Safely through The Galactic Barrier and with less than 29 hours until the Dark Matter Anomaly (DMA) strikes United Earth and Ni’Var, Captain Michael Burnham ponders how to get into Species 10-C’s hyperfield and find a way to communicate with them. To further those goals, the U.S.S. Discovery-A visits the dead planet located near the 10-C’s current coordinates. Burnham hypothesizes that the planet, a former gas giant whose atmosphere was burned away by asteroid impacts, used to be the 10-C’s original home. Scotty would be pleased to hear that the world orbits a star that is surrounded by Dyson Rings, similar to the massive Dyson Sphere that the ancient engineer was found on in TNG’s “Relics.”
Hoping to find cultural context that would aid in establishing contact with the 10-C, Burnham prepares to lead Saru, Doctor Culber, and Lt. Commander Detmer to the surface. Earth’s General Ndoye expresses concern over the time the trip will take, but Burnham assures her that the away mission could provide invaluable information. During approach, the team’s scans indicate ruins, including one structure that appears to still be intact.
Upon landing, Saru begins experiencing sensory hallucinations that feel reminiscent of his pre-vahar’ai fear responses from Discovery’s first two seasons. The landing party locates what appear to be massive bones, presumably of the 10-C, which support the theory that the species previously floated through the gas layers of the planet. Patches of a mysterious, dust-like hydrocarbon unfamiliar to Federation science are also found, but the team must press on.
Hidden nearby on Cleveland “Book” Booker’s ship, Book and Tarka theorize about ways to penetrate the 10-C’s hyperfield, eventually settling on secretly attaching their cloaked vessel to Discovery. Tarka plans to create a patch to numb Zora’s sensors and allow Book’s ship to hitch a ride, but the pair must infiltrate the Federation starship in order to install it. Employing devices to mask their lifesigns (similar to the one Book gave Burnham to help retake Discovery from Osyraa in season three), the duo covertly beams into a Jefferies tube.
While making their way to engineering, Book and Tarka overhear Ndoye conveying her frustrations over Burnham’s excursion to the planet, a discussion that inspires Book to approach Ndoye for help. The pair split up, leaving Tarka to witness Jett Reno replicate a raktajino, a staple back on 24th century Deep Space 9, and assure Adira Tal that having doubts is normal. Adira voices admiration for Detmer’s confidence, but Reno cites the pilot’s struggle with PTSD after arriving in the future. Reno then supplies healthy advice that we should all remember, stating, “No one’s always okay, kid.”
On the planet, both Culber and Burnham begin to experience symptoms similar to Saru’s own hallucinations soon after arriving at the fortified building. Since their environmental suits should filter out any substances in the atmosphere, the three retrace their steps to figure out why Detmer is not undergoing any fearful reactions. Burnham, Saru, and Culber realize they all came into direct contact with the blue hydrocarbons. The team nullifies the dust’s influence by recalibrating their suits’ filtering systems (thank goodness for programmable matter!)
Back on Discovery, Tarka causes replicator malfunctions that send Reno and Linus away from engineering to make repairs, allowing him to enter the room and install his patch. Book meets with Ndoye, who agrees to stay in touch with him and support his plan to power down the DMA, but only as a last resort in the event that Burnham’s attempt at diplomacy fails. It appears the captain’s words have had a positive effect on the general. The plan doesn’t go quite as smoothly in engineering, where Reno returns just in time to catch Tarka sneaking around.
Entering a protected area of the planet’s surviving structure, Burnham theorizes that the hydrocarbons permitted them to feel the emotions the 10-C felt while the asteroids impacted their homeworld. As Saru detects a different type of hydrocarbon in the chamber, Culber finds pillars containing DNA belonging to the 10-C’s infants. The landing party discerns that the building was reinforced by the 10-C to protect their young, providing an elusive piece of cultural context. They each deactivate their EV suits’ modifications and touch the second hydrocarbon variant, causing them to feel peace and joy… as if they were back in the womb.
Since the hydrocarbons influence humans, Kelpiens, and even the 10-C in a similar fashion, the team deduces that certain emotions are universal. Armed with a starting point for establishing contact with Species 10-C, the group collects samples, takes additional scans, and proposes that the dust is a way for the 10-C to communicate via pheromones. Burnham compares the hydrocarbons to Earth’s Rosetta Stone, which supplied the context necessary to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Stamets examines the hydrocarbon samples, finding sixteen unique compounds that correspond to different emotional states. Speaking of emotions, President T’Rina steps in to offer to calm Saru’s nerves with a relaxing walk- the romance thrives! With less than 25 hours before the DMA strikes Earth and Ni’Var, Burnham orders a course to be set for the 10-C’s hyperfield. Unbeknownst to Michael, Book listens in on her conversation — not to spy, but to have a chance to be near his beloved partner. Once he beams back to his ship, Book learns that Tarka has successfully attached it to Disco’s hull… oh, and he’s taken Reno hostage!
“Rosetta” serves as a delightful installment focused on connecting with others and processing internal emotions which, in a way, involves connecting with ourselves. Science takes the forefront on the away mission, but, in what has been a crucial recurring theme this season, Burnham takes the time to attend to the individual needs of her crew members. As always, Reno is a fantastic presence, providing Adira with meaningful advice that assists the ensign in befriending Detmer. As Discovery heads toward Species 10-C’s hyperfield, one ponders whether the new intel will help with First Contact. Perhaps more importantly, will Book’s ship have enough snacks that Reno will enjoy? 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.