In the fourth episode of the third season of Discovery, Burnham travels with Adira, and Saru tries to heal his crew. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of mental health, particularly anxiety, depression, trauma, and PTSD, as well as grief/death.
HI, THIS EPISODE FUCKING RULED, I LOVED IT SO MUCH. I am so in awe of the show introducing a new character who looks to be a permanent addition to the cast, making her DEEPLY interesting, and also expanding the lore of the Trill! LET’S TALK.
There’s so much about Adira’s story that is strange and unexpected for Star Trek. I brought up her age before, and I’m glad that someone younger will add a new dynamic to the crew. But even when it comes to the Trill lore, there’s a lot of new stuff explored here or given to us in a new context. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a human as a host to a Trill symbiont, but it felt deeply refreshing! Adira’s story also fit in beautifully with the parallel plot of the Discovery crew examining their own traumatic histories. Of course, the context is vastly different, since Adira goes to Trill with Burnham in order to recover memories, while the Discovery crew is struggling to live in conjunction with the memories that they have.
I’ll get to the crew in the second half of this. “Forget Me Not” doesn’t feel like a plot-heavy episode, aside from providing the next step in the crew’s research of The Burn. This isn’t a criticism, though. The script and performances are as powerful as they are because they’re all grounded in such an intense emotional place for all the characters. In Adira’s case, we’re watching a character whose life is a mystery to here because of the Trill symbiont. I think I always suspected that Adira had consented to being a host because that’s how Trill mythology worked in the past, but look, y’all. This is Discovery. The show is willing to honor canon as much as it is willing to craft something entirely new. That meant that there was still a great deal of tension in the story, as I continually had no idea what was actually going to happen. I certainly felt good about Burnham being the one to accompany Adira down to Trill since there was some shared emotional foundation between the two of them, but Adira herself was such a big mystery that I worried about how she’d be received by other Trill.
So yeah, I absolutely bought the misdirect after Commissioner Vos invited Adira down to the planet. He seemed not only welcoming, but ecstatic with a tinge of desperation. The Trill’s whole society was under threat because of the Burn, and I can’t even guess how long it had been since a symbiont had returned home. Clearly it had been a long time! But that joy quickly transformed once the welcoming group realized that Adira was a human. There’s the obvious conflict: Adira was the “wrong” species and therefore an “abomination,” but it was interesting to me that after all this time, there still wasn’t a record of a human successfully acting as a host. But then I wondered if the Trill wouldn’t have records of when Riker was a brief host. That made sense, but it brought me to another question: Had they simply never considered that a symbiont could live in a different species?
Clearly, they hadn’t! And the uncomfortable interplay that unfolds once Guardian Xi rejects Adira is based on this refusal to simply imagine that something else was possible. It was interesting to note that these Trill—except Vos—didn’t even want to figure out how Adira had come to possess a symbiont as a human. They simply rejected her outright! Even worse, Leader Pav actually wanted to remove the symbiont and potentially kill Adira in the process!!!
Bless Burnham throughout this, though, because she proves to be just the right amount and KIND of support that Adira needed. (Dr. Culber was right, wasn’t he?!) She defends Adira when the other Trill want to hurt her, and then completely ignores Starfleet protocol when Leader Pav comes to her. (Which answers my question about whether or not we’d see more of who Burnham had become during her year in the future.) However, it’s after Adira enters the Caves of Mak’ala and begins to struggle with her connections to past hosts of the Tal symbiont that Burnham proves most helpful. It’s something seen all over this episode and in past ones, too: Characters who have been through incredibly difficult struggles are willing to help others find their own way through their personal nightmares. I can’t stop thinking about Burnham telling Adira that she had to face the trauma she experienced or she wouldn’t be able to move forward. BECAUSE BURNHAM WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SAY THAT IF IT HADN’T BEEN FOR THE EVENTS OF LAST SEASON!!! The whole Spock/Burnham storyline resonates so highly with this one! Both characters experienced immense loss and trauma and spent a long time (Burnham significantly longer, I should say) trying to not engage with what had happened to them.
This is the main reason why Adira couldn’t connect with the Tal hosts. Her own trauma over losing Gray prevented her from this. What little we saw of that relationship was clearly important to Adira. (Also, what little we saw of it felt so deeply queer, y’all.) She accepted the symbiont so that the line of past hosts wouldn’t die with Gray. On top of that, it’s interesting how this is a significant death for Adira, but the writers found a way to keep Gray around, both as a past host and… whatever is happening with him. I DON’T GET IT. How can Adira interact with Gray like that? WHAT DON’T I KNOW?
I’m glad Adira is staying onboard the Discovery, y’all. What a fantastic addition!
We’re Not Okay
The other main plot in “Forget Me Not” is somehow just as emotional and important as Adira’s story. I am so glad that the show continues to develop the secondary cast! Saru’s attempt to grant his crew some peace and relaxation after such an intensely traumatizing experience allowed the writers to delve deeper into what this experience must feel like for the Discovery crew. It’s something that’s hard to fathom from my perspective. All of these people are in a time in which the standards by which they measure life are gone. Dr. Culber’s voiceovers drive this point home, too. The milestones of humanity are gone for them. Anniversaries, birthdays, funerals, important family dates: All of them have long passed, and everyone they ever cared about has been gone for multiple centuries. And after the experience visiting Earth, it’s completely understandable that these crewmembers would be frayed along the edges.
How that manifests is different for each character, which I also appreciated. Detmer’s struggle is elaborated on here, and we also get a sense of the immense pressure that Stamets is under as the sole means of providing long distance travel for Discovery. Saru’s well-meaning dinner—which was understandably awkward!—devolves into a bitter fight between Stamets and Detmer, and all of it reveals just how mentally fractured the crew is as a whole. I don’t know if it’s a real term, but I liked that phrase Dr. Culber came up with: post-traumatic growth. Literally ALL of these characters had experienced an immense form of trauma. So, how could they change or grow from their experiences? What would be required of them to reach that period of growth?
As someone who has dealt with PTSD (and more specifically complex PTSD) most of my life, I gotta say that I appreciated that this wasn’t shown to be an easy process. At least for me, it never has been, and even as I continue to grow under the guidance of a therapist, it’s still not easier. (Easier, sure, but not easy in and of itself.) Tensions bubbled over, people fought, but Saru’s plan did help. AND THE SPHERE’S GUIDANCE. Oh, I love the idea that the Sphere itself is always in the background, helping the crew in order to help itself???? BRILLIANT.
The video for “Forget Me Not” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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