Here is the “Star Trek” we’ve been waiting for. What a passed out emotional episode with moving little grace notes for various supporting characters along the way. This show has long struggled to get the most out of its hugely talented cast, but Forget Me Not suggests a path that includes most supporting cast, and it does it thoughtfully. “Star Trek” was always at its best when it presented rounded portraits of its characters: Data wasn’t just an android or a science officer, he was a painter, a cat owner, an aspiring Shakespeare, a pen pal. Riker loved jazz music, played the trombone, occasionally had a holographic girlfriend and even tried his hand at experimental theater. “Discovery” didn’t do this nearly as well for its supporting characters. Owosekun, Nilsson, the Lizard Man (Linus), Detmer, Bryce, Rhys, Nhan. I want to get to know them all. But even though they have appeared in many episodes, their screen time was so limited that you can find quite a few entries for each of them on their Memory Alpha pages.
“Forget Me Not” began to correct this, giving each of these supportive players a moment to shine as it breathed dramatic life into Blu del Barrio’s new character Adira in an incredibly moving way. Who didn’t have tears in their eyes as the episode neared its end?
Unlike “Far From Home,” which was a lengthy side quest without addressing the crew’s emotions, “Forget Me Not” is a kind of pause – a way to take stock of where all of these characters have been and how they can deal with their life in the future. It starts lazily enough with long overhead shots of the ship when Dr. Culber gives his protocol. He wants to share with the crew how he stood in their shoes before: He was certainly alone and lost too. “But first they have to accept help,” he said. Going to Earth in the previous episode helped her new reality establish itself. Leaping 930 years into the future, everything they knew and loved is gone.
Adira says she has some memories and skills from the symbiote, but since she is not a Trill herself, she cannot access all of them. However, she can make a common Bajoran hasparat. (For what it’s worth, even though del Barrio uses her / her pronoun, it seems that Adira is written as she / she.) Any way to get her to access these memories? Take her to Trill and see if the people there can help her. And when they get there, the trill seems promising! “It has been many years since we saw a Federation spaceship,” a world envoy tells them, apparently a lush garden world with CGI flying fish that really do fly.
But when the trill asks Adira to “recite their names,” she cannot. After all, she is human and cannot access all of the memories of the previous hosts who had this symbiote in front of her. “It is an abomination, it must be separated immediately!” Says a particularly bigoted trill. However, an open-minded Trill, Zee, sees an opportunity: this could be the future of the Trill, as her own species has not had enough viable hosts for generations. Zee helps them and takes them to the sacred caves where the symbiotes have always lived in glowing “Minority Report” pools. Burnham is with her during all of this; Culber rightly said that both of them have recently seen “post-traumatic growth” and should form a good team.
A less inviting trill welcome party.
Meanwhile, the Discovery crew is stressed to the max, and Culber is trying to figure out how to reduce the stress hormones of anyone who isn’t on the schedule. Asking the computer for help, Saru says they would benefit from “exercise, medication, limited milk … yoga, hyperbaric chambers, therapeutic coloring books, and interstellar shopping.” Then the computer takes on a significantly different tone and sounds almost like Scarlett Johansson’s all-purpose AI in “Her”. It must be the sphere data that begins to express her personality through the ship: This woman’s voice suggests that laughter is the best remedy for the stress of the crew – like the comedy that overcame language barriers in the 20th century: silence Comedy.
Saru puts that in the background at first. Instead, he decides to have a dinner party. All of the previously mentioned underdeveloped characters – Owosekun, Nilsson, the Lizard Man (Linus), Detmer, Bryce, Rhys, Nhan – have great moments here! Last but not least! Georgiou even recites a haiku and gets the others to try. It’s a joyful scene, but one that is interrupted when Detmer gruesomely remembers how Stamets was nearly fatally wounded. Bitter undercurrents pop up in everyone and everyone goes with Georgiou and says, “Well, at least the wine was good” as she picks up the bottle.
At this dinner party, the accusations flow like raktajino.
Back on Trill, Adira is sucked into the pool of symbiotes and Michael dives after her. You are in one of the more trippier environments Discovery has ever given us. They are in ankle-deep water with tendrils all around, like strange nerve endings trying to connect. You want to bond with Adira so that she can remember the memories of the symbiote. However, due to a recent trauma, Adira barely remembers her own memories. We see in a flashback that Adira and her Trill friend Gray (Ian Alexander) were on board a generation ship and were looking for the headquarters of Starfleet. Senna Tal must also have been on board and then died, his symbiote went to Gray. Adira remembers that Gray was suddenly a cello virtuoso back then. “I’m still me,” he said. “I’m just me.” This relationship between del Barrio and Alexander (the first transgender man to appear on a “Trek” series) is so revolutionary, yet portrayed in such a grand, effortlessly emotional way. They are not symbols, they are people. This is good storytelling that corresponds to the “Star Trek” that we have always known but developed. It’s the best of the past – especially the fluidity that implies everything we’ve learned about the trill in “Deep Space Nine” – with what we’ve learned since then.
Adira then remembers an attack on her ship that fatally wounded Gray, so she had to take the symbiote Tal, not only to keep Tal alive, but so that she and Gray could still be together and their memories mingled.
In opening up to herself to her grief and worst memories, Adira opened up the memories of the former hosts that appear in a circle around her. Including Senna Valley, which reveals the location of Starfleet headquarters – or at least steers them in the right direction. And Gray … for a tearful reunion. It is deeply moving. One of the best moments in the entire series to date. Talk about foggy eyes.
Then it seems that after Adira was back on board the ship – she chose to stay with Discovery instead of staying on Trill – she is somehow with her in a more physical sense. Is that how she sees his memory through the symbiote? Or was it somehow made “more real”? Fascinating.
Back at Discovery, Saru is on a funk. “Captain Pike made the connection with the crew so … effortless,” he said. What he misunderstood, however, is that the crew had to acknowledge that they were wrong before they began to heal. Joy can only follow when you are honest about how you are feeling. That is the message that Culber Saru wants to convey. And Saru does exactly what the computer suggested: he shows a seditious Buster Keaton film. Things may be wrong, but you can still take comfort in art. Who hasn’t been reminded of the “Star Trek: Enterprise” episode “Twilight” in which Archer literally prevents the destruction of the earth and saves humanity – and his reward? Watch Rosemary’s Baby on a 22nd century iPad. Because what could be nicer than not being “on” and getting lost in a film?
The Discovery crew, all of whom watch a Buster Keaton movie, is one of those classic “Trek” moments. Like the “Deep Space Nine” crew who spends an entire episode playing a baseball game. Or one of Tom Paris’ holodeck stories about “Captain Proton” on “Voyager”. It’s unique … fully displays the personality of the creators of the show and not something at all ticking a box for a formula. May “discovery” give us many more of these moments.
Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery is available on CBS All Access.
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