Star Trek: Discovery – Season 5 Episode 6, “Whistlespeak”

After two days of testing, Captain Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), Cmdr. Stamets (Anthony Rapp), and Lt. Tilly (Mary Wiseman) continue to analyze the contents of the vile wedged in last week’s clue. They hope to find more than distilled water, feeling frustrated that each clue grows in difficulty. Capt. Burnham challenges them to consider more than the vial’s chemical makeup, suggesting historical and anthropological context to narrow the search. 

Mary Wiseman as Lt. Tilly

Capt. Burnham goes to the virtual meeting space, searching for Dr. Kovich (David Cronenberg). When she inquires about the progress in finding Moll (Eve Harlow) and L’ak (Elias Toufexis), Kovich redirects Burnham’s focus to solving the next clue. He reminds her that each scientist that collaborated on the puzzle had designed their own clue and presents her with each name on a sheet of actual paper. 


Meanwhile. Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz) tests a new therapy holo-program that – in his case – has taken the shape of his beloved Abuela. As wholesome as the moment begins, one can’t help but worry for Culber’s own emotional health as he asks the program about his experiences on Trill. The program suggests that he examine his body before he can examine his mind, granting Hugh a bit of relief from the uncertainty he’s felt for most of the series.


Capt. Burnham joins Cdr. Stamets and Lt. Tilly in engineering, showing them the list of scientists involved with hiding the Progenitors’ tech. Burnham leans toward Dr. Kreel, a Denoblian scientist known for his work in engineering weather modification technology. While the clue seemingly points to Denobula, they ask Zora (Annabell Wallis) to help determine that Halem’no – a planet in Denobulan trade routes – was arid enough to benefit from weather modification. 


Upon arrival, they find one functioning Denobulan weather tower protecting a select area from the harsh surrounding dust storms. To complicate matters even further, Ensign Tal (Blu del Barrio) reports that the civilization on the surface is pre-warp. They nervously speculate that Dr. Kreel installed the system and disguised it as a mountain to provide aid without violating the prime directive. Seeing Ens. Tal’s lack of confidence, Capt. Burnham and Cmdr. Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie) commend their work, encouraging the ensign to take more bridge shifts in the future. 


Before the away mission, Capt. Burnham reviews known information surrounding the planet’s culture, the Hallemnites. She explains the concept of ‘whistle-speak’ to Lt. Tilly, a long-distance method of communication additional to their phonetic language. Burnham elaborates on Halemnite social structures, and Tilly mentions that Capt. Burnham’s xenoanthropology skills were needed at Starfleet Academy. Rayner interrupts them to alert them that the transporter modifications have been completed, and that Ens. Tal’s work on the new retinal tricorder mods should help with discretion. After they arrive undercover on the surface, Capt. Burnham and Lt. Tilly resume their discussion surrounding the state of the Academy when they intercept whistle-speak, alerting them that they’re close to the weather modification tower.


Back on DISCO, Dr. Culber is en route to engineering when Booker joins him, asking to be involved in Moll and L’ak’s extradition process. Culber essentially tells him to cool his jets and regroup before meeting with Cmdr. Stamets. There, Dr. Culber asks Stamets to assist him with a neural scan under the guise of gathering data on brain activity after a Trill zhian’tara. Stamets probes a bit to make sure his partner is okay, and while Culber swears he’s fine, it’s clear that Stamets is a bit concerned.

L-R Wilson Cruz as Dr. Culber and Anthony Rapp as Cmdr. Stamets

On the surface, Burnham and Tilly join a group of Halemnite travelers heading to the tower, or ‘High Summit’. They assist an elder who is struggling to breathe after being caught in the dust storms overnight, and are greeted by Ravah (?) who brings them to a healing grove. Burnham and Tilly discreetly asses the damage so as not to violate the Prime Directive, when Ravah returns with their father, Ohvahz (?). He instructs Burnham to continue administering care as Ravah and Tilly hand out sound bowls. In a burst of ingenuity, the Halemnites activate the sound bowls, and their collective resonance dislodges the dust from the elder’s lungs. Unfortunately, the sound bath renders Burnham unconscious. When she awakes, Tilly shares what Ravah has taught her about the High Summit. Burnham asks to go inside the temple “to pray to the gods”, and Ravah explains the Journey of the Mother Compeer – a race and test of devotion to prove worthiness where the victor gains access to the tower. Burnham and Tilly immediately sign up, as does Rafah, much to their father’s chagrin.


The next morning, Ohvahz tries again before the race to dissuade Rafah from competing. Till spots the tension and moves in to console Rafah, likening them to a student of hers at the Academy. Burnham then pulls Tilly aside and contacts Discovery. Cmdr. Reyner and Ens. Tal explain that there are four additional weather towers on the planet and that each of them experienced the same issues as the High Summit before they failed. A nearby access panel would grant Burnham and Tilly the ability to reset the tower’s functions and drop the energy field that prevents DISCO from beaming them directly inside. Burnham and Tilly resolve to fix the tower to prevent the settlement from being taken by the storm.


Meanwhile, Stamets completes Culber’s neural scan and reports a clean bill of neurological health. Culber is disappointed by the news, so Stamets encourages Culber to enjoy his new and seemingly spiritual experiences.

L-R Sonequa Martin-Green as Capt. Burnham and Mary Wiseman as Lt. Tilly

Back on the surface, Burnham and Tilly join the Halemnites in taking a salt cube, dehydrating the racers to simulate conditions described in the lore of the Journey. Together, they push through the most difficult parts of the race, driven by the mission at hand. Burnham strategically bows out to search for the malfunctioning maintenance console while Tilly and Ravah press on. As Ens. Tal talks Capt. Burnham through the process, they both realize that the air in the tower will be vacuumed out into the atmosphere to begin the rain-making process. Before she can stop them, Tilly and Ravah finish the race together, making sacrifices of them both. Capt. Burnham completes repairs, lowers the energy field, and beams inside. She promptly violates the Prime Directive and convinces Ohvahz to open the door, rescuing both Tilly and Ravah from a needless death. After Dr. Culber examines Ravah, Tilly shows Burnham the glyphs they found while inside the chamber, indicating which tower to go to for the next piece of the puzzle.


Back on Discovery, Booker follows Culber’s earlier advice and distracts himself with video games on a shuttle. Dr. Culber joins him, bringing a plate of mofongo just like his grandmother used to replicate as they contemplate humanity’s relationship with spirituality. Meanwhile. Burnham and Tilly discuss the next clue and the responsibility surrounding technology when we learn that Moll and L’ak have been found.

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