. Georgiou sits in front of her, cradling her arm, a bloody bandage wrapped around her shoulder. They’re both sat on the hard metal floor of a prison cell, formed out of the same dull bronze as the rest of the Klingon installation. On the other side of the bars there is a large hall, filled with burning torches and a whole host of Klingons.

“Philippa, your arm!”

Burnham struggles to get to her feet, but Georgiou raises her hand to stay her. “Sit down, Michael. You were concussed. I’m fine, the Klingons stapled the wound.”

“You’re not fine, Captain, you need medical treatment.” She groans and gently massages her head. “As do I, it seems. How long was I out?”

“About ten minutes. The same Klingon that treated me used some kind of device on your head. I think it was to treat your concussion.”

“It feels like they spun my brain around in a centrifuge.”

Georgiou smirks. “I imagine it would be more suited for Klingon brains.”

“They kept us alive,” Burnham ponders, “but they killed Tallman. What do they want with us?”

“That’s a good question. If you speak Klingon you could ask them.”

“Well, if I had a communicator,” Burnham says, “I could use the universal translator. Of course, if I had a communicator I could have contacted Detmer and gotten you out of here already.”

“Assuming Detmer is still able to receive. Besides,” Georgiou says, glancing at the Klingons near the cell door, “I’m sure the guards would confiscate any equipment. Which is why I’m waiting for them to get distracted.”

“Distracted? Why, do you have some way of getting out of here?”

“To paraphrase your father again,” Georgiou says, smiling, “I like to think that there are always possibilities.”

Burnham raises an eyebrow. “You know, it wasn’t actually my father who first said that.”


In the expansive Klingon hangar bay, Detmer sits on the boarding ramp of the shuttle, casually leaning against the side wall. Furlan stands on watch on the hangar floor, phaser in hand.

Detmer picks at a loose thread on her uniform. “It’s been twenty minutes. Do you think we should contact them, or…?”

Furlan keeps his gaze on the internal entrance to the hangar as he answers her. “They’ll contact us if they need to. Just stay alert.”

Behind them both, in front of the shuttle, a small hatch in the floor slides open silently. A lithe Klingon warrior slips out, followed by another, and then a third. They draw daggers, and slowly, quietly, creep towards the shuttle.

“Did you hear they’re developing a new BT-16?” Detmer asks. “They say it’s going to be quite the thing to see. I’ll bet that baby flies like a humming bird.”

Furlan roles his eyes. Behind him, the three Klingons continue to creep toward the shuttle. Ahead of him, in the corridor to the hangar, a full squad of Klingon warriors lurk out of sight, firearms in hand. The leader peeks out around the bulkhead, holds his hand out to steady the squad.

Detmer raps her fingers on the metal floor of the shuttle. “Have you ever flown the old version? It was great, you could turn that thing on the head of a pin, but the rear thrusters used to burn out all the time, it was a pain in the-”

As one of the Klingons behind her nears the shuttle, alarms sound, and the voice of the shuttle computer calls out “Proximity Warning! Proximity Warning!” Lights flash inside the shuttle.

Detmer starts, and tumbles back inside the craft, whilst Furlan spins on his heels. As he sees the three armed assailants heading towards him, he looses phaser bolts at them, dropping two. The third charges him, but he gets his phaser to bear and lands a shot in the centre of its chest.

Behind him, the squad of Klingons in the corridor flood into the hangar, loosing off energy blasts from their weapons. Furlan hunkers down and dashes into the shuttle. “Get her in the air!” he shouts, “get us out of here!” He hammers the door control, and the ramp swings up behind him. Klingon weapons fire strikes all over the shuttle.

Detmer hyperventilates as she hurries towards the controls. “Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.” She makes it to the seat and starts tapping commands into the console. “Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.” Klingon disruptor bolts scorch the window next to her. “Crapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrap,”

“Detmer!” Furlan shouts, “Breathe! And then get us the hell out of here already!”

Detmer glares back at him angrily, then activates the engines.

The shuttle lifts off the deck. Its engines flare and it rockets away from the advancing Klingons and out into space.


In the cell, Burnham sits, defeated, with her back against the wall. “Go on then, Captain, what do you have up your sleeve?”

“Nothing up my sleeve,” Georgiou says, pulling her sleeve back to prove her point. “See?”

“Well, then how do we get out of here?” Burnham presses.

Georgiou shrugs, then grimaces at the pain in her shoulder. “Just wait.”

Outside the cell, in the main hall, there’s a disturbance. The Klingon squad leader from the hangar storms in, shouting in the incomprehensible Klingon language. The other Klingons, including the guards, turn to watch as the squad leader marches up to an impressive-looking Klingon male, adorned in regal, black armour armour.

“We didn’t have to wait too long,” Georgiou says. She slams the heel of her foot into the floor, hard, but the guards don’t notice. On the edge of the sole of her boot, a panel pops free. She hooks her finger into the gap and slides out a small, compact electronic unit.

Burnham watches with interest. “A communicator?”

“I modified it myself,” Georgiou explains. “Shorter range, had to remove one of the power packs, but it works.”

“Contact the shuttle,” Burnham insists, “we have to get out of here.”

“We have to remember our mission,” Georgiou says. “We need to figure out what’s going on here.” She adjusts some of the controls on the slimline communicator.

The Klingons start clamouring, shouting in protest at the black-armoured chieftan in the middle of the hall. He raises his arms to silence them, and begins speaking himself. As Georgiou adjusts her communicator, his guttural Klingonese resolves into English. Georgiou and Burnham look on as he speaks.

“- fly away if they wish, it matters not! One shuttlecraft cannot hinder our great, blessed work! And truly, we must be blessed,” he says, spreading his arms to address the whole hall, “for look at the gift Kahless has brought us! Not a lowly repair crew, but a Starfleet captain! And her first officer!” He gestures towards the captives, but the Klingons pay them no heed, and instead cheer their leader.

“Truly we are in his favour! Kahless, The Unforgettable, First King, Greatest Warrior of All Warriors!” Heavy boots stamp and raucous cheering echoes through the hall. “We shall unveil the Federation’s deceit! Expose their inner barbarism!”

There are more cheers, but one warrior steps forwards in challenge. “You speak as though our fate is decided, but what if they do nothing? What if the Federation simply turns and flees?”

The chieftan turns to the warrior. “Then, my sister, we shall have exposed them for the witless cowards that they truly are! And the Klingon Empire shall re-unite not under the banner of war but to the sound of the hunter’s horn! When the Galaxy sees them scatter and flee in the face of adversity, we will be there to carve up their territory and chase them across the cosmos!”

Cheering, stomping. The hall fills with noise. “But hear me now, proud warriors of the Empire. The Federation are nothing but beasts, wearing the hides of philosophers. They believe that their technological achievements elevate their culture above ours, but toys and contraptions cannot replace Honour, or Courage, or Pride. When they see their own slaughtered like the targs they are,” he gestures again at Georgiou and Burnham, “the Federation will lift the mask from its face to show the slathering maw of the animal within. And I, T’Kuvma, Bearer of the Torch of Kahless, last member of my house, will have brought the Great Houses of the Klingon Empire together once again, and united we shall slay the beast!”

Georgiou and Burnham lock eyes, and share a look of common understanding – and horror.

As the Klingons chant and clamour, Georgiou flips a switch on the communicator. “Georgiou to Detmer, Georgiou to Detmer, do you read?”

Detmer’s voice answers. “Captain! Captain, I read, I’ve been trying to contact you. Are you okay?”

“We’re fine. Detmer, status, where are you?”

“We’re in space,” Detmer answers from inside the shuttle, “near the station. We had to lift off, we were attacked. Why are you on this frequency?”

Georgiou ignores the question. “Detmer, listen, this is important. Head straight for Shenzhou, go straight there and warn Starfleet – the Klingons mean to bait us into a war. Go back, now, tell Saru and the others not to engage, don’t fire a single shot, no matter what happens. You hear me, Detmer? It’s a trap. Tell them to maintain the peace, that’s all that matters.”

“But what about-”

“Keep the peace, Detmer! At all costs. That’s an order, Detmer. Keep the peace.”

Without warning, Burnham lunges across the cell and snatches the communicator from Georgiou. She shouts into it. “Detmer! Beam the captain out now! Lock onto the Viridium signal and get her out! Now!”

Georgiou looks on, unsurprised, and a little sad. One of the guards hears Burnham shouting and turns to see what’s going on. Aboard the shuttle, Detmer taps the ‘Energise’ command on one of the consoles.

In the cell, the blue shimmering of the transporter engulfs Burnham. Her face twists in horror as she realises what’s happening.

“I’m sorry, Michael,” Georgiou says, as Klingons rush into the cell. “I will see you soon.” The Klingons grab her roughly. Some try to get hold of Burnham, but she has already dematerialised.

Georgiou is hoisted to her feet as T’Kuvma, the chieftan, strides into the cell. He growls at Georgiou, then turns away and speaks in Klingon. “This changes nothing! Get to your ships! I will prepare the beacon!”


Aboard the shuttle, Burnham materialises, the same look of horror on her face. She cries out as though in agony. She reaches over her shoulder and pulls a small, thin, dark patch of shiny fabric from her uniform. She examines it for a moment, then lets it fall to the floor.

Furlan rushes to her side. “Commander, are you alright? Where’s the captain? Commander Burnham, where is Captain Georgiou?”

Burnham seems stunned. She ignores Furlan and reaches up to an overhead locker, and takes a phaser from it. She moves forwards to Detmer. “Beam me back.”

“I can’t, Commander, there’s too much interference.”

“Beam me back!” Burnham shouts. “I have to get her, we have to save her!”

“I can’t! I can’t get an accurate fix, you could die!”

“Then turn the shuttle around! Take us back! That’s an order!”

Detmer doesn’t relent, even facing Burnham’s intensity. “That hangar bay was a Klingon murder party when we left, they’ll cut us to bits!”

Burnham’s tone goes flat. “Keyla, turn this fucking shuttle around and take us back to that station.”

Detmer’s face turns to shock, but Furlan steps forwards. “We can’t. You heard the captain, she gave us an order to get back to the Shenzhou and warn Starfleet. Now, calm down, take a moment, and-”

Burnham raises the phaser and shoots Furlan in the chest. He collapses in a heap. Detmer gasps, but Burnham grips the side of her neck and presses hard. Detmer quickly passes out.

Burnham sags, as though her strings had been cut. She stares at nothing for a few moments, trance-like. She slowly sits down in the co-pilot’s seat and sets a new course.


The shuttle banks back towards the station, as two small pods detach from its underside and ignite thrusters. As the shuttle drifts into the hangar, a group of armed Klingons rush in, aiming their weapons at the advancing craft. The shuttle’s phasers burst into life, blasts of amber energy sweeping across the deck, wiping out the warriors.

The shuttle settles on the hangar deck and the rear ramp opens. Burnham steps out. One of the Klingons on the floor groans, wounded, and reaches up with his disruptor. She fires her phaser at him, and he falls silent again.

Burnham steps over his body and heads for the main corridor into the rest of the station, phaser in hand.


On to Part 6.


There’s a lot going on with this story. The determined narrative for ‘Discovery’ is complex – a Starfleet officer mutinies, and starts a war with a politically unstable empire in the process. This is where I had to make the most radical changes from the show, which I’ll go through below.

First off, Burnham’s a career officer. She’s smart. She’s raised by Vulcans, who are a peaceful, highly rational culture. Which means that her mutiny has to have a hell of a lot of emotional drive behind it, and that means it has to be immediate. Burnham’s mutiny in the show is incredibly muted, emotionally. She just sort of reaches a conclusion based on a story told to her by Sarek, and I never felt like she reached the emotional peak that was necessary to humanise her actions. In essence, she acts like a weirdo, and so I found it really difficult to empathise with her as a character.

The other issue is that so much is made of her starting the war, but she doesn’t. At all. She gets stopped and thrown in the brig before she can fire on the Klingons, and they then start the war themselves when they choose to open fire. By the time she kills T’Kuvma, the battle is over and the war is in full swing.

Which is another issue, namely that the Klingons from the other houses turn up, T’Kuvma says “Let’s attack,” and they all just attack. Really, if this is going to be some massive interstellar war, I feel like you need a little more to it than that.

There’s one other problem, which only becomes a problem in hindsight, which is all of T’Kuvma’s backstory. It’s good for your villains to have motivations and complexity, but T’Kuvma will be dead by the end of the pilot episodes, and ultimately his most important aspect is that he wants to start a war that will unite the Klingon Empire. All of his tragic childhood ends up contributing very little to the actual story of ‘Discovery’.

So, how do we fix all these things?

Simple. We bring them all together.

  1. Here is T’Kuvma’s plan: lure a Federation ship out here by sabotaging a satellite.
  2. When they investigate what happened to the satellite, capture them.
  3. Use the beacon’s immense signalling power to broadcast the execution of the prisoners. Then, either:
    1. The Federation retaliates, precipitating full-blown war.
    2. The Federation refuses to act, proving their weakness
  4. Either way, Qa’plah! The Klingon Empire can all pull together, in war against a hypocritical enemy or in conquest of a weak empire.

That’s T’Kuvma’s plan. We can embellish it a little with some Klingon spirituality and mythos and whatnot, but that’s what it comes down to. Whatever happens, T’Kuvma succeeds in uniting the Empire.

Of course, it’s also important for him to cover his bases with a few tricks up his gauntlet, but we’ll get to that.

Then, we bring Georgiou, Burnham, and the Shenzhou into the mix.

We set Georgiou and Burnham up as having an unhealthy relationship. That’s the first thing. Michael’s idolisation of Philippa, her crippling fear of abandonment, and with Philippa’s unwitting indulgence of that insecurity, means that Michael will literally do or give anything to protect her maternal mentor.

Then, they get taken captive. This might not be too much of an issue for the Vulcan-raised Michael under other circumstances. But with Klingons in the mix, Michael’s childhood trauma is getting twisted in exactly the right way to send her off the rails.

Which finally happens when they get separated. Georgiou would never let one of her crew – especially Michael – suffer in her place, so she obviously swaps the Viridium patch. And so now Michael is separated from her mother-mentor, who she knows is going to be executed. And that’s not based on a story from two hundred years ago.

I even tried to fold in what would be Star Trek’s first “fuck” into this pivotal scene. It struck me as odd that they drop the f-bomb during a fairly standard conversation of Treknobabble, but never again throughout the series. They use it at one of the lowest points of emotion, and never at the highest. Here, it’s a sign that Burnham has finally cracked – her swearing like that shows us a Starfleet officer over the edge, falling apart – and about to do something really stupid.

So, now we have an evil plan to start a war that hangs around the fate of our beloved captain and first officer. The first officer is driven to betrayal of her crew mates to save her captain, currently being held by the evil warmonger.

And what’s more, here we have a chance for Burnham to save the day. If she can rescue Georgiou, she might just stop the war from ever starting.

Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Here are just a few plot holes in my own damn narrative:

  • Detmer just forgets to use the transporter. She should’ve done it as soon as the Klingons attacked the shuttle. My excuse? She was panicked. She’s not a coward, but she is green.
  • So, what happens if the Federation don’t investigate the creepy temple station that’s almost definitely a trap? Well, in my head T’Kuvma would just keep busting up satellites until they had no choice but to investigate, but his plan is flawed in relying on the Federation to behave a certain way.
  • His plan also relies on the other Klingon houses behaving in a certain way, but for me, that’s his test of his own people. If they can’t unite for war or conquest, then they probably aren’t worthy in the first place, and his cause is truly lost.
  • Scattering fields, how the shit do they work? Who knows? My theory: it’s kind of a chaos membrane – you can’t beam or communicate from outside into it, or vice versa, but if you’re inside of it, you can kinda beam around and communicate inside of it, with some limitations. It’s a plot device, okay? It’s a cruddy one, but it does what it needs to – walls all of this action off from the Shenzhou.

I wish I had a simpler set of plot points to aim for. But I don’t. If I’m doing this properly, I have to start from the same place as the show, and finish in the same place as the show, and roughly touch upon the major plot points along the way.

Also, can we have a quick lament for Furlan, whose fellow redshirt dies and for whom no one mourns? Furlan who keeps telling women to calm down, and gets phasered in the sternum for his trouble?

He had it coming, if you ask me.

‘Star Trek: Re/Discovery’ – Battle at the Binary Stars Part 2

The previous instalment can be found here.


“Captain, I must once again register my severe objections to this course of action!” Saru insists as he strides down the corridor alongside Georgiou, Burnham and Detmer. “With the scattering field in place we will be unable to contact you or beam any of your back to the ship. And we still don’t know what the object is – it could be a Tholian web trap for all we know.”

Georgiou remains relaxed. “It might also be an entirely new species, Saru, a new civilisation. Would you really like to pass up a first contact opportunity?”

“Yes, absolutely, if it means putting my captain at risk.” Saru’s gestures become more frantic, his speech more hurried. “Captain, that object may not be a ship, but it remains a complete mystery to us.”

“And that is precisely why I want to go, Mr. Saru. I never could resist a good mystery.”

“Come on, Saru”, Burnham says, “you wouldn’t want to disappoint your captain, would you? Don’t worry,” she puts her hand on Georgiou’s shoulder in reassurance, “The captain will in in safe hands.”

They enter the shuttle bay and proceed up the boarding ramp of one of the Shenzhou‘s many shuttles. Detmer heads to the helm console at the front, whilst Georgiou and Burnham are joined by two security officers in tactical armour in the shuttle’s main hold. Georgiou turns to face Saru, who stands anxiously at the foot of the ramp. “Take good care of the ship, Mr Saru. And remember – take no unprompted action without consulting me or Starfleet Command. The last thing we want is to precipitate a conflict out here.”

Saru nods, and disappears from view as the shuttle’s ramp closes up. One of the security officers hands Georgiou a phaser as Burnham proceeds forwards to the front of the shuttle.

She leans down to Detmer. “Lieutenant, once we’re inside of the scattering field the shuttle’s transporter should be able to function. I just slapped a Viridium patch on the captain’s back – that will let you keep a lock on her. As soon as anything happens, you beam her back aboard and you set off for Shenzhou, do you understand? You don’t ask questions, you don’t hesitate, you just start flying.”

“Yes, Commander,” Detmer says, “but what about the rest of you?”

“The shuttle can only beam one person at a time,” Burnham explains, “and I don’t want you transporting the wrong person accidentally. We’ll be alright. Just keep her safe.”

Detmer looks back at the flight controls. “Well, now I feel a lot more worried.”

Burnham smiles. “You’ll do fine. I picked you for this mission specifically, Lieutenant. The captain asked me to fly at first, but it’s been two years since I last flew one of these things. We need someone who actually knows what she’s doing.”

“I won’t let you down, Commander.”

“Are we ready to launch yet?” Georgiou calls from the back of the shuttle, “or do you two need a little longer to conspire?”

“Ready, captain!” Detmer responds. “Course laid in. Just give me the word.”

“Lieutenant, the word is given – engage.”

The shuttle lifts off from the deck and drifts out of the shuttle bay. Once clear of the rear doors, Detmer brings it about and heads straight for the debris field, and the distant, mysterious object.


“Michael,” Georgiou says, as they sit opposite each other, “do you know why I’m here?”

Michael raises an eyebrow. “This is a critical situation. Normally, a captain’s place would be on her bridge. But with comms down, command decisions cannot be made remotely. If there are Klingons out here, you will need to be calling the shots.”

“And if there are Klingons out here, Michael, how would you feel about that?”

“If you’re referring to my childhood trauma, then you know I have it under control. Vulcan mindfulness techniques are a powerful tool. Philippa, I have your back. And I always will.”

Georgiou lays a gentle hand on Burnham’s shoulder. “Michael, in seven years together, the most important thing I’ve learned is that I will never regret putting my faith in you.”

“You talk as though this is a parting of ways.”

Georgiou shakes her head. “Not yet. But Michael, you are reaching the point where there isn’t much more I can teach you.” She waves her hand to quiet Burnham’s protestations. “If I could keep you as my XO for another twenty years, I would, but you are capable of so much more than that. You could end up as an admiral, or an ambassador, or even a regional governor – but the first step towards any of those things is getting your own command.”

Burnham looks down at the floor, hiding her face from her mentor. “I don’t think I’m ready for that yet.”

Georgiou grips Burnham’s shoulder tightly. “You are not ready yet. But very soon you will be, and when the time comes, you can’t hesitate, you can’t second-guess yourself. Do you know what the first duty of every Starfleet officer is, Michael?”

“Of course: to the truth.”

Georgiou laughs. “Nearly. That’s the slogan, but the correct answer is that it’s to your own truth. We must always remember who we really are, Michael. Always.” She gestures out of the window to the mystery structure, steadily growing closer. “If there are Klingons out there, and they do mean us harm, we can’t allow ourselves to get drawn into their game. We’re Starfleet: we fight when we need to, but always we must seek the peaceful solution. That is our truth, and that’s my truth. I have to believe that every encounter is a step towards friendship and co-operation, even with those who call themselves our enemies.”

Burnham looks up at her captain. “My father said that ten years ago, at Khitomer.”

“Your father is a profound individual.”

An alarm sounds from the flight console, and Detmer calls back “One minute to contact, Captain. I’ve found an entrance into the structure, looks to be pressurised, too.”

Georgiou stands and smooths out her uniform. “Take us in, Lieutenant. Let’s get to the bottom of this.”


On to part 3.


One thing that always struck me as odd was that Detmer and Burnham shared so much together, and yet never interacted. This seemed like a hugely wasted opportunity – Burnham and Saru get plenty of time to explore their relationship, but Burnham and Detmer never even have one.

Also, whilst I have criticised ‘Discovery’ for resolving so much of its plot in the form of two people stood in a room talking to each other, early on in the show there’s a powerful need to set up the world, and the relationships, that will define the narrative. So whilst a scene between two people sat in a shuttle talking about philosophy isn’t the kind of high-octane action you’d expect of a Transformers movie, it’s important for adding additional significance to the events that do follow.

Georgiou contradicts Picard here on the subject of first duties, and that’s not something you want to do lightly. But whilst broad statements work well for delinquent cadets, command-level officers need to operate with a little more nuance than that.

Burnham’s backstory, as a human raised by Vulcans, and as an orphan as a result of a Klingon raid, is all perfectly fine. But that is exactly the kind of backstory that, I feel, can be revealed in small bites, rather than all at once. Hints to it are made in this conversation, but hints are all that is needed – who is her father, exactly? What happened in her childhood that might cause her to struggle with facing Klingons? Stay tuned in to find out!

Hey, and how about that Viridium patch and all the shoulder-touching? Don’t worry, that’s just background detail, it definitely won’t turn into a plot point or anything.