Review: ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Starts To Connect In “Species 10-C”

“Species 10-C”

Star Trek: Discovery Season 4, Episode 12 – Debuted Thursday, March 10, 2022
Written by Kyle Jarrow
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi

The penultimate episode of the season is mixed with smart sci-fi themes and not-so-smart choices, ending up as just the first half of an exciting two-part finale.


WARNING: Spoilers below!


“Something is coming”

After finally arriving at the 10-C hyperfield, none of the standard forms of communication are working. “It’s like they don’t even know we are here.” Rude. Time for Plan B, spraying “peacefulness” gas on the field. Sure, why not? And it works! In a form of reply, the ship gets sucked in via a cool CGI snake, encased like sausage, and served up to one of three identical gas giants on the inside of the stellar megastructure. Surrounded by hundreds of life forms, everyone starts scanning everyone but still no dialogue between the Disco and 10-C, while time runs out for Earth, the ticking clock set to 15 hours.

Pushing through the First Contact Committee’s debates, Michael remembers standard dinner party Federation Diplomatic Corps etiquette and suggests offering up a gift in the form of some boronite. That works too… the 10-C just love molecules! Something approaches the shuttle bay door, and we never get a good look at the nebulous glowing lifeform, but it sure is big, and Dr. Hirai can tell it has—in a fashion—eyes, ears, and even a nose… let’s call him Cloudy. So Cloudy starts spraying out all those hydrocarbons identified last week and flashing a bunch of lights, but without context, it’s all Space-Greek to this collection of the Galaxy’s finest xeno-talkers.

“What you are doing is wrong”

Unbeknownst to all (but one) of the crew, Book’s ship has latched on for a ride like an evil cloaked barnacle. Ndoye is feeding Book and Tarka updates while prisoner Reno snaps licorice and snarks lines from her makeshift cell. “I never knew being kidnapped could be so boring,” she complains. Tarka has found the DMA source and has a plan to get to it, but he’d better hurry up now that Zora has checked herself into therapy with Dr. Culber; the sentient supercomputer knows there is something off, but she can’t quite put her isolinear finger on it. Reno, who senses Cleveland has issues with a guy who is “a couple of cherries short of a sundae, ” really gets all the best lines this week, making up for lost time. But Mr. Booker also opens up about why he is working with the mad scientist, and even the origin of his name, which apparently is more of a brand, like the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Reno sees an opening, telling Book how she coped (poorly) with the death of her wife to find common ground and to point out people make “dubious choices” when in pain, but he is in too deep to see it. Speaking of not seeing, people are JUST noticing Reno is nowhere to be found on the Discovery, but no need to worry, right? Jett has been keeping an eye on Tarka’s work and has sorted out his plan is just a tad genocidal, potentially wiping out the 10-C system and Earth too. Shocking? Not really. But this info does get Book to finally start asking questions until Tarka admits it, justifying that maybe some people will survive. Not reassuring. Book takes action after finally realizing he has made a deal with a Risan devil but Tarka was ready for the fight and planned ahead by setting up a nifty personal forcefield. So, now Book is locked up along with Reno, with nothing to stop “Psycho-pants.”

“They have sent us a greater-than symbol and a sadness hydrocarbon”

The First Contact Committee calls up for some help from the bridge crew, who tag team communication science with some old-fashioned common sense, leading to the “Eureka moment” of combining the light patterns and molecule projections into complete expressions… which turn out to be equations. Yes, it was the power of math… we miss you, Tilly. Finally able to respond, Cloudy seems pleased, sending over an orb with a welcoming door and a message of peace. The prez decides to head in with Michael, Saru, and T’Rina, with Ndoye (not suspiciously at all) choosing to sit this one out. Dr. Hirai isn’t happy about being left behind too, but they need him as a backup in case things go awry. While they wait for Stamets to build them a translation box thing, Saru and T’Rina exchange some awkward moments and Michael takes her first officer aside to admit she is feeling out of control. The longtime friends are able to help each other, hug/yell it out, and get back on mission. They enter the mysterious orb, just as the search for Reno gets serious, heating up when they find her badge still sending out biometric data… but without her attached. Is it suspicious yet?

Inside the orb, 10-C shows a polite understanding of production budgets, recreating the USS Discovery bridge for their floating embassy. Using Stamets’ translator and some sharp thinking they are able to relay their most important message: DMA + Us = Terror, and the 10-C respond with empathy. Now we’re finally getting somewhere!  Unfortunately, this is the moment Ndoye blindly follows a text message from Tarka to sabotage the ship, blowing a hole in the shell around Discovery and freeing Book’s ship. What’s the combination of molecules and light for “WTF”? Cloudy closes down the embassy, sending the team back to the shuttle bay just as Reno is finally able to get a message out via a hidden licorice-sticky communicator, briefing Captain Burnham on Tarka’s plan. “You have to stop us, whatever it takes!” Cliffhanger!


A whole new level

“Species 10-C” has much promise, starting with the episode name itself. And indeed, we do finally get to say hello to this elusive mysterious force that has been behind everything this season. Discovery is delivering on the stated goal of creating something unique and exploring how difficult it would be to communicate with a truly alien species. The concept of being able to pull up to a planet, hop down and talk to people who more or less look human via magical devices helps keep the various Star Trek series running, but taking a moment to show how alien an alien can be is fascinatingly scrutinized here, evoking thoughtful science fiction literature and films like Contact, Arrival, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Introducing concepts like Kardashev Scale with Species 10-C speculated to be a Level 2 Civilization is compelling and fits with this season’s theme of uncertainty.

Aren’t you forgetting something?

All of the characters involved in this effort showed smarts, giving even the bridge crew another chance to shine. This is why it is so frustrating that otherwise, the characters have some combination of amnesia or willful ignorance when it comes to the threat of Tarka, a threat that has been apparent since the character was introduced early in the season. There can be some fun in letting the audience be a little ahead of your characters to create dramatic tension, but not to the extent that you want to start throwing things at your screen.

Because two episodes of Star Trek are being released this week, one cannot help but contrast how the Picard characters never fall into this trope to keep up the drama in “Penance.” And while both shows are highly serialized, that other entry was still able to feel like more of a complete story, instead of just the first half of a two-part finale for Discovery, and without the “Part 1” moniker to give you a heads up.

Final thoughts

All that said, “Species 10-C” was entertaining, elevated by strong performances, especially from Tig Notaro and David Ajala, who both added more layers to their characters. While the guest stars have been just as strong, the dominating presence of Rillak, Tarka, and even T’Rina and Hirai has meant that some of our regulars, like Stamets and Adira, are relegated to the background, popping in to tech some tech but kept away from most of the action. Character frustrations are mostly overshadowed by the thoughtful science fiction and building excitement to the season finale.

Random bits

  • This is the second Discovery writing credit for Kyle Jarrow, who joined the series as a co-executive producer for season four.
  • Executive producer Olatunde Osunsanmi continues to have the most Discovery directing credits with his eleventh time behind the camera. He has been the producing director for the series since season one.
  • For the first time, we see Stamets’ Lab has a large airlock in the ceiling, allowing for the DOT-23 robots to easily exit after being loaded up.
  • They keep calling Stamets’ SCIENCE Lab “Engineering,” so maybe it has changed since the refit (and season four extensive repair)… or maybe they just don’t want to build another set.
  • Dr. Hirai continues to be seen snacking in each episode.
  • Burnham mentions how METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) speculated the mathematical language Lincos could be used for alien communication. Anson Mount (Captain Pike of Discovery and Strange New Worlds) is on the board of directors of METI.

More to come

Every Friday, the 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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I read the first line of an earlier review and it sounds like the two part season finale really has a chance to save S4.

It would be great to get two real-good hours of Star Trek tonight. I am pretty sure Picard will deliver, but we’re never sure what we are going to get with Discovery. IMO, if they can stick the landing with this two-part season finale, then S4 can be salvaged and I can flush the last three episodes from my mind. Overall, I have liked the story of S4, but there was way too much filler of late. I think and hope that will end tonight.

The thing that really surprises me is that a Trek show with just 13 episodes needs filler episodes! This is mind-boggling. The last three episodes could have been condensed down into one with the same pacing as an episode of Picard. I just don’t know what it is, is it a lower budget or what? That would be the only thing that would explain to me why they stretch out scenes, to get the most of a set they’ve built. If this is the case, then I would rather have 8 quality episodes.

Agreed. This story could’ve been handled like the Klingon war in season 1: half a season. I also don’t understand what it is. Could it have something to do with the fact the writers themselves are also (executive) producers? There are too little critical voices in the crew and the production line? Like in every aspect of society just them continuously patting themselves on the back while not listening to criticism? It could be that the hate the series got from the start from a very vocal group of ‘fans’ just numbed them. You know, like a beaten child.

Agreed. There were a lot of “filler” episodes. Short season shows do have them. But there were an unusually high number of them this time around. I like that they decided to slow things down but they went way too far with it. Like saying it’s too hot now and turning the thermostat down to 35 instead of 68.

This episode was really the epitome of everything that Star Treks’ mission statement says Star Trek should be.

So many positives:

  • Finding a truly non-humanoid form of life, and using investigative science and talking it out in order to form a constructive dialogue with them to achieve mutual understanding, instead of going in with guns blazing.
  • Grounding that investigative science in real-world current day stuff like Lincos and METI, then extrapolating it in ways onscreen that a viewer can understand even if they, like me, had never heard of Lincos before today.
  • Showing how the blind selfishness of one is clearly a mistake.

Other things I’d just like to highlight:

  • The 10-C being something far away from the oft-criticised “Bumpy-Forehead-Alien Of The Week” trope.
  • Some of the best production values of any show around. Visual and audio, it’s always gorgeous.
  • The evolution of Burnham and Sarus’ relationship. Where it is today in comparison to how they were with each other in season 1 is a joy to watch.
  • I think everyone got at least something in this episode. Owosekun and Adira probably the least this time, but they did at least get some lines rather than disappearing entirely for the week like Travis Mayweather.
  • Grudge, and I cannot stress this enough: Grudge.

After a terrible 3rd season they had the chance to bring Trek back to its roots for the 4th season. When the federation was being reassembled, Discover just should have become a planet of the week show bringing Trek back to its roots. The goal should have been bringing original federation members back and bringing new ones in. Instead, you have this convoluted end of the world scenario that only Michael can solve again, and badly at that. Just awful.

I don’t know what show you’ve been watching, but throughout that episode there was a rather large team of people working on the problem at hand, even bringing in several outside non-crew characters.

To say that it revolved purely around Burnham is just wilful miscomprehension.

The show DOES largely revolve around Burnham and always has. The rest of the characters have become background players, which is unfortunate.

Unfortunate to you maybe. Not to me. I have really liked the season and i love both Contact and Arrival so I loved this episode.

But did that happen in this episode, as stated by @DavidMoss? No, it did not.

Burnham, Saru, Hirai, T’rina, Rillak all getting equal amounts of screen time while working the problem, and then they call in Detmer and Christopher for input as well.

As with the complaints about crying and whispers, the idea that Burnham saves the day every episode is a deranged piece of hyperbole that knows no bounds. Often, she only provides one piece of the puzzle, and naturally as captain, helps to organize the work of others. That’s what captains do. And before Unification III, she would often charge in without thinking and get proven wrong for her actions. Now, she’s more likely to hold back others from making the kinds of mistakes she used to make. It’s literally the main conflict in the season.

Yeah the constant commenting on the apparently never ending scenes of people crying baffles me. Same with the whispering. Any time a female member of the cast speaks in the show, it seems to incite “SHE’S WHISPERING / CRYING ALL THE TIME!”. Which blatantly isn’t true.

Any time a female member of the cast speaks in the show, it seems to incite SHE’S WHISPERING / CRYING ALL THE TIME!.

Congrats on totally missing the issue. This isn’t a situation about female cast members since people ONLY say it about Burnham–the person who frequently cries and almost always whispers.

It’s called “hyperbole”. People exaggerate to make a point. Burnham isn’t always crying every episode. But she does do it far more often than one might think. Hence, the “she cries all the time” complaint. And just because this particular episode the included more people to find pieces of the puzzle (with unbelievable ease, I might add) doesn’t mean the Burnahm solves everything complex is no longer a problem with the show.

She cries and whispers often, and she also often saves the day. If you’re claiming that’s untrue, you either haven’t watched the show or are lying.

Not only do I watch every episode multiple times each week, I actually keep track of this stuff because people keep complaining about it. Burnham hasn’t even cried all season. There have been two tears all season, one from Book and the other from Detmer. For Book it was a breakthrouh being built up for more than an episode. And for Detmer, it was so much of an aberration that she apologized to Burnham for it on the shuttle ride back.

And if you don’t see the teamwork being implemented in episode after episode, then I could say the same about whether you watch or are lying.

Indeed she hasn’t done it this season. She sort of earned this reputation in seasons past. And it’s a tough one to shake at this point.

He didn’t watch the episode; I’m not convinced he even read this review of it.

Ok. I have been hyper critical of Discovery, always. Mainly because the writing has been consistently garbage. BUT I have to give props where they are due. This was a really enjoyable episode to watch. I am shooketh to write those words.
I enjoyed that it felt like an ensemble piece, where it wasn’t just Michael thinking of all the clever ideas. Other people were involved in keeping the story ticking along – wow! I really enjoyed the special effects and the production design; I don’t think Star Trek has ever looked better or more cinematic honestly. I enjoyed the pacing, and that we didn’t deviate too much from the main story by having some random bridge crew officer talk about their irrelevant trauma. The cut aways were short and meaningful to the story, or just nice little moments like with Saru and spicy Vulcan lady. I can even forgive the screaming scene, mainly because I think Grudge kinda elevated the scene by just acting so over what was happening around it, as a cat would.

But there are still some huge problems – all to do with the writing off course.

  • Could the Earth general lady be any more one-dimensional? She basically just kept saying “This isn’t working! No time! Let’s act and destroy!” without, you know, waiting to see if said things weren’t actually working. The intelligence required for the role General of Earth Defences must be pretty low.
  • I cannot believe that that is actually STILL Tarka’s main and only motivation; he feels guilt for ratting out his mate, although he ratted him out before they were friends and they were both in a pretty bad situation, and in the end he made it right and ultimately was successful in freeing him. And he knows he’s out there somewhere living his life but he wants to what? Say sorry to him? He’s really willing to singlehandedly go up against the most advanced species anyone has ever faced for that? Not buying it babes.
  • Nobody noticed Tigg wasn’t there. This is just….sigh. Although everyone was needed to pull together in this crises moment. Michael literally told everyone in engineering to work TOGETHER. So, THE CHIEF ENGINEER WAS MISSING AND NOBODY NOTICED?!
  • And Zora is pretty useless if she can’t detect a ship literally hanging off her, and not be able to hear open treacherous conversations in empty hallways. I thought she was always listening out to these fools and trying to protect them?

But again, it was a fun episode with a lot of interesting ideas; particularly in the ways the 10-C communicated and looked, and as a whole….dare I say it…. and oh my God I cannot believe I’m saying this… it felt like Star Trek to me.

Nobody noticed Tigg wasn’t there. This is just….sigh. Although everyone was needed to pull together in this crises moment. Michael literally told everyone in engineering to work TOGETHER. So, THE CHIEF ENGINEER WAS MISSING AND NOBODY NOTICED?!

I mean, she does have a tendency to just not be there for entire stretches of episodes at a time, so they probably just assumed she was off doing weirdly creative things with liquorice or something.

I enjoyed the episode pretty much (and I’ve enjoyed much of season 4 so far) but I agree that it bordered on ridiculous how long it took them to realize that Reno was gone. Then again, due to Tig Notaro’s limited availability, Reno is often gone for several episodes at a time and the show never acknowledges it. They simply use Stamets as a stand-in for what should be Reno’s responsibilities.

Tarka installed some kind of hack so I can buy that Zora wouldn’t be able to detect Book’s ship. As for not noticing Ndoye’s communications, I have to watch the episode again where they discussed Zora gaining consciousness, but since they decided to treat her like a member of the crew it would make sense to ask her not to eavesdrop on everybody all the same.

Yeah maybe they asked Zora not to be a creep. I guess she could pretty much watch them all in the sonic showers if she wanted to, so maybe they told her not to be a pervert and let the crew have their privacy off screen? I can buy that reason for not evesdropping, I guess. But Tarka’s “dampening device” seems a little too convenient of a plot device for a sentient computer with hundred of thousands of years of knowledge. Is it hundreds of thousands of years? I can’t remember.

But the Reno thing is just very “Oh how coincidental that they realise she’s gone just in time for Tarka to hatch his dastardly plan”. I think the writers just realised they needed someone else involved in the Tarka and Book storyline to inject some conflict, and went about it in a very shoddy way.

I guess she could be on some form of part-time work, but still. It’s pretty scary that a department head can be kidnapped for hours on a ship with a limited number of crew, in a crises scenario where all hands are needed. And nobody notices you’re gone and your input isn’t actually needed in perhaps the most important time in Discovery’s history. I’d be re-thinking having her on the ship if she’s that easily forgettable as a chief engineer.

I think I’d like to add that when Tig isn’t being acerbic/sarcastic and needs to read actual story advancing lines she really isn’t a very good actor at all. The sarcasm shielded that.

As far as in-universe explanations are concerned, Reno did get mentioned from time to time when we, the audience, didn’t see her. So we were reminded she was there working with people. The idea that no one noticed her missing for so very long is a very legit criticism.

Not detecting the ship is one thing. But the ships computer not monitoring everything, especially after that whole business with not wanting any harm to come to any member of the crew, just doesn’t fly. For some weird reason it wasn’t discussed on the show but as a viewer I thought a huge problem with making Zora a crew member was the mere fact that Zora monitors everyone and everything. Such a sentient being with that kind of power should have been addressed. But it wasn’t so it stands to reason Zora still maintains the “feeling” of protectiveness and it is reasonable that a conversation where openly defying the Captain and the mission would have been heard by Zora and conveyed to those involved. Hell Zora could have force fielded off both Booker and the General right there on the spot the instant that conversation was heard. The Zora issue is awfully inconsistent.

Well, Zora still detected Reno’s bio-signs together with her communicator so she would have no reason to suspect Reno was gone.

I would think that a sentient machine would have picked up on the oddness of Reno not moving from one spot. Ever.

I think a sentient machine would not track someone’s movements 24/7

And Zora is pretty useless if she can’t detect a ship literally hanging off her, and not be able to hear open treacherous conversations in empty hallways. I thought she was always listening out to these fools and trying to protect them?

I actually kinda liked how the dealt with Zora here. Tarka installed a patch to specifically block Zora’s sensors from detecting Books ship and the communication b/w it and Ndoye. However, because she has gained sentience, she was still able to detect that something was off. With any other “dumb” computer, the patch would have gone unnoticed by the computer, and it would have been up to some storytelling shenanigans to clue the crew in on that something wasn’t right.

You brought up some things I did notice and didn’t add in my original post. Zora not hearing and seeing EVERYTHING is weird. The only thing I can think of is that in order for Zora to be considered a crew member it would be required to turn off all ship monitoring systems so as not to invade anyone’s privacy. The weird part is this was never mentioned by anyone in the show and I felt it an OBVIOUS issue.

Is Reno the chief engineer? I didn’t think Discovery had one. Nor did I think it had a CMO since we haven’t seen a CE ever and its been a VERY long time since we’ve seen what we think is a CMO.

And yes. Tarka’s motivations are weird. The plan just doesn’t make sense. The guy seems to have no moral line he won’t cross just to get back to his “friend”. Or whatever ambiguous relationship they had. Anyone with the “I don’t care how many need to die for me to be rejoined with my loved one” attitude needs to be sent to the crazy house. That’s just unhinged.

I think you have all summed up the problems with this show season 2+.

Firstly, the bar is so low now with DISCO that a half-average decent episode is somethng of praise. This show is all over the place, it clearly suffers from bad, unimaginative writing and a convoluted uninteresting plot. It has essentially become content, each episode stringing the viewer along.with incredibly drawn out episodes.

It really has gone down hill from season 2.

Secondly, I thnk it has been a mistake to run the two shows together because all the faults of this one come into stark relief. Picard ran the worn out time travel show with twist and borg queen rather masterfully, and has managed to keep us intrigued for what is going to happen next week, even though we know what will happen. In the case of STD, do we really care? Will Earth be destroyed? No, but, if it did, it might acutally be good. Which of the characters is going to die…who cares? I think it’s Saru, but it could be anybody except Burnham.

Also, in the times of VOY, DS9 or TNG they had 26 episode seasons, so there was time to “explore” people’s feelings, but with 10-13, really? If an editor without the mandate the “make it as long as possible” started to really work on this show how many episodes would it be? 6?

The motivations of the different characters are far from defined, they seem to be more to drive the show along than to bring any depth to the plot. Someone has to be a baddie, so it’ll be Tarka. Why? Who cares, it has to be someone even though his motivations are far from serious. Book has to be duped by him so he can be redeemed, because Book is gulible, really? the Earth General has to be the “Burn it all” because they need someone to give us the cliffhanger for the final episode, drum up a bit of expectation in the hope that we, the viewer, give a s**t enough to tune in, because season three was a kid crying over his mommie and in season 2 there was someone fying around – wow, Earthshattering stuff. The President is perhaps the most obvious plot device. So one-dimensional. Her only role is to the be the antagonist to Burnham, so she can show us all how wonderful she is. What happened to the “reckless” Burnham from episode1? 2?

All in all, as fans we watch because we hope it will get better, but, like the poor writing of the show, we know it won’t get better and we are out to be disappointment.

Sorry about the rant, but I have to leave this with a question: Who is Discovery made for? Who is it marketed to?

The Millennials only have the movies to relate to in their lifetime, and Discovery is definitely not like the movies.
Is it for the fans who started with TOS? Certainly not, because whatever canon Gene had for the show, that has gone out of the window.
If it is for the Enterprise audience, given all the references to that show, well, that was cancelled after a rebbot and 4 seasons and probably the worst knife in the back you could give to a show…

Sorry again for a rant. It is frustration at what started as a promising show has become a soap.

Another excellent “working the problem” episode!

It’s like watching this exchange in actual practice, not theory.

Counselor Deanna Troi:
We are stranded on a planet. We have no language in common, but I want to teach you mine.
[she holds up her tea glass]
Counselor Deanna Troi:
S’smarith. What did I just say?
Captain Jean-Luc Picard:
Cup… Glass.
Counselor Deanna Troi:
Are you sure? I may have meant liquid. Clear. Brown. Hot. We conceptualize the universe in relatively the same way.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard:
Point taken.

Yep. I was thinking that as well. And these guys assumed the meaning of certain messages when there were a hundred other possibilities that could be inferred from that message.

I’m reminded of a joke from an old TV show that aired here in Mexico in the ’80s

In it, a man asks a woman if she wants to go hunting with her, but she thinks he is asking her to marry him because “cazar” (hunt) and “casar” (marry) sound exactly the same way in Spanish.

Then there was an episode of E.R. in which a patient is told to take a pill only ONCE a day, but because ONCE in Spanish means eleven he ends up overdosing.

Or the movie Sphere, in which replacing two letters causes Harry to become Jerry.

This is all to say that communication between the Federation and Species 10-C should not be smooth, heh.

But Withoutf assumption there is No learning. This is why you validate.


I enjoyed this episode quite a bit, even though there’s a ton of stupidity on display in the writing. That stupidity was overshadowed by the technical excellence and the sheer sense of wonder on display. I’ll accept some doofiness if it’s done for what I perceive to be good reasons, and that’s how this one hit me.

Fingers crossed the season finale can follow suit, or maybe even be better. I don’t think there’s any redeeming the bungled plotline with Tarka, but hey, you never know.

For years, I’ve said that Star Trek movies should stop trying to compete with the MCU or Star Wars releases. Yesterday, trailers for Strange New Worlds and Kenobi were released. I know that Kenobi will have gotten more views. Check the YouTube figures. As of this writing, SNW has less than a million views, Kenobi has more than 7 million. What I’ve long suggested is that Star Trek try to look for a different source of inspiration, movies like Close Encounters, ET, The Abyss, Contact, Gravity, Interstellar, The Martian, and Arrival. For the past several episodes, it’s appeared that this season is shaping up to be “The Devil in the Dark,” but what it really looks like it’s doing is listening to my advice. There are elements of Close Encounters, The Abyss, Contact, and Arrival in this episode, and it’s all the better for it. They may have thrown in a dash of Inside Out, for good measure. Arrival itself had elements of TNG’s “Darmok” and DS9’s “Emissary.” This season has ultimately been about the methodical process of establishing first contact with a species that seems utterly incomprehensible. It’s why the show has seemed relatively slow compared to past seasons, because it’s a process that can’t be rushed. Years ago, I read a book called “Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication” which was a series of essays on the challenges of communication when there are no reference points. At least on Earth, we had the Rosetta stone and some biological universalisms. Last week, we got that Rosetta stone when the crew discovered hydrocarbons convey specific emotions, and therefore are a way to communicate. This week, we learn that the species synthesizes these chemicals and emotions into light, which leads to translations into math, and therefore at least some kinds of rudimentary concepts. It’s lucky for us they use base ten. The crew is able to communicate the intended benevolence of *most* of Milky Way life, by providing a gift of boronite. It works well enough that 10-C offers an invitation to the crew in the form of a shiny egg-shaped holodeck with a door. Gotta love a shiny orb in science fiction. More importantly, we learn that they genuinely didn’t know they were doing harm to life inside the Milky Way. It speaks to the motives of the species, and how we can proceed. While we know what the right course of action is in this case, that’s hardly universal amongst the characters. Aboard Discovery, General Ndoye is still sharply skeptical of the ability to seek a peaceful solution, so she continues to act as a double agent aboard the ship, maintaining communication with Book and Tarka. Book is fully aware of the progress Discovery is making, as he and Tarka attempt to implement their plan. So much of what happens in this part of the episode is about how culpability goes hand-in-hand with what characters know. What Book doesn’t know is the math involved in Tarka’s calculations. One of the biggest mysteries last week was how someone as smart as Reno could manage to get herself kidnapped. To me, either she allowed herself to be kidnapped or she was somehow defecting to Tarka’s team and claiming to be a hostage. It turns out, it was the former. And she snuck aboard a tricomm badge to attempt communications with Discovery, using her favorite snack (and bane of Boimler’s existence) licorice to serve as a conduit. She’s MacGyver. But she still need access codes, and Book seems somewhat reasonable, so she reaches out to him. Tarka, on the other hand, is an unrepentant and serial liar. Whatever his motives, he simply can’t be trusted. So, in his desperation, he eventually confines both Book and Reno behind a forcefield and flat out lies to Ndoye. It’s an unequal exchange of information. All this time, Culber, Adira, and Stamets realize something’s up when they can’t reach Reno. They even enlist Zora’s help. But, unlike the 24th century, it takes more doing to fool the ship into thinking a simple combadge is a person; you have to attach false biometric signatures. They eventually figure it out and Book provides the codes, so Reno can communicate to Discovery. And it’s just in time, or maybe seconds too late, because Tarka implements his plan and 10-C transports the ambassadorial team back to the ship. Who will 10-C believe next week, the ambassadors who come in peace or Tarka who flails weapons in desperation? How will 10-C react? The past several episodes have also charted the progress of Saru’s romantic campaign. On the surface, they seem out of place in a season with increasing urgency, but in this episode, they have a thematic tie. T’Rina appears distant this week, when she rejects an idea Saru had. Burnham lets… Read more »

Okay, that was good! For the first time in weeks the plot finally really started to move forward. The introduction of the 10-C completely exceeded my expectation, with something truly unique within the realm of Star Trek. I especially loved how the Disco crew and the 10-C learned to communicate with each other; a mix of lights, hydrocarbons representing different emotions, and of course math made for a truly inspired form of communication, and unlike anything we’ve seen in Trek. It actually reminded me a bit of how communication was established in the short story “Story of Your Life” (and subsequent movie “Arrival”).

Naturally, Tarka was finally, truly and without doubt revealed to be the villain of the season. This has been foreshadowed for weeks now, so it’s about time that any lingering doubts about the treacherous lengths he is willing to take to get “home” have been laid to rest. While it is frustrating, form a character standpoint, that the Discovery crew wasn’t keeping an eye on where Tarka and Book were (someone had to realize they would try to cross the Galactic Barrier), I do understand it (to an extent) from a storytelling standpoint. As interesting as the communication with the 10-C was, and even with the looming deadline of when Earth and Nivar would start to be affected by the DMA, without a further threat I could see things sort of being “boring.” Personally, I would have found an entire hour of the Disco crew learning to communicate with a completely alien entity absolutely fascinating, but I can understand the show runners hesitance on devoting an entire episode to that.

Hopefully, with how good this first part was, the season finale won’t disappoint. I’m still wary given Discovery’s past inability to stick the landing, but this is the first season where the first half of the finale really hit it out of the park, so fingers crossed!

The penultimate episodes of S3 were really good too. We saw an amazing malfunctioning holodeck and one of the best armistice negotiations, but somehow the screaming child reveal at the end really soured a lot of people. And I don’t even mind the infinity turbolift.

So, yeah, fingers crossed!

Honestly, the screaming child aspect didn’t bother. I found it quite moving that the burn wasn’t caused by some big bad or some uncontrollable natural disaster, but the unbearable heartbreak of a screaming child. What bothered me about the Season 3 finale was a combination of the absurd TARDIS like interior of the Discovery, the straight up mustache twirling villain-turn of Osyraa (before the finale she at least had some depth, and in the penultimate episode seemed legitimately interested in brokering peace with the Federation), and the overall action above coherent story telling nature of the entire episode.

So yeah, fingers crossed ;)

The screaming child didn’t bother me that much either. My issue was the show was so very bad leading up to it that the chosen resolution was just another bad plot move. If that wound up being the worst part of season 3 of Star Trek Discovery that would mean the show would have actually been decent.

I ask you this with all seriousness and no snark, why are you continuing to watch Discovery since you so obviously hate it?

I’ve explained this plenty of times. It’s because I’m a Star Trek fan. Fair weather fans may bail when the team suck but hard core fans don’t. You still see fans at the games of teams that are terrible. They have hope. They complain how bad the team is but they want that team to get better and win. It’s what fans do. So I will keep watching Trek hoping it will one day get better. It’s what fans do.

I feel much the same regarding Su’Kal. I’m kind of baffled why it’s sparked such a backlash amongst fans. It was such an elegant way for the show to tie into the themes of the season.

I kind of think that a lot of DSC detractors really have a problem with emotions being so foregrounded in a TV show, but I think that’s kind of the point of this series, normalizing the idea of fully integrating emotions into one’s work in a way that both motivates that work, but also aids in it. I suppose it’s a scary idea to a society that believes that such things should be sharply compartmentalized. But this show has demonstrated time and again that such integration is actually very important, by having its most competent and respected characters be experts in emotional intelligence and psychology, introducing at least one such mentor each season: Cornwell, Pike, Vance, and Rillak.

There’s also an element that equates emotionlessness with science fiction, but this episode in particular proved that we could have the most hard sci-fi episode of Star Trek, perhaps in decades and actually have it be enhanced by its emotional content.

I forgot to mention, and which was briefly covered in the review, we FINALLY learn about Book’s name. I like the idea that the name “Cleveland Booker” is a name passed down from one trustful courier to the next. I wonder if we’ll ever learn anything about the original Cleveland Booker…

That was mentioned before in the third season finale.

Well damn, I missed that one… 🤦‍♂️ That kinda fits in with how incoherent at times the season 3 finale was.

No. It’s more that it’s been more than a year since that episode aired, so it might not stick out for everyone. That line stuck out for me, as it was one of two major revelations about the character in that episode, the other being that he could pilot the spore drive. But also, the episode “Stormy Weather” goes into more detail on the subject, when his father shows up as a hallucination.

I would think that the fact he can pilot the spore drive to be slightly more important than the backstory of his name.

I forgot and it was just brought up again and I had already forgot again. It’s not important.

Book finally explaining about his namesake made me nervous, because I’ve been feeling for a few episodes that Book is doomed. The choices the character has made since allying himself with Tarka have made it harder and harder to see how he can remain an ally of Burnham and her crew… unless he does something spectacular to redeem himself. It feels to me like the writers are setting him up for a heroic sacrifice, stopping Tarka and saving the galaxy, but probably at the expense of his own life. Which would be suitably tragic for Burnham, and would fit with the general emotional tenor of the series.

If that is the plan, it makes sense that the writers would want to tie up any loose threads about the character of Book, before they kill him off. The business with his namesake was the biggest loose thread. Now that they’ve explained it (more or less), Book’s death next episode seems even more likely.

I could definitely see the show taking that route, as I agree that it is becoming more and more difficult for Book to not only regain Burnham’s trust, but the trust of Starfleet and the Federation. Assuming he does survive, I imagine he’ll play a big part in stopping Tarka, and thus he will be fully redeemed within the eyes of the Federation, but Burnham and him will still have a rocky road ahead of them. I just can’t imagine Book paying for his betrayal by going to jail or something.

Been getting a bit caught up on season four. Frankly, the incessant b**ching about it from some folks defies explanation. I freely admit season one was disjointed, but this has been great viewing so far.

Eh, it’s pretty much par for the course for genre fans, let alone Trek fans. Some people do have legitimate issues and complaints, but a lot are just trolls :p I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring the worst offenders, but sometimes it’s hard not to argue with some who have just really bizarre takes on things.

If one doesnt Like the writing or the acting there is Not much to argue.

A: I dont Like the acting its terrible.
B: No its great.
A: No, its Not.
B: yes it is. Also the writing is great.
A: acting Bad… Writing Bad.
B: both great. You are a Troll.
A: no… You are a Troll.
B: Uh… No… You are the Troll. Everyone Knows that.
A: but everyone Said you are trolling….
B: but Not… All of Them. Most people. Said you are…

Thats basicly how this goes… Every time…

I am Not that innocent about it ;) … But I try

A decent episode with 15 minutes of emotional whining (and yelling) in the middle of crisis, while the DMA gets closer and closer to Earth and Vulcan. This season continues to be a drag despite finally meeting the 10C. This season should have been 10 episodes. If the finale doesn’t land, I think I’m done with this show.

10? You’re being generous, Mathew. This plot could’ve been introduced and wrapped up in 3 episodes.


I was going to say 5. But overall this feels like it could have been a TNG two parter.

Loved the scenes where they attempted to communicate with Species 10-C. This should have happened a lot sooner. I hope Tarka doesn’t survive the season finale next week. Ndoye and Book need to be held accountable for their actions.

Thumbs up. 👍

At last, a realistic encounter with truly alien species. No hot chicks painted green or orange. Very compelling hour of science fiction. Hoping this, thus far disappointing season, ends with a big, dramatic bang.

Ok, that was a big improvement on the last 3 episodes. And I will admit, maybe some of the touchy feely moments of the past three weeks were contextually important, but they could have made those scenes substantially less annoying.
That said, this was perhaps one of the best Discovery episodes yet. I thought it contained a lot of the elements that really makes Star Trek such great science fiction. Yes there were some really annoying plot holes like nobody realizing Reno was gone – IMO something the writers room should have caught, but for the most part the rest of the story was pretty good.
It doesn’t make up for the three previous episodes, but it did a good job setting things up for next week’s finale. Now let’s see if the writers can end S4 on a high note!

Oh, btw loved it that after just a few hours of observing Tarka, Reno came to the conclusion he was more than a couple of cherries short of a sundae! Haha! Too bad Booker didnt take the opportunity to stun Tarka 3 episodes ago – but I guess he was emotionally compromised.

This was an amazing Sci Fi episode with a TMP vibe! I think Michael is now going to face her Kobayashi Maru scenario in the finale. I’m definitely worried about her. Amazing effects, technobabble, and snacking! Wonderful Performances! Bravo!

Too bad S2 E2 of Picard was a totalitarian cliche… characters were great but everything else….meh!

Disco Wins this week for me!

Too little, too late.

No, no, no.

I understand this sentiment. At this point I feel like it is very possible the dye has been cast. The show could become way better but the baggage from before will always be an albatross to it.

It was refreshing to watch a Discovery episode without cringy emotional outbursts by the leads. Well, except for the screaming bit with Saru and Michael but we can forget that one.

After a full season of boring cringy episodes I would rate 2 or 3 out of 10, this was a solid 7! I wish all episodes are sci fi like this one instead of Greys Anatomy ones.

There was a definite TMP vibe to this episode, which was easily one of the best of the season, if not the best so far.

But speaking of TMP… did anyone notice how, during the bridge crew’s initial observations of the 10-C, the music was *very* similar to the TMP score when they were inside the cloud?

An interesting nod, to be sure.

I definitely thought I heard a blaster beam being used. But I was thinking it was more like Close Encounters, if we’re going with late-70s hard sci-fi.

and Close Encounters is more on theme w/ the interaction w/ the clouds.

Specialist: Give her six quavers, then pause.
Technician: She sent us four quavers, a group of five quavers, a group of four semi-quavers…
Walsh: What are we saying to each other?
Laughlin: It seems they’re trying to teach us a basic tonal vocabulary.
Specialist: It’s the first day of school, fellas. Take everything from the lady. Follow her pattern note for note.

I would agree that the overall story is reminiscent of the end of CE3K, but the music from TMP was definitely referenced. No, that doesn’t mean I think Species 10-C is V-GER, but I thought it was a nice callback.

going pointing out they call Stamet’s lab as engineering…. we still don’t who the Chief Engineer is…. or the Chief Medical Officer…. Chief Science Officer….i am not sure of the roles everyone else has on the bridge outside of helm and navigation.

4 seasons in and no one knows what level anyone is. That’s pretty bad.

Only if hierarchy is all that important. Pike specifically said that rank doesn’t matter, and I kind of agree with him…in most cases. The best ideas should win, and whoever’s at the ready to perform a given task should be the one to do it.

On Lower Decks, we never knew who was the chief science officer until that promotion in the second season finale.

The whole point of the new shows is that the focus need not always be on department heads. Focusing exclusively on the senior staff for the first 50 years is maybe the biggest reason Trek started to get formulaic. By mixing up the combinations of which characters get focus, and even how many characters are in the main cast, it means different kinds of stories can get told, with a broader range of character journeys.

The department heads don’t need to be the focus all the time but it would have been nice to know who they are or see them sometimes

Hierarchy will always be important. Otherwise why have ranks? There would be nothing to strive for. Who decides what the best idea is? The person in charge, that’s who! And it’s the department heads who bring those ideas from their staff’s to their superiors. But the Captain doesn’t have 50 people from the different departments to advise. The Captain listens to the Department heads. Who in turn have listened to their staff.

Further, Burnham has constantly skipped her department heads in favor of the opinions of those below them. And only handful of them. Why is she ignoring the ideas from the rest of her crew? If they are the only one’s she will listen to why not just make it official and advance Stammets to Chief Engineer? Culber to CMO? I would think the actual CMO is probably pretty damn annoyed at never being in the loop.

Stamets is in the science department, he’s an astromycologist.

But Lower Decks is kind of asking the same question, that maybe rank and hierarchy aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. What’s there to strive for? Achieving for the sake of a title and power is much more like the pre-UFP mindset Picard had to let the unfrozen in “The Neutral Zone” and Lily in “First Contact” know is not really a part of the Star Trek future, which is far far less individualist and far more communal in its focus, working for the betterment of society as a whole.

Is that what Stammets is? It’s incredibly vague.

And is Lower Decks asking that question? Not striving to improve oneself but being satisfied with “just doing a good job” just isn’t the way humanity is wired. If we were, we wouldn’t be exploring. Captains wouldn’t have the luxuries crewmen don’t. And Lily pointed out the BS that Picard fed her, too. And it was BS. She was right.

Go back to the top of the episode. When they approaching the 10-C powerfield, and listen to the music cue. It’s one of the V’ger cues, when the Enterprise was approaching the V’Ger power field. Also used as a sting when V’ger was referenced. Very cool little add on.

Yup! Low bass thumping.

I am forced to give them a little credit here. This felt like a very Star Trek kind of thing. Although they did make a few grand assumptions on what was being communicated. The biggest was that last one that mentioned sadness. They assumed it was sadness for humanity but it could have been sadness they felt they had to do it. Or a number of other things. There were other assumptions they made that very well could have not been the right call. Still, interesting concept and it’s not the first time in this story arc the show managed to do that. So credit of a decent effort.

Of course they couldn’t resist the temptation of having yet ANOTHER inappropriate conversation at a very inappropriate time. This sort of thing is really irritating. It feels like the writers think they HAVE to have these conversations but can’t find a moment in the story to do it. So they force it in anywhere. Also… NO ONE noticed Reno was gone? I find that difficult to buy. But then, the audience hasn’t seen here for the bulk of the season so I guess that is what they were hoping would sell it? Sorry. That just doesn’t fly.

Also, Booker is probably the most gullible person on that ship. When he was betrayed that first time he should have limited that dude’s access and watched him more closely.

The characters still are awful and there there is still an overall feel of ‘trying but not succeeding’ all over the show. But I am forced to admit the show is a little more focused and is a little better than it has been. I’ve said it before and I still am believing it. But at this rate of improvement in perhaps 20 seasons these writers might have a mediocre show on their hands.

It was so close. This episode was great sci-fi and I was actually enjoying it…until the last 5-10 seconds. That panning of the camera around Burnham with her looking directly at you was incredibly corny and it it quickly unhooked me from what was otherwise a good episode. Just felt way too over the top.

Couldn’t the Federation get their message through by video / holo simulation, of the DMA destroying Kweijan, and a simulation of it going to destroy other planets on its current trajectory.

They may not speak the same language, but a silent motion picture (in 3D) should work

I’m gobsmacked to say this, but “The 10-C” was amazing — probably the series best, which I previously gave to “An Obol for Charon.” Season 4 has been anything but taut, but this episode’s pacing was near perfect. And we had deep, thoughtful sci-fi themes, with hints of both TMP and ARRIVAL. Even the obligatory hugging scene felt organic. Well done.

The Part where they communicate With the ten-c was descent. Except every second Burnham talked. I really despise smq’s acting, its borderline Bad.
Its a shame. Because basicly every other actors acting is descent enough.

Anyway the communications Part was cool. Felt very Trek…

The Rest Not.

Loved the brain-teasiness of the episode, and so did my wife. She expressed no interest in watching it with me, but as the episode progressed, she shifted from watching a stream to listening to music, to pausing that, then removing an earcuff from her headset, and finally watching out of the corner of her eye before I smugly invited her over to watch a second time, and she relented.

This series is just not very good. Season 1 was “decent”, season 2 was great, but these last two? Eeesh. Discovery seems more concerned with incessant talk-out-your-feelings moments than it does anything else. I even catch my wife rolling her eye’s. I mean the entire premise of season 3 was feelings-destroyed-warp-drive and ruined the Federation. Season 4 seems like the sci-fi is just a vehicle to get to the next talk it out moment. They even got the ship in on the feelings train.

I really hope with pandemic restrictions removed that the writing team finds a new stride for season 5.

This is one of the best points that I’ve ever read about Star Trek aliens:
“ Inside the orb, 10-C shows a polite understanding of production budgets, recreating the USS Discovery bridge for their floating embassy”

Fell off my chair. :)