Star Trek: Discovery season 2, episode 5 recap: Saints of Imperfection


Tilly journeys through the spore network with ‘May’ and we learn more about Section 31 in the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery.

"‘There is no word for the unique agony of uncertainty.’ – Michael Burnham"

Michael Burnham is running. She’s just heard news of her friend, Sylvia Tilly’s disappearance. She reaches Engineering, where Paul Stamets kneels over the mycelial cocoon through which Tilly was sucked in. Stamets is speechless in the face of Michael’s distress but believes Tilly has survived because May had mentioned in the previous episode of Star Trek: Discovery that she had plans for the young Ensign.

With a lack of answers, duty takes precedence over emotion, as Discovery closes in on Spock’s shuttle. Spock seems to be heading into a nebula but isn’t interested in engaging with Discovery, despite Captain Christopher Pike’s repeated requests to lower his shields. Discovery has to get to Spock before he enters the nebula or they will lose him. The only way to do it is to disable his shuttle.

Some strategically placed torpedoes do the trick, and Pike and Burnham get ready to meet the man of the hour – except, it’s not Spock, it’s Emperor Philippa Georgiou, still pretending to be the Captain that Burnham lost in season one of Star Trek: Discovery. It’s no wonder that Burnham is hesitant to lower her phaser – this Georgiou isn’t trustworthy.

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Starfleet has Georgiou marked as retired, but it’s evident she isn’t. She presents her Black badge to Pike and Burnham, explaining that Section 31 has authorized her with bringing Spock in on multiple counts of murder. The three of them meet with Leland, who is in charge of Section 31. Leland doesn’t think Spock’s Captain and his sister are the best people to be bringing the Vulcan in. When Pike stands his ground, Leland agrees to send a liaison.

“Saints of Imperfection” — Episode #205 — Pictured: Michelle Yeoh as Philippa Georgiou of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Georgiou is enjoying herself in this new world because she ‘does her best work in plain sight’. She and Burnham are like chalk and cheese. They make their intense dislike for each other apparent before Georgiou leaves.

Burnham goes back to Engineering, hoping for some good news. Stamets tells her that the cocoon is akin to an organic transporter; which means, he could possibly get Tilly out. If there is another similar cocoon inside the network, he could scan its location and use it as a transporter pad to help them bring Tilly back to this side.

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Easier said than done. Inside the network, Tilly is met by May who tells her that the mycelial network used to be a paradise. May asks Tilly for help because she has no one else to turn to. Her entire species is at stake and only Tilly can help her ‘kill a monster’.

Section 31’s liaison arrives on Discovery, and it’s none other than Ash Tyler. Pike is immediately suspicious of Ash, especially since this is the second time in this episode of Star Trek: Discovery that Burnham has acted out of character. She asks her Captain to bear with her and goes to meet with Ash.

The Enterprise Chief of Security is in charge of keeping an eye on Ash because Pike doesn’t trust him. Despite Burnham asking him, Ash is unable to disclose how he ended up with Section 31. Burnham is upset that Ash has thrown his lot in with Georgiou, especially since the Emperor’s xenophobia is a cause for concern. Ash believes Georgiou will not harm Spock and tells her that Section 31 is doing good work. It will take some time before Burnham is won over.

Inside the network, May reveals that the monster appeared when Stamets entered it. Just then, Stamets is explaining to the Bridge crew that whenever Discovery jumps, it enters the network briefly, which is how they can get Tilly. Stamets stutters when he sees Ash – the man who killed his partner, Hugh Culber – appear on the Bridge, but regains his composure to propose that Discovery makes a partial jump – half in and half out of the network. Stamets and Burnham will have an hour to look for Tilly, while the crew must stick to the safe-zones on the ship to avoid getting killed. Pike is not happy with this plan but he believes that Tilly’s bravery is worth the chance. Following a rousing speech from their Captain, the Discovery jumps.

May is distraught when the Discovery breaks through to the network. She believes it is damaging her home. But Tilly is ecstatic, not least because the only way to help the network is by enlisting her friends. She runs to the ship but isn’t able to locate anyone. Thankfully, Discovery’s ammo is still available and Tilly grabs it. Meanwhile, Stamets and Burnham locate Tilly’s life-signs and rush to her.

“Saints of Imperfection” — Episode #205 — Pictured (l-r): Mary Wiseman as Tilly; Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham; Bahia Watson as May; Anthony Rapp as Stamets of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tilly is grateful to have been found. She quickly recaps the situation, but now the monster has penetrated Discovery. They follow the monster’s cries and find that it’s… Hugh Culber? He looks a mess, and in terrible pain.

Stamets imagined he’d seen Culber in the network when he was lost inside it in the first season of Star Trek: Discovery and May reiterates their suspicions that Culber is real. She wants Tilly to kill it, but the away team can’t. When Burnham informs Pike of the ‘complication’, he reminds her of their fast-approaching deadline. They have to work fast if Discovery is to survive this.

Culber has been leaving bark from a deadly tree wherever he goes. May believes he’s using it to kill her people, but in fact, he’s using it to defend himself from the scorching spores. Sentient thought means Culber is indeed real.

While Burnham and Tilly are desperately searching for Stamets and Culber, the spore network breaches the Bridge. Ash takes this moment to signal Leland’s ship to assist the Discovery. Section 31 has tech like no other, and they engage tractor beams on the Discovery to pull it out of the network. But Pike insists Leland wait till the away team is back. He’s not about to abandon his people.

Georgiou is on board the Section 31 ship and makes it very clear that she’s not taking orders from anyone. She has dirt on Leland, and when he tries to tractor Discovery against Pike’s wishes, she details exactly what will happen to him when that dirt gets out. He relents.

Stamets locates Culber who believes Stamets is a figment of his imagination. Now, it’s Stamets’ turn to convince the love of his life to come back to him. He reaches out his hand and Culber finally takes it. The away team reach them, but then May grabs Tilly’s gun, threatening to kill Culber. Tilly talks her down from her stance, diffusing the situation. Stamets had accidentally brought Culber to the network when he found his dead body. The network considered Hugh a foreign body and attacked him with antibodies.

“Saints of Imperfection” — Episode #205 — Pictured: Wilson Cruz as Culber of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Stamets excitedly brings Culber to the barrier between the network and the real world. He jumps through it but when Stamets pulls Culber’s arm, it disintegrates. Culber can’t come with the team. When Stamets confronts May about this development, she explains that the matter inside the network isn’t the same as that outside. She couldn’t maintain her from outside because she’s not human, so she’s not sure what they can do for Culber.

Culber resigns himself to his fate, but then Tilly and Burnham realize that the cocoon on Discovery is made of human cells, which means they can use Culber’s DNA to bring him through. This is great news, but now May is distraught that the door between the two worlds will be closed forever for her and she won’t be able to be with Tilly again. Tilly promises to figure out a way for them to be together.

Discovery jumps out of the network, just as the Section 31 ship disengages the tractor beams. The away team have made it.

In Engineering, Stamets expectantly waits for Culber to return through the cocoon. A few agonizing moments pass before the cocoon dissolves and Culber appears.

Pike meets with Leland and Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) on Section 31’s ship. She reveals that the Red Signals left a trail of tachyons, which could suggest time travel, but it could mean several other things as well. Whatever it is, the only person with answers is Spock, and to get those answers, she wants Discovery and Section 31 working together on this mission. Pike and Leland are reluctant but then agree. Accordingly, Section 31’s liaison officer, Tyler, will continue to be placed on Discovery until the mission is complete.

Georgiou contacts Burnham and explains that she wants to find Spock before vigilante mobs get to him. Burnham doesn’t believe her good intentions, but Georgiou asks her to keep a little faith.

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While Culber recovers and Pike mulls over the Red Angel drawings from Spock, Michael returns to her shared quarters with Tilly to hold her friend as she silently cries at the loss of someone who knew her better than she knew herself.

Watch Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All-Access.