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Star Trek: Discovery' keeps going strong with season 3, episode 4 — 'Forget Me Not'

A scene from "Star Trek: Discovery" season 3, episode 4 entitled "Forget Me Not."
A scene from "Star Trek: Discovery" season 3, episode 4 entitled "Forget Me Not."
(Image: © CBS All Access)

Warning: Spoilers on an intercept course…

The third season of "Star Trek: Discovery" on CBS All Access has mostly been of a high standard — without a doubt, significantly better than Season 2 — with last week's episode being the only slightly disappointing break so far. 

But Episode 4, entitled "Forget Me Not," is a bounce back to form and another high-quality installment with nice, unpredictable surprises and an all-round solid illustration of what "Star Trek" is all about. 

We start straight away with welcome focus on Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) as we listen in on  his medical log, where he expresses concern for morale on Discovery and how the crew is  dealing with jumping 950 years into the future. "Our trip to Earth was eye-opening; a reality check, such as reality is," he says. "It's starting to hit everyone just how little we have to hold on to. The personal moments we use to define ourselves, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, funerals, we've jumped past all of them. We feel lost, disconnected."

Last week, we mentioned how badly the whole crew seemed to be taking the whole time-jump thing. They seem to have forgotten time travel was once possible, as we learned in the season premiere. Yes, it was outlawed, but with more advanced 32nd-century technology, it's not irrational to think it could be accomplished again.

It's great to see this long overdue spotlight on Culber as he explains that five words are keeping the crew going: "When we find the Federation." He says that it's become a mantra for the crew as we see a montage of him examining the crew, including the very on-edge Lt. Keyla Detmer (Emily Coutts), until he gets to Adira (Blu del Barrio). 

She is undergoing a medical scan and Culber is joined by Captain Saru (Doug Jones), First Officer(and Commander) Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the glorified extra Dr. Tracy Pollard (Raven Dauda). Adira says that the last thing she remembers with regard to how she got her symbionte was waking up in an escape pod justbefore she was found by a United Earth Defense Force ship. A plan is hatched to use the spore drive to jump to the planet Trill to see if they can help, and already we have an interesting story. Roll opening credits. 

Upon arrival, the Discovery receives a warm invitation from Trill Commissioner Voss (Andrew Shaver). We learn that the Trill population was decimated after the "burn" and it is a blessing to have one return home. Exactly how the "burn" caused their decimation isn't quite clear at this point. 

The USS Discovery is relying on its spore drive to travel long distances…and why wouldn't you? (Image credit: CBS All Access)

As part of the set-up of the secondary plot for this episode — which is refreshingly good — Saru pays a visit to Engineering to talk to Lt. Stamets (Anthony Rapp) about his physical condition. It's important, according to Saru, to  to find a back-up way to access the spore drive should Stametsbecome incapacitated once again, as he was at the beginning of this season, since warp drive is no longer an option. (We know dilithium is no longer exploding, so we assume this is to avoid detection by outlaws and undesirables, etc.) This triggers a follow-up conversation between Stamets and Ensign Tilly (Mary Wiseman) about an alternative dark matter sub-something-or-other that might work, but Stamets is unusually rude and dismisses Tilly's idea. 

The good doctor pays a visit to Burnham's quarters and remarks on how it's full of more stuff — part of the continuing commentary on how she's changed so much over the course of her Whole Year Away. Culbersuggests that Burnhambe the one to accompany Adira on the trip down to the surface, since they both have the "finding yourself" journey-thing in common. 

Until now, Culber has been an underused character — the death-spore-resurrection story of Season 2 didn't really have any teeth and despite Cruz playing a very different side to his character, it was basically absurd. Culber — like Dr. McCoy used to often remind Captain Kirk — actually has ultimate authority on the ship and we start to see him exercising that a little bit in episode 4. He is an interesting, intelligent and empathic character and we would like to see even more of his story please. 

 It's nice to see Dr. Culber enjoy some time in the spotlight. We should see and hear more from him. (Image credit: CBS All Access)

Culber also gets to tell Burnham that she's a responsibility hoarder, which is a priceless moment. It's possible that the writers decided to hang a lantern on this, but we've commented before — on more than one occasion — on how Burnham feels like the weight of everything is on her shoulders alone,  and that she's the only one who can save Discovery, or the galaxy or the universe. And it does get tired after a while, so bravo Doc. Hopefully after her Whole Year Away, we'll see less of this from Burnham. 

Adira and Burnham take a shuttlecraft and head down to the surface; meanwhile Culber gives Saru the results of his crew assessments and while physically they're all superhuman, super-fit elite physical specimens, mentally, most of them are quivering bowls of Jell-O. Culber offers some sage advice and Saru concludes he needs to do something to make the crew feel connected like the family that they actually are, but evidently don't feel it. 

The question you gotta ask yourself is, 'do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, Trill? (Image credit: CBS All Access)

Meanwhile, the shuttlecraft with Burnham and Adira lands and we get out first look at the Trill homeworld since "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" episodes "Equilibrium" (S03, E04). It's a lush, verdant Eden-like planet and before long, Adira and Burnham are greeted by members of the High Council, including Guardian Xi of the spiritual community (Andreas Apergis) and Leader Pav (Karen Robinson).

As soon as it becomes known that Adira, a human, is the host to the Trill symbiont, hostilities arise in true "Star Trek" fashion: a conflict between traditional culture and outdated views versus a new perspective. Xi asks Adira the names of all her Trill symbiont personalities and of course, she can't recall them — which is why she's there. Voss deems Adira an abomination, adding that in over 2,000 years there hasn't been a single instance of a successful joining between a symbiont and a non-Trill. 

Xi pleads that they at least take her to the Caves of Mak'ala, where Adira and her symbiont might be able to communicate with each other, but Voss says they should be separated. Finally Pav steps in and her compromise is that Burnham and Adira leave the Trill homeworld immediately, never to return.

Dinner with the family. Perhaps some Romulan ale would make it pass more smoothly.  (Image credit: CBS All Access)

Staying with the primary plot, Burnham takes a different route, instead of going straight back to the shuttlecraft, they are soon met by Voss and two Trill guards. Burnham, who's holding her phaser correctly — for the most part — quickly dispatches them as Xi approaches and says he'll take them to the caves. He believes that symbiont joining with non-Trill species may be the only way his people will survive. 

And now we're back on the Discovery in what is one of our favorite moments in this episode. Saru is consulting the ship's computer on ways to improve morale, when the graphics of the Sphere, last seen towards the end of the second season, flash momentarily on the screen behind him and out of sight. And then the voice of the ship's computer suddenly changes to that of Zora (voiced by Annabelle Wallis) — the voice of the Discovery's computer in the epic Short Trek episode "Calypso" finally confirming how Zora came about. 

With a voice that could melt the ice core of Rura Penthe, she tells him that his crew requires "what they used to call R and R" (rest and recreation). "Among many sentient beings, laughter is both healing and meaningful," she says and recommends a Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin movie, establishing her fondness for classic motion pictures and as we saw in "Calypso" her favorite is the 1957 film "Funny Face" starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. She also suggests an officer's dinner in the Captain's ready room for all the bridge crew to demonstrate his appreciation. An excellent idea.

Back on the Trill homeworld, Adira, Burnham and Xi arrive at the sacred caves, complete with sparkly walls and glowing moon pools. In order to reach her symbiont and communicate with it, Adira must dive in, quite literally, and do the float tank sensory deprivation thing. So, in she goes. Xi explains that the symbiont would not have joined with Adira unwillingly, so she must make contact to access its memories and learn herself what actually happened. 

Saru, in the meantime, has laid on an impressive spread and every member of the bridge crew is present, plus Culber, Stamets and Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). Saru gives an impressive impromptu speech as they prepare to dine and we see yet again that his character is maturing very nicely into the role of captain and a leader. With both Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, the whole dinner scene makes for a fun observation on the oft awkwardness and bickering during family dinners. There's obvious tension between Stamets and Tilly, while Georgiou knocks back the wine, which is genuinely quite amusing and something we can all relate to.

A totally unexpected quirk is that everyone starts talking in haiku, because that's what you do at dinner parties. (Haiku is a type of short form poetry originally from Japan that consists of three phrases that conform to a 5,-7-5 syllable pattern.) Georgiou starts, Culber attempts one but fluffs the last line. Tilly joins in and the whole thing is well-scripted with believable reactions and dialogue. They encourage Lt. Keyla Detmer (Emily Coutts) to have a go and she starts to have thebreakdown that's clearly been in the cards for some time. This sets off a chain reaction and the tranquility of what was once a pleasant meal quickly unravels as everyone leaves.

Poor Saru. Entertaining is a challenge, but this is what happens when you let the turkey dry out. (Image credit: CBS All Access)

Adira is attempting communion with her symbiont while Burnham and Xi monitor her vital signs. Suddenly, they jump off the scale just as Voss, Pav and several Trill guards enter the cave and threaten to spoil everything. However, when Adira unexpectedly disappears, they're persuaded to let Burnham jump in the moon pool and try to rescue her and then she too disappears. 

We see a visual representation of what Adira is experiencing and understandably, she's terrified. Thankfully Burnham finds her, surrounded by a forest of what appear to be long, giant nerve endings that Burnham deduces are trying to join with her. Adira reluctantly connects with them and we see the beginning of her emotional backstory. 

She and her lover, a Trill named Gray (Ian Alexander) were aboard a generation ship. They were both orphans, very much in love and Gray had just received his symbiont when the ship was struck by an asteroid and everyone was ordered to evacuate. (Did they not have scanners?) Unfortunately, Gray was fatally injured and the only way to save the symbiont, which would also now retain his personality, too, was for Adira to join with it. 

In the sacred Caves of Mak'ala on the Trill homeworld, Adira attempts to communicate with her symbiont.  (Image credit: CBS All Access)

Adira is attempting communion with her symbiont while Burnham and Xi monitor her vital signs. Suddenly, they jump off the scale just as Voss, Pav and several Trill guards enter the cave and threaten to spoil everything. However, when Adira unexpectedly disappears, they're persuaded to let Burnham jump in the moon pool and try to rescue her and then she too disappears. 

We see a visual representation of what Adira is experiencing and understandably, she's terrified. Thankfully Burnham finds her, surrounded by a forest of what appear to be long, giant nerve endings that Burnham deduces are trying to join with her. Adira reluctantly connects with them and we see the beginning of her emotional backstory. 

She and her lover, a Trill named Gray (Ian Alexander) were aboard a generation ship. They were both orphans, very much in love and Gray had just received his symbiont when the ship was struck by an asteroid and everyone was ordered to evacuate. (Did they not have scanners?) Unfortunately, Gray was fatally injured and the only way to save the symbiont, which would also now retain his personality, too, was for Adira to join with it. 

A scene from "Star Trek: Discovery" season 3, episode 4 entitled "Forget Me Not."

What secrets to the five previous hosts of Tal hold that may, or may not, benefit the crew of the Discovery? (Image credit: CBS All Access)

Speaking of Discovery, Saru is still processing everything that happened over dinner when Tilly returns to the captain's ready room to comfort him. This episode, much like " Far From Home" (S03, E02) actually gives Wiseman good dialogue and her character benefits immeasurably from it. Then Stamets returns and apologizes to Tilly and the two agree to look for an alternative dark matter sub-something-or-other that might power the spore drive. Detmer appears in sickbay and admits to Culber she has a problem, so you know, the whole dinner thing had a positive effect after all. 

And then, in a truly beautiful moment, "Discovery" excels itself and we see the whole crew gathered in the shuttlebay enjoying a Buster Keaton movie. Brilliant. And this is the quality of show that can be produced when a tiny twist isn't spoon fed to an audience (like the "reminder of home" last week). The movie mention seemed to be a throwaway reference by Zora, with little more purpose than to set up a link to the "Short Trek" episode. But no, in addition to the writers, Saru has excelled himself and given the crew something to enjoy together. Even Grumpy Georgiou is enjoying some popcorn. Detmer apologizes to Stamets and it's all happy families once again. We end with Gray appearing to Adira, we assume in her subconscious, in a heartfelt moment and the two practice cello together. 

This episode, like many others in "Discovery," focuses heavily on acceptance, identity and understanding, but this one has a much higher standard of writing and we were genuinely surprised by a couple of plot points, whereas so many in the past have been entirely predictable.  The secondary plot with Saru was at least as interesting as the primary plot with Adira, although we're not sure exactly sure how Gray will interact with her in the future. 

 Rating: 8/10 

 Section 31 ✓ 

  •  Dr. Culber is one of our favorite characters, so a focus on him was great. 
  •  Exploring the Trill homeworld for the first time was a nice, new idea. 
  •  The Old Thinking v New Thinking storyline is classic "Star Trek." 
  •  The links to "Calypso" continue, with the first appearance of Zora. 
  •  We're watching Saru gradually become a better captain week by week. 

 Section 8 ✗ 

  •  Would still like to see actual sights on a handphaser. 
  •  What a waste of a good meal. Saru's going to have leftovers for weeks. 
  •  The bridge crew are still serving purely for shots of facial expressions. 
  •  The sacred cave on Trill was like every other sacred cave in "Star Trek." 
  •  While the focus on Dr. Culber was welcome, we could've had even more 

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