Review: ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Fights Its Way Across In “Rubicon”


Star Trek: Discovery Season 4, Episode 9 – Debuted Thursday, February 17, 2022
Written by Alan McElroy
Directed by Andi Armaganian


Jam-packed with sci-fi action and character emotion, “Rubicon” ends up to be a bit of a mixed bag of an episode.

WARNING: Spoilers below!



“A friendly face”

Thanks to Michael putting a tracker on last week’s isolynium, Starfleet has located Book and Tarka as they prep the DMA-killing superbomb. Even after being made aware that Species 10-C is using the DMA as a mining tool and not a weapon, Book remains determined to attack, risking any chance at first contact with this clearly super-powered species. President Rillak is understandably wary of sending Captain Burnham to hunt down her boyfriend, but luckily for Michael, Admiral Vance has her back, mostly because the Disco is the only ship that can pull off the mission. But there is a condition: He is sending a minder along who has his authority to take over in case Michael gets squishy when it comes to stopping Mr. Booker. Although it isn’t so bad, as the minder is a fellow 23rd-century time-jumper, Commander Nhan, assuring Michael, “Better me than someone you don’t know” and assuring the Admiral her Barzanness will ensure “duty, above all.”

The crew of the Discovery is delighted to see their old friend Nhan back on the bridge, even after being told she is there as sort of a space nanny. The plan is to sneak up on Book and Tarka at their hiding place in a rogue planet and  board Book’s ship via cloaked shuttle. Saru will lead the away team but instead of going in kitted out in tactical gear, phasers blazing, Dr. Culber is coming along to try to connect with Book and appeal to his emotions and reason, although Tarka is seen as a “wildcard”… uh yeah, no duh. Rhys and Bryce are also sent along and it takes both Saru and Culber to stop the pair of officers from arguing over the merits of Tarka’s plan. Guys, there is a time and place! After covertly docking, things seem fine—until the shuttle starts getting dissolved by a swarm of programmable matter. That’s new.

“This needs to stop”

Book is just as surprised to see his ship’s smart goo attack and learns that Tarka took it upon himself to install a new security feature. You’re welcome? Book may be going against Starfleet’s plan, but he doesn’t want to see his Disco friends get dissolved, and even Tarka lends a hand to try to free the shuttle, which breaks apart just as Saru and his team beams back to safety. With the element of surprise gone, Book books it to the DMA, which for a destructive galaxy-spanning planet-destroying space dredge is actually quite lovely on the inside. Nhan wants a plan but Michael is now just winging it. The Barzan informs the captain that Starfleet gave her a Plan B: Turns out installing the spore drive on Book’s ship gave it a Death Star vulnerability, allowing the Disco to blow them up with ease… not an option Michael wants, but a trigger Nhan is ready to pull. Saru suggests compromise, leading to Plan C, which involves Stamets working out how long the DMA will remain in hopes that more info can keep Book on the right side of the uncrossable line.

As Stamets and Zora crunch the numbers, the ships engage in some cat-and-mouse rivalry. Captains Burnham and Booker know each other’s moves intimately (wink, wink) and they even seem to be having a bit of fun as the ships jump around and exchange playful warning shots. Get a room, you two. Nhan remains entirely unamused. “We can argue semantics all we want, but I think we can both agree that Book is shooting at us!” Book has his own devil on the shoulder, with Tarka reminding him that sooner or later he is going to have to decide what is more important: his girlfriend and Disco pals, or his mission to stop the DMA. Eventually, the Discovery puts itself between Book and the DMA controller, and Tarka hits the fire everything button. That’s enough for Nhan, and even Saru admits playtime is over. Michael steels herself to do what she has been ordered to do… and what will certainly break her heart.

“Connection is always a risk”

Speaking of hearts potentially breaking… Saru and T’Rina. Somewhat awkwardly bookending the episode were some cute moments for this precarious budding romance between the Kelpien and Vulcan. Early on he rings her up for some guided meditation… is that what the kids are calling it in the 32nd century? Turns out he really wants to calm his mind but from light-years away she can sense he is out of sorts, suggesting he should find solace in the simple things, like dinner… together. You go, girl. Later after things calm down, Saru turns to Culber for advice on how he can break it to the Ni’Var president that he is far too busy with the ship and Kaminar and Su’Kal, but Dr. Hugh sets him straight. Calling his superior officer “an idiot” (with due respect), the ship’s counselor advises Saru to ignore all that stuff flustering him and follow his heart… which appears to long for some Vulcan melding.

“It’s the right thing to do”

Back to the action on the bridge, the Captain is about to blow Book out of the (again, quite beautiful nebula) sky, but Deus Ex Stamina arrives as Paul and Zora have determined the DMA is going to remain at its current spot for a week. With the risk to other systems at least delayed, Burnham has what she needs. After yet another heart-to-heart chat, Nhan agrees to another compromise, giving Michael the time to reach Book, but the Barzan is still keeping her finger on that button. With comms not working, Michael takes a shuttle over to Book’s ship to face him bridge window to bridge window in a touching moment. She offers a Federation-approved deal: Stand down for a week as they try first contact and if that doesn’t work, the prez and Vance will back Tarka’s bomb plan. Book agrees. Yay! Everyone unclenches… but aren’t they forgetting something?

Oh right, Ruon f—ing Tarka, who makes clear he doesn’t give a s—t about anything but getting his hands on that juicy DMA power source. To what should be no one’s surprise, he beams his bomb right into the heart of the DMA, and with no way to stop it in time, everyone jumps away. And of course it works; he is a genius, after all—except it turns out he may not be as smart as he thinks. The DMA is powered via the other end of the wormhole, outside of the galaxy, womp womp. Once the ship is back at Federation HQ, Nhan and Michael hug it out (naturally), with Book in the wind and Michael prepping for that first contact mission while Starfleet preps for possible retaliation for the DMA bombing. But it turns out the bombing was really first contact, as Species 10-C shrugs it off and simply fires up another DMA right where the last one was. For this unknown but clearly superior species, it’s just another day at the space dredging office.



Some of its parts

“Rubicon” had all the right components of a great episode and it certainly delivered with some of the series best starship action sequences and heartbreaking character beats, especially with focal character Michael Burnham forced to fight with her true love, Cleveland Booker. Sonequa Martin-Green and David Ajala shone, showing great chemistry even when in combat. And the sequence inside the DMA looked fantastic, evoking some great Star Trek battles. However, the episode too often got in its own way with uneven pacing and heavy-handed character beats. The plot and character stakes were sufficiently high and the season has organically built up to this Burnham/Book showdown nicely. But Discovery should not fall back on tropes to spice up these plot dilemmas and character conflicts.

“Rubicon” included a welcome dash of contemporary social commentary with the decision to bring Culber along to try to deescalate the situation with Book, a nod to the movement to use counselors instead of police in certain emergency responder situations. The episode also did a fine job of carrying on the season’s theme of uncertainty by examining the concept of risk, with characters constantly weighing their options and even learning that sometimes choices are not black and white. This was a through-line between the otherwise disconnected, action-focused A plot and romantic B subplot. While feeling a bit tacked on, Doug Jones and Tara Rosling sold this slow-burn love story that’s been brewing since last season. And while it is always welcome when Discovery gives the bridge crew time to add more depth, some of the random outbursts and conflicts in this episode felt forced, if not out of place.

The return of Commander Nhan was a treat with Rachel Ancheril doing her best work of the series so far, giving us a lot more depth on her character and Barzan society. Bringing her back now was a smart way to answer the obvious issue of sending Burnham after Book, and there was an elegant poetry to how Nhan and Tarka shadowed the two conflicted lovers. Her personal story felt real and reinforced the themes of the episode. The hint that the character may return opens opportunities for more drama, but hopefully next time Discovery can avoid some of the extra emotional character moments in the middle of the action which don’t seem natural.

10-C you soon?

With the focus on these character conflicts, and even with a battle within the DMA, it’s not clear how much progress has been made regarding the main plot arc of the season. The big bad DMA was shown to just be “a” DMA, a tool Species 10-C can start up at will, with the whole debate over destroying it rendered moot. It isn’t even clear if 10-C cares at all about what happened. The fact that they restarted a DMA right where the last one was—and that Tarka’s bomb did not result in a subspace disaster as expected—shows they are at a whole different level of capability. While 10-C remains a complete mystery, the show does seem to be setting up a coming interaction with the mysterious species with multiple mentions of how Bryce and Zora are working with Dr. Kovich on a way to open up communications through the galactic barrier. Also, Starfleet seems surprisingly sanguine about Burnham’s failure to stop Tarka, resigned to just move on without giving her another presidential dressing down.

As for Tarka, he is moving from rogue scientist to season antagonist. With the mega-bomb plan foiled and Book giving in to the Starfleet plan, it’s not clear why those two are still working together and jumping off to parts unknown. Tarka had made it very clear, all he wants is “to go home,” and he will do anything to get the power required to do it. Now it looks like the only place he can find it is to get it from Species 10-C, and he isn’t likely going to ask nicely. While the bornite-fueled controller itself continues to be intriguing and possibly even familiar, we are being told that Species 10-C is something new.

Final thoughts

“Rubicon” is a fun but frustrating episode. For every two steps forward in action and heart, it takes a step back in logic or out-of-place emotional outburst. But the world-class visual effects and strong performances make it a walk worth taking as we head towards the next episode.

Random bits

  • The title “Rubicon” refers to the Rubicon River in northern Italy and the idiom of how “crossing the Rubicon” is a point of no return.
  • This is the fifth Discovery screenwriting credit for co-executive producer Alan McElroy, who joined the series in season two.
  • This is the first Star Trek credit for director Andi Armaganian, who transitioned from a two-decade career in editing to directing in 2018. She has also directed one of the episodes of the upcoming first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
  • Rachael Ancheril returns as Commander Nhan in her fourteenth appearance on Discovery and the first in season four.
  • Nhan had a new and more simplified breathing apparatus required for Barzans, presumably a 32nd-century upgrade.
  • Chief Engineer Jett Reno was mentioned but did not appear. Due to concerns for her health during the pandemic, Tig Notaro limited her time playing Reno for season four, and has so far only appeared in a single episode. However, she is expected to appear in upcoming episodes.
  • For the second time this season, Captain Burnham used her new catchphrase, “Let’s fly.”
  • Just after the USS Discovery got a complement of new Federation shuttles, DSC02 was destroyed by Tarka’s security system. Captain Burnham used DSC04 later, which survived.
  • Like the Discovery after its 3rd season refit, the shuttles have the ability to cloak.
  • This is the first time the Discovery has engaged its cloak before jumping with the spore drive.
  • Michael mentions she and Book once encountered pirates in Breen space.
  • The Expected Utility Hypothesis mentioned by Tarka is a real concept used in economics dating back to the 18th century.
  • The USS Mitchell was assigned to monitor the DMA. There are a few Mitchells in Star Trek history including a 21st-century colony ship captain and a 24th-century Starfleet admiral. The most famous is Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell of the 23rd century USS Enterprise, who went mad with power after traveling through the Galactic Barrier, which has become a plot point for season four of Discovery.

More to come

Every Friday, the new All Access Star Trek Podcast covers the latest news in the Star Trek Universe and discusses the latest episode. The podcast is available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPocket CastsStitcher and is part of the TrekMovie Podcast Network.

New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery premiere on Thursdays on Paramount+ in the U.S. and on Fridays where Paramount+ is available around the world. In Canada, it airs on CTV Sci-Fi Channel on Thursdays, and streams on Crave on Fridays. Starting November 26, Discovery also streams on Pluto TV in select countries in Europe and is available as a digital download in additional international territories.

Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at

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Saru and T’Rina are absolutely adorable together, and I really hope their relationship continues to blossom. I ship them so hard. One of the best Trek couples.

That’s been well done, for sure.
I also think Michael and Cleveland have been developed well as a couple, more so than Michael and Ash were.
And it’s gotten a little rote with the contrived dialogue they get now, but Paul and Hugh were set up well too.
Overall, this is a better batting average for couples than most of the other shows managed.
It’s really just Adira and Gray I can’t stand, Gray has been such a wasted opportunity.

Can’t help but notice you’ve singled out the two queer couples for criticism. Not a good look.

So if someone honestly feels that those couples are handled poorly by the show, they should just sit there and keep their mouths shut about it due to optics? Is that what you’re suggesting? Talk about a bad look…

Yes, and commenting about it like you’re doing is also a bad look, don’t you know? And me commenting on your comment also shows some kind of discriminatory behavior… Facts are facts. Whether they are queer or not is irrelevant. Adira and Gray are both subpar actors and their characters are redundant and useless. They are there just because the showrunners wanted to play the inclusion card. Period. I’m glad inclusion is such an important part of DSC, I do like Paul and Hugh a lot, and Reno, but don’t force the issue by having characters that just have nothing to do… With Stamets there, why does the Discovery need Adira in the crew? Yes they’re brilliant and likeable, but they are not well developed as characters. And Gray… Listen I’m not going to waste my time. He should never have been a recuring character. So ban me.

I can’t agree with you about Adira, I think Blu is consistently good. Gray, less so. I’ve honestly never much cared for Stamets, either. Culber is one of my faves on the show, though.

Be damned if I’ll keep my thoughts to myself because some doofus thinks it shows “bad optics.” The f–k outta here with that mess.

I’ve never really cared for Stamets all that much either, I think the character’s arc has been reasonably plotted with some missed opportunities. My thing is more that Anthony Rapp is a gifted stage actor but his performance here is broad in a way I don’t always gel with.

Still, Paul and Hugh brushing their teeth together will always warm my heart, it was a long time coming.

I have to agree and I like Adira and Gray, but they done absolutely NOTHING with them. Basically we waited two seasons for Gray to be a real live Synth and nothing beyond that. What have they set up about their relationship that has been interesting or unique? Nothing. They basically get together, smile and giggle at each other every episode. They just come off as two kids in love. Which is fine, but it’s not exactly riveting television either.

In fact, I totally didn’t think about them at all in the last two episodes since they been gone. Because there is nothing to miss frankly.

So some people you are not allowed to critique? Boy have we regressed as a society.

I didn’t say that. I just highlighted he only seemed to critique the LGBTQ relationships- not that he shouldn’t. And you know that.

Hugh and Paul started out wonderfully and now the relationship isn’t addressed enough – their little scene last week almost felt forced as a result.

Adira and Gray are not an interesting couple at all, they have no chemistry and Gray has no personality. Ian Alexander doesn’t help by not giving an interesting performance. But by all means, please insinuate I don’t like LGBT people.

No. I don’t know that. I only react to what I have read.

“What an insightful and intelligent contribution,” to quote the boy who cried, “Prejudice!”

Not that it’s any of your goddamned business, but I’m gay. I’m also half-Asian, in case you want to use racism as an excuse for my not liking Gray.

This isn’t the first time you’ve leapt to this kind of rash conclusion here. It’s not productive and just leads to hurt feelings.

Yeah, Stamets and Culber have become obnoxiously dull as a couple for some reason. The dialogue in the scene where Culber yelled at the robot was painful. Stamets: “I’m worried about Grey settling in on Trill and remember last episode when I didn’t trust Zora? I totally get being stressed beyond your limits.”

Great episode. I still maintain, though, that Sonequa Martin-Green is an extremely limited actor. She either cries melodramatically or she whispers. There’s little in between. I genuinely wish I could enjoy her more. She was lousy on The Walking Dead, and though she’s gotten better, she’s still not nearly as great as the writers try to make her out to be.

Is she whispering on the Walking dead too?

She was just awful on that show. When they killed her off, so many viewers cheered.

She hasn’t cried all season. There was one tear in the entire season, and that was Book’s.

…which doesn’t in any way negate what I’ve said, since she has spent the season whispering.

Nope. She’s given plenty of speeches, like the one at the beginning of the season, or the one in “But to Connect…” No whispering there. None of the bridge commands were issued with a whisper, either. When she was in the cone of silence, she still wasn’t whispering to Book, then.

You’re mistaken. Saying she whispers doesn’t mean she does it all the time, but she most assuredly does so too often. Denying a fact won’t help you prove your point. She also speaks way too fast and yes, as Lorna Dune has mentioned before, she is much too expressive. I also find her hubris impossible to endure. You don’t see Kirk, Picard, Janeway or any of the other captains with egos inflated with pride. This is a character flaw you should not have in a Starfleet Captain.

Lorna Dune said “She either cries melodramatically or she whispers.” That means ONLY crying or whispering. That wording is extreme in its specificity.

Spock and McCoy definitely called Kirk out for his pride repeatedly. Several characters have done the same with Picard. Kasidy sure didn’t like it when Sisko said, “it’s a big step.”

Janeway had plenty of ego and pride to go around. Seems your only job in this comment section, is to b**ch about Discovery and certain characters. Here’s a hint: Stop watching, and watch something else!

Let those of us who enjoy the show, enjoy it.

Would have been interesting to see the character in the hands of Rosario Dawson as originally intended.

Dawson is such a better and more likable actress. I wish that had happened.

…that may have been a real game-changer for me. Big fan of Dawson. Doesn’t mean the writing would have been any better, sadly.

Did she turn it down for Star Wars?

Do you always have to be so nasty about SMG? She’s a fabulous Ambassador for the franchise and a great actress. She’s barely cried once this season and as for the “whispering”…. turn the volume up on whatever device you hate watch on. I’m convinced you have it on low.

She delivers her lines in whispers. Lorna is correct. She also oddly contorts her face as she delivers her lines – this may be her attempt to show extreme emotion – whatever it is, it’s hard to watch.

I agree, she is very limited in her acting ability and it is made worse by horrible writing. As a commander, the character of Bernham is horrible. Look at how she reacts to pressure vs the way Kirk, Picard, Janeway, or Sisco acted. They were professionals – she is not.

She hasn’t cried or whispered much this entire season that I recall. And she was terrific on “The Walking Dead,” as far as I’m concerned.

I don’t share any of your negativity regarding SMG… She cries… when it’s in the script! She whispers… when the directors want her too. Her acting abilities are somewhat limited, but that’s what makes her PERFECT for a franchise that was made famous by a certain Canadian actor who happened to have VERY unique acting limitations himself.

I love the Shat but he is NO versatile actor either. Every captain actor had his/her unique limitations, even Patrick Stewart who had a tendency towards Shakespearean overacting which I loved. Kate Mulgrew… I love her Janeway, but it’s very unique and demands for quite an acquired taste. Bakula was George W. Bush…

SMG is another unique actor to fill those space boots and I like her a lot. I don’t care about her TWD performance. I hate that atrocity of a show anyway…

Yeah. My perspective is based only on what I have seen on Star Trek Discovery. I’ve never seen The Walking Dead. And from what I have seen she is not a very good actress. I am prepared to accept that part of that very well could be because she has bad material to work with. But really good actors do have the ability to overcome that. Patrick Stewart often did it. But I admit it is unfair to compare her to arguably the best regular actor in Trek history.

10 Centuries 10-C?

I have no idea where that naming convention comes from. Guess it just rolls off the tongue so they went with it?

I’m forced to say that the plotting is a little better. Extremely simple. Not thought provoking by any means. But that’s a huge step forward for Star Trek Discovery.

While it is moving up slowly in the direction of mediocrity, it is still held back with how things are executed. Every attempt to make the secondary bridge crew relevant or to flesh them out comes across as forced in. It would be better if they they just stop trying to include them. And then you get oddity of inappropriate conversations taking place in the oddest of times. Like the bridge member explaining her insubordination to Saru in a dangerous situation where time was limited. But she decided to take a few minutes to air it out with him. Now we get the two guys on the shuttle arguing the two sides of the situation en route. That was NOT the time to be doing that. Focus on the task at hand, guys! What the hell is wrong with you? As a viewer I found myself screaming “Shut up!” at them right before Saru interrupted them. And the, of course, Culber soothes over the situation with a cliché line and they all smile at each other again. Good grief….

The way the bridge extras are used is always going to be awkward if these kinds of broad scenes are the only times they do more than read consoles. Owo has fared the best out of them all, and still her outburst (despite getting a more detailed follow up) or her season 3 finale declaration of love to her dying shipmates don’t really feel earned because she isn’t a fleshed out character. I’m hoping now that the main cast is so small we can get more out of the ancillary cast.

I think the show makers are feeling a little pressure to start including the ancillary bridge characters because there has been criticism that they have been all but ignored for so long. The thing is, the show feels like it doesn’t need them as much. It’s not really an ensemble like the Berman era Treks were. It is has always focused strongly on the main characters. There is nothing wrong with that formula. TOS used it quite well. Except their ancillary characters were actually memorable. It is obvious that Star Trek Discovery is missing that intangible element that TOS had and they cannot capture. And again, that is not a huge problem. From my point of view no post TOS show was able to capture that. The closest was Enterprise but their prime threesome still felt a bit forced. And they were able to include others more often than Star Trek Discovery has.

Anyway, the show is straightening itself out a bit but it is still bogged down by things that it cannot shake without completely overhauling the show. I’m guessing this is about as good as Star Trek Discovery is going to get. A below average show that attempts to grab unearned emotion and caring from the audience.

I feel the same that the show instead of making us feel sympathy for the characters is trying hard to tell us we should care for these characters and often used theme where they pat themselves on the back… “we just saved the universe, good work Discovery crew…”

I just roll my eyes every time we get shots of the crew looking at each other and smiling. Especially after one of the main characters says something supposedly “inspirational” or “unifying.” At this point it feel like they are doing it even when they aren’t doing it! This episode had a lot of shots of the crew nodding acknowledgement and it felt like them smiling at Burnham was there in subtext.

I’ve said it before but for those who have seen “Airplane!” there is a scene where the stewardess sings a song for the ill little girl and we get shots of all the other passengers suddenly smiling. That is what I think of every time we get a crew reaction shot on Star Trek Discovery.

Agreed. It’s certainly a valid creative choice, in theory, but the execution…

“TOS used it quite well. Except their ancillary characters were actually memorable.”

Well, what level of ancillarity are you refering to? There are basically three levels on both shows:

main characters TOS: Kirk – Spock – Bones
main characters DSC: Burnham – Saru – Stamets – Culber – (Tilly)

extended main characters TOS: Scotty – Sulu – Uhura – Chekov
extended main characters DSC: (Tilly) – Adira – Reno – (Book)

recurring characters TOS: Chapel – Riley – Leslie – Rand – DeSalle – Galloway – Kyle
recurring characters DSC: Owo – Detmer – Rhys – Bryce – Nielsen – Linus

You seem to be comparing Owo to Uhura and Rhys to Sulu… In that regard, Owo and Rhys would be totally underdeveloped compared to TOS. But I compare them to Riley, Chapel and Kyle. And in that regard, the DSC bridge crew gets A LOT more exposure and development than any of the TOS characters of the same level…

My only caution there is that we’re comparing a 2022 prestige series with a show made 55 years ago. Standards for characters are higher now, I hope. Even then, characters were painted and cast quite vividly in TOS, hence why they endure.

And if we are going there, I’d absolutely say Chapel was more memorably featured than even Owo and Detmer, despite so much of her screen time being about who her character once dated or was currently pining for. And Rhys? Come on, there’s nothing to Rhys at all – Ensign Hogan and Nurse Ogawa had more going on than he does.

I will grant you that the Star Trek Discovery bridge crew get more lines than the TOS bridge crew did. But it is WAY less than what the TNG bridge crew got, for example. I’d argue that even the Enterprise bridge crew was better used than Discovery’s.

I am not comparing Uhura to Owo or Rhys to Suly. I’m comparing pretty much everyone after secondary characters to them. TOS had the main three, Scotty was secondary and everyone else was ancillary. I’m comparing everyone on Discovery who is not Burnham, Saru, Tilly or Stammets to the level of Sulu, Chekov & Uhura. And comparing is even the right word. I’d say Star Trek Discovery’s show formula is not to be an ensemble. But later decided to back off that formula to include the brige crew more. But IMHO that move is just not working.

Tarka and Booker are really pissing off. I was actually hoping they were going to destroy them both or put them in the brig. I might be open to Booker being redeemed but not Tarka.

Do they go to Black Alert while cloaking too? I noticed the green lights while cloaked. Stealth Mode? Green Alert?

And Nahn needs a prequel for the year she was working for federation security. She’s awesome!

It looks like cloaking tech hasn’t progressed one bit in 900 years, too. You can still see distortion with the naked eye. One would think that cloaks would be perfect by then. Hell even the Scimitar had what LaForge called a “perfect” cloak. Yet 800 years later it’s not quite as good?

Again, this is the problem with going so very far into the future. The time shift did not help the show.

I totally agree. The time shift was never going to be a good idea. So far in the future the Federation should be like Gods. Instead Discovery gave us tech that was way too advanced in the 23rd century and way WAY too simplistic in the 32nd.

I agree with you both on the technology. It still feels like 24th century tech in the 32nd Century.

The distortion is a visual help for the audience to know where the ships are supposed to be.

I did consider it was done only for the audience. But it should have at least been scaled back at least a little from what we have seen from time past. Further, even with the Scimitar (as far as I can remember) when cloaked there were no visual clues even for the audience.

Well, it’s obviously a creative decision whether to give the audience a visual cue or not. So it doesn’t really matter whether it was done with the Scimitar. We are all very aware that the new shows do not necessarily stick to visual styles established in earlier Trek shows.

That’s not the only thing from the original shows they don’t stick to…

Maybe I missed something, but after watching tonight’s episode my take is – what a great first 45 minutes and the last 15 minutes might be the most unsatisfying end to an episode since the near disasterous first half of season one!

The first 45 minutes of the episode are very good and the tension builds towards what should have been a satisfying end. The script not only emphasizes how critical it is for Discovery not to allow the launch of the weapon, the Federation and Starfleet have two safety valves onboard, one being Saru and the other being Commander Nahn. Their job is to take over command of Discovery and destroy Booker’s ship to prevent the weapon from being fired, if Burnham becomes emotionally compromised.

Burnham does find a way to convince Booker to stand down, but she, Saru and Nahn all completely and utterly fail in considering the wildcard antics of Tarka. This leads to the failure of their mission.

What is even more puzzling is that nobody seems that upset that they failed to stop the weapon from being fired, even though the last 3 episodes were focused on the importance of doing just that. In fact Nahn, who should have been repremanded and dropped a rank for not carrying out her orders is all happy and she and Burnham have a nice hug and talk about her one day returning to the Discovery.

Did I miss something here, or is this maybe the worst written episode of Discovery in the past three seasons? Please tell me I completely misread what was happening. Btw, I hate saying this because I think the show has really made some positive strides since mid season one. Right now all I can sadly say is bring on Picard and SNW.

Thoughts anyone??

I think the problem was that Tarka was obviously the one causing the problems and yet NO ONE did anything. It was a little ridiculous. Book obviously was going along with his plan, but when the guy shot the photon torpedoes, it was time to stun him, pull an Uhura and lock him up in the closet. Instead he basically just did what he wanted and manage to use the device anyway. Any consequences over it? NOPE!!

And then you had Burnham who obviously very compromised which is why Nhan was there, but never took the reins. Per Discovery, too much emotion and melodrama, not a lot of logical decision making. Again, once those photon torpedoes were shot (and Burnham was right Book didn’t do it, but Tarka was still allowed to remain and complete their mission) then they should’ve made a more decisive decision, even taking the ship out if they had to. There is just TOO MUCH TALK about feelings on this show! My god! And the stuff with Culber was fine, but c’mon!

So it was frustrating in a lot of ways. They wanted to keep the chase going but they were too afraid to make Book look like a total bad guy. But then he never really stood up to Tarka so it just felt a little unrealistic IMO.

I don’t think it was the worst written episode though, that’s a very high bar for Discovery lol. But yeah definitely badly written in places. But I still enjoyed it, just logically, per Discovery, kind of a mess.

Very much agree with these sentiments!

Agreed. There are too many writers on Discovery using the show as their own personal therapy session. I hate it.

I think the the reason that for you after the first 45 minutes the last 15 were unsatisfying might be because the episode was only 45 minutes long.

And no, the competition for worst written Star Trek Discovery episode is comprised of a quite impressive field. This one, for all its flaws, doesn’t even come close.

Totally agree with your comments!
There was a really good start and build of story and drama in this episode, then it just fell to pieces and lost its way in the end.
When Burnham took her “common ground” compromise to the Admiral, he should’ve liked it, but the President should’ve intervened, rejected it as too risky and ordered Nahn to take command and fire on Book & Tarka. While Michael & Discovery crew looked helplessly on, the shot of course would’ve failed as a result of Tarka’s security upgrades to Book’s ship, and Michael’s compromise would’ve come front and center as their last resort. That would’ve left Discovery’s commanders, especially Burnham, with some competency in having done all at their disposal and given us much more intense drama between the characters.
Instead, they gave us 3 commanders sent to complete a mission and all return colossal failures without the least reprimand for not stopping the weapon, not capturing Book or Tarka, and not recovering the spore drive! And, once again, AGAIN . . .Burnahm is responsible for instigating a disastrous first contact & catastrophic universal war!
This seems am almost unforgivable thing to do to this character after the progress she’s made to earn a place as a respected captain.

Decent episode. Nothing amazing but fun at least. But it was great to see Nhan back though!

The cat and mouse game was OK, but a little too drawn out. And just felt a bit frustrating as the review said. There were just so many moments where Nhan should’ve just taken command. It’s two sides that clearly don’t want to hurt each other but at some point as Captain Janeway once said “it’s time to make the call!” Burnham is clearly no Janeway by a huge mile, but she is Captain now, so she has to leave the emotion/feelings behind and do what is needed. That said, I did like the compromise she came up with, which was smart, but yeah, all for nothing in the end!

But I really liked the ending though. They spent all this time debating to fire on the thing or not and when it’s finally done, they just sent another one lol. It’s pretty funny. This is a highly advance species and its mining equipment. It’s probably the equivalent if someone’s motor died on their lawnmower, they just shrug, order another from Home Depot and finish up their day.

But it is exciting it looks like we are leaving the galaxy next week!!!! FINALLY, after all this time. Discovery still has it’s issues but it’s oddly the show that is boldly going now! First show to go into the far future and now possibly a new galaxy altogether! This is what I want in my Star Trek and Discovery gets the credit for it! So can’t wait to see where this is all going now.

Thanks Tiger2 for another perspective and for giving me reason to tune in next week. The red mist was clouding my appreciation for some of the major happenings in the last 15 mins of the show.

That was based on the clip from The Ready Room, but pretty cool if they really heading to another galaxy to confront Species 10c directly.

And I don’t disagree with your assessment of the last fifteen minutes, it was a mess! But the last minute made up for it IMO. ;)

Thanks, I checked out the Ready Room clip and despite my dissatisfaction with this week’s episode, i too am excited about next week and will definitely tune in.
Hopefully the last two episodes will make up for yesterday’s fiasco and give a solid ending to a fairly good season four.

Glad you did! Yeah next week does look more exciting since we are finally getting to the heart of the story. But some feel it will just be more wheel spinning for an hour and they won’t actually go there until the episode after that one, so we’ll see.

BTW, I sent you a link in the article thread ‘ViacomCBS rebrands as Paramount’. You asked me before if I found any links about anyone discussing the trailer for SNW and I actually did! But don’t get too excited, it’s very little info with just one spoilery part and according to them the trailer was more of a teaser and only a minute long.

Thanks I will go check it out. Btw, I just saw the new trailer on YTube for episode 10 and SPOILER,they are heading to the galactic barrier. Hmmmm, I wonder if Gary Mitchell and Dr Daner ended up surviving afterall? Or if the Kelvins are the makers of the DMA? Hope these last two episodes make up for yesterday!

Thanks I just went and saw the promo and it looks REALLY GOOD!


Can’t wait now! I wish more fans liked this show. Even with its issues it is at least attempting to do bold things every season.

Yeah, I agree. Yesterday was hopefully just a hicup. For the most part I have enjoyed S4! Bring on E10!

The problem was that they basically had two options:

  1. talk it out somehow
  2. blow Book and Tarka into oblivion

After the botched shuttle mission they didn’t build in an option that would stop Tarka and Book by force but not kill them in the process. So Nhan taking over command would have meant blowing up Tarka and Book. Tarka may bite the dust before the season is out but I have a feeling they still want to keep Book.

While watching the episode, I was kind of expecting that Nhan would take over command at some point but Rhys wouldn’t fire the torpedo. So basically going the mutiny route. He had shown sympathy for Tarka’s plan earlier. Maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t go this far because coming back from open mutiny to business as usual would have been even harder to take for the audience.

By the end of the episode, both sides lost. Discovery couldn’t stop Tarka and Book from destroying the DMA. However, Book and Tarka also lost because blowing up the DMA didn’t accomplish anything. There’s another DMA that could destroy other planets (Book’s motivation) and they didn’t get the DMA’s power source (Tarka’s motivation).
So for Book, there’s no more motivation to stay with Tarka really. Not sure what they’ll do with Tarka (and I haven’t seen any previews yet).

Maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t go this far because coming back from open mutiny to business as usual would have been even harder to take for the audience.

The mutiny thing shouldn’t be a problem for long as the show has already set precedent that getting past being a mutineer doesn’t take more than 3 episodes and the resolution process is so unimportant that it takes place off screen. And people who like Star Trek Discovery didn’t seem to have a problem with that.

So, in other words, let’s try to hug it out again. Is this Star Fleet or is this a therapy session?

Show of hands:

How many of you, at a certain point in this episode, instinctively found yourselves singing Mariner’s “Blast Shield” song from Lower Decks 1×02?

Blast Shiiiiiiield!!! :-)

Now I can’t get that song out of my head lol. I love Mariner.

One thing I would have changed is the last shot. Since we have seen the center of the DMA, I would just jump to shot of it rematerializing and ready to be threatening again. That last shot ends on a whimper.

That said I am psyched that so far this has been a useless, thankless, and existential task. It’s the journey not the destination!


I just have a problem with choices of actions characters take because choosing the right one would make the story less dramatic. They show up at the planetoid under cloak, the guys with the illegal weapons are there without a clue that your starship full of nasty weapons is in easy firing range of their ship AND all those rocks floating just outside that would make great projectiles in their own right when they explode, and they choose a 3 person stealth boarding mission, when they could solve the problem by just firing away and eliminate the issue with extreme prejudice. Really? It’s only uncounted quintillions of sentient life and all the non-sentient life in the galaxy depending on this, no biggie, try something they can get away from. I get Burnham not taking the easy solution because that’s “What The Federation’s all about” but would YOU want to be part of a Federation whose military makes choices that put the galaxy at risk? I wouldn’t.

And then Book and Burnham find a compromise and Book and Burnham are so busy glowing in self satisfaction and googly eyes that neither of them do anything about the demonstrably untrustworthy guy not afraid to use weapons that has full control of the ship at his fingertips standing right there. All episode Book gets more fed up with evil scientist guy and yet at a key moment he just totally forgets about that. Yeesh.

Not only that but Book has already seen the other guy do add ons and take actions that he has no idea about and would not have approved of. Then he still trusts him when he agrees to Burnahm’s terms? Book does not seem to be a very smart guy here. I can accept his actions earlier but when it came time for the compromise Book should have lowered his shields and beamed the other guy over to Discovery. As a viewer I just assumed he had a back up plan ready to go in case Book backed out for any reason. Book should have figured that too.

This season is a snore-fest so far, and so many regulars seem to be MIA on an ongoing basis. The show looks wonderful, and its heart and mind are in the right place (except the constant lack of trust in Michael by her superiors), but nothing is actually happening. Season Two was the peak for me.

Naan was a welcome addition and should be a permanent member of the crew, she seems to have more gravitas and believability than Burnham, whose acting is now on the verge of grating, made for a daytime soap than a sci fi show. Naan as Captain…that might have saved this show…

Saru, Naan, Stamets, Culber now the only characters worth watching…everyone else has fallen into the poor writing/poor acting trap..

And for the love of God showrunners stop turning the bridge crew into simps!! Give them some backbone!

12 minutes of exploring our feels in the opening of the show?! Why?!

I thought this was a great episode. I am just hoping that they don’t cram a ton into an unsatisfying finale the way they have every season so far. I wouldn’t mind the whole Species 10-C thing continuing into next season. It is a big enough concept to meritt more time.

“Fun but frustrating episode. For every two steps forward in action and heart, it takes a step back in logic or out-of-place emotional outburst.”

Pretty much sums up my viewing experience of DIS to date hehe

Where’s Grudge though? Have they just forgotten about her like they did with Adira?

I’ll bet the USS Mitchell is named after actor Kenneth Mitchell.