Published Feb 18, 2022
Recap: Star Trek: Discovery - Rubicon
Will Burnham be able to stop Book?
By Jay Stobie
Having obtained the isolynium necessary to complete the device designed to destroy the Dark Matter Anomaly (DMA) and preserve its internal power source, Cleveland “Book” Booker and Ruon Tarka take refuge in a rogue planetary body to finish constructing the device. Book dispatches an encrypted holographic message to Captain Burnham, who had sent her partner the information which indicated that the DMA’s purpose was to mine boronite rather than to serve as a weapon.
However, Burnham’s hopes to find a middle ground are dashed, as Book views the DMA’s potential to jump anywhere at any moment as a threat that can not be ignored. Admiral Vance agrees to let the captain lead the mission to detain Booker and Tarka, but he assigns Commander Nhan, the Barzan officer who ventured to the 32nd century with U.S.S. Discovery and who was last seen shepherding the seed vault ship in season three’s “Die Trying.” Nhan is there to ensure that Burnham and Saru don’t let their personal connection to Book distract them from their orders.
Meanwhile, Saru seeks advice from Ni’Var’s President T’Rina regarding how to balance his emotions. The pair converse through the same holographic tech that Guardian Xi utilized to transfer Gray into his new body. Ni’Var’s President and the Kelpien officer continue their not-so-subtle (yet adorably awkward) courtship, and T’Rina even invites Saru to dinner, an offer which he promises to consider.
Back on the bridge, Discovery’s crew pinpoints Book’s location with the tracker that Burnham placed on the isolynium prior to the card game on Haz’s Karma Barge. The captain orders her team to prepare to jump (Black Alert!) and engage the cloaking device (um, Emerald Alert?). Once at the rogue planet, the captain explains that Saru, Bryce, Rhys, and Dr. Culber will take a cloaked shuttlecraft to evade Book’s defenses, board the ship, and detain the former courier and the scientist.
En route, Culber expertly diffuses an argument between Rhys and Bryce related to the merits of Book’s actions, proving why the doctor is vital to the mission and once again emphasizing Discovery’s forward-thinking views on therapy, conflict resolution, and mental health. Unfortunately, a new defense system that Tarka secretly installed envelops the shuttle, nearly destroying the craft before the crew is beamed out at the last second.
Booker apologizes to Burnham, but his ship jumps to the DMA before the captain can respond. Discovery also jumps to the area of relative calm surrounding the DMA Controller, prompting Nhan to brief Burnham and Saru in private. Now a member of Federation Security, Nhan makes the senior officers aware of a fault in the prototype spore drive that can be exploited. If necessary, Discovery can use a torpedo to destroy Book’s ship in order to prevent it from firing its isolytic weapon.
The plan concerns Burnham and Saru, who realize they would not be able to save Book and Tarka from the explosion. Even Discovery would be in danger from the fallout. As tensions rise, Saru requests they all focus on compromise. Inspiration strikes the captain, and Burnham assigns Stamets to determine the time it will take the DMA to mine the remaining boronite in the area. If they can provide Booker with a timetable of how long the DMA will stay put, perhaps he might temporarily stand down.
As Book’s ship and Discovery close in on the DMA Controller’s location, the two vessels play a game of cat-and-mouse that rivals the epic confrontation between Kirk’s Enterprise and Khan’s Reliant in the Mutara Nebula from The Wrath of Khan. From blinding scanners to igniting a hydrogen cloud, each starship tries to gain the upper hand. The familiarity between Burnham and Book (including their shared experience with the “Breen Gambit”) keeps the playing field relatively equal, until…
…Discovery locates the DMA Controller. Burnham puts her vessel between the controller and Book’s craft, and the two starships spore jump back-and-forth as they exchange warning shots. Worried about his plan, Tarka unleashes a volley of quantum torpedoes that nearly forces Nhan to give the order that would eliminate Book’s ship. Luckily, Stamets chimes in to report that he projects the DMA will remain in the region for another week.
Armed with this information, Burnham pilots a shuttle to speak with Book “face-to-face,” eventually convincing Book to permit the Federation to use that week to make first contact with Species 10-C. If peace talks ended up failing, the Federation would then support Book’s plan to destroy the DMA. Just as a resolution appears to have been reached, Tarka once again acts irrationally and deploys the weapon.
The DMA is annihilated as Discovery and Book’s ship jump to safety, but Tarka is taken aback when he realizes the DMA’s power source is nowhere to be found… it must have been fueled from the other side of the wormhole that connected the DMA to Species 10-C’s coordinates. With Discovery back at Federation HQ, the U.S.S. Mitchell transmits a startling report from the region where the DMA was wiped out… a new DMA has already appeared. In an unsettling revelation, Burnham announces that they have unintentionally made first contact with the 10-C.
“Rubicon” marks the welcome return of Rachael Ancheril’s Commander Nhan, who expressed an interest in returning to Discovery one day during a discussion with Burnham at the end of this episode. Saru’s chat with T’Rina, as well as his humorous exchange with Dr. Culber about the duo’s budding romantic relationship, supplied some comic relief to balance out the anxiety-inducing stakes surrounding Michael’s mission to stop Book and Tarka. The 10-C can simply replace one DMA with another, so how will they react to this aggressive action? What will the Federation’s next step be? 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.