Spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Episode 5 “Die Trying” beyond that point.
The melody was first introduced in the last episode and played by Gray (Ian Alexander) in a flashback. In it, Gray – now connected to the Trill symbiote Tal – can access memories from past lives and play the cello. The music he plays is haunting and, according to Siri (I’ve checked a couple of times), unidentifiable, which most likely means that this is an original piece of music for the series.
Later in the episode, when Adira (Blu del Barrio) is not only associated with the valley symbiote but also has access to these previous lives, she identifies (del Barrio by her / her pronouns, although Adira is referred to by her / her) at the moment) also plays the cello and duets with a version of Gray that seems to have found its way out of the collective thoughts of Tal’s memories into the “real” world.
… And to be honest, I – and I’m sure a lot of viewers – wouldn’t have made much of this scene if it hadn’t been for what happened in “Die Trying”. In it, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), who was in Tal’s mind with Adira last week, travels to a semen depot to prove this to the remnants of the Federation discovery has what it takes to help them rather than see the crew disband and examine the ship as a relic. There are still a few steps left, but suffice it to say they will manage to recover the necessary seeds, bring them back to the Federation and use them to cure some aliens suffering from a unique disease.
That’s all well and good, but while Burnham is in the semen store, he looks at a hologram of a Barzan family who looked after the ship and hears the exact same tune that Gray played in the Trill Mindscape. And later she overhears members of the medical staff humming the exact same notes at Federation Headquarters.
Burnham thinks this is extremely funny, of course. How can unrelated people across the galaxy know the same piece of music? But none of the others care. Not even from a distance. Your reaction is like you started humming “Happy Birthday” and someone ran up to you and called, “Where did you hear that song?”
… And to be fair, Burnham’s assumption that there is such a strange connection there is something strangely strange since the Burzan family was part of the Federation, Gray on a generation ship (possibly part of the Federation), and the medical staff also Federation. To be honest, it could just be the Federation’s theme song: “We Out Here (Starfleet 3k189 Mix)”.
But of course not, it means something more because it means something to Burnham. If we have two episodes from now on and someone says, “No, this is actually a song by the Robo Beatles”, then I’ll definitely eat my fancy new Star Fleet badge. More likely, however, that this piece of music, which found its way into the galaxy of the future, likely has a connection to The Burn – the likewise mysterious event that caused most of the galaxy’s dilithium supply to become sluggish and take over the majority Starfleet with it.
In order to get on our feet here, we asked ourselves what could possibly cause Dilithium to become sluggish over the stars almost simultaneously. What if it was this composition? I’m not going to go into the science of how dilithium stabilizes the matter / antimatter reaction in a warp core, as this is way beyond my TV cricket skills. However, using music to change the vibrational frequency of a crystal is exactly the kind of pseudoscience Star Trek Trucks in almost every episode. If this tune had been broadcast simultaneously across all Starfleet channels, it could have caused The Burn’s disaster. And in the hundred years since then, it could have just become part of the galaxy’s culture.
Is it possible the Burn wasn’t a malicious event? The piece of music doesn’t seem particularly devilish. It’s sweet and sad, if anything. While Burnham comes from the direction that, like last season’s Red Angel, this is an event intentionally caused by an unknown villain, the Red Angel may be the savior, not the attacker. And maybe it wasn’t on purpose … It was an accident. Wilde Theory Time: What if, as in real life, we are sending probes with pieces of music in them and expressing our best intentions towards alien races in the cosmos, an alien intelligence did the same to that? Star Trek Universe; just went terribly wrong?
Or maybe it’s just the Rob Beatles’ latest single. We just have to stay tuned to find out.
Star Trek: Discovery Streams every Thursday on CBS All Access.
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