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Star Trek Discovery: Whistlespeak

“Let’s go meet the gods together.”

I don’t consider myself unusually slow, but it has taken me an embarrassingly long time to realize that this season is going to be a spiritual exploration for the entire crew of the Discovery and not just for Culber.

How could the search for the technology that created life be otherwise? That’s because I focused more on the technology than the creation of life. In my defense, it’s been Michael, Kovich, and by extension the Federation’s perspective as well. Yet, at some point, one has step back and acknowledge that we are talking about an entity or entities capable of creating life. At the most primal level, what differentiates them from gods?

In typical Star Trekian fashion, our alien culture of the week puts this theme into stark relief. The Halem’nites are introduced to a civilization with far superior technology. A technology so advanced as to make them appear godlike.

Like the Federation, Halem’nite society is built on concepts of mutual aid and respect. However, given the pluralistic nature of the Federation, they are, on the whole, agnostic where the Halem’nites are deeply religious. Michael’s advice to Ohvahz is that he should make room for technology to live alongside his faith. Is the takeaway, that the Federation needs to make room for a little spirituality alongside their technology?

If so, then Culber is well on his way. He and Stamets’ love for each other is far deeper than just a meeting of the minds. Yet, I doubt anyone would be surprised if their mutual intellectual curiosity is what sparked their relationship. When faced with something that cannot be expressed scientifically, Culber has no idea how to discuss what he’s feeling with his husband. Surprisingly, it’s Culber not Stamets that was fixated on needing a scientific explanation. As long as his husband is healthy, Stamets is content for Culber to enjoy whatever journey he is on.

I must admit I was surprised Culber hadn’t already run every test in the known universe. Stamets’ reaction was less of a surprise. As I mentioned previously, the idea of the Progenitors’ tech has Stamets asking his own questions regarding the universe. Plus, he seems to have mellowed in his old(er) age.

However, Culber is still unsatisfied. As Book points out, things seem less meaningful when they cannot be shared. Which shouldn’t be surprising given that humans are social creatures. The ability to forge and maintain bonds is what has allowed us to survive as a species. Is it any wonder that the tendency to prize that level of connection is so ingrained? Regardless of Culber’s inability to communicate the depth of his feelings to Stamets, his experiences have made him feel more attuned with the world around him. Is this a precursor of the journey on which the rest of the crew is about to embark?

At the moment, the other members of the crew seems to be in a holding pattern. Book’s journey revolves around Moll’s redemption. However, they need to find her first. Even then, he can’t make decisions for her. Moll has to see the error of her ways and want to change. Or, in this case, realize that there are people other than just L’ak who will be there for her. Because of this, I believe his desire to show Moll a better way will be more of a lesson for him than for her. And if the less than subtle hints we’ve been getting are to be believed, the road leads back to Michael.

Intellectually, Adira understands that Moll could have slipped that timebug onto anyone. Though it wasn’t a surprise that they’ve been beating themselves up over it. What was a surprise was Rayner’s reaction. By all accounts, he was a good captain. So his recognition of Adira’s genius and that their contributions to Discovery are invaluable makes complete sense. However, Rayner, once again, surpassed my expectations by giving Adira the push they needed to work through their self-doubt and insecurity.

Finally, there’s Tilly. She may be on sabbatical from the Academy, but her heart is still with her students. And it is a mark of the high regard her students hold for her that they continue to come to her with their doubts and fears. Tilly sees Ravah and is reminded of a student who is questioning her place at Starfleet Academy. And it is human nature to equate similar experiences in our life. This can offer us new perspectives or it can reinforce prior beliefs for good or ill.

Ravah needs to be extraordinary and live up to her father’s greatness. Even to the extent of sacrificing herself for her people. The Academy may not be that extreme, but there is an expectation of sacrifice, and that has included the ultimate sacrifice. It’s not clear how Tilly’s experience with Ravah will play into the advice she’ll give her student, but it has certainly given her food for thought.

This being a Star Trek show, we come full circle. The discussion of faith and technology led to the concept of technology as a responsibility. It was the first acknowledgment of the danger that the Progenitors’ tech could pose. And it’s something I hope they delve into more in future episodes. The crew of the Discovery may not have all the answers, but they’ve finally started to ask the right questions.

4 out of 5 neural scans

Parting Thoughts:

Grief alleviation therapeutics? In theory, I love it. Who wouldn’t want to see lost loved ones? In practice, is it healthy to relive the past and not move forward?

Retinal tricorders? How did I miss that? When did that become a thing?

How come the only time the Prime Directive comes up is when it’s about to be broken? That said, shouldn’t there be more of a consequence to upending the society of an entire planet than extra paperwork?

I applaud the subtleties of the writing. Upon repeat viewing, there were plenty of clues that communing with the Halem’nites gods was a one-way trip.

Things I was surprised they didn’t address: Were the Denobulans making periodic visits to Halem’no to maintain the towers? If so, why did they stop? If not, why not? They knew the towers needed routine maintenance, and that the Halem’nites would die out without the existence of functional towers.


Michael: “You can learn a lot about a society by the way individuals speak to one another.”

Book: “Do you ever get tired of having all the answers?”

Culber: “We need this data, and, well, when was the last time you and I got to work together? Might be nice.”
Stamets: “Nothing as romantic as a neural scan.”

Ohvahz: “The most important thing is to work in harmony with the rest of your compeers.”

Stamets: “It turns out that you have a perfectly typical, healthy, and rather handsome human brain.”

Michael: “They’ve all got to get water at some point, right? And we have endurance. We have... Starfleet training.”
Tilly: “Yeah, you keep telling yourself that.”

Tilly: “Go chase your moss. I’m the queen of endurance.”

Ohvahz: “Your sacrifice will bless Halem’no for many seasons to come.”
Tilly: “Sacrifice?”

Michael: “I am not a god. But I don’t know, maybe I was sent here by one.”

Michael: “Beliefs can evolve.”

Michael: “Do you know how much paperwork I’d have to fill out for losing a perfectly good Starfleet officer?”

Ohvahz: “Perhaps devotion means being able to hear when the gods tell us something new.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, the supernatural, and anything with a cape.


  1. Presumably if the Denobulans were doing maintenance visits, they would have stopped after The Burn. They mentioned the retinal tricorders being a new thing early in the episode.

  2. Shari, if you were slow realizing what direction this season was going, then so was I. Maybe because subconsciously, I didn't want it; the search for God is something Roddenberry did waaaayyy too often. They even have the Michelangelo fingers touch image from the Sistine Chapel at the end of this season's opening creds. I hope the end of the series isn't going to be a big turn-off.

    Anonymous, I also missed the mention of the retinal tricorders. Maybe it was introduced too casually. They needed a scene where someone said, "Oooh, this is so easy now with these brand new retinal tricorders!" :)

    I really love Culber and I love Culber and Stamets doing things together, so that made me happy.

    I miss Saru. :(

  3. Anonymous, thanks for the assist! I normally catch things like that but it feels like a million years since the last season and I wonder if it's something new or something I've just forgotten.

    I don't know if we can get away from another discussion of God's place in the universe when the creation of life is on the line. Which is why I feel like an idiot for not seeing this coming.

    And I miss Saru, too. But I hold out hope that we will see him again before all is said and done.


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