Note: Kennedy is feeling under the weather this week, so Sue is filling in with this recap.
Previously on Discovery: Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Ruaan Tarka (Shawn Doyle) discovered that the DMA is not a naturally occurring phenomenon, but someone or something’s creation. Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Book (David Ajala) took a team to evacuate a colony (and prison) in the DMA’s projected path. Gray (Ian Alexander) was working on mind-body connection, and Zora starting feeling emotion.
Inspired by the lalogi orb, Burnham is creating her own found-family tree as Book looks on. He reveals that today would have been his father’s birthday, but they weren’t close (I’m sure that won’t come up again) – and quickly changes the subject. So Burnham shares that she got new orders from the admiral: Discovery will be headed into the subspace rift caused by the DMA. Book things they should be looking outside of Federation space, trying to figure out who created it. But the scientists are after some sweet particle analysis. Grudge is unconvinced.
Burnham leaves to walk-and-talk with Saru (Doug Jones), who runs down everything they could possible encounter when entering a subspace rift. As they head to the bridge, Burnham asks Zora (Annabelle Wallis) to summon her Bridge officers and the conversation turns to the sentient ship. Both Burnham and Saru continue to have misgivings, but Zora attempts to assure them that her development of emotion was an “organic evolution.”
The crew is excited to get some answers, and prepares for a bumpy ride… which is cut short as Disco is suddenly still and the sensors go dark. But Adira (Blue del Barrio) rightly points out that it’s scientifically impossible for there to be nothing outside, so whatever it is doesn’t register on their sensors. Book is ready to take his ship out and to some recon, but Burnham insists on sending a DOT first. As the DOT gets about 6,000 meters from the ship, it starts to break down and won’t response to commands – and then it “screams” and disintegrates. Nilsson (Sara Mitich) describes is as being “eaten.” Adira proposes that the DMA has changed subspace itself, turning it “toxic” and leaving our crew to find answers without any sensor data.
On the bridge, the team starts to spitball solutions. They send out a photonic flare, which meets the same fate as the dot, but a little bit sooner. So the threat, whatever it is, is getting closer and will impact Disco in 33 minutes (assuming a constant speed, ofc)… the same amount of time left in the episode! To slow it down, Burnham orders full shields at maximum reach, which requires additional power. Thankfully, Book arrives in Engineering to help Stamets however he can.
In the lounge, Gray also wants to help, and is getting as much information as he can from Zora, but winds up making a connection with her. He suggests that they play a game, which might help Zora “clear her head.”
As extended shields fail and there’s no more power to be found, Burnham decides to abort the mission, but Detmer (Emily Coutts) is unable to plot a course in the void. So they’re going to jump out. In case they get any reading during the jump, Stamets wants to monitor the spore drive, so it’s up to Book.
But an energy surge comes out of the spore drive interface and hits Book, so Stamets aborts the jump and reports back that they’re stuck… the mycelial network is… (Stamets trails off)
Though Book appeared to be alright, he is now speaking with his dead father, who is quick to express his disappointment. Book comes to and Stamets takes him to sickbay, where Dr. Pollard (Raven Dauda) checks him out and determines that he’s in good shape and all readings are normal. When Michael shows up, Book confesses his hallucination. Culber (Wilson Cruz) says it was just a response to the energy surge from the spore drive, and his neurotransmitters are already starting to chill out. Stamets takes this opportunity to explain that there are holes in the mycelial network, wherever they are, which is why they can’t jump away. But the energy that hit Book left traces in his brain, and an analysis of that should tell them something about the void.
Back in the lounge, the game continues, and Zora recognizes it as a calming/grounding technique. But now that her background functions have return to… the background, she can detect something on the hull. Gray convinces her to report it to Burnham, who sends Pollard to check it out. She arrives just as the hull is breached, and Disco looses a crewmember who didn’t make it out in time.
Zora and Gray commiserate for a moment about the difficulty of wanting to help but nothing being able to… until Gray realizes that Zora felt something on the outside of the hull, which means that the external sensors are working. Gray heads to the bridge and explains – Zora was overwhelmed emotionally by her internal sensors. As the game helped to calm her, she was able to detect the problem on the hull before the breech occurred. Zora confirms. Saru suggests that if they can create a signal that is able to penetrate the void, Zora should be able to follow it out. Zora has doubts, and Burnham wants to speak to her in the ready room.
Book is still struggling with hallucinations – his “father” continues as the embodiment of his struggles and doubts. On the Bridge, the situation continues to deteriorate. And in the ready room, Zora admits that she’s feeling both guilt and fear, but a speech from Burnham convinces her of what needs to be done.
Culber has finished analyzing the energy that passed through Book – the particles in his brain are only found in the Galactic Barrier, which implies that the DMA came from another galaxy. Wherever it entered the Milky Way galaxy, it would have left a higher concentration of these particles. So, if the crew can locate those particles, they may be able to use the DMA’s entry point to get out of the void. And lucky for us all, these particles resonate at 218 kHz… SONAR. They can follow the “ping” out of the void… but it doesn’t seem like they’ll make it there before the shields fail completely, after which the plasma barrier will heat the ship beyond safe levels.
Unless, of course, everyone goes into the transporter pattern buffer. Despite the risks, this is their best option. Book goes to gather up Grudge, but has to navigate yet another encounter with his “father” – despite the frustrations and doubts brought on by these conversations, Book chooses to believe that his father is not part of his subconscious, but actually a part of his father. If that’s true, then everyone else he’s lost isn’t truly gone.
Burnham dons an EV suit so she can stay on the bridge, monitor the situation, and bring everyone back on the other side, and runs into Book before entering the buffer, and they profess their love.
With life support off and shields failing, Discovery and Zora and under stress. She’s getting overwhelmed again. And Michael reminds her that she has control over her own processes, and that emotions – even fear – can make her stronger. The shields fail and the temperature on the Bridge becomes too hot for even the EV suit. Burnham has to trust Zora to get Discovery out of the void and bridge the crew back from the pattern buffers when it’s safe. There are 4 minutes to go, and Zora offers to sing Burnham a song as a distraction – “Stormy Weather” – as she passes out.
Burnham awakens in Sickbay to see Culber, Book, and Saru standing over her. Saru reports that all crew members made it safely out of the pattern buffer.
As Discovery is being repaired in spacedock, Book and Saru reflect on their internalized anger, and how best to deal with it going forward. Elsewhere, Burnham is nearly finished with her family tree, much larger than we saw at the beginning of the episode, while speaking with Zora. She confesses that she now feels connected to the Discovery crew in a way she hadn’t before and creates her own tree. And they’re both glad she’s here.
So the mystery of who built the DMA just got even bigger. Book even says he thought it would be someone they knew, and that theory is out the window. We’ve seen extra-galactic species only a handful of times over the last 55 years in Trek, but I would really love it if the Old Ones (Ornithoids) were somehow involved.