Star Trek #1515: Forget Me Not

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Adira is brought to Trill to connect with her symbiont.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Return to Trill! An emotional story.

WHY WE DON'T: Some will think it's too sentimental, probably.

REVIEW: The next step on the quest to find the Federation is extracting information from Adira's symbiont, so this is their story. The joining was not meant for humans, so they need to go to the pools of Trill to fully integrate the symbiont's memories to the host's. That they are delving into Deep Space Nine mythology is heartening to a DS9 fan like myself, really hoping newer viewers will want to discover that show after this. The uncovered memories introduce their Trill boyfriend Gray, who almost dies following an accident, requiring the symbiont to be transferred to Adira. Whether that love connection is what made the joining possible, or if the Trill could solve their demographic problem with this new hope remains to be seen, but Discovery continues to show how and why the Federation and its ideals are important. Right now, the Trill don't have enough viable hosts for all their symbiont, and lost many of both species in the Burn. If humans can be joined, the way forward is cooperation. The Trill reject this at first, but eventually see the good in it. And of course, the Tal symbiont also knows where to find what's left of the Federation, so it's they key in a variety of ways.

Adira has two people supporting them through this. One is Burnham who, as usual, is a master anthropologist and thus able to guide Adira through the hallucinatory process, and as a maverick, unapologetically stunning people to get to the pools. The other is Gray, not just memories of Gray, as the character turns up at the end as a ghost or psychic projection, not truly integrated into the whole. His message of trust ties into the overall themes of the show, and in the conversation about the symbiont accepting its hosts and its hosts accepting it creates a baseline for how the sought-after sense of connection works. The quilt Adira makes is also about those connections, remembering and commemorating them. His cello becomes an important part of the score in this episode, evoking loss and thoughtfulness.

Now, I keep saying "they" and "them" when referring to Adira because the actor is non-binary, but to date, the scripts have only ever used "she" and "her". A new, integrated Adira might "become" non-binary, and I've gone on record before about my unease in requiring a science-fiction explanation for perfectly normal sexual identities. With the introduction of Gray, Adira's transgender boyfriend, a joined Trill who might also have that "excuse" for being queer, I'm also arching my eyebrow. I can totally understand using the joining as a metaphor for these concepts, but maybe, like, 10-15 years ago. I feel like they're part of the discourse now to the point where those characters should be human and require no more explanation. Of course, credit where credit is due, Gray being transgender is never mentioned, so there's an implied normality that's appreciated. These are complicated issues, I realize, and it's still early days in terms of their portrayal, and perhaps the idea that Adira is seeking their identity (being scattered and eventually integrated) is the strongest metaphor for sexual identity in the modern world.

The B-plot is about the isolation the crew is feeling - a theme that accidentally taps into the current pandemic and lockdown, but could not have been foreseen by the writers or actors when the show was MADE - and their need to connect to whatever's left of the Federation. As with Adira, connection is the thing. Honestly, it feels a little early for this, as the excitment for exploration should be at the forefront and the humans at least just had a chance to hug a tree on Earth. But there's regret here. They jumped to the future on a heroic impulse, but reality is setting in. Besides, the characters who are most edgy (and go ballistic during Saru's impromptu Thanksgiving dinner) have other reasons - Detmer and Stamets have PTSD, Tilly's ideas are being ignored, and of course, Georgiou is just constantly stirring the pot - oddly, Reno is nowhere to be seen, so we're spared her sarcastic commentary). Culber, acting as a de facto counselor, finally gets more to do and it's hard not to like him here. He nimbly guides Burnham, Detmer, Saru and (off-screen I'm sure) Stamets. The other new "counselor" type is the ship's computer, merging here with the Sphere data and becoming Zora, the at-the-time inexplicable computer mind of Discovery in the Short Trek "Calypso". (Some have noted similarities between this season and the show Andromeda, well, here's another one.) Zora ia the one who organizes movie night in the midst of all the forgiveness that follows the explosive dinner, where even Georgiou lets her hair down a little.


REWATCHABILITY - High: An emotional episode that deftly sketches in Adira's character, while also addressing everyone else's stories. Does anyone else wonder if Dax made it?


Tony Laplume said...

It’s worth wondering, now, how many hosts a symbiont can have. Tal seems to have had as many as Dax did. Do they top out eventually? Presumably at some point they die. Based on that, I would assume Dax either “retired” or died by this point in history.

Siskoid said...

Good point. There's no reason to believe symbionts are immortal.


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