Star Trek: Discovery’s second season astounded viewers with a wide array of dramatic encounters, pulse-pounding action, and temporal twists. With so much depth present in the plot, the series’s writing staff cleverly dispersed moments of comedic relief throughout these last fourteen episodes. With another incredible chapter of Star Trek in the books, let’s take a look at some of the dialogue that elicited the biggest laughs. Let us know @StarTrek on Twitter if your favorite exchange made the list!
1. “Brother” — "An armistice? With the guys who drink bloodwine?”
Jett Reno’s initial reaction to hearing about the end of the Klingon War from Michael Burnham perfectly captured the engineer’s wise-cracking attitude that we would come to know and adore. A comment to reassure one of her unconscious patients immediately followed the quip, foreshadowing the compassionate wisdom that Reno eventually brought to advise Hugh Culber and Paul Stamets.
2. “Saints of Imperfection” — “Mister Stamets, are you ready to execute this very bold, deeply insane plan of yours?”
As Paul Stamets prepared to initiate a partial spore jump in an attempt to rescue Sylvia Tilly from the mycelial network, Captain Pike asked the scientist for an update in this humorous fashion. While the query might seem to be an inadvertent gaffe from any other starship commander, Pike’s words sounded quite deliberate. The captain’s habit of injecting levity into dangerous situations in order to boost his crew’s morale was on full display as U.S.S. Discovery’s personnel readied themselves for the unknown.
3. “Lights and Shadows” — “I’m sorry, sir. You know how I get around violations of causality. Plus, you said that I shouldn’t curse when I was on duty.”
The ever-exuberant Ensign Tilly offered this apology to Commander Saru and Captain Pike after describing the readings from the anomaly over Kaminar as “freakin’ amazing.” Although Saru seemeda bit disappointed in the young officer, Pike took the colorful language in stride and appeared to enjoy Tilly’s characteristically unique perspective. And, to Tilly’s credit, even as Saru slightly chastised her, the Kelpien’s disposition reflected the caring mentorship role he had assumed to assist the ensign’s career.
4. “Lights and Shadows” — “Everything sounds cooler when you put ‘time’ in front of it.”
Tilly’s observation as the captain and Ash Tyler approached the temporal anomaly prompted Saru to shake his head disapprovingly, yet Pike once again found humor in Tilly’s enchanting outlook on the galaxy. Pike played along as he elected to proclaim that his shuttle had begun to collect data from the ‘time rift.’ Of course, all good things must come to an end; Tilly later reported that the phrase had lost some of its luster as a deadly ‘time tsunami’ approached Discovery following Shuttle 5’s destruction.
5. “If Memory Serves” — “Do you actually think the beard is working?”
As Spock’s frustration with his sister’s inquiries regarding the Red Angel grew Burnham struck at Spock’s facial hair with a verbal jab. Their hostility exceeded that of an average sibling rivalry, but the apparent swipe at Spock’s grooming choices nevertheless maintained a jovial edge. Spock answered the criticism by quizzically stroking his beard, as if his appearance had never occurred to him. Although audiences previously knew that tension mired the pair’s relationship, this initial banter highlighted the true extent of their personal divide.
6. “If Memory Serves” — “The Starfleet manual offers no regulatory guidelines for interactions between humans with Klingons grafted to their bones and a ship’s doctor returned from the dead.”
Saru skillfully defended his thought process for permitting Culber and Tyler to resolve their differences via a mess hall skirmish, correctly pointing out the situation’s eccentric circumstances to Pike. The captain understood both the nature of the conflict and the fact that Saru was still acclimating to the evolution he experienced in “The Sound of Thunder.” In a true show of leadership, Pike chose to mete out forgiveness for the transgression with an informal warning to prevent such actions from taking place on Discovery in the future.
7. “The Red Angel” — “What just happened?!”
Tilly’s flustered question succinctly summarized a whirlwind of a conversation between herself, Georgiou, Stamets, and Culber.” Georgiou’s desire to keep the officers off balance began with a recommendation for the astromycologist to treat his neuroses with medication, and culminated in the Section 31 agent referring to Culber as “papi.” Despite Georgiou’s suggestion that Tilly needed to relish in male tension, the Terran skillfully manipulated the situation so that Stamets and Culber focused on her behavior rather than their uncertain relationship.
8. “The Red Angel” — “Were you to perish, I would be charged with killing a Starfleet officer… again. It would therefore be ideal... if you survived.”
Spock’s show of concern for his adopted sister and her plan to lure the Red Angel demonstrated how far the siblings’ relationship had progressed since their initial reunion. Citing the legal fallout from Michael’s hypothetical death served as Spock’s way of expressing his concern for his sister while also easing her mind with a little mirth.
9. “Perpetual Infinity” — “I like science.”
The jocularity of Spock’s simple statement can only be appreciated when paired with the Vulcan’s dry delivery. Having heard Stamets’s proposal to employ dark matter particles to modify a transporter enhancer, Spock excitedly pronounced that the energy would allow the crew to permanently bring Michael’s mother Gabrielle into Discovery’s space-time. Countering a quizzical glance from Stamets, Spock simply stated his affinity for science. Nonetheless, the brief quip veiled the fact that the Vulcan’s enthusiasm surely rooted itself in his newfound hope to rescue Gabrielle for Michael.
10. “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2” — “What Mirror Universe?”
Accompanied by a wink and a smirk, Captain Pike’s feigned ignorance regarding the Mirror Universe’s very existence served as the perfect reply to Georgiou’s confession about her identity. Spoken after the dramatic sendoff that Pike received from Discovery’s bridge crew, the innocent question implied that Pike had known about the Section 31 agent’s origins and provided audiences with a fleeting moment of laughter before the seriousness of the ensuing battle. How long was Pike aware? We may never learn the truth, but it is safe to say that one should never underestimate a captain’s intuition.
Jay Stobie (he/him) is a freelance science fiction writer who contributes articles to the official Star Trek website and Star Trek Magazine. He can be found on Twitter at @CaptStobie.