Published Oct 26, 2022
7 Times Paul Stamets Demonstrated Resilience on Star Trek: Discovery
Where would we be without our resident astromycologist?
By Christine Dinh
The brilliant and sharp Lt. Commander Paul Stamets is the U.S.S. Discovery's science officer and resident endearing grump and expert astromycologist, responsible for discovering the mycelial network and the spore drive, a new propulsion system.
Driven by the pursuit of science, as opposed to the pursuit of war, Stamets viewed his work as getting "to the living heart of the universe; the veins and muscles that our galaxies together." Throughout four seasons of Star Trek: Discovery, Stamets tackled challenges, upheld his professionalism as a Starfleet officer, saw setbacks as impermanent, zeroed in on the things he could control like math and science, and made sure to prioritize what was most important to him (his loved ones).
The equally brilliant Anthony Rapp portrays Stamets on Star Trek: Discovery, and in celebration of his birthday, StarTrek.com is highlighting our favorite moments that demonstrate Stamets' resilience and bravery! They don't hand out Starfleet Medals of Honor to just anyone.
Taking Ripper's Place in "Choose Your Pain"
In the words of Stamets, science, and more specifically, the mycelial network is "f*****g cool"! Unfortunately for Ripper, the tardigrade who powers the spore drive, every jump the Discovery makes taxes its system, causing extreme pain, which ultimately forces Ripper into a state of cryptobiosis.
When Captain Lorca is taken prisoner by the Klingons, acting captain Saru commands Stamets to ready the spore drive for several jumps across Klingon space. Making the tough call to protect Ripper and save Lorca, Stamets injects himself with the tardigrade DNA, hooks himself to the spore drive taking Ripper's place, and handles the ship's jumps.
While connected to the mycelial network, for the first time in his career, he finally understands the very essence of mycelium and has a vast universe of possibility open up. Plus, with this act, they successfully rescue Lorca and grant Ripper freedom.
Dancing for Science in "Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad"
Repeated exposure with the mycelial network affects Stamets in a number of ways; two most noticeable effects include a friendlier disposition and partially straddling the universe's natural flow of time. To his benefit, these sides effects aid Stamets when Harry Mudd uses a time crystal and time displacement device to commandeer the Discovery, allowing him to spot the temporal manipulation.
While asking Burnham to dance with him, for science, he explains the temporal loop the ship and crew are caught in. Despite enduring over 30-some time loops and resets, which ends with the Discovery blowing up each time, Stamets is relentless in his pursuit to stoop the loop without harm to the crew.
His Steely Resolve in "The War Without, The War Within"
Following the death of Stamets' husband Dr. Culber, he faces the perpetrator Ash Tyler head on and doesn't mince words. Tyler killed a good man, and Stamets will not let him to forget it. In that brief exchanges, his words and delivery packs a punch.
Despite his insurmountable grief, he does not allow this to cripple him. He continues with his duty in finding a solution to growing more spores, needed for the Federation to win the war against the Klingons.
Unrelenting Pursuit in "Saints of Imperfection"
Despite believing he doesn't necessarily need others, Stamets is the positive force in this Season 2 episode. While the fate of Ensign Tilly is unknown upon being pulled into the mycelial network, Stamets is the one who maintains hope that she's not lost.
Stamets proposes a partial jump through the mycelial network that allows them to navigate both their normal plane as well as the mycelial plane to find Tilly. In tracking down Tilly, and refusing to leave her behind, he discovers that the entity inadvertently harming the mycelial ecosystem was his late husband. Able to communicate with the species residing in the mycelial network thanks to his partial jump, Stamets rescues Tilly, offers stability back to the mycelial network, and gets them to rebuild a body for Culber, which resurrects him.
Forging a Bond with Adira in "Scavengers"
While there are plenty of excellent moments between Stamets and Adira Tal, one of the best examples of their relationship was the scene in Season 3 episode where Stamets enters the mess hall and witnesses Adira talking to themself. In that moment, when he realizes Adira is talking to their deceased love Gray, he connects with them and assures them there's nothing wrong with holding on to love.
Pushing Back at Burnham in "There is a Tide..."
In order to slow down Osyraa and the Emerald Chain, Burnham cannot allow them to get their hands on Stamets — the key to the spore drive. She plans to eject him off the Discovery, much to his distress. He refuses to leave Saru, Culber, and Adira, who now sees as his child, stuck in the Verubian Nebula, where they're in danger of fatal radiation exposure. He painfully pleads with Burnham that he and the rest of the crew have always followed her, even into the future so that she would not feel alone. To do this, when his "whole life is on that nebula," he feels nothing but betrayal in this act.
Acknowledging Uncertainty in "All In"
Aware that Culber is stress cleaning their quarters, Stamets reaches out to calm his partner and offer support. As someone who shoulders their share of self-placed pressure, Stamets reminds him that yes, uncertainty is the root of a lot of their anxieties, but as long as they're terrified together, it'll be okay. They'll manage. And with that, he encourages his husband to enjoy a stroll on the Holodeck with him.
A Star Trek: Discovery Character Recap — Paul Stamets