'Star Trek: Discovery' season 5 episode 4 uses time travel to remember the past 5 seasons

 You're not seeing double…well, actually you are, as 23rd century Burnham must fight her-32nd-century-self.
You're not seeing double…well, actually you are, as 23rd century Burnham must fight her-32nd-century-self. (Image credit: Paramount Plus)

Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Star Trek: Discovery" season 5, episode 4

With the news that "Star Trek: Lower Decks" is ending after its current season, that really only leaves "Strange New Worlds" as the last remaining Nu-Trek series currently airing on television. 

And, a word to the wise: If you're a die-hard fan of "Discovery," make sure you have your own physical media, 'cause no one likes being at the mercy of whatever an overpaid television executive thinks. You're welcome. Moreover, after this final season of "Discovery," we're going to have until wait until next year for the next season of "Strange New Worlds." It's all starting to feel a bit like "Game of Thrones" all over again.

Episode four, entitled "Face the Strange," is without a doubt the best entry so far in the fifth season, and one can't help but wonder after watching exactly when the cast and production crew were first informed that this would be the last season, because it was definitely before this episode was actually written. The reason? It is, for all intents and purposes, a 60-minute, time-travel-powered, postscript-style reminiscence of all elements of all five seasons — or as much as you can cram into an hour — and what a rollercoaster ride it's been.

So when Alex Kurtzman or Michelle Paradise or whoever it is that actually has authority in the writer's room entered said room, put down their grande iced sugar-free vanilla half-double decaffeinated half-caff latte with soy milk and a twist of lemon in their Paramount-branded 40oz Stanley Clean Slate Quencher H2.0 Flowstate™ Tumbler and announced, "Wouldn't it be great to revisit chapters from seasons one, two, three and four?" no doubt everyone cheered. "And how will this be possible?" asked Kurtzman, to which an eager-beaver intern no doubt excitedly thrust their hand up into the air and exclaimed, "Why, time travel, of course!"

Related: 'Star Trek:' History & effect on space technology

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Remember Arium? She got blown into the vacuum of space in the S02, E09 episode "Project Daedalus." (Image credit: Paramount Plus)

"Quite right," replied Kurtzman (in our imaginations, at least), adding, "But it can be for one episode, so it has to be an isolated, self-contained form of time travel." Thus was conceived the "Time Bug," and with it came a ton of technobabble to precisely explain its parameters. Although quite why Zora didn't detect it was not addressed. Also, you know, transporters. 

But this clever Time Bug, which can manipulate time in just about any way that's convenient for the writers to overcome any potential chronological complications — like life-changing paradoxes — came onboard the USS Discovery by way of that shifty Malinne "Moll" Ravel (Eve Harlow), who managed to infiltrate the Trill homeworld undetected, as we saw last week.

As a result, we get reminder glimpses of Michael Burnham's first coming aboard the USS Discovery way, way, way back in season one, complete with appropriate uniforms and everything. We get a fleeting reminder of the Red Angel and the battle with Control, naturally The Burn gets a mention, and there's even a not-very-subtle nod to the short-Trek "Calypso." It's all a little bit like a Greatest Hits album that doesn't include any of the tracks that you actually liked, being played at 45 instead of 33. Remember vinyl?

Since it's now obvious that this season was written after the cancellation announcement had been made to the cast and crew, the single most important question is, Will the show benefit from that, or will it suffer? Are the remaining six episodes going to be a drawn-out epilogue, tied loosely together with a mostly lame plot? Or, will advance knowledge of the show's future actually serve the writers well, allowing them to produce something above and beyond the normal level of writing? 

There's even a very entertaining scene, in which 23rd-century Burnham must fight her 32nd-century self. Of course, the illudium Q-36 explosive space modulator fitted to the space bug prevents any changes from affecting the timeline, so you know, phew

Most of the original Discovery bridge reappear, as close to how they looked seven years ago as possible, and even Lt. Cmdr. Airiam (played by Sara Mitich in the first season and Hannah Cheesman in the second) makes a cameo, so that's nice. Also, we can really see as Sonequa Martin-Green flips between her two Burnhams just how effective that dreadlock hair piece that she wears through this season actually is. Half the show's budget probably went to that. 

Saru's (Doug Jones) sub-storyline has taken a back seat for the moment, no doubt we'll return to it soon (Image credit: Paramount Plus)

It's a fun filler episode, and, even if it doesn't advance the plot an inch, it does allow character development to take place, particularly between Burnham and Captain Rayner (Callum Keith Rennie). Arguably the biggest surprise was that the writers were able to resist putting Captain Pike (Anson Mount) into this episode. 

The fifth and final season of "Star Trek: Discovery," and every other episode of every "Star Trek" show — with the exception of "Star Trek: Prodigy" — currently streams exclusively on Paramount Plus in the U.S., while "Prodigy" has found a new home on Netflix. 

Internationally, the shows are available on Paramount Plus in Australia, Latin America, the U.K. and South Korea, as well as on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel. They also stream on Paramount Plus in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In Canada, they air on Bell Media's CTV Sci-Fi Channel and stream on Crave.

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Scott Snowden

When Scott's application to the NASA astronaut training program was turned down, he was naturally upset...as any 6-year-old boy would be. He chose instead to write as much as he possibly could about science, technology and space exploration. He graduated from The University of Coventry and received his training on Fleet Street in London. He still hopes to be the first journalist in space.

  • EFH
    Dreadlock hair piece? Really? Before you publish, please do your research. Those are not dreadlocs. She is wearing braids. Yikes and cringe. I'm embarrassed for you.