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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
MA 2009Warning!
This page contains information regarding Star Trek: Discovery, and thus may contain spoilers.

For the article on the battle itself, please see Battle of the Binary Stars.

Face to face with Klingon vessels, the USS Shenzhou prepares for the possibility of war if negotiations fail. Amidst the turmoil, Burnham looks back to her Vulcan upbringing for guidance.

Summary Edit

Teaser Edit

A flotilla of Klingon ships surrounds the USS Shenzhou. Before they can engage, however, several Starfleet ships arrive to provide reinforcements for their sister ship.

Act One Edit

Aboard his flagship, T'Kuvma persuades the leaders of the various Houses of the Klingon Empire (appearing in holographic transmissions on his bridge) that he can lead them to victory over the Federation. Captain Philippa Georgiou tries to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the conflict started by her now-former first officer, Commander Michael Burnham, but the Klingons attack nonetheless. The Shenzhou is severely damaged, leaving Burnham trapped in the brig with half the deck blown away and only a force field between her and open space.

USS Europa rammed

USS Europa is destroyed

Admiral Brett Anderson arrives aboard the USS Europa and tries to broker peace, only to be rammed by a Klingon vessel under cloak. Saru aboard the Shenzhou reports that the Europa is deliberately breaching their antimatter containment field to destroy the attacker and the crew is evacuated in escape pods as both ships blow apart.

Act Two Edit

As T'Kuvma orders the gathering of his ship's dead from the surrounding space, Burnham receives a telepathic communication from her former mentor, Sarek, in which she apprises him of the situation and seeks his counsel. She then uses ethical logic to persuade the computer controlling the brig security systems to allow her to escape across the vacuum between her and the nearest intact compartment by opening a hole in the force field and venting air from it to propel her across.

Act Three Edit

With the battle now joined and much of the Starfleet flotilla destroyed or damaged, Georgiou is determined to kill T'Kuvma and avenge the deaths of her fellow officers. Burnham suggests to the captain that they instead sneak aboard T'Kuvma's ship and kidnap him, so as to shame him before his people, rather than killing him and making him a martyr. They devise a scheme to penetrate the enemy ship's shielding by sending one of the floating Klingon corpses armed with a photon torpedo warhead to penetrate the ship's hull.

Act Four Edit

Burnham and Georgiou beam aboard T'Kuvma's ship to capture him. A struggle between Burnham and Voq ensues when they encounter him. Burnham overpowers Voq, and they locate T'Kuvma, but in attempting to capture him, Georgiou is killed. Burnham shoots T'Kuvma with a phaser, killing him, and then tries to recover her captain's body, but is beamed back to the Shenzhou by order of Saru before she can do so. Voq vows to his leader's corpse that his legacy will be carried forward. Aboard the Shenzhou the order is given for all hands to abandon ship. Dozens of escape pods launch from the doomed vessel.

Philippa Georgiou dies

T'kuvma kills Georgiou

Back on Earth, days later, Burnham stands before a Starfleet board of court martial and pleads guilty to charges of mutiny, assaulting a fellow officer, and precipitating war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Offering no defense of her actions and mourning the death of her lifelong dream to serve in Starfleet and command a starship, she is sentenced to be stripped of all rank and honors and imprisoned for life.

Memorable quotes Edit

"Members of the Federation, what you call your most remote borders, I call too close to Klingon territory. You only live now to serve as witnesses of Klingon supremacy, to be my herald. We do not desire to know you. But you will know our great houses, standing as one under Kahless, reborn in me, T'Kuvma."

- T'Kuvma's message to the remaining Starfleet vessels


"When you first came on board, seven years ago, I worried your Vulcan training might someday trump your humanity. Do you know why Sarek asked me to take you on? I was a human who had seen a life of loss, but still chose hope. What an ego I had... thinking I could pick away the shell the Vulcans had put around you. I was so sure I could do it, even convinced that you were ready for the captain's chair. To think I knew you so little. "

- Philippa Georgiou, to Michael Burnham, on why she took Burham as a member of her crew


"You wanna know how I turned on you? I believed saving you and the crew was more important than Starfleet's principles. Was it logical? Emotional? I don't know."

- Michael Burnham, to Philippa Georgiou, on her mutiny


"From my youth on Vulcan, I was raised to believe that service was my purpose. And I carried that conviction to Starfleet. I dreamed of a day when I would command my own vessel, and further the noble objectives of this great institution. That dream is over. The only ship I know in ruins, my crew gone, my captain – my friend – dead. I wanted to protect them from war... from the enemy. And now we are at war... and I am the enemy."

- Michael Burnham, after she pleads guilty to her crimes

Background information Edit

Format Edit

Story and script Edit

  • The conclusion of this episode was influential to the DIS writing staff while writing this entire episode (as well as "The Vulcan Hello"). "We wanted to build that relationship between Burnham and Georgiou so we could then yank it away," Aaron Harberts explained. (After Trek: "Episode 1")
  • When David Mack was asked to start work on writing the first DIS tie-in novel to be published (which ultimately became Mack's novel Desperate Hours), this installment was still in very early development. Mack commented, "They had not settled on what the pilot episode was going to be." [2] Although Michael Burnham's formative years on Vulcan and the bombing of the Vulcan Learning Center were initially to have been featured in the novel, the writing staff of DIS decided that they wanted to keep these ideas for the TV series. "They also weren't a hundred percent sure where they wanted them to go yet," recalled Mack. This was while Bryan Fuller, who ultimately received an on-screen credit for writing this episode's story, was still involved in conceiving the series. [3]
  • Early script drafts included very few character names or descriptions for the Shenzhou bridge crew. None of the preliminary concept drafts of the script were shown to author David Mack, though he did see production drafts of the teleplay once they had been approved by the studio and were being prepared for production. Even the first three or four drafts of those had many of the Shenzhou's bridge officers still unnamed; although Philippa Georgiou, Michael Burnham, and Saru were already named, the rest of the officers were referred to merely by their duty station. Recalled Mack, "I thought, 'Wow. Okay. In the TV show, to a certain degree, you can get away with that.'" However, because he had been assigned to pen the first DIS tie-in novel (the aforementioned Desperate Hours), Mack, with Kirsten Beyer's permission, invented a couple of those character names, which ended up being used in the actual episode too, as well as backstories for the characters, writing these up as a series of biographies. Influences on this work included production materials and the casting process. [4] Names Mack invented that were used in the episode include "Keyla Detmer", "Kamran Gant", and "Troy Januzzi". [5]

Cast Edit

  • Despite being credited, Shazad Latif (Ash Tyler), Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly), and Jason Isaacs (Gabriel Lorca) do not appear in this episode. Despite this, Jason Isaacs was given the episode's script while he was originally considering whether to appear in the series. [6]
  • Michelle Yeoh (Philippa Georgiou) is credited as a Special Guest Star.
  • T'Kuvma actor Chris Obi was so thrilled to have a fight scene with martial arts expert Michelle Yeoh in this episode that he kept yelling, "I kicked Michelle Yeoh's ass!" on set. (After Trek: "Episode 1")
  • The cast members playing the Shenzhou bridge crew were supplied with the bios that David Mack had written about their roles. This enabled the actors to base their performances on whatever details they chose from those he had devised for each of their characters. [7]

Production and editing Edit

T'Kuvma and L'Rell in deleted scene

A deleted scene extension which was filmed for this episode

  • The production crew filmed an ultimately deleted extension of a scene which, in the final version of the episode, begins a montage initially showing T'Kuvma light his bat'leth on fire aboard his ship. The removed footage involved him then saying something to L'Rell and next walking past her, carrying the lit bat'leth with him. (After Trek: "Episode 1")
  • Other changes in post-production included a scene which David Mack had written into his novel Desperate Hours, faithfully matching his version of the scene with how it had been written in the episode's final draft script. As that scene turned out in the final version of the episode, it was extremely different from the scripted version. "They cut an entire character, they cut half of a scene," Mack noted. [8]

Continuity Edit

Reception and aftermath Edit

  • After Trek "Episode 1" discusses the making of, and events in, this episode.
  • This was the first episode of Discovery to air exclusively on the CBS All Access platform in the United States. It was released immediately after the broadcast of "The Vulcan Hello" on CBS. [11]
  • This episode aired on Space in Canada after the previous episode aired on CTV.
  • This episode is rated TV-14, even though the series as a whole is rated TV-MA.
  • After Trek host Matt Mira approved of the fight near the end of this episode. "The fight scene was great to watch," he said. "You had two Klingons, you had two badass Starfleet women. It was epic." (After Trek: "Episode 1")
  • Star Trek author Keith R.A. DeCandido gave this episode (and the previous one) a glowingly positive review. "I gotta say, it's nice to see a Starfleet officer commit an act of mutiny and actually suffer for it," he commented. "I also was highly amused by Burnham whipping out that old Trek standby of out-logic-ing a computer, in this case escaping the damaged brig before the force field died, only unlike when Kirk did it, Burnham's logic actually made sense [....] I particularly like the flashbacks to her arrival on the Shenzhou, where she's so very Vulcan (it reminds one favorably of Michael Dorn playing Worf as so very Klingon)." DeCandido also cited Georgiou's hand-to-hand combat scene as another highlight of the episode. Conversely, however, he was of the opinion that "the telepathic phone call would've worked better as another flashback" and that Burnham having access to the Shenzhou's main computer while in the brig "makes no sense." [12]
  • Picking up on one of DeCandido's points, Christopher L. Bennett agreed, "It was cool that we got to see Michelle Yeoh get to do some martial arts, although either she's slowed down somewhat with age or she was holding back because her character wasn't a martial artist." He also nitpicked the scene in which Burnham is exposed to the vacuum of space, Bennett remarking, "Her skin shouldn't have iced over because, contrary to popular belief, vacuum is an insulator, so you lose heat considerably more slowly in vacuum than in atmosphere." [13] [14]
  • David Mack didn't find out about the radical post-production alterations to this installment until he saw the episode (along with "The Vulcan Hello" and "Context Is for Kings") at a private screening. The changes astounded him. [15]

Production history Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Special guest star Edit

Guest starring Edit

Co-starring Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

References Edit

Andorians; antimatter containment; AU; Clarke, USS; battle stations; Beacon of Kahless; Black Fleet; blast door; brig; bulkhead; Cardenas-class containment field; Dana, USS; Donatu V; Earhart, USS; Edison, USS; Engle-class; escape pod; ethical protocol; Europa, USS; evasive maneuvers; flagship; Great House; Hoover-class; House of D'Ghor; House of Mo'Kai; Humans; Kahless; katra; Kerala, USS; Klingon; Klingon children; Klingon cleave ship; Klingon High Council; lateral vector transporter; Magee-class; Malachowski-class; messiah; mutiny; Nimitz-class; phaser pulse rifle; photon warhead; Qo'noS; Ride, USS; Sarcophagus; self-destruct; shock; Shenzhou, USS; Shepard-class; Shran, USS; Sioux, USS; Sto-vo-kor; Sun Tzu; suffocation; suicide mission; Tellarites; T'Kuvma's father; T'Plana-Hath, USS; Var'Hama candle Vulcan; Vulcans; Vulcan Expeditionary Group; Vulcan Learning Center; Vulcan Science Academy; Walker-class; ward; worker bee; Yeager, USS;

External links Edit


Previous episode:
"The Vulcan Hello"
Star Trek: Discovery
Season 1
Next episode:
"Context Is for Kings"

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