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 for the namesake of this episode, please see Vulcan Hello.

While patrolling Federation space, the USS Shenzhou encounters an object of unknown origin, putting First Officer Michael Burnham to her greatest test yet. (Series Premiere)

Summary Edit

Teaser Edit

A Klingon is speaking in a large chamber full of other Klingons. He says that the Klingons have lost their way, and forgotten the Unforgettable: Kahless, and the traditions of honor and glory he set down for them to follow. He mentions the lighting of a beacon, and the need to reunite the Houses and save themselves from an impending threat: an enemy that says "We come in peace" (the Federation, as he says this last phrase in English for emphasis).

Captain Philippa Georgiou and Commander Michael Burnham are on a desert planet attempting to locate a well that has run dry due to radiation from a meteor mining accident. A large storm is brewing overhead. Burnham predicts that an 89-year drought is imminent, and the (presumably pre-warp) non-humanoid species who inhabit the world – the Crepusculans – are facing extinction if they lose their water supply. Their goal is to repair the well and have the USS Shenzhou pick them up undetected, thereby avoiding a violation of Starfleet General Order 1. After walking past a group of egg sacs and eventually locating their objective, Captain Georgiou discharges a type 3 phaser into the well, shifting the water table and allowing water to reemerge from the well in a large geyser. At this point, two natives are visible watching from atop a plateau, and a third is shown crawling along the ground with octopus-like tendrils, seemingly unseen by the two Humans. The pair realize the gathering storm is preventing a transporter lock at their current location, so they begin to walk across the desert, discussing Burnham's future career. Soon the Shenzhou is shown breaking through the storm clouds, and transports them up to the ship. A bird's-eye-view glimpse of the desert reveals that the captain used their footprints to create a Starfleet insignia visible from overhead, allowing them to be located.

Act One Edit

"First officer's log, stardate 1207.3. On Earth, it's May 11, 2256, a Sunday. The crew of the USS Shenzhou has been called to the edge of Federation space to investigate damage done to one of our interstellar relays. Blast burns around the hole are inconclusive. Were they caused by an asteroid, or was it deliberately destroyed to limit Starfleet communications? And if so, by whom? Despite the risks of our mission, I remain optimistic. It's hard not to be in the face of such beauty – in this case, a binary star system. Around these two suns, ice, dust, and gasses collide to form planets future generations will call home. A humbling reminder that all life is born from chaos and destruction."

The stardate is 1207.3, or May 11, 2256 in Earth terminology. The Shenzhou has responded to a signal from a damaged relay and arrives in order to make repairs. The relay is located in a region of space in close proximity to a binary star system in a state of stellar collision, and the collision has created a large debris field. Science Officer Saru believes that the relay was intentionally damaged. He picks up a signal from an anomaly in the debris field, but the object is somehow creating a scattering field, and deflecting their attempts to scan it. First Officer Burnham convinces Captain Georgiou to allow her to approach the object with a thruster pack, since the debris is too dense for a transporter lock or a shuttlepod. The large quantity of radiation in the area limits her space walk to twenty minutes. The debris field also has the potential to disrupt communications from the ship. Commander Burnham uses the thruster pack to travel the two thousand kilometers to the anomaly without incident, but communication to the Shenzhou is disrupted. Burnham floats over to the source of the scattering field, and realizes it is not a normal part of the debris field, but an a intricately-designed, sculpture-like object. As Burnham explores the object, she comes across a platform-like area with ten minutes left on her mission clock. The proximity sensor on her environmental suit is abruptly activated, and she finds herself standing across from a Klingon. As she attempts to make contact, the Klingon swings a bat'leth at her. She manages to activate her thrusters at a crucial moment, driving one side of the bat'leth through the Klingon's suit and body, impaling the Klingon and pushing it away from the platform. While this is happening, the Shenzhou is still unable to establish contact with Burnham.

Act Two Edit

In the Klingons' chamber, the body of the warrior killed by Burnham lies in a sarcophagus in the center. It is revealed that the anomaly investigated by Shenzhou is the "sacred beacon" placed by these Klingons. The body of the dead Klingon floats out of the chamber and into space. It comes to rest at a mausoleum-like area, which is open to space and already populated with many sarcophagi.

Unconscious, Burnham recalls her childhood at the Vulcan Learning Center. There, a computer system quizzes her rapidly on various Klingon and Starfleet-related facts. She becomes overwhelmed by video of a particular Klingon attack and pauses the computer program. Her mentor, a Vulcan named Sarek, arrives and lectures her on the importance of logic over emotion.

Commander Burnham wakes up in a medical pod covered in wounds. She is told that three hours have elapsed since she was rescued from the object, and she terminates the medical pod's anti-radiation procedure prematurely and climbs out. She makes her way to the bridge and notifies her crewmembers about the Klingon she encountered, but they are skeptical. She recounts what happened earlier to Captain Georgiou, and Saru suggests that she is confused due to suffering a concussion and tells her to return to sickbay. Georgiou believes her and locks on to what turns out to be a cloaked Klingon vessel. As soon as the weapons lock is initiated, the Klingon ship appears, seemingly from nowhere. The Shenzhou attempts to hail the Klingon vessel, but the Klingons ignore them and discuss a prophecy and reiterate the need to "light the beacon," now referred to as the "Light of Kahless." A light-skinned Klingon volunteers to light the beacon, but he is rebuffed by the assumed leader and told that since he doesn't belong to a Great House, he is unworthy for such a task. The light-skinned Klingon assures the leader of his faith and places his hand over an open flame and holds it there, causing severe burns yet leaving the Klingon unfazed. This act seems to change the demeanor of the leader, and he hands over his bat'leth to the the light-skinned Klingon and names him Torchbearer. As this is happening, a report comes in showing movement on long range sensors, which seems to fulfill a prediction made by the leader at an earlier time.

Act ThreeEdit

On the Shenzhou, scans of the Klingon flagship show it is covered in the sarcophagus-like coffins. Starfleet orders the ship to hold position and take no action until reinforcements arrive. Captain Georgiou is concerned that Shenzhou is currently the only line of defense between the Klingons and an Andorian colony.

Act FourEdit

An ear-piercing electromagnetic signal abruptly permeates through the ship and causes the crew extreme discomfort until they manage to filter it out. Commander Burnham opens a subspace channel to the Vulcan Sarek. They discuss the unusual behavior of the Klingons and come to the conclusion that some new leader is causing change within the Klingon Empire. Sarek also alludes to a dark incident in Commander Burnham's past. After finishing her conversation with Sarek, Burnham recommends to the captain that the Shenzhou attack the Klingon ship. She justifies her opinion by pointing out that the Vulcans have used preemptive strikes in the past to meet threats from the Klingons. The captain and commander descend into argument about the Federation's ideals and what would be the moral and right course of action in this situation. After Captain Georgiou orders Commander Burnham to stand down, Burnham disables the captain with a Vulcan nerve pinch. She then takes command of the ship and orders an attack on the Klingon vessel, while lying to the crew about the whereabouts of the Captain. She orders the attack over the objections of Saru and orders the weapons fired but Georgiou re-enters the bridge and orders that Burnham's orders be belayed. She trains a phaser on her Number One and orders her to stand down. Burnham desperately tries to plead with Georgiou that she is trying to save the crew's lives. Before anyone can react, the beacon from the Klingon vessel diminishes and the sensors pick up a series of warp signatures on an intercept course. Georgiou inquires if it is Starfleet arriving but Burnham quickly realizes it is the Klingons, who take up position against the Shenzhou and have them greatly outnumbered.

Memorable quotes Edit

"(in Klingonese) They are coming. Atom by atom, they will coil around us and take all that we are. There is one way to confront this threat. By reuniting the twenty-four warring houses of our own empire. We have forgotten the Unforgettable, the last to unify our tribes: Kahless. Together, under one creed, remain Klingon! That is why we light our beacon this day. To assemble our people. To lock arms against those whose fatal greeting is... (in English) we come in peace."

- T'Kuvma's speech to his followers
- This was the very first line of the series.

"We come in peace, that's why we're here. Isn't that the whole idea of Starfleet?"
"Hey – I taught you that."

- Michael Burnham and Philippa Georgiou, while on the Crepusculan's homeworld

"Saru's Kelpien. He thinks everything's malicious."

- Georgiou, on her science officer

"Despite the first officer's constant need to dismiss my ideas..."
"She apparently agrees with you."

- Saru and Georgiou, on the bridge of the Shenzhou

"Ensign Connor, agreement between my senior officers. Note the date and time."
"Noted, captain."

- Georgiou and Connor

"When emotion brings us ghosts from the past, only logic can root us in the present."

- Sarek

Log entries Edit

"First officer's log, stardate 1207.3. On Earth, it's May 11, 2256, a Sunday. The crew of the USS Shenzhou has been called to the edge of Federation space to investigate damage done to one of our interstellar relays. Blast burns around the hole are inconclusive. Were they caused by an asteroid, or was it deliberately destroyed to limit Starfleet communications? And if so, by whom? Despite the risks of our mission, I remain optimistic. It's hard not to be in the face of such beauty – in this case, a binary star system. Around these two suns, ice, dust, and gasses collide to form planets future generations will call home. A humbling reminder that all life is born from chaos and destruction."

Background information Edit

Story and script Edit

Cast Edit

Production Edit

Music and sound Edit

Continuity and trivia Edit

  • Although this episode includes some footage of Sarek set chronologically earlier than his first appearance in TOS: "Journey to Babel", this is not the first episode to do so. In-universe, young versions of the character also appeared in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and TAS: "Yesteryear".
  • Like previous spin-off premieres, the new crew of Discovery was sent off by a character who made a crossover from a previous role; in this case, Sarek returned, having previously appeared in numerous Star Trek episodes and films. Unlike most previous spin-off premieres, Sarek was not a main character from a series that directly preceded the new series. In the previous cases, Doctor McCoy was seen briefly in the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint"; Captain Jean-Luc Picard appeared in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine pilot, "Emissary"; and Quark had a cameo appearance in the Star Trek: Voyager pilot, "Caretaker", in which Morn and Broik also appeared. Zefram Cochrane had an uncredited cameo appearance in the Star Trek: Enterprise pilot, "Broken Bow".
  • Sarek explains that the disastrous first contact between Vulcans and Klingons occurred 240 years ago in the H'atoria system. That system was previously mentioned in TNG: "All Good Things..." as the site of a small Klingon colony near Federation space. In the alternate future timeline seen in that series finale, Worf had become governor of the colony.
  • Starfleet ships are shown to be still armed with phase cannons, even after phasers have been developed, as phase cannons are ordered to be locked on the Klingon ship. It's not known if the USS Shenzhou was armed with phasers as well, like the USS Discovery, which is armed with both phase cannons and phasers as seen in "Context Is for Kings".
  • Multiple characters state that Starfleet has barely had any official contact with the Klingons for a full century – barring a few flybys, minor dustups, or terrorist attacks by rogue elements. This matches with the Klingons rather heavily interacting with Starfleet during Star Trek: Enterprise, which was almost exactly one hundred years before Star Trek: Discovery. Apparently, after the events of ENT: "Divergence", the Federation had little contact with the Klingon Empire. It is currently unclear as to whether this was coincidental or if the Klingons entered into an extended period of isolationism.
  • While the Klingon death ritual in this episode has some new elements to it, the long-established death howl makes an appearance during Rejac's funeral: the Klingons gathered for the funeral howl not out of grief, but to warn the honored ancestors in Sto-vo-kor that a worthy Klingon warrior is coming to join them. The death howl was first established in TNG: "Heart of Glory".
  • Burnham states the stardate in her log, then notes that, on Earth, it is "May 11, 2256; a Sunday" – which is the correct day of the week in advance calendars.
  • The flashbacks in this episode serve as a prelude.
  • Given that the episode opens on May 11, 2256, it can be extrapolated that this episode takes place 101 years, 3 months, and 19 days after the events of ENT: "Terra Prime" chronologically.
  • The quotation Burnham cannot cite, "sculptures are crystallized spirituality", is actually a paraphrase of a quote by Amos Bronson Alcott, which reads, "Madame de Staël pronounced architecture to be frozen music; so is statuary crystallized spirituality." [2]

Reception and aftermath Edit

  • The After Trek episode "O Discovery, Where Art Thou?" discusses the making of, and events in, this episode.
  • The CBS airing (and, in Canada, the CTV airing), originally scheduled for 8:30 pm US Eastern Time, started nineteen minutes late due to an overrunning NFL game. [3]
  • This episode is rated TV-14, even though the series as a whole is rated TV-MA.
  • Overnight ratings for the episode estimated that it reached 8.2 million total viewers, getting a 1.6 rating in the Adult 18-49 demographic. [4] Adjusted for the delayed start, the broadcast rated 9.6 million viewers and a 1.9 rating. [5]

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

13th century; 2016; 2249; 2256; 2345; accretion disk; acute radiation syndrome; Advanced Interstellar Combat; Alkaid; Alioth; Andoria; Andorian; antiproton chamber; atom; away team; Battle of the Binary Stars; Black Fleet; blood; blood pressure; captain; chain of command; Chateau Picard; chief science officer; cloaking screen; commander; communication module; communicator; coffin; concussion; course; Crepusculan; Crepusculan homeworld; crusade; crystal; data collection unit; debris field; Department of Foreign Studies; desert; DNA; Doctari Alpha; drought; Dubhe; Eagle-12; egg sac; Europa, USS; exoskeleton; extinction; eye; fable; family blade; Flight 819; food chain; footprints; funeral; Gamma Hydra; General Order 1; genetic unspooling; goggles; H'atoria; headlamp; hologram; hour; iconography; IDIC; Internal sensor; interstellar relay; Kahless; Kelpien; Klingon; Klingon Empire; Klingon Houses; Klingon language; Laikan Military Academy; lieutenant; livestock; long range sensor scan; lumen; map; Megrez; meteor; minute; Mizar; mutiny; nanosecond; nitrogen; noodle; number one; optical processor; oxygen; phase cannon; plasmatic filters; president; privacy; proximity alert; Qo'noS; quantum efficiency spectrum; radiation; San Francisco Fleet Yards; scattering field; sculpture; second; sensor dead zone; Shenzhou, USS; Sol III; species; species map; spirituality; star; Star Cross; Starfleet; Starfleet Command; stealth mode; storm; subspace antenna; Sunday; superstructure; sympathetic vibration; telescope; three-dimensional chess; thruster pack; thunder; T'Kuvma's flagship; torchbearer; tractor beam; tribe; tricorder; type 3 phaser; United Federation of Planets; voiceprint; Vulcan; Vulcan; Vulcan Hello; Vulcan nerve pinch; Vulcan starship; Walker-class; warrior caste; water; water table; well; xenoanthropologist; year

Georgiou's bookshelf: All Our Yesterdays; Amok Time; Balance of Terror; By Any Other Name; Cage, The; City on the Edge of Forever, The; Deadly Years, The; Empath, The; Mark of Gideon, The; Metamorphosis; Mirror, Mirror; Omega Glory, The; Patterns of Force; Plato's Stepchildren; Return to Tomorrow; That Which Survives; Trouble with Tribbles, The; Way to Eden, The; Whom Gods Destroy

USS Shenzhou dedication plaque:

External links Edit

Previous episode:
First episode in series
Star Trek: Discovery
Season 1
Next episode:
"Battle at the Binary Stars"

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