Star Trek: Discovery season 2, episode 9 recap: Project Daedalus


When the crew of Discovery infiltrates Section 31’s headquarters on the latest episode of Star Trek Discovery, a huge sacrifice must be made to save the universe.

"‘Well, we’re coming home.’ Airiam"

USS Discovery is on the run after rescuing Spock from Section 31’s clutches. In the previous episode of Star Trek: Discovery, Special Agent Ash Tyler had been accused of sabotaging Discovery to aid 31. Michael Burnham is adamant that he is innocent and she intends to prove it to Captain Christopher Pike. But first, she needs to help her brother, Spock.

Admiral Cornwall has come onboard to interrogate Spock herself. Spock maintains his innocence to the Admiral, and her lie detector test suggests that Spock believes he’s telling the truth. But Cornwall has irrefutable footage that shows Spock committing the murders. And there’s more to be concerned about. Cornwall has been locked out of several Starfleet systems, and she believes it’s because of Admiral Patar (Tara Nicodemo), a logic extremist who has started rallying more extremists like herself since the Red Angel appeared. This is why Cornwall is aboard Discovery – she needs their help.

More. Star Trek: Discovery season 2, episode 8 recap. light

When Admiral Cornwall joins Pike on the Bridge, Sylvia Tilly informs them that she has found the coordinates to where Tyler’s transmissions were sent in the previous episode. Cornwall knows this location well – it’s the headquarters of Section 31.

“Project Daedalus” — Ep#209 — Pictured (l-r): Jayne Brook as Admiral Cornwell; Anson Mount as Captain Pike of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Meanwhile, Spock attempts to decipher what the Red Angel wants with him. Is it something personal? He resists every suggestion or query that Burnham puts forth and even refuses to acknowledge that she is his sister. Despite her revelations on Talos IV, it looks like Spock is unwilling to forgive her. With no answers available to them, Burnham suggests they turn to logic. And the best way to exercise logic is through a game of chess.

Unfortunately, the game does not go as planned. Burnham tries to engage with her brother, but he has another agenda. Spock believes Burnham is obsessed with carrying burdens that she was no control over – from the death of her parents, saving her family from the logic extremists on Vulcan, the impending war with the Klingon race, or Spock’s current situation – Burnham always gets involved. Spock’s anger bubbles beneath the surface, resulting in him smashing her chess set and walking away. He is feeling emotion for the first time in years, and he likes it.

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In the meantime, we know that Commander Airiam has been compromised by an outside source. She has been a stoic android, but we learn a shocking revelation about her in this episode of Star Trek: Discovery. She was human once, excited to be married and looking forward to her new adventure with her husband. That was the last day the couple was together.

Now as an android, Airiam has to purge her databanks on a weekly basis. The ‘memories’ she keeps are those she shares with the rest of the crew. Chats in the mess hall, sparring with a colleague, Burnham smiling at her. These most human moments Airiam archives while deleting everything else.

It appears that whatever has taken over Airiam is trying to assess the crew’s weaknesses. She point blank asks Commander Nhan (Rachael Ancheril) about her breathing device – her species do not inhale oxygenated air. When Airiam realizes that she is losing time, she asks Tilly to stick by her as they decrypt the messages allegedly sent by Tyler.

Discovery reaches the Section 31 headquarters, but the place is a fortress. There are mines surrounding the base – if Discovery is to go through it, they will have to drop shields as the mines are attracted to them. Just great! Burnham arrives on the Bridge in time for Section 31’s formidable arsenal to begin firing on Discovery.

Whatever is controlling Airiam orders Tilly to leave so that she can send a message. All this is being observed by Nhan. Something major is going to go down on Star Trek: Discovery tonight.

“Project Daedalus” — Ep#209 — Pictured (l-r): Mary Wiseman as Tilly; Hannah Cheesman as Airiam 2.5 of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Meanwhile, Cornwall is unable to bring down the mines. With the ship flying blind, Burnham suggests they try a new tactic – chaotic evasive maneuvers from random members of the crew. These cannot be anticipated by the mines and soon they begin colliding against the ship. Discovery makes it through and is finally hailed by Patar. She informs Pike that her order to attack Discovery came directly from Starfleet Command.

As per Patar, the Discovery crew have been charged with treason, and now that Cornwall has been seen with fugitives, she is charged as well. Cornwall and Pike, however, will not be cowed. They are going to infiltrate the headquarters. Airiam recommends she join the mission.

Paul Stamets is trying to get the spore drive working so that Discovery can make a quick getaway. While in Engineering, he and Spock end up helping each other. Stamets asks Spock to identify what is unique enough about him that has attracted the Red Angel’s attention. Spock, in turn, suggests that the spore drive may not be working because Stamets has lost faith in himself. Stamets then asks Spock to reconsider his feelings towards Burnham. She risked everything to rescue her brother because she loves him. Spock responds in kind – perhaps Hugh Culber wants distance from Stamets not because he no longer has feelings from him, but because Culber’s feelings about himself have changed.

Burnham, Nhan, and Airiam beam down to the 31 headquarters. There’s frozen blood in the air but no clarification on who was fighting whom. While Nhan tries to turn on life-support, Burnham and Airiam stumble upon frozen bodies. These victims died two weeks ago, and one of them is… Admiral Patar. Who was Pike talking to then?

“Project Daedalus” — Ep#209 — Pictured (l-r): Rachael Ancheril as Nhan; Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham; Hannah Cheesman as Airiam 2.5; of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Saru has the answer – Patar was a hologram. This also explains the footage of Spock killing the doctors – that was also a hologram. The central computer system at Section 31 – Control – is behind all this. The only reason it’s allowed an away team onboard is because Control needs the data in Airiam’s databanks. When Discovery informs the away team of this, Airiam attacks them, yanking out Nhan’s breathing apparatus and beating up Burnham.

Burnham is able to restrain her as Tilly finds what Airiam has downloaded to Control – all the data from the sphere uploaded onto the ship in episode 4 of Star Trek: Discovery. With that amount of knowledge, Control would become sentient and invincible. This is what the Red Angel warned Spock about; this is how the end of the universe will begin if Discovery doesn’t stop Airiam.

Tilly opens a channel to Airiam in a bid to get through to her. She sends memories of their friendship to Airiam and it works. Airiam is back to herself, but her cybernetics are still being controlled. She turns to Burnham, pleading to be ejected through the airlock. Burnham refuses to concede to orders, but it’s the universe’s safety for Airiam’s life. Just before Airiam is ejected into space, she tells Burnham to find ‘Project Daedalus’. Airiam’s final memory is of her life as a human, talking about how she and her husband ‘are coming home’.

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Star Trek is at its best when it wreaks havoc on your emotions and this episode perfectly achieves that. Jonathan Frakes in the director’s chair and first-time Star Trek writer Michelle Paradise have truly surpassed themselves with hitting viewers in the feels with this episode.

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