Previously, on Star Trek: Discovery: Michael Burnham determined that, in order to protect and preserve the Sphere’s data, DISCO must follow her into the future. Stamets was severely injured in the scramble to build Burnham’s suit. Georgiou ensured both Leland and Control were neutralized. Michael opened a wormhole and flung herself in it with DISCO in her wake.
The first scenes of this episode are brutally honest. Flashes of consciousness ebb and flow alongside the flickering light of damaged systems as the bridge crew slowly comes to. Saru (Doug Jones) is the first to recover and quickly rallies the troops, setting everyone to task to get their bearings.
As if the stakes couldn’t be higher, DISCO is hurling towards a fragmented planet at a break-neck speed. As everyone jumps to, Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) complains of a vice-like headache, which Cmmdr. Jett Reno (Tig Notaro) blames upon the wormhole’s residual tidal forces. As the ship’s systems slowly sputter back to life, Lts. Keyla Detmer (Emily Coutts) and Joann Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo) work together. Detmer suggests a thermal roll in a last-ditch effort to save the ship, skidding to halt in a glacier thick enough to support the landing. Everyone is affected by the impact, but it’s Detmer who’s flung the farthest.
After the title, the crew gives Detmer a standing ovation for landing the ship in mostly good condition, but it’s become glaringly obvious that she is not okay. Owosekun suggests she go to sick bay, and Saru quickly agrees. It’s clear that DISCO is in bad shape, and Saru sets off to assess the damage, bringing Tilly with him.
As Saru walks the ship overseeing repairs, Tilly goes over her findings, and together they determine that they did not land on Terralysium as originally planned. Tilly reveals that there is in fact life, showing that their plan worked, even if it did leave them crippled in an unknown time and place. Lt. Bryce (Ronnie Rowe) determines the problem with comms, stating that they need rubindium to completely rebuild the damaged components. A terse Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) joins them, dripping in the late Capt. Leland’s entrails. She begins barking orders at Bryce when Saru intervenes.
Meanwhile in sick bay, a groggy Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) slowly regains consciousness as Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) updates him on the ship’s status. Like a great doctor and an even better spouse, Culber insists that Stamets takes it easy, threatening to ground him if he doesn’t listen. Dr. Tracy Pollard (Raven Dauda) clears Detmer to return to duty, but both Cmmdr Nhan (Rachael Ancheril) and Dr. Culber remain unconvinced.
Saru hosts a meeting with Tilly, Georgiou, and Nhan to formulate a game plan, but ends up checking Georgiou for every inappropriate thing that comes out of her mouth. He assigns Nahn the task of overseeing repairs while he and Tilly prepare to visit the nearby settlement to solicit help in return for dilithium.
As an ensign cleans out what’s left of Leland off the spore cube floor, Reno gives Stamets a hard time for not following Culber’s orders to take it easy. Insisting that they follow orders and work as a pair, Reno follows Stamets to the Jefferies tubes to solve the EPS conduit issues.
Saru and Tilly set out to find the settlement. Tilly talks through her nerves as they go, and Saru warmly reassures her in her abilities as an officer. Together, they spot a lone, hooded figure a few yards away from them.
Back on Discovery, Georgiou tries to psychoanalyze Nhan, criticizing her decision to stay aboard when she could have stayed on the Enterprise back in the 22nd century. Linus (David Benjamin Tomlinson) informs Nhan that he’s completed his repairs, and she assigns him to another team. Suddenly fascinated by the Saurian, Georgiou remarks on Linus’ visual spectrum, and accompanies him to his assignment.
On the surface, Saru and Tilly keep their distance as they follow the mysterious figure. While Saru is excited about the prospect of his very own First Contact, Tilly soberly points out that following this person could mean they’d be walking into a trap. But they follow anyway, transporting up to a 32nd century saloon, complete with creaky, swinging doors. It’s nearly deserted, save for a few patrons. In a few moments of agony, the patrons pull their weapons on Saru and Tilly, demanding answers. They manage to talk out the details and Kal (Jonathan Koensgen) offers to fix their equipment.
On DISCO, Stamets and Reno assess the damage. They’re both visibly in pain, and after Stamets suggests that she climb in and check, Reno cites her back pain and instead suggests that another crewmember go into the tubes to make repairs. Stamets is stubborn as ever and insists that he take care of it. Back in the saloon, Tilly and Saru dodge questions about Discovery’s origins as Kal makes light work of the repair with his 32nd century tech. Just as Tilly warms up to him, she and Saru are urged to leave the saloon before the dreaded courier Zareh arrives.
Of course, they take too long and in walks Zareh (Jake Weber) with his crew, complete with a set of ominous rusty spurs. Zareh proceeds to read them to filth, citing the absence of DISCO from their databases, and the unusual spike of gamma rays and gravitational waves at their appearance. Zareh makes no effort to hide his intentions towards Tilly as he postures, and Saru does his best to remain diplomatic. Zareh determines that DISCO and her crew are time travelers, and insists that Saru and Tilly take them to the ship. Saru holds his ground, and Zareh reminds them of the impending doom of the parasitic ice bed DISCO is stuck in.
Meanwhile, Reno tries to talk Stamets through the repair. Nhan stops in to check on Georgiou’s progress only to find her missing, and Reno reminds her that Georgiou is not to be trusted. Stamets is nearly at the source of the problem when the ice rattles the ship enough to knock him off balance, opening his wounds in the process. Reno sends for Culber, who instantly gives Stamets hell for being such a hard-headed patient. Stamets makes the repair with Reno’s help, enabling the other repair crews to make their own progress.
Back in the saloon, Saru finalizes negotiations for DISCO’s dilithium with Zareh just as they’re interrupted by the one-woman tactical team herself, Georgiou, who was caught sneaking around the perimeter. Reveling in the debauchery, Georgiou decimates Zareh’s crew with the help of Saru while Tilly stays out of Dodge. When the smoke clears, Saru apologizes to Kal’s brother Os’ir (Lindsay Owen Pierre) for the ruckus, and gracefully bows out of the decision on where to send Zareh. Os’ir ultimately sends him out into the night, and gives Saru a personal transporter to get them back to the ship.
With repaired equipment successfully installed, DISCO and her crew make a break for it – or, they try to, anyway. The parasitic ice has grown thick over the hull of the ship, and coupled with damaged propulsions, Detmer has a hard time trying to break free. Sensors alert them to an approaching ship as they struggle to lift off, but the ice is preventing any real movement.
As tensions mount, a tractor beam pulls them from the glacier, setting everyone on edge once more. The new vessel hails them, and after he takes a moment to collect his wits, Saru orders the message on screen. Thankfully, it’s not Zareh’s back up, but a relieved Michael Burnham. She reveals that she’s been searching everywhere for them, and that an entire year has passed since she’s landed.