‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Debates Next Steps With the Anomaly — Who Goes Rogue? (RECAP)

Sonequa Martin Green as Burnham, Chelah Horsdal as President Laira Rillak, Tara Rosling as T'Rina in Star Trek Discovery
Spoiler Alert
Michael Gibson/Paramount+

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Episode 7 “…But to Connect.”]

The DMA (Dark Matter Anomaly) is a threat to everyone, and therefore representatives from across the galaxy gather in the midseason finale of Star Trek: Discovery to determine how to deal with it. But with the choices boiling down to a peaceful approach to those responsible and a forceful attack, one that could have unknown ramifications, there’s a clear division, one that leads to a dramatic decision.

From the beginning of the episode, Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Book (David Ajala) aren’t on the same page; she’s fine waiting for coordinates of the DMA creators’ location by trying to win over Grudge with a holographic cat toy, while he’d rather keep checking in with Stamets (Anthony Rapp) for an update. Later, at the meeting, the two options are presented, with Tarka (Shawn Doyle) proposing the more aggressive one: a weapon capable of severing the device at the center controlling the anomaly. Those types of weapons have been banned, but he thinks the Federation’s leadership can make an exception in this case. If they wait, the DMA could kill billions more. After what it did to his planet, Book sides with Tarka.

In fact, Tarka confides — assuming he’s telling the truth — in Book why he cares so much about this. His new home is in another universe, he says, and that’s likely where a friend of his, another scientist, is, if he’s alive. As Tarka sees it, it’s up to Book to convince everyone. And so Book steps forward to defend Tarka’s plan.

“My planet’s lost,” he says. “I feel the final moments every day. I pray none of you ever have to experience that kind of pain and I want to do whatever it takes to ensure you don’t. Communication and diplomacy has been the way of the Federation for centuries. I, too, value those things, in normal times. But these are not normal times. Irreparable harm has already been done. We need to defend ourselves. I recognize using Tarka’s weapon carries risk. So does not using it. Don’t wait until the people you love are taken from you before you act. You don’t want that on your conscience, trust me. On behalf of all who have been lost, please, end this now.”

David Ajala as Book, Shawn Doyle as Ruon Tarka in Star Trek Discovery

Michael Gibson/Paramount+

And then Michael, reluctantly, speaks up for a peaceful approach. “Our experiences shape us. That’s what makes this so difficult,” she says. “Before we head down a path that could lead to destruction on both sides, we need to reach first for understanding. For generations, the Federation has sought out new life, new civilizations, not to destroy, but to connect, even in the face of uncertainty. We are not all Federation members, but those ideals can still guide us. … We need to decide who do we want to be? Do we lash out blindly, no matter the risk, or do we proceed thoughtfully, work toward the future we want to live in? I believe that’s who we are. We wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

Book voices his disagreement, and when Michael hopes that they can move forward as a united front, no matter the decision, he admits that some differences are too great. And it seems like this is definitely one of them, with Book walking away after the vote falls in the favor of first contact.

But to Michael’s shock, he’s not waiting in her quarters when she returns to Discovery. Instead, he’s left Grudge (“I love you, Michael. Please take care of my girl”), and the captain reaches the shuttle bay in time to see Book jump away on his ship with Tarka (and his next generation spore drive). Uh-oh, is Book about to do something he can’t take back?

Doug Jones as Saru, Wilson Cruz as Culber, Anthony Rapp as Stamets, David Cronenberg as Kovich in Star Trek Discovery

Michael Gibson/Paramount+

Meanwhile, Kovich (David Cronenberg) is brought in when the AI Zora refuses to give up the coordinates of the DMA’s creators because, as she tells Michael, “it’s highly likely that you and the crew will attempt to travel there. Given what we know about the powers these beings possess, you’d be in great danger. By withholding their location, I can keep you safe.” Sure, she’s been experiencing emotions, but refusing an order is new for the AI, Michael assures Kovich. And this is a problem because Starfleet regulations prohibit fully sentient, integrated units.

Stamets is the most concerned about the threat Zora could pose (calling it “terrifying” she’s achieved full sentience), while Culber (Wilson Cruz), Adira (Blu del Barrio), and Gray (Ian Alexander) speak up in her defense — especially once the AI proposes the solution of a fail-safe to terminate her. Sure, Zora is a form they’ve never encountered, but so are Gray (a Synth) and Adira (the first human host to successfully join with a symbiont). Plus, Saru (Doug Jones) adds, anyone on the ship could become a threat.

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Kovich voices his own concern: Zora’s willingness to terminate herself runs counter to her core programming. That’s when she shocks all by revealing her primary function is to care for the crew of the Discovery — and she gave herself those parameters. It’s while looking through her systems that Stamets finds an area that seems to have spontaneously popped up, one that holds what are essentially Zora’s dreams. AIs can only dream if programmed to, Kovich says. So then what is Zora? As she defines herself, “I am a sum of the sphere’s life and the entirety of Discovery‘s systems, logs, missions, and history. I am also more than the sum of those parts … and this is where I belong. This crew is my family.”

But for Stamets to trust Zora, he needs her to trust them and give them the coordinates. She agrees. So what does this mean for Kovich’s evaluation? First, he needs to hear Stamets’ thoughts. Stamets recommends that Zora join Starfleet as a specialist and dismantles the fail-safe, and Kovich supports it. But what if the lieutenant hadn’t changed his mind? Kovich would’ve recommended he be reassigned.

In Zora’s dreams, Gray saw Trill, and Adira can tell that he wants to go home now. They can’t go with him beyond a visit, however, because Discovery is their home. And so Stamets and Culber see them off — Adira’s helping Gray settle — and it just reminds us how much we love their family.

Star Trek: Discovery, Returns, Thursday, February 10, Paramount+