Spoilers for season four, episode four of Star Trek: Discovery to follow.
In orbit above Ni’Var, Captain Burnham reflects on the wellbeing of the Discovery crew as the Dark Matter Anomaly (DMA) continues to weigh heavily on their minds. Negotiations to bring Ni’Var, which had been a founding member of the Federation when it was still called Vulcan, back into the interstellar coalition are nearing completion, and Burnham has been asked to attend.
Meanwhile, Sylvia Tilly sits in session with Dr. Culber, who is wearing a very comfortable looking sweater in his role as ship’s counselor, and expresses questions about her future. Culber mentions that Doctor Kovich, last seen in season three, inquired about having someone from Discovery participate in a training mission with some of Starfleet Academy’s new cadets. Culber believes Tilly would be perfect for the assignment, requesting that the lieutenant take Adira along with her.
Adira feels trepidation about meeting new people, but their partner Gray encourages them to be open to fresh experiences. At the Academy, Kovich points out that many of the post-Burn cadets are having problems connecting with others. Tilly is placed in charge of an advanced 32nd-century shuttle whose crew includes Adira, an Orion, a Tellarite, and a young human woman. The group is to conduct a planetary analysis of a desert moon, but a rogue gamma ray burst strikes the vessel, sending it crashing down onto the wrong moon.
While attempting to make repairs, Tilly encourages the cadets to introduce themselves. Cadet Sasha, the human woman, grew up on Titan, an excellent callback to the conflict between Earth and its forgotten Titan colonists in “People of Earth.” Tellarite Cadet Taahz Gorev explains that his family was treated poorly by the Emerald Chain, creating instant tension with Orion Cadet Harral.
On Ni’Var, the Federation delegation (including a Saurian!) prepares to welcome Ni’Var back into the Federation, but T’Rina surprises President Rillak with one final stipulation: an exit clause that would allow Ni’Var to withdraw from the Federation without condition. As negotiations break down, Saru and T’Rina seem to have built on the bond they established in “Unification III,” leading the Kelpien to believe that T’Rina and Rillak secretly hope he and Captain Burnham will find a resolution to the issue.
Back in Culber’s counseling chambers, the physician talks with Book about the nature of grief. Culber suggests Book try a Kwejian healing ritual, a process that would use programmable matter to stand in for the sand native to Book’s home. The therapeutic endeavor angers Book, prompting Culber to explain that things will never be the same again. When Book finishes his sculpt, he shares a moment of introspection with Culber, who voices that he also has thoughts he needs to work out.
At the crash site, the situation worsens when creatures that are attracted to electromagnetic signatures, such as those emitted by Federation tech, begin assaulting the shuttle. Tilly’s team powers down their gear, deciding to climb a nearby ridge to use their personal comm devices to contact the U.S.S. Armstrong. During the trek, Adira becomes trapped in ice, forcing the other cadets to work together to free them. Cadet Harral makes peace with Gorev, admitting that his father was a political prisoner who died for opposing the Emerald Chain’s enslavement practices.
In a private meeting with Saru, T’Rina details that the Vulcan purists in her coalition are the ones pressuring her to insist on the exit clause. Captain Burnham speaks with Rillak about compromise, a proposal that brings everyone back to the negotiation table. Saru recalls how his people had to overcome their views of the Ba’ul’s history of culling to form a united world, just as Burnham reminds the Ni’Var delegation of the centuries of mistrust between Vulcans and Romulans. Citing Rillak’s human, Bajoran, and Cardassian ancestry, Burnham points out that Cardassia fought against the other two races, presumably a reference to the Dominion War, before deciding to become stronger together.
To appease Ni’Var’s concerns, Burnham recommends the creation of a committee that would conduct independent reviews with all Federation member worlds. As a citizen of Ni’Var and a Starfleet officer, Burnham offers to sit on the council and help bridge the civilizations, a compromise which pleases both Rillak and T’Rina. Shortly thereafter, Rillak officially welcomes Ni’Var back into the Federation. In another intriguing development in their friendship (or perhaps relationship?), T’Rina invites Saru to join her for tea. Burnham and Rillak also seem to be warming to one another, agreeing to be more transparent in their future talks.
Once the cadets reach the ridge, Tilly uses herself as a distraction so that her subordinates can attempt to contact the Armstrong without being bothered by the creature. In a breathtaking escape, the group is beamed out just in time. Back at Starfleet Academy, an impressed Kovich presents Tilly with a chance to teach at the rebuilding institution. In her quarters, Tilly reminisces with Burnham about the first time they met in “Context Is for Kings,” ultimately telling the captain that she would be accepting Kovich’s assignment. Tilly then departs the Discovery amid tearful goodbyes.
“All Is Possible” presents the momentous occasion when Ni’Var finally rejoins the Federation, but the saying, which is also written on a snowglobe (an item that contains what looks like a small model of the NX-01) in Tilly’s quarters, also resonates with Discovery’s crew. Book can find a way to deal with his grief, Adira can connect with others, and Tilly can uncover a purpose that will bring her joy. What ramifications will manifest from Ni’Var’s return and Tilly’s departure? Stay tuned as we continue to boldly go…
Jay Stobie (he/him) is a freelance writer and consultant who has contributed articles to StarTrek.com, Star Trek Explorer, and Star Trek Magazine, as well as to Star Wars Insider and StarWars.com. Jay serves as a BoldlyGo Campaign Ambassador for The Roddenberry Foundation. Jay can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @StobiesGalaxy.
Star Trek: Discovery currently streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. Internationally, the series is available on Paramount+ in Australia, Latin America and the Nordics, and on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave. Star Trek: Discovery is distributed by ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group.