Despite this season’s shift towards episodic adventures, Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Episode 6 manages a rather impressive feat of delivering a riveting central plot while building on not one but two long arc narratives.
While they abort the initial mission in order to focus on saving the crew and ship from the toxic rift, they do manage to gather vital information from the energy particles in Book’s brain, moving them forward significantly in solving the mystery of who created the DMA, this season’s long-game story.
However, something that many viewers don’t seem to realize (or have forgotten) is that the Zora arc is an even longer one, seeded back before Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, on the first run of Star Trek: Short Treks, the series of mini-episodes that ran during between seasons from 2018-2020.
On the second episode of Short Treks, titled “Calypso,” the USS Discovery finds a damaged escape pod and brings it and its sole passenger on board.
The Discovery has no crew, but Zora’s personality is so natural and lifelike that the survivor, Craft, initially believes the ship to be a person.
Craft eventually leaves Zora, despite having developed some emotional attachment to the ship’s personality. We are left to believe the ship also feels the loss of his departure quite profoundly.
Back in 2018, a hypothetical A.I. of such sophistication seemed improbable. However, since then, Discovery has integrated the sphere data, and Zora has emerged, named herself, and developed the capacity for emotions.
With each development, the scenario of Calypso feels more and more real.
It is clear that Discovery is moving towards that point in the future when Zora will be left alone, a sentient starship drifting without a crew.
The question remains if the crew leaves her by choice or necessity. (Her comment to Craft is that she is waiting for her crew to return.) Will it be this season’s major development? Or will it continue to be a distant point in the future?
Either way, Zora’s evolution was forecast over a season before her first sign of sentience. To my knowledge, the only plot plan of such longevity is River Song’s on Doctor Who Season 4 Episode 9, where we see her ultimate demise before ever getting to know her.
Having Calypso in the canon assuages the fears that Zora will go all Skynet on the Federation and her crew. Her personality is very much the antithesis of Control’s.
Even alone with Craft, she only seeks to comfort and share with him. While she could’ve prevented him from leaving — and she really wanted him to stay — she didn’t.
Here, facing a crisis that overwhelms her emotionally, she makes her first friend in Gray, another individual who finds himself in new circumstances.
With no duties to busy himself with, Gray is the perfect person to help Zora find her focus and balance.
I’m training to be a Guardian. That’s all about mixing the scientific and spiritual.
They share a lot in common. Minds contained in manufactured bodies. A need for purpose but also reassurance. Seeking connection.
I don’t look forward to the day we have to say goodbye to Zora, but I am excited to see what a ship with her level of intuition and analysis can do.
Speaking of intuition, Book just can’t catch a break, can he? Chomping at the bit to do something productive in the search for the source of the DMA and instead, he ends up haunted by his dead father.
His dead, angry, toxic father.
I have nothing but admiration for Book’s ability to confront and logically dissect the presence of his father and his lectures on vengeance, Burnham, and the loss of Kwejian.
We are both justified in our anger. Allowing it to be our focus, however, only prevents us from achieving those things which serve the greater good. It is a struggle, yes, but a worthy one.
I sincerely hope this experience was a breakthrough for him in respect to moving forward constructively. His conversation with Saru seems to indicate as much. Also, his goodbye to Burnham is the most affectionate he’s been since Kwejian’s destruction.
A quick Internet dive into information on the Galactic Barrier yields references to multiple Star Trek: The Original Series missions.
On TOS Season 3 Episode 7, the Enterprise is stranded in a void beyond the barrier that sounds similar to what Discovery experiences here, in terms of having no sensor data or reference points. There is no mention of the ship being “eaten” by the rift.
With confirmation that the DMA originated extra-galactically, there is even more of a chance that we’re in for a Trek series crossover.
The beings glimpsed at the end of Star Trek: Picard Season 1 Episode 10 were from another dimension, but that, by definition, puts them outside our galaxy, doesn’t it?
With the new series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, due to premiere in 2022, a crossover event would be a spectacular way to launch it.
Now, the real trick would be to incorporate the two animated series — Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek: Prodigy — in as well. I have no idea how that would even work but imagining it kind of blows my mind.
Anyhow, as a self-contained offering, this was a highly-engaging adventure. I was actually pretty concerned that Burnham was bowing out as the ship literally caught fire around her.
It can be very uncomfortable to accept the truth that some things are beyond our control. But we have to. Otherwise, we run into the same walls over and over and over again. Or we freeze up. Either way, we don’t move forward.
But, as wiser voices than mine have stated before, Death seems to have no meaning anymore on Discovery. Or, at least, very little staying power. With the core cast. Sorry, Ensign Gomez. R.I.P.
How did you handle the hail mary plan to hide the crew in the transporter buffer? In a case of the better of two bad options, was it something you expected Saru to go for?
This is two times in a row where a bridge officer has shared a childhood trauma story in the middle of a crisis. Anyone else notice that? Is this why Culber’s overworked?
Beam your thoughts and reactions down to our comments!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.