A little late to the review and recap this week due to a virus, which couldn’t be more fitting for this weeks episode of Star Trek Discovery, An Obol for Charon in which we see the effects of a powerful virus delaying the overall mission.
We’ll start with the spoiler free part of the review:
For those unfamiliar with the titular object, Charon’s Obol refers to a ceremonial coin placed in the mouth of the dead to pay Charon who ferry’s the dead from the land of the living to the afterlife. A fitting title for this week’s strong return to another classic Trek type bottle episode.
We begin with a classic bottle episode setup, an unknown force causing members of the ship to in some way become trapped in their areas, although this time with a little twist in that most had free rein to move to other areas but no need to. Somewhat similar to the brilliant Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode Civil Defense, which is certainly one of my all time favourite episodes of the franchise.
We see the return of the instant fan favourite Jet Reno, in-between two other fan favourite cast members, solving a time sensitive and life threatening situation with a such items as bubble gum, as one might expect.
This episode marks the first appearance of Rebecca Romijn as Number One, and while her and Captain Pike are on display there can be no doubt that the centre stage of this episode belongs to Michael Burnham and Commander Saru both of whom shine through in this episode.
While we see little in the way of advancement towards the season goal involving the Red Angel, Spock and the Mysterious Red Signals from the first minute to the last we certainly see a lot of new information gathered that may lead to some answers to those any many more questions we’ve been asking since the series began.
Overall another strong entry for the second season of Star Trek Discovery.
“An Obol For Charon” — Ep #204 – Pictured: Tig Notaro as Chief Engineer Reno of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS Ã‚Â© 2018 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.
The Opening credits roll.
The bridge crew discuss the sphere it is a mix of organic and non organic materials, it doesn’t appear to be responding to hails, but as they discuss suddenly the crew are all speaking foreign languages, as is the computer, Michael calls for Saru as he speaks dozens of languages and he sets to work on correcting the universal translator settings on the bridge. They explain that the problem was caused by virus in the translator systems caused by the sphere, while the bridge is temporarily fixed the rest of the ship is split into different languages.
In Engineering Stamets prepares in case a jump is needed, as Jet Reno walks in to fix a relay, she explains that she was sent to fix the greenhouse propulsion systems, which she doesn’t understand and immediately gets in a verbal argument with Stamets, which is as hilarious as you’d imagine it to be. During the altercation Stamets explains that to him the Spore drive is the equivalent of going from fossil fuels to solar, cleaner then dilithium.
"You don; w know me doc, I’m un-insultable, especially by a guy who thinks he can run ship on mushrooms that I pick off my pizza.Jet Reno"
Michael continues to work with Saru on reinstalling the universal translator, they are successful but Saru falls over shortly after they get the system back online, he admits to having more than just a cold. There is a massive energy serge across the ship we see systems blowing out and the three in engineering are locked in, an overload treating to kill them at any time.
Burnham receives an update that the virus is spreading throughout the ship.
In engineering they chain together spore pods to created a lightning rod and solve their problem, Jet holds a hose up to the EPS conduit and all three are thrown across the room as the sparks stop. When they wake up they notice that the blob is gone, it quickly attacks Tilly.
“An Obol For Charon” — Ep #204 – Pictured: Anthony Rapp as Stamets of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS Ã‚Â© 2018 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.
The Virus Spreads
Captain Pike helps Michael and Saru to sick bay where after some analysis Saru explains that his condition is a terminal one his people can contract, that it is the event which signals their readiness to be culled. While Michael vows to find a way to save him Saru shows that he has accepted that he will die.
Meanwhile Tilly is in the chamber and coms are cut off, Stamets tries to find a way to get if off of her arm, as she explains that she isn’t afraid, the spore appears to be modifying her personality, it’s unclear whether it is trying to calm her to help her, or to taker her over.
In sick bay Michael and Pike argue the motives of the sphere, Michael’s argues that it is not logical for a virus to kill it’s host, that there must be another reason for this action, Saru meanwhile comes up with a plan to release electronic anti-bodies into the ship to save it and he and Michael go to work.
In a science lab the anti-bodies are shown working and Michael and Saru again talk about his pending death, Saru explains that his race is one that will always submit, that he is ashamed but it is his nature to hide, he explains that he has learned dozens of languages but has never shared his own. He goes on to ask Michael to take some detailed personal logs from his quarters once he is dead and catalogue them so when his people join the galaxy they can know about his journey. Saru goes on to explain his pain in never being able to return home.
On the bridge Pike tries to plan a way out of the stasis field before they lose their trace on Spock, they have six minutes before he is out of range and Michael runs to engineering to try to get shields online.
As Michael reaches engineering she finds out about Tilly’s situation and that the warp core is cut off as part of the lockdown of engineering, during the exchange Jet says she can’t exactly ask the spore why it’s doing this to Tilly and Stamets realizes that he can speak to the spore network thanks to all his work at the end of last season. At the same time Michael realizes that the virus may be a means of communication and runs to Saru for help.
Saru realizes that he started feeling sick just before they reached the sphere, that their first contact with the sphere is its dying wish and that he is in someway feeling its own pending death.
“An Obol For Charon” — Ep #204 – Pictured (l-r): Anthony Rapp as Stamets; Mary Wiseman as Tilly of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Best Possible Screengrab/CBS Ã‚Â© 2018 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.
Anti-Virus via. communication?
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Stamets and Jet can’t reach May, until Jet comes up with a plan to drill into Tilly’s head to reach in directly.
On the Bridge they read a massive heat increase in the sphere and Pike prepares to fire torpedoes, as they prepare to fire Saru and Michael enter the bridge and try to stop him and explain that they believe the sphere is dying and is just trying to reach out to them to share some sort of knowledge before it’s death. Saru believes that if they allow the virus to enter the ship it will bring with it the spheres knowledge aboard. Saru shows that the virus contains hundreds of languages.
In engineering they strap Tilly to a bed and drill into her head, inserting an implant into her temple and May takes over her body, explaining to Stamets that she there to stop an alien intruder who has ravaged her eco-system, the alien is Stamets and they found a way to reach out to Tilly and persuade her to deliver their message to stop Stamets from killing them. May says she will not release Tilly and breaks her bindings before being hit with a torch by Jet.
On the bridge Saru continues his plea to Pike to lower shields and accept the virus, Pike agrees and orders the crew to standby to eject the warp core into the sphere and ride the shockwave out in case it goes wrong. He orders shields to be dropped and they open all frequencies to allow the virus in. As the virus takes over the ship and all ship systems turn to communications the virus downloads, the warp core won’t eject and the sphere explodes, but as it does the explosion freezes before them, Burnham explains that the stasis field reversed a nanosecond before detonation and pushed them clear, the sphere’s final act was to save them.
In Engineering Tilly is shown in a cocoon of the blob creature, they cut her out and she appears unharmed, as they report to the bridge that Tilly is safe we see Saru falling over and Michael comes to help him to his quarters to die, everyone on the bridge stands to see him off.
“An Obol For Charon” — Ep #204 – Pictured (l-r): Oyin Oladejo as Joann Owosekun; Doug Jones as Saru; Anson Mount as Captain Pike; Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer; Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS Ã‚Â© 2018 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.
The final frontier…
As Saru and Michael talk in his quarters it appears to be the setting for a ritual suicide of sorts, we see Michael’s heart break as she realizes how rich Saru means to her, he asks her to take his sisters blade and cut his ganglia, killing him. As Michael reaches out to cut them they change colour and fall off themselves. They appear next in sick bay, Saru explains that the fear he has felt since birth is gone, that he feels powerful in some way and he is certified by the doctor for duty.
Saru explains to Michael that he is now unsure how he can hold back from going to his people, knowing that everything they believe about their death is a lie. In the meantime Michael tells Saru that they now have access to all the knowledge of the sphere.
In the ready room Pike listens to the spheres information and tells Michael it is similar to the Dead Sea scrolls for the galaxy. Michael reveals that it was also able to track Spock outside of their normal range and Pike orders a course set before telling Michael that he will honour her wish to be kept clear of Spock, but paralleling her relationship with Saru she says she knows she needs to be a part of any contact with Spock.
In engineering Tilly sees may again and spores begin to come out of the husk of the dead blob, Stamets and Jet go a little wonky before realizing that they have been poisoned and Stamets inoculates them both, but when he goes to inject Tilly she is missing, presumably taken into the mycelial network.