“The tragedy of this world is that everyone is alone. For a life in the past cannot be shared with the present.” – Alan Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams
I saw this quote the other day whilst perusing ideas and perspectives relating to “tragedy” on Goodreads, and it reminded me of Jadzia Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and by extension, Adira on Star Trek: Discovery, both of whom share the unique advantage of unquestionably being able to commune with their past lives – and now that I come to think about it, so does The Doctor (are Time Lords secretly Trills, as well?). I’ve digressed. Where were we? Awe, yes, the notion of tapping into past lives…
We were finally given insight into Adira’s past, and why she couldn’t access the memories of her symbiont’s past hosts. And in typical Star Trek fashion, it was rife with tragedy. Turns out, her symbiont belonged to her Trill boyfriend, Gray. However, because of fatal injuries he sustained from an explosion on their ship, Adira chose to merge with his symbiont in order to save it from dying as well. She ultimately had to sort of “reconnect” with herself on the Trill homeworld in order for her and her symbiont’s merging to synchronize in the manner it’s supposed to. But as a result, she can now see and commune with Gray. The “why” of this has been left as a side-note to be explored – hopefully – in forthcoming episodes this season.
We were also treated to another Calypso connection. During a rather amusing scene in which Saru consulted with Discovery’s computer on best practices for assisting the crew’s mental and emotional healing, “she” offered up some interesting bits of advice…
Computer: The crew would benefit from exercise, medication, limited dairy.
Saru: Oh, uh, beyond the standard parameters.
Computer: Yoga, hyperbaric chamber, therapeutic coloring books, interstellar shopping.
Saru: Uh, I do not need an endless list of activities. I-I…I need something meaningful to heal my crew.
(soft tone, chiming)
(Computer’s voice transmogrifies from standard digitized monotone to British female humanoid – Zora from Calypso)
Computer: (chuckles) Hello.
Computer: Among many sentient beings, laughter is both healing and meaningful. Twentieth-century Earth comedians such as Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin are communal unifiers without the burden of language.
Saru: Buster Keaton?
Computer: Also known as “The Great Stone Face.”
Saru: Computer…run a level ten diagnostic.
Computer: I’m fully operational, thank you.
Saru: These connections are beyond the algorithm I presumed…
Computer: Your crew requires what they used to call “R and R,” Captain. May I suggest switching the ship to auto-navigation and giving them the night off?
Saru: The night off?
Computer: May I also suggest simple gratitude? A private meal, perhaps, with your bridge crew, to demonstrate your appreciation. Your choice, Captain.
The “yoga” recommendation cracked me up. Was “she” engineered on a shipyard in 23rd century Los Angeles?
We are finally seeing clues as to “how” and “what” aids in Discovery’s evolution from onboard computer to a sentient A.I. being. During the final moments of the episode, Saru shares with Dr. Culber a theory he has…
Saru: I have a theory. The sphere data was transmitted here for us to protect it. It lives on within Discovery. As we are now inextricably connected, perhaps now it desires to protect us.
I wonder, will we see further changes in Discovery’s computer, bringing us closer to Calypso’s Zora, as the season progresses? I hope so. It’s simply just one of my favorite stories, regardless of its ties to Star Trek.
Speaking of “evolved,” we’re also seeing a very different Hugh Culber this season. In a really great way, that is. Because of everything he’s had to endure – death, rebirth, and readjustment to a life and “skin” which feels foreign and unrecognizable, he’s had to grow in ways the rest of his shipmates couldn’t even fathom. This has effectively positioned him as a sort of counselor, not unlike Deanna Troi, to assist and guide everyone through the PTSD they’re all experiencing. The crew’s lives are now just as foreign and unrecognizable as Hugh’s was when Stamets brought him back from the mycelial network, and they’re all going to need a person with whom to speak that shares a similar trauma, and can empathize with their plight.
Star Trek: Discovery has been a pioneer in many ways its predecessors were not, or couldn’t be. From interconnected story arcs, spanning the whole of an entire season – and series, to theatrical-level special effects and orchestrated sequences that comfortably compete with even the grandest of blockbuster budgets, all the way down to casting and character development. This episode gave us yet another debut for the franchise: its first transgender cast member. Now, whether Ian Alexander’s “Gray” is also transgender, has yet to be revealed. But whether or not this is the case, Star Trek’s cast is finally mirroring our Earth’s 21st century population, and is beautifully representative of a future that is as rich and diverse as we are.
As is my usual composure on the morning of a new episode, I’m sitting and awaiting impatiently for what’s to come, shaking in my sneakers with anticipatory zest. The workday can’t come to a close hastily enough…