As the U.S.S. Credence prepares to deliver a shipment of dilithium, masked assailants beam aboard in an effort to steal the precious cargo. The Starfleet officers resist, and one of the intruders utters the immortal words of the Qowat Milat: “Please, my friend, choose to live.” The deadly phrase, often spoken by Elnor on Star Trek: Picard, does not deter the Credence’s first officer, who is killed by the Qowat Milat’s blade.
In a briefing at Federation HQ, Admiral Vance reveals that this was the fourth theft perpetrated by J’Vini, one of Ni’Var’s warrior nuns, and that a tracker hidden in the latest shipment has supplied her location. At the request of Federation President Rillak and her counterpart T’Rina, who each express a hope that Ni’Var will soon be reunited with the Federation, Vance agrees to a joint Starfleet-Qowat Milat mission, led by Captain Burnham and her mother Gabrielle, to capture J'Vini.
On Discovery, Sylvia Tilly confers with Saru about her counseling sessions with Dr. Culber, who recommended that she try to get out of her comfort zone. Down in engineering, Stamets researches his new theory that the gravitational anomaly, which the astromycologist nicknames a Dark Matter Anomaly (DMA), is a primordial wormhole. Accompanied by Book, Stamets plans to consult with the Ni’Var Science Institute in an attempt to confirm his theory.
As Gray’s synth body is completed in sickbay, Guardian Xi arrives virtually via the same innovative holographic tech that permitted Stamets to fly with Book in “Anomaly,” warning that Gray’s consciousness could be lost during the incorporation. The unjoining turns out to be a success, but neither Xi nor Adira can sense Gray’s presence in his synthetic form. Leaning on his counseling skills, Dr. Culber distracts Adira by taking them to a lounge to play darts, an age-old game also enjoyed by Dr. Bashir and Miles O’Brien on starbase Deep Space 9.
At Saru’s recommendation, Captain Burnham elects to bring Tilly along on the mission to capture J'Vini, who is identified as the Qowat Milat who nursed Gabrielle Burnham back to health when she originally arrived in the future. Just before the team beams down to a small moon, J'Vini’s mercenaries infiltrate the ship, initiating a fierce sword fight. The invaders are killed, as is a Qowat Milat sister, and J'Vini appears briefly to warn Gabrielle not to pursue her.
Of course, Captain Burnham opts not to heed the threat and beams to the rogue Qowat Milat’s underground hideaway with her mother and Tilly. Gabrielle argues that J'Vini has bound herself to a lost cause, just as Star Trek fans witnessed as Elnor bound himself to Jean-Luc Picard’s search for Soji eight hundred years before. A dead alien is found in the crypt-like cavern, but the team soon realizes that the moon is actually a massive ship when the stolen dilithium is activated.
Back on Ni’Var, Stamets shows frustration when his colleagues from the planet’s science institute retreat into meditative states to contemplate the DMA data. President T’Rina approaches Book, recognizing the Kwejian’s guilt over the loss of his family. Ni’Var’s scientists eventually stir, concluding that the absence of tachyons near the DMA disprove Stamets’ theory that it is a primordial wormhole.
As Tilly powers down the moon’s propulsion system, Michael notices glyphs that indicate the planetoid was used to escape a supernova. As she and her mother look out over the cavern, they realize that the fleeing aliens remain alive in cryostasis. This last-ditch effort to preserve a society was also seen by Voyager’s crew, who encountered the Vaadwaur in a similar state during their journey through the Delta Quadrant. Gabrielle believes protecting the cocoons from grave robbers is the cause to which J'Vini has bound herself.
Saru and Culber chat about the doctor’s role as both chief surgeon and counselor in the lounge, which, quite fittingly for fans of DS9 who have always loved the interactions between Quark and Morn at the station’s bar, features Ferengi and Lurian officers in the background. Hopefully we will be visiting this area of the ship, seemingly Discovery’s version of the Enterprise-D’s Ten Forward, more often. Meanwhile, Adira visits Gray’s synth body and vows to guide him into his new form.
On the planetoid ship, J'Vini finds Tilly sabotaging the dilithium storage pods and engages in a duel with Gabrielle. J'Vini bests her Qowat Milat sister, but Michael offers a solution: she will fix the cryo chambers, permitting the sleeping aliens, known as Abronians, to inherit their new homeworld. Captain Burnham fulfills her promise, granting J'Vini the ability to surrender herself into custody. Before leaving the moon, the four women watch as the Abronians awaken and begin traveling down to the planet.
At the Ni’Var Science Institute, President T’Rina mind melds with Book to see if the Kwejian witnessed any tachyon-related effects during his planet’s destruction. While no indications of tachyons were found, Book experiences an important moment in his recovery when he remembers that, in his last visit with Leto, his nephew looked back at him and knew that his uncle loved him.
Aboard Book’s ship, Gabrielle advises Tilly about the different paths people follow throughout their lives, further underlining the uncertainty the Starfleet lieutenant has been feeling. In a political maneuver, Admiral Vance remands J'Vini into Ni’Var’s custody. In sickbay, Gray awakes in his synth body and enjoys a loving reunion with Adira, whose guidance proved vital in their partner’s capacity to find his way home. Elsewhere on the ship, Michael finds Book in her quarters, watching a holo of Kwejian’s forest. The recovered memory of Leto has brought Book some closure, even prompting him to begin wearing his family amulet once again.
As its title suggests, “Choose to Live” is a Qowat Milat-heavy episode that features the honor and absolute candor we’ve come to adore from these warrior nuns. Stamets deals with a setback to his research into the DMA, but Book, Tilly, and Gray each make significant strides in their own journeys. Discovery expertly weaves stories of personal progress into the backdrop of the cataclysmic threat posed by the gravitational anomaly. 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.