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RECAP | Star Trek: Discovery 502 - 'Under the Twin Moons'

Power of creation, here they come!

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains story details and plot points for Star Trek: Discovery.

Graphic illustration of a tender moment between friends where Michael Burnham and Saru tap their foreheads in 'Under the Twin Moons'

In the fifth season's premiere episode, Kovich sent Captain Burnham and the U.S.S. Discovery crew on a Red Directive to retrieve a mysterious artifact hidden inside a 800-year-old Romulan vessel. Turns out, that mysterious artifact is a piece of Progenitors tech the race of ancient beings used to design life itself. Unfortunately, they're not the only ones on the hunt as the Discovery and Antares crew are hot on the heels of two ex-couriers Moll and L'ak who stole Dr. Vellek's diary, the first piece of the puzzle. Burnham assures Dr. Kovich that Discovery is the right team for the Red Directive mission.

In Episode 2 of Star Trek: Discovery, "Under the Twin Moons," on Saru’s last mission as Captain Burnham’s Number One, the team ventures to a seemingly abandoned planet to hunt for what might be the greatest treasure in the galaxy.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Section Banner - Personnel

  • Michael Burnham
  • Saru
  • Laira Rillak
  • Charles Vance
  • Rayner
  • Cleveland "Book" Booker
  • Queen Grudge
  • Sylvia Tilly
  • Adira Tal
  • Dr. Hugh Culber
  • Zora
  • Paul Stamets
  • Moll (Malinne)
  • L'ak
Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Section Banner - Locations

  • U.S.S. Discovery-A
  • Federation Headquarters
  • Lyrek, a M-class planet with three moons, Vileen system, Beta Quadrant
Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Section Banner - Event Log

Captain Michael Burnham gazes out at the stars from her Ready Room aboard the U.S.S. Discovery-A, reflecting on philosophical questions about the purpose and meaning behind humanity’s existence. The captain looks toward a hologram of a Progenitor and wonders if locating the ancient technology will provide her with the answers she is seeking. Her door chimes, and Saru enters as a DOT-23 continues to clean Q'Mau's radiative sands from Discovery's hull. The Kelpien reports that repairs will be completed within the hour, pleased that the schedule has afforded him one last mission to say goodbye on his final day aboard the ship.

Before departing dry dock, Burnham heads to Federation Headquarters and attends an inquiry into Captain Rayner's actions on Q'Mau. The Starfleet Corps of Engineers is mired in a messy cleanup effort, yet Burnham is reluctant to openly criticize Rayner in front of Federation President Laira Rillak and Admiral Charles Vance. Pressed to offer her opinion, Discovery's captain concedes that Rayner's plan represented an unjustifiable risk. Citing the Red Directive to secure an item that could compromise the Federation's safety, Rayner pushed back and emphasized his 30 years of experience.

Rillak counters, noting that they are in a different time — things have changed and the Federation is not at war. Rayner argues that the Breen are infighting over a new leader, the Orions are regrouping, and that war is always a possibility — the president is living in a "candy-colored holo fantasy" if she thinks otherwise. Rayner's temper boils at the notion he has leveled undue criticism during a delicate time of diplomacy and rebuilding, and the captain expresses frustration over not being able to complete his mission and preventing Moll and L'ak from accessing a technology of unbelievable power. The heated exchange crescendos, and Rillak calls for a break.

Michael Burnham stares off while in her captain's quarters in 'Under the Twin Moons'

"Under the Twin Moons"

The senior officials step aside, and Burnham quietly tells Rayner that the world is bigger than their own corner of it. She departs with Vance, who thanks the captain for her candor. The admiral considers Rayner a friend who loves Starfleet and the Federation, so he also appreciates that Burnham recognizes Rayner to be a gifted officer. Vance informs Burnham that Dr. Kovich will monitor Discovery's progress from Federation HQ before praising the addition of Cleveland "Book" Booker to the ship’s manifest. Although the admiral is glad to have Book's experience, he asks Burnham if the former courier's presence will be an issue for her. The captain assures him that it will not.

Book and Grudge settle in aboard Discovery, and Captain Burnham presents the duo with a holographic mouse toy as she enters their temporary quarters. Book is glad Vance hasn’t thrown him back in "the clink," and Burnham states that the admiral is genuinely impressed by Book's work with the Dark Matter Anomaly refugees. Book cuts to the chase, claiming he merely goes where the higher ups send him. Burnham outlines the mission — Dr. Vellek hid the Progenitor's power — or a clue as to where it's hidden — on Lyrek. Commander Paul Stamets is also analyzing a circular schematic found in Vellek's diary, so the captain tasks Book with reviewing Moll and L'ak's interactions with the dealer, a deceased synth named Fred.

Dr. Hugh Culber will simultaneously be working up a psych profile on the two couriers in case they encounter them on Lyrek, and Burnham adds that this will be Saru's last mission — at least for a while. Book laughs at the notion of "Action Saru" being chained to a desk, mimicking the Kelpien's quill deployment. This draws a smile from the captain, who tosses the holographic mouse's controller to Book and states that she got it for him, not for Grudge. Burnham orders the Discovery to Black Alert; the ship maneuvers away from the fleet at Federation HQ and activates its spore drive.

'Under the Twin Moons'

"Under the Twin Moons"

The Crossfield-class vessel appears over Lyrek, and Lieutenant Sylvia Tilly — joined in the Science Lab by Burnham, Saru, and Ensign Adira Tal — explains that the diary's clue about the "shadow of twin moons" points them to a large structure where a double solar eclipse occurs every seven years. Adira describes it as a burial ground that had been used by the Promellians until their own extinction.* The idea of a Romulan scientist choosing an ancient Promellian necropolis as a hiding place perplexes Saru, and Tilly promises that the crew will keep their eyes peeled — which is actually kind of disgusting if you think about it — for Moll and L'ak.

Happy to have Tilly assigned to this mission as a science specialist, Captain Burnham listens as the lieutenant outlines the reason for beaming down so far from their objective — the area is surrounded by a "weirdly strong" electromagnetic field which prevents them from transporting in any closer. Burnham is mindful that they will be entering a sacred space, but grins as she looks to Saru and says, "Last dance." Burnham and Saru beam directly to the planet's foliage-rich surface, astounded by the serene view from a position that overlooks the distant pyramid. Though he has compensated for Moll and L'ak's cloaking system, Saru does not detect any lifeforms. The two set out on their journey toward the "power of creation."

In tactical uniforms, Saru and Michael Burnham head to the surface of Lyrek in 'Under the Twin Moons'

"Under the Twin Moons"

Book makes the trip to Sickbay and finds Culber scanning Moll and L'ak's records. The doctor greets him with a warm embrace and queries Book about how he is doing. The ex-courier professes he is just trying to figure out what's next, turning to examine the holographic files depicting the two thieves. Culber believes he knows more about the spirits his abuela prayed to than he does Moll and L'ak, as the couple uses hybridized tech from a variety of species and — while not violent for the sake of it — doesn't shy away from confrontation. Zora projects footage of Moll and L'ak's vessel deploying its decoy probes, the frivolous stunt allowing Book to deduce that they feel free and are in love. The doctor takes a shot at inquiring about Book's romance with the captain, but attention is shifted back to the thrill-seekers. Book wishes to give them a proverbial cliff and see if they're willing to jump.

Down on Lyrek's surface, Burnham learns that Commander Jett Reno — not Book — was the one who gave Saru his "Action Saru" moniker. The Kelpien's ferocity, along with his projectile-like quills, while facing off against the Emerald Chain's Zareh struck a chord with the engineer. Saru recalls when Michael Burnham first boarded Discovery as a mutineer and prisoner, declaring how much she has impressed and inspired him in the years since. Burnham supplies her own perspective, describing Saru as the bravest soul she’s ever known and wondering how she’ll ever find a new Number One. Tilly's plan to return to the Academy rules her out for the position, though Captain Burnham has been eyeing candidates from Discovery and across Starfleet.

Saru politely weighs in, referring to the captain as a "force" who would be aided by someone with a similar disposition — like Mr. Booker. Burnham prepares an incredulous response, but Saru clarifies that he simply means Book stands his ground. The sight of unearthed skeletal remains halts the discourse, and the corpses' deteriorated condition seems to demonstrate that these bodies likely belonged to grave robbers. They spot a large, sculpted stone hand protruding from the nearby forest and draw their phasers. The officers resolve to stay alert, particularly as Burnham would hate to miss Saru's wedding because she's dead. "That would be a grave disappointment," the Kelpien retorts.

On the surface of Lyrek, Saru and Michael Burnham come across skeletal remains in the ground in 'Under the Twin Moons'

"Under the Twin Moons"

Tilly and Adira track their colleagues' progress from Discovery, as the Science Lab’s holographic map keeps a live feed of the journey. Adira beams with joy over Tilly's return to the ship, and the lieutenant believes she has finally found her place at the Academy. Disappointed that her cadets haven't been rising to the challenge in the field, Tilly is concerned that her students don't grasp the meaning of the mission itself. Talk of fresh perspectives reminds Adira of Gray, and the ensign confesses that they liked being on their own. Their map chirps, notifying them of a spike in the electromagnetic field around the captain’s position.

Burnham's own holographic display projects them to be only 500 meters from their target, leading them through a maze of stone carvings — including a statue's severed head. Although the officers approach cautiously, the figure's eyelids open and release a flurry of drones which begin to target Burnham and Saru. They take cover and return fire while Tilly and Adira attempt to recalibrate the transporters to work around the electromagnetic field. With their superiors unable to move, Tilly and Adira search for the field's power source — no sign of an ion reactor, deuterium, cloaked antimatter, or…

A holographic transmission from Captain Rayner materializes in the lab, and he admits he has been clandestinely monitoring secure comms from Federation HQ. Rayner points out how slim the chances are that the Promellians used cloaked antimatter batteries over 2,000 years ago, urging Tilly to think like an ancient Promellian instead of a 32nd Century scientist. Zora scans Federation databases and shares that the Promellians utilized Lang Cycle fusion on their starships, but there's no indication of that technology on the surface. Rayner presses on — the Promellians built a graveyard that they wanted to protect for centuries, what else did they use to power their cities and ships? Zora lists gravity waves, gamma ray bursts, and electromagnetic waves — a revelation linking the drones to the electromagnetic field.

The sound of the drones gathering to detonate above their position motivates Burnham and Saru to sprint from their hiding spot. Tilly divulges that the security system is being powered by the electromagnetic field, suggesting that shutting down the statue's internal control mechanism will stop the drones. The weapons emerged from the severed head, but destroying it could cause a chain reaction that would demolish what they came to find — and possibly kill them in the process. Adamant that they must take great care to disconnect the system from its power source first, Saru proposes they employ an electromagnetic pulse to disrupt it. Setting the power packs from their phasers to "Emergency Discharge" could do the trick.

A hologram of Captain Rayner appears in Discovery's Engineering room to aid Tilly and Adira as they monitor Burnham and Saru's presence on Lyrek in 'Under the Twin Moons'

"Under the Twin Moons"

The captain hesitantly agrees, but — given his superior reflexes and speed — Saru volunteers to be the one to draw the drones' fire while Burnham places the phasers on the statue. Though T'Rina would be heartbroken if Saru died, he knows she would nevertheless want him to perform his duties. The Kelpien bolts through the underbrush, the drones pursuing close behind. Burnham reaches the statue's head, dropping the overloading weapons into its eye socket as Saru narrowly evades weapons blasts. He deploys his quills to dispatch a trio of drones, though three more float up behind him.

The EM pulse discharges, rippling through the jungle and disabling the remaining drones. Filled with worry, Burnham calls out to Saru, experiencing great relief when the Kelpien responds and announces that he is okay. The two converge and relish in a friendly hug, though a minor wound that "Action Saru" suffered does cause him discomfort. It’s now clear why Dr. Vellek chose a Promellian necropolis as a hiding place — it is exceedingly well-defended. Burnham and Saru draw new phasers from their programmable matter reserves and set their sights on their objective.

In Discovery's Engineering section, Zora and Stamets narrow down potential matches for the symbol written in Vellek's diary. With Culber in his wake, Book rushes in and wields a piece of equipment he can harness to access "dark comms," a special subspace comms channel that can reach Moll and L'ak. Book thinks the two might be Sui — couriers who take the most dangerous jobs because they love the action and the latinum. Aware that Moll and L'ak likely hope to unload the diary as soon as they can, Book gambles that they will answer his call… and — moments later — the couriers arrive via a holographic transmission.

As drones are deployed on the surface of Lyrek, Saru and Michael Burnham, in tactical uniform, forge forward defensively with their phasers drawn in 'Under the Twin Moons'

"Under the Twin Moons"

On the planet below, Burnham and Saru set foot in their target area near the pyramid, spying a section of ruins marked by Moll and L'ak's phaser burns. Readings don’t indicate that anything of great power was ever hidden here, so the stone's inscription must have been a clue. Moll and L'ak destroyed it to cover the next step to the Progenitors' tech, but hints of iridescent bacteria had settled into the grooves where the words were inscribed — recalibrating their tricorder for the UV spectrum unveils a hidden Romulan revlav, that begins with "Jolan tru, zarbalgon" —

Hello, Wanderer,
Many worlds have you traveled to,
Opaline waters call to you,
Thoughts are shared.
A world like no other, where two souls entwine, joined as one.

Romulan revlav, "Under the Twin Moons"

The clue seems to point toward Betazed's Opal Sea, but there are only four verses — a Romulan revlav typically has five. Tilly warns them that the electromagnetic field will regain power within two minutes.

In Engineering, Book banters with Moll and L'ak, unsure of whether the two couriers are running to something or from something. Moll interjects that the diary is Romulan and the Federation has no claim to it, but Book replies that the item will likely lead to unwanted Shine — their deaths or a stay in the brig. Moll's serious tone matches her ominous glare, and she asks Book for his true identity. The Kwejian mentions that he was a courier who primarily worked in the Beta Quadrant under the name Cleveland Booker. Recognition crosses Moll's features, and she retorts that all she and L'ak have is each other — and that’s more than enough. Moll ends the transmission, having routed the signal through an unstable wormhole to prevent a trace. Appearing unsettled by the chat, Book retrieves his kit and exits the room.

With time running out, Burnham and Saru take a page from Rayner's book and try to put themselves in Dr. Vellek’s mindset. Romulans were obsessed with secrecy in the 24th Century, often traveling with armed guards — the presence of another sizable stone sentry catches Saru's eye. Romulan dwellings typically had a shaiqouin — a false front door — to mislead enemies. The entrance for family and friends was in the back, persuading the captain to want to check beneath the obelisk. Saru lifts the stone, unearthing the final part of the clue and another relic. Unwilling to desecrate the sacred space, Saru covers it in a bid to prevent Moll and L’ak from gathering the additional intel. The second statue slowly turns its head, and the Starfleet officers beam out just before a new wave of energy blasts targets their position.

A close-up of Adira in Discovery's science lab in 'Under the Twin Moons'

"Under the Twin Moons"

Burnham and Saru join Tilly and Adira in Discovery's Science Lab, shocked to find out that Rayner had helped crack the planet's security system. The captain orders that a team of DOTs be dispatched to repair the damaged obelisk, and orbital sensors must be placed to notify Discovery when Moll and L'ak return to Lyrek. Stamets strolls in to examine the freshly procured relic, confirming that it has the same style and visual language as the symbol from the diary. Zora crafts a programmable matter version of the diary's symbol, producing a circular item containing its unique pattern. The relic fits into a section of the symbol, and the officers ascertain that the symbol is actually a map that was broken up into five pieces. The Romulan poem tells them where to go next so that they can locate the other four pieces and complete the map.

The prospect of obtaining the technology that the Progenitors used to create life astounds the group, so they begin to dissect the Romulan poem. While the first set of verses implies a need to visit Betazed, the final verse reads, "A world like no other, where two souls entwine, joined as one." Factoring in the previous hints about opaline waters and shared thoughts, Adira blurts out the true answer — Trill!**

In his quarters, Book reviews the recording of his talk with Moll. He freezes the playback on Moll, asking Zora to de-age the image to when Moll would have been just over 7 years old. Truth dawns on Book's face, but Culber's arrival draws him out of his silent reflection. The doctor is concerned that it seemed as if Book had seen a ghost. The ex-courier asks if Culber believes in fate, as Book discloses that he knows Moll. He’s only ever seen her birthmark on a holo-image of one person — Malinne, the daughter of his mentor, Cleveland Booker IV.*** Book wistfully supposes that this makes Moll the closest thing to family he has left.

Michael Burnham approaches Saru as he begins to pack up his quarters and intertwines her arm with his in 'Under the Twin Moons'

"Under the Twin Moons"

The Discovery-A jumps back to Federation HQ, and Saru finishes packing up his belongings from his plant-filled quarters on the ship. The Kelpien looks around the misty room, recalling how he passed through Vahar’ai here, transitioning from a life of fear to a life of hope. Turning to Captain Burnham, he explains that her presence by his side is what he remembers most from that trying time. For the captain, everything she's experienced with Saru has been an honor. There's no replacing him, but Burnham is sure whoever comes will be great.

Saru's last words of advice? Continue forward as you have. While one cannot predict what is to come, giving yourself over to the journey — and trusting in the process — can provide great meaning regardless of where one eventually arrives. The captain nods her approval, and Saru jokingly adds that she should also not touch the swamp kelp while it is in bloom. Burnham thanks the Kelpien for giving her a second chance, and the two gently lean in and rest their heads against each other.

Burnham approaches Admiral Vance as he tidies up his daughter's belongings in his space at Federation HQ as he considers the captain's mission report in 'Under the Twin Moons'

"Under the Twin Moons"

As Admiral Vance tidies up his daughter Charlie's belongings in his office, Captain Burnham approaches to check on the status of the inquiry into Captain Rayner. Vance was forced to ask Rayner to take an early retirement, though he hopes he has not ruined their 30-year friendship. The world has changed, but Rayner refuses to hear Vance out. Burnham momentarily ponders the admiral’s statement, deciding to…

…seek out Rayner elsewhere on the starbase. His collar open, Rayner allows Burnham to join him — it’s a free galaxy, well most of it anyway. Rayner marvels at Discovery through the viewport, and Burnham brings up his myriad of accomplishments — citations for distinguished service, the Grandkite Order of Tactics, and awards of valor. Rayner considers them all trinkets, pointing out that what you do in the chair is what really matters. Rayner is well-aware of what he stands for and believes in — he's not going to apologize for that. Burnham questions whether Rayner feels he deserved early retirement, but Rayner shares that he should have seen this coming. He preaches the need to think like your enemies, but what Moll and L'ak did tangled it all up. Rayner would have been mortified if civilian lives had been lost on Q’Mau.

Burnham approaches Rayner, who has loosened his Starfleet uniform, as he looks out the window towards U.S.S. Discovery in 'Under the Twin Moons'

"Under the Twin Moons"

Rayner accepts that he had dug his own grave, yet Burnham declares that it doesn’t mean he has to get in it — she wants Rayner to be her new Number One. The proclamation perplexes Rayner, but Burnham elaborates — Starfleet and the Federation matter to Rayner, and the way he looks at the stars clearly shows that he’s not ready to hang up his career in space. Rayner considers it impossible; Vance wouldn’t let him aboard anything more than a garbage scow. Burnham emphasizes the second chance she received, and Vance has already backed her request.

Burnham sets Discovery's upcoming departure to Trill as a deadline for Rayner to make a decision, but he only contemplates the offer for another moment. Rayner asserts that he is not a "yes man," and Burnham answers that she's counting on that. Rayner straightens himself, zipping up his command uniform with renewed confidence. Captain Burnham acknowledges Rayner with a smile, certain that Discovery has just gained a valuable crew member.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Section Banner - Canon Connections

* "Booby Trap" — Promellians, an extinct warp-capable, technologically-advanced humanoid species, were first mentioned in this The Next Generation third-season adventure when the Enterprise is caught in a booby trap that captures the ship and converts its energy into lethal levels of radiation. Investigating a long-abandoned Promellian battlecruiser, the Enterprise crew discovered the space-faring race destroyed themselves along with the Menthar during the battle of Orelious IX when they unknowingly supplied the power for their own destruction while trying to escape the later's booby trap for them.

** "Equilibrium" — After Jadzia Dax experiences unusual mood swings and fightening hallucinations, the Defiant crew in this Deep Space Nine third-season episode travel to Trill to help Jadzia unearth suppressed memories from Dax's previous host.

*** "Species Ten-C" — Book's guiding north star has always been to live up to his "mentor" and namesake, Cleveland Booker IV. In this fourth-season Discovery installment, Book explains his relationship with the original Booker, who believed the measure of someone was in how they honored their promises. In adopting his mentor's name, he also adopted generations of Booker's reputation of trust.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 Section Banner - Log Credits

  • Written by Alan McElroy
  • Directed by Doug Aarniokoski