Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

The USS Discovery is tasked with a high priority mission to planet Pahvo and learn the science behind the Klingons' cloaking technology.

Summary Edit

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Log entries Edit

  • "Personal log, Specialist Michael Burnham, Stardate 1308.9. We landed on Pahvo eighteen hours ago. It's a seemingly uninhabited planet, but a unique and, for us, strategic one. Every tree, rock, and blade of grass here vibrates with its own specific tone. Together these combine to form a kind of music, the signature sound of the planet heard everywhere on the surface. The sound is even broadcast into space by a towering crystal structure, a sort of naturally-occurring transmitter. It is Starfleet's plan to modify the electromagnetic frequency of Pahvo's signal and harness it as a form of SONAR that can detect the presence of cloaked Klingon vessels decimating our fleet, make them visible to our sensors, and turn the tide of war in our favor."

Background information Edit

Title and format Edit

Story and script Edit

  • Regarding how veteran Star Trek novelist Kirsten Beyer devised the plot for this episode, Co-Executive Producer Ted Sullivan noted, "This came out of Kirsten Beyer's mind [....] She wanted to explore the idea of peace in the midst of war." (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • When the DIS writing staff decided to pair up L'Rell and Admiral Cornwell in this episode, they weren't entirely sure if that character pairing would work but they were hopeful it would. (After Trek: "Episode 7")

Cast Edit

  • Culber actor Wilson Cruz was highly impressed by the work that Saru actor Doug Jones did on this installment. "This should be the episode he picks up an Emmy," Cruz remarked. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
  • Stamets actor Anthony Rapp similarly found this episode remarkably moving emotionally. "This episode made me weep reading it," he admitted. "It's beautiful, the work, especially Doug's work [....] I happened to be on the set when they were shooting one of the scenes so I just watched the monitor, weeping. Just from a take." (After Trek: "Episode 6")
  • Cornwell actress Jayne Brook was pleased that this episode called for her to perform alongside L'Rell actress Mary Chieffo. "I enjoyed it so much," she reminisced. "There's something about L'Rell and Cornwell together [....] And it worked. There was a nice chemistry between those two characters. They really respect each other, these two very different species. And I had a lot of fun with Mary." [1]

Production Edit

  • The Pahvo scenes were filmed on location at the Hilton Falls and Kelso Conservation Areas in Milton, Ontario, Canada. [2] The scenes took four very long production days to film. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Even when the shooting company first arrived on location, the working conditions were far from ideal. Ted Sullivan stated, "They were horrible [....] It was hot, it was muggy, and it had just rained a whole bunch, so there was all this standing water [....] There were clouds of mosquitoes. You would breathe, and you'd breathe in mosquitoes. And poor Doug in all of that makeup, he would just take his gloves off and water would pour out of it. It was brutal [....] It was horrible. But it looked great, and we needed to go and have an away mission. We needed to go down to [a] planet." (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Three different versions of Saru's footwear were used, including regular boots, "sporty" hoof boots, and Saru's heel-less boots. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Doug Jones' Kelpien makeup completely protected him from the mosquitoes. Ted Sullivan humorously commented, "I was begging for them to put me in a Kelpien outfit. I was desperate [....] I would even have walked in the hooves just to cover myself." (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Jayne Brook noted that the moment when her own character and L'Rell admit being surprised by the other's personality "was so very powerful." Brook also had fun performing Cornwell's subsequent fight with L'Rell. "It was really fun," Brook emphasized. "We had to rehearse quite a lot and then jump right in it, and we did the whole fight." Brook commented that she herself and L'Rell actress Mary Chieffo really did "go to town" while shooting the fight scene. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Most of Saru's running was performed by Doug Jones' stand-in and photo double, Bauston Cameron, who did so in full makeup and boots. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • It was pouring when the production crew shot the fight scene between Burnham and Saru. Because of the downpour, the ground had to be constantly raked. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Kirsten Beyer was at the location when the Saru-versus-Burnham fight scene went before the cameras. She kept humming well-known combat music from TOS: "Amok Time" while watching the fight on the monitor. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • During the episode's most emotional scenes, Doug Jones kept crying. However, his prosthetics prevented him from blowing his nose. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • After each emotional scene was shot, Director John S. Scott would look at Kirsten Beyer to gauge her reaction. If she was crying, he would then announce, "Okay, we got that, let's move on." (After Trek: "Episode 7") In retrospect, Beyer explained, "Doug (Jones) would just give all of himself, and then we would just sit there and cry on each other for like 20 minutes between setups." [3]
  • Doug Jones enjoyed the scene in which his own character and Michael Burnham make up with each other in the Discovery's sickbay. "[It] was so lovely to play," he noted. (After Trek: "Episode 7")

Editing Edit

  • According to Tilly actress Mary Wiseman, there was initially a short scene extension at the end of the mess hall scene where her character and Stamets, dining together, discuss how using the spore drive has been affecting Stamets' mental health, though he is adamant about not telling Dr. Culber about that. "Culber walks in, and then, like, Tilly has a conniption, 'cause she immediately cannot keep a secret," Wiseman explained. "That's something that I was playing. It was, like, the first sign I got that maybe I don't have to keep it anymore. I was like, 'Phew, this is the secret.'" The actress reckoned that this "little scenelet", as she called it, was probably cut for time. (After Trek: "Episode 8")
  • This installment also originally featured a longer "interrogation" scene between L'Rell and Admiral Cornwell. Jayne Brook recalled, "We had a much longer scene in the brig, where I really assess her [using Cornwell's psychology background]. I say to her, 'You don't have the markings of the house of Kol. You don't speak the language, and you haven't killed me yet. So, what's up?'" (After Trek: "Episode 7") Brook also referred to the scene as "a great moment." Cornwell's doubting of L'Rell's threats and questioning of who L'Rell was led into the Klingon admitting that she wanted to defect to the Federation. [4] The excised moment also gave context for the scene in which Cornwell and L'Rell express surprise about the other's personality. However, Brook was ultimately of the opinion that the deleted footage wasn't really necessary. (After Trek: "Episode 7")

Continuity Edit

  • This episode is redolent of some of the other Star Trek television series. Aaron Harberts mused, "If we were to describe this episode, sort of in terms of wine, it has sort of the complex notes of TOS, and sort of several undertones of Next Generation, and always the acidity that is Discovery." (Aaron Harberts' introduction at "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum" screening, Millbank Tower, London, UK, 5 November 2017) Ted Sullivan described the episode as "part Star Trek: TNG, a little TOS, a little Voyager." (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • Similar to how the Discovery maneuvers to a position between a fleet of Klingon warships and a heavily damaged Federation starship, the USS Enterprise-D does the same thing to protect the USS Enterprise-C in TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise". Although the USS Gagarin is destroyed in this episode, the Enterprise-C is saved in that installment.
  • There is a long-established Star Trek tradition of, as Burnham and Tyler do here, talking about "the needs of the many" versus those of "the few, or the one." These same subjects were previously discussed by: Kirk and Spock twice in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; Kirk and Sarek during a mind meld (in recitation of the latter of those two earlier discussions) as well as again between Kirk and Spock in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Picard, while requesting Worf donate blood to a dying Romulan in TNG: "The Enemy", Tuvok in a conversation with Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager series finale "Endgame"; T'Pol during a conversation with Lieutenant Reed in ENT: "The Council"; and the alternate-reality Spock in Star Trek Into Darkness. Although Tuvok (in "Endgame") credits "Ambassador Spock" with having said the phrase, T'Pol established (in "The Council") that it was known well before then, and she also referred to it as "a Vulcan axiom." Those statements account for its usage in this episode, set twenty-nine years before Spock's first on-screen utterance of the phrase in The Wrath of Khan.
  • This episode established a romantic relationship between Michael Burnham and Ash Tyler, which follows on from "Lethe", in which they first meet. The romance also proceeds from the start of a romantic affiliation between Burnham and Tyler in an alternate timeline, included in a time loop in the previous episode, "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad". This is similar to how a married, romantic relationship between Worf and Deanna Troi was depicted in another quantum reality in TNG: "Parallels" before they were shown dating in the prime timeline of the TNG series finale "All Good Things...".
  • Admiral Cornwell tells L'Rell that the Federation has no death penalty. Assuming this were true, it would indicate that General Order 7 or its death penalty had not yet been implemented.
  • Like Saru does with a pair of communicators in this episode, Alice 99 crushes a communicator by hand in TOS: "I, Mudd". (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • The Pahvans' attempt to peacefully unite the Federation and the Klingon Empire is similar to how, in TOS: "Errand of Mercy" (which introduced the Klingons), the Organians attempted to peacefully unite those two heretofore warring organizations. The way the Pahvans' exposure to Saru renders him extraordinarily euphoric is similar to how the Omicron spore in TOS: "This Side of Paradise" affect Spock and several other characters in that episode. Both in that regard and in their non-corporeal appearance, the Pahvans are also similar to the Wisps of ENT: "The Crossing".

Reception Edit

  • After Trek "Episode 7" discusses the making of, and events in, this episode.
  • Ted Sullivan was delighted with Kirsten Beyer's work on this episode, believing she did an "amazing" job of writing it. "She wrote a beautiful story [....] She takes ideas and turns them on their head, and I think that's what she did so beautifully in this," he commented, "and I think it was unique to look at it through the point of view of Saru, and she, I think, really wrote to the strengths of what Star Trek does best and explore those types of themes." Sullivan also gave credit to Mary Chieffo and Kol actor Kenneth Mitchell for the corridor scene in which Cornwell and L'Rell fight each other. Later, Sullivan again expressed delight with Chieffo's performance, for the scene in which L'Rell has her face painted by Kol. "[She] is heartbreaking. It's amazing," he remarked. (After Trek: "Episode 7")
  • DIS author David Mack was also impressed with Kirsten Beyer's work on this installment. "If the show executes as well as the script... I mean, her script was ama[zing]. Her script actually made me cry; it was beautiful," he enthused. "The ending of the script is heartbreaking. I'm hoping that the production team and the editing team and the post team and everybody, I'm hoping they execute that script on the screen as well as she wrote it on the page. If they do their jobs as well as she did hers, there won't be a dry eye in the house on 108." [5]
  • The scene in which Saru, Burnham and Tyler establish first contact with the Pahvans debuted on After Trek: "Episode 6".
  • By the time this episode was due to be released, most people were of the opinion that it was about time DIS had an episode in which the Discovery visited an alien planet. (After Trek: "Episode 6")
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode debuted with a private screening in London on 5 November 2017, at which the episode was introduced by Aaron Harberts. Opening the proceedings with a speech about this installment and Kirsten Beyer's writing of it, he commented, "What's exciting about this episode is the tenderness with which she treats the peace." The preview screening was immediately followed by a Q&A with guests Sonequa Martin-Green, Jason Isaacs, Shazad Latif, and Aaron Harberts.
  • After Trek host and Star Trek fan Matt Mira was wowed by this episode, glad that it included an away mission and believing Kirsten Beyer had done a "fantastic job" by writing it. "It was such a Star Trek-ian episode," he remarked. (After Trek: "Episode 7") Mira also enthused that the scene which shows a landing party from Discovery meet the Pahvans was "very exciting." (After Trek: "Episode 6")

Production history Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit


Guest starring Edit

Co-starring Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stunt double Edit

Stand-ins Edit

References Edit

apex predator; armada; beach; Cancri IV; cloaking device; communicator; crystal; daydream; death penalty; DNA; electromagnetism; evasive pattern; falling star; first contact; first contact protocol; first contact specialist; Gagarin, USS; General Order One; genetic manipulation; hangar; honor; Hoover, USS; House of Kor; invisibility screen; Kahless; Kelpien; Klingon battle cruiser; Klingon Bird-of-Prey; Klingon destroyer; Lake Shasta; mek'leth; Muroc, USS; Pahvo; Pahvans; Pahvan transmitter; protein ration; radio silence; RFM Modulator Portapack; sailboat; Sarcophagus; Shenzhou, USS; Shepard-class; signal inhibitor; SONAR; specialist; symbiosis; synthetic protein ration; T'Kuvma; T'Plana-Hath, USS; tardigrade; threat ganglia; torture; tribble; tricorder; trout; UFP Serial Code; universal translator; vocabulary

External links Edit

Previous episode:
"Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad"
Star Trek: Discovery
Season 1
Next episode:
"Into the Forest I Go"