Star Trek: Discovery season 2, episode 4 recap: An Obol for Charon


The fourth episode of Star Trek: Discovery showcases the bond between Saru and Michael Burnham, and also introduces us to another Enterprise crewman.

"I’m your friend. There will never be judgement between us. – Michael Burnham"

On the newest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, we meet Rebecca Romijn’s Number One for the first time. With the Enterprise docked, she has been looking into the murder charge against Spock. Like Captain Christopher Pike, she doesn’t believe Spock could have done it. Number One thinks something about this investigation ‘isn’t adding up’ and she’s breached protocol to find Spock’s warp trail.

The Discovery’s mission is halted when the ship gets caught in some kind of stasis field by an enormous spherical entity. It is part organic and part technology, and before long it starts affecting the ship’s systems, starting with the universal translator.

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With the crew and the ship all speaking different languages, Michael Burnham calls upon a very unwell Saru to help. He knows 94 languages and manages to communicate with the ship long enough to bring some semblance of normality back to the bridge. The rest of the ship is another matter.

Burnham and Saru head down to each department to fix the universal translator. They succeed, but almost immediately, a conduit ruptures in Engineering, sending it into lockdown. Saru also looks worse for wear, and Burnham drags him to sickbay.

Dr. Pollard says the pain Saru is in would kill any other humanoid. The problem is, nobody knows much about Kelpians, but Saru keeps deflecting, showing more concern for the ship. With reason – turns out Saru’s condition is something Kelpians undergo, a terminal condition that signals the end of a Kelpian’s life. The sphere may have brought it on.

Down in Engineering, following ‘May’s extraction from Tilly in the previous episode, Stamets has been able to keep the mycelial symbiote encased, explaining that the spores consider the network their ‘home’. Tilly’s guilty conscience may have conjured her dead classmate, and now the fungus is connected to Tilly, even emulating a hand in an effort to comfort her.

Jett Reno, who was rescued during the season 2 premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, joins Tilly and Stamets and, though her methods may be unconventional, she does have some ingenious ideas on dealing with the symbiote. Unfortunately, they don’t exactly pan out and the symbiote escapes its cage.

Meanwhile, Saru surmises that by studying the virus they can generate digital antibodies. While working together, Saru apologizes to Burnham for not revealing his disease. He couldn’t bring himself to admit to a strong personality like Burnham that his species is geared to submit to their end.

But Burnham insists they are friends, so he shouldn’t have dealt with this news on his own. Saru asks Burnham to catalog his logs and gives her a brief history of his life before Starfleet.

When Captain Georgiou came to his planet, Saru was granted refugee status in the Federation. This opportunity allowed him to meet alien beings and learn several languages, though he never shared his own language with others.

Saru has made his life about helping people the way he was helped. Touched, Burnham tells Saru that she believes he’s the most empathic person she knows. For two people who started out as enemies on Star Trek: Discovery, it’s wonderful to see the bond they have formed.

Burnham returns to the bridge where she learns that Spock’s warp trail is dissipating fast. If they aren’t able to break free soon, he’ll be lost to them for good.

Pike has a plan to divert power from the deflector shield to the impulse engines (typical Star Trek!), but the comms link to Engineering is down. Burnham volunteers to head down there herself and get them to do the job.

But she can’t even enter Engineering. The mycelial symbiote has attached itself to Tilly again, but Stamets and Reno can’t get it off her. Burnham wants to know what it wants but how will they find out?

Stamets believes he can configure some tech to make the symbiote speak through Tilly, but the only way to do it requires him to drill a hole in her head.

This gives Burnham an idea. She runs back to Saru and they realize that the sphere has been trying to communicate with them this whole time. They rush to the bridge where Pike is ready to fire at the sphere. He is pressed for time as Spock’s warp trail is about to disappear.

Saru pleads with Pike to halt, explaining that the ultraviolet rays he’s been seeing are from the virus infecting the sphere. The sphere is dying, just like Saru, and it wants to be remembered.

To allow the sphere to download its information on to Discovery, Pike has to drop the shields. This is a tough decision for him, but as scientists – explorers – this is an opportunity that can’t be missed. Reluctantly, Pike gives the order to drop the shields.

The sphere downloads a bunch of data onto the computers, but Discovery is still trapped in the stasis field. Bracing themselves for the end, the sphere implodes, its last act to push Discovery to safety. Now, it’s Saru’s turn to say goodbye. The bridge crew stands to say farewell as Burnham takes Saru to his quarters.

Saru is disheartened that he left his heritage behind when he joined Starfleet. Again, Burnham reminds him of all that he has achieved. ‘You’ve saved so many lives, including mine.’ But kind words cannot stop biology. Saru asks Burnham to sever his threat ganglia so he can die peacefully.

With knife in hand, she breaks down, telling him that he is her family. Saru feels the same about her – Burnham replaced the sister he left on his home planet. Saru believes if the two of them can have formed this bond then she must do the same with Spock.

Burnham prepares to amputate the ganglia, but they fall off on their own. Saru is surprised but rejuvenated. For the first time in his life, he is no longer ruled by fear, in fact, he feels his power. Realizing that his species have been governed by a lie, he wonders what this could mean for Kelpians.

More good news, the sphere downloaded its entire legacy to the Discovery computers. They have access to everything it has seen, as well as the course of Spock’s shuttle. Burnham informs Pike that she has had a change of heart and will indeed be meeting Spock when they reach him. Pike looks pleased.

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In Engineering, Tilly continues to see and hear May, but Stamets and Reno don’t believe her. Well, they can’t really concentrate on anything because they are infected by the spores. Realizing they are both high, Stamets inoculates Reno and himself. But, when he goes to inoculate Tilly, she’s not there. Did the symbiote take her?