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

With tensions and stakes high as Starfleet continues in their efforts to end the war with the Klingons, Burnham begins to settle into her new position aboard the USS Discovery.

Summary Edit

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Memorable quotes Edit

"You judge the creature by its appearance, and one single incident from its past. Nothing in its biology suggests it would attack, except in self-defense. Commander, this creature is an unknown alien. It can only be what it is, not what you want it to be."

- Michael Burnham, to Ellen Landry

"The phaser will only piss him off."
"Think of it as a placebo for my skepticism."

- Burnham and Stamets, before observing the tardigrade interacting with the spores

"Let's send our Klingon friends a message they won't forget."

- Gabriel Lorca (mirror), before the USS Discovery destroys multiple Klingon ships

"Hello, Michael. I hope that wherever this finds you, you are well. I imagine you have your own command now. The captain of your own ship. I have always tried to show you by example. The best way to know yourself is to know others. You are curious, an explorer. So I am leaving you my most beloved possession, handed down through my family for centuries. My hope is that you will use it to continue to investigate the mysteries of the universe, both inside and out, and keep your eyes and heart open always. Goodbye, Michael, and good luck. Know that I am as proud of you as if you were my own daughter. Take good care. But most importantly, take good care of those in your care."

- Philippa Georgiou's recorded message, delivered posthumously to Michael Burnham

Background information Edit

Title Edit

Story and script Edit

  • The way actress Mary Chieffo had been playing her role of L'Rell in previous installments inspired the writing of both this episode and its depiction of the character. "From what I'd been doing in episodes one and two," Chieffo explained, "[the writers] were like, 'Oh, let's see how we can create this story.' They gave me that opportunity." (Star Trek Magazine issue 190, p. 36)
  • Jesse Alexander and Aron Eli Coleite were pleased to write this episode and were prompt in doing so. Referencing Lorca's manipulative shipwide broadcast of a distress call from Corvan II in this installment, Executive Producer Aaron Harberts half-jokingly commented, "We did not have to open a shipwide hail to get them to deliver on this." (After Trek: "Episode 3")
  • Thinking of the tardigrade as essentially a metaphor for Michael Burnham – initially consumed with guilt, and feeling like she's a monster herself – led the writing staff to decide that she would befriend the animal. Aaron Harberts explained, "It seemed only fitting that she would, you know, figure out that this monster is not a monster actually; it can help." (After Trek: "Episode 3")
  • According to Lorca actor Jason Isaacs, the episode's script didn't include any reference to Elon Musk but Isaacs himself added it, basically as a sly attempt at persuading the powers that be at Musk's company to give him a Tesla. (After Trek: "Episode 3")

Cast Edit

  • When she first read this episode's script, Landry actress Rekha Sharma was surprised and dismayed that her character got killed off so early in the run of Star Trek: Discovery. She later joked that, if she had been given an opportunity to rewrite the character's final words, she would have had Landry say, "My bad." (After Trek: "Episode 3")
  • Mary Chieffo was pleased with how this episode turned out. "What was beautiful about episode four," she remarked, "was that it's such a great example of the collaborative process [....] [The writers] wrote these great scenes, and from that we found a nuance, and an excitement. There's also a real sensitivity and heart. You get to see the sensuality. I want to say something more specific, because I'm so used to not being able to talk about things," Chieffo said, grimacing. (Star Trek Magazine issue 190, p. 36)
  • Shazad Latif (Ash Tyler) appears only as the Klingon Voq, and is credited as Javid Iqbal.
  • Michelle Yeoh (Philippa Georgiou) is credited as a special guest star and appears only in a recording.

Continuity Edit

  • The events of this episode take place a day after DIS: "Context Is for Kings" and six months after the Battle of the Binary Stars.
  • This was the first time "uniform synthesis" was shown so closely as at the start of the episode.
  • After Trek host Matt Mira pointed out that the teaser scene featuring Saru and Burnham in a turbolift harkens back to "the McCoy/Spock of it all, where they're just constantly at odds." (After Trek: "Episode 2")
  • This episode is the first time that Saru's "threat ganglia" have been referred to by name. They previously appeared in "The Vulcan Hello" and "Context Is for Kings".
  • The battle simulation for training purposes on the bridge of the USS Discovery is not the first time such a battle drill has been carried out on the bridge of a starship, since it is also done on the bridge of the USS Voyager in VOY: "Learning Curve". A similar simulation is the Kobayashi Maru scenario, which, like the simulation seen here, involves the Klingons as enemy combatants. That simulation is depicted in the films Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek.
  • In the first scene set in Lorca's menagerie, what seems to be a Horta in a glass cage can briefly be seen. In all later scenes set in the same room, the cage is empty.
  • In Klingonese, Voq repeatedly refers to T'Kuvma in this episode as "my lord," matching how Voq addressed T'Kuvma in "Battle at the Binary Stars". Although L'Rell likewise referred to T'Kuvma using that phrase in "The Vulcan Hello", she instead refers to Voq as "my lord" in this installment. Her doing so, while apparently attracted to him as a potential lover, reflects Valkris addressing Kruge that way in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
  • L'Rell reveals that both she and Voq ate Philippa Georgiou's corpse, partially out of revenge, partially because they were on the verge of starvation. This follows Georgiou being killed in "Battle at the Binary Stars".
  • L'Rell's mixed heritage, with her father from the House of T'Kuvma and her mother from the House of Mo'Kai, recalls both Burnham and Spock having been raised by a Vulcan father and a Human mother. L'Rell speaking about her childhood is also the series' second depiction of Klingon childhood, after T'Kuvma's youth being portrayed in "Battle at the Binary Stars".
  • Being initially assumed to be a "monster" and then realized to merely be acting in self defense is not only the case with the tardigrade in this episode but also is true of the mother Horta in TOS: "The Devil in the Dark", the first episode to depict that creature. Matt Mira commented, "It harkens back to the Trek theme 'be careful, you don't really understand it.'" (After Trek: "Episode 3")
  • Corvan II was previously mentioned in TNG: "New Ground", which stated that the Corvan gilvo was on the verge of extinction due to extensive industrial pollution on that planet – matching the information given in this episode that Corvan II is a major industrial hub, its mines producing forty percent of the Federation's entire dilithium supply.
  • The "end transmission" screen at the end of the distress call from Corvan II heavily references the cover of the Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual, both in the logo and in the font used.(citation needededit)
  • This is the first episode in which Kol appears in the flesh; he previously appeared in "Battle at the Binary Stars", although only via holo-communicator. This episode reveals he is a member of the House of Kor. In his two appearances to date, Kol has expressed very elitist sentiments, looking down on T'Kuvma for not being a member of the upper aristocracy and on the various social outcasts, like Voq, who T'Kuvma welcomed into his House. This appears to be a call-back to DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach", in which it was explained that Kor himself denied Martok's application to the KDF's officer corps, because his family were not nobles, but from the lowlands of Ketha Province (a poor backwater region).
  • This was the first episode to show the outer ring of Discovery's saucer section in rotation mode.
  • This episode also marks the first appearance of Discovery medical officer Hugh Culber.
  • Stamets threatening to quit his duties aboard the Discovery because it has been newly conscripted for war is similar to, in the alternate reality, Montgomery Scott, in Star Trek Into Darkness, threatening to leave the USS Enterprise because it had likewise been conscripted for military purposes. Both Stamets and Scott addressed their grievances to their commanding officer, Lorca and James T. Kirk respectively. However, whereas Stamets is persuaded by his commanding officer to return to work, Scott wasn't, resulting in him temporarily leaving his ship.
  • Lorca mentions the Wright brothers, Elon Musk, and Zefram Cochrane; the first and second of these names are notable in reality and the third name is significant in the history of Star Trek. Although the Wright brothers had previously been referenced, this was the first time Musk was referred to in the entire franchise. It was also the first time Cochrane – who appears in TOS: "Metamorphosis", Star Trek: First Contact, and ENT: "Broken Bow" – was referred to in DIS.
  • The death of Ellen Landry is somewhat similar to the death of Natasha Yar in TNG: "Skin of Evil". Both women are security chiefs aboard the "hero ship" of their respective series and are unceremoniously killed off in the course of their respective series' first season. Matt Mira implied a reference to these parallels in After Trek: "Episode 3".
  • By being born in 2226, Michael Burnham is revealed to be four years older than Spock, who was born in 2230 (calculated, in the alternate reality, as stardate 2230.06, as revealed in Star Trek Beyond); the year would be the same for both Spock Prime and the alternate-reality Spock, since it is three years before the Narada arrived from 2387 in the turn of events that created the alternate reality.

 Production Edit

  • To film the scene in which the tardigrade attacks Landry, a stuntman wearing a green-screen unitard pulled Rekha Sharma's stunt double to the ground and continued to shake her. For the ceiling scenes, Director Olatunde Osunsanmi yelled out where the creature was, such as, "He's going along the ceiling 3-2-1, he's at the door! He's trying to open the door!" The stunt double lept off a ladder onto a trampoline, onto a table, all in one take. To depict Landry being butchered by the animal, Rekha Sharma started slightly bloodied, then took on some prosthetics and more blood. (After Trek: "Episode 4")

Reception and aftermath Edit

  • After Trek "Episode 3" discusses the making of, and events in, this episode.
  • Exactly two weeks before this episode was released, Aaron Harberts revealed, in After Trek: "Episode 1", that it "may" involve a remarkable-looking Klingon buffet. Precisely a week prior to the installment's release, Harberts teased, in After Trek: "Episode 2", that the episode would feature Burnham confronting the notion that the tardigrade was virtually a metaphor for her and whether or not she was a monster. On the same episode of After Trek, the turbolift scene between Burnham and Saru debuted.
  • Aaron Harberts was pleased with the writing of this installment. "Aron Coleite and Jesse Alexander did a great job," he noted. (After Trek: "Episode 3")
  • After this episode was released, Matt Mira noted that an oft-discussed topic among Star Trek's fanbase was how the installment demonstrated the Discovery using its spore drive. (After Trek: "Episode 3")
  • A Star Trek fan himself, Matt Mira commented about the dialogue in the turbolift scene from the teaser, "That's some quality Trek turbolift banter [....] It's great." (After Trek: "Episode 2") Regarding his response to the revelation that the Klingons had consumed the remains of Philippa Georgiou, Mira admitted, "I was emotionally a little damaged." He also approved of the apparently developing Klingon romance between Voq and L'Rell in this episode, stating, "I'm down with that." (After Trek: "Episode 3")

Production history Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit


Special guest star Edit

Guest starring Edit

Co-starring Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stand-in Edit

References Edit

2202; 2220; 2224; 2226; 2245; 2249; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; Andy; Aneto system; Attack on Corvan II; auxiliary shield generator; bat'leth; Battle of the Binary Stars; battle simulation; Beacon of Kahless; Betarian; biological; black alert; Black Fleet; blockade; bloodwine; box computer; bunker; captain's log; Cardassian vole; cargo deck; central nervous system; claw; cloaking technology; Cochrane, Zefram; Communications Department; containment pen; Corvan II; Corvan II inhabitants; coupling unit; crew manifest; depot; dilithium; dilithium processing unit; Dodge; duty roster; Earth; excess energy cavitation; forest; frontal lobe; frontopolar cortex; Glenn, USS; Gorn; gravity well; hair; Hawking radiation firewall; holographic duplicate; Horta; House Kor; House T'Kumva; Klingon Bird-of-Prey; Klingon raider; Kol's ship; L'Rell's father; L'Rell's mother; last will and testament; Legion of Honor; magnetic shield; mek'leth; micro-animal; microbiota; mirror; monster; mushroom; Musk, Elon; mycelial plane; nav buffer; O-type star; off-ramp; oneirogenic penthrene mist; Operation Crossroads; pain inducer; palatine bone; particulate vending; patrol ship; pattern buffer; personnel file; placebo; planetoid; poison sac; pressurizer; prison shuttle; proverb; Qo'noS; quantum mechanics; rage gland; raider; reaction cube; Ripper; Sarcophagus; scanner; science vessel; sedation protocol; Shenzhou, USS; Siobhan; skull; spore drive; SPT 21; Star Cross; Starfleet Academy; Starfleet Command; Starfleet Command Internal Mail System; stealth protocol; stowaway; symbiosis; T'Kuvma; tardigrade; tardigrade; telescope; Tellarite; threat ganglia; Torchbearer; tribble; Vulcan Science Academy; Vulcan Scientific Legion of Honor; warship; Wright, Orville; Wright, Wilbur; xenoanthropologist; Zaphod

External links Edit

Previous episode:
"Context Is for Kings"
Star Trek: Discovery
Season 1
Next episode:
"Choose Your Pain"