This brilliant man’s work is steaming NOW on @CBSAllAccess !!! #StarTrekDiscovery #episode4 pic.twitter.com/WQ8b7hGhmv— Sonequa Martin-Green (@SonequaMG) February 8, 2019Burnham and Saru figure out that the sphere is an ancient sentient being. It has seen thousands of years of the galaxy’s history. It grabbed onto the Discovery because it needs its knowledge to live on after it dies. It needs to transfer everything its seen and learned to someone else. That’s why the translators were the first things to fail, and why the ships systems began to fail. They were overloaded with all the knowledge this sphere had being poured into it. This leads to a debate over one of the fundamental questions of Star Trek. They can prepare the ship to accept the massive amount of information, but Spock’s ship is rapidly traveling out of their tracking range. They’ll have to abandon their current mission to help this creature. While this raises the question of what Starfleet owes to these new species it discovers, the issue becomes larger than that. What does Starfleet owe to the universe? With everything this creature’s seen, accepting all its knowledge would be a huge benefit to Starfleet and the universe at large. Plus, it aligns with the Discovery’s base mission as a science vessel.Pike decides that the possibility of collecting new knowledge overrides the search for Spock. Even if there’s a chance that collecting that knowledge and allowing the sphere to die could cause an explosion that takes out the ship. Pike takes some precautions before allowing the Discovery to accept everything the sphere tries to communicate. Those precautions turn out to be unnecessary. As they often do on Star Trek, the creature turns out to be entirely non-hostile. It’s final act is to reverse the polarity (of course) of its stasis field, protecting the Discovery from the mesmerizing and beautiful explosion of its death.Tig Notaro as Chief Engineer Reno (Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS)Meanwhile, Engineering was cut off from the rest of the ship so it could deal with its own separate subplot. We’re still dealing with May, the fungal organism that attached itself to Tilly. The story still doesn’t quite have enough time to get where it’s going this episode, but it at least gets to an interesting place. When the ship’s systems are overloaded, the creature escapes containment and reattaches itself to Tilly. Helping Stamets figure out the problem is Jet Reno, the engineer the Discovery picked up on the asteroid. She’s much more blunt and mechanical than the natural sciences-minded Stamets. The two have an adversarial, begrudging partnership that adds some welcome comic relief to this whole story. Also, Tig Notaro is fantastic in this role, and this episode made me so happy she’s on the show this season.Combining their mechanical and biological knowledge, they figure out a way to talk to May through Tilly. Physically drilling a hole in her head to make the connection felt a little gratuitous for Star Trek, but I won’t deny it was effective. It succeeded in making me legitimately worry about Tilly this whole episode. They learn that the mycelial network contains sentient life like May. And that this life sees the Discovery as an invasive alien species causing environmental damage with every jump. May also refuses to let Tilly go, saying she has plans for her. We don’t get to find out exactly what those are this week, though. The fungus swallows Tilly up, and though Stamets and Jet are initially able to cut her out, it releases hallucinogenic spores. The effects distract Stamets and Jet long enough for the fungus to take Tilly again, transporting her somewhere in the mycelial network. We’re going into these creatures’ world on a rescue mission next week, and I am beyond excited to have a proper introduction. Discovery certainly seems to be finding its Star Trek voice this season.Anthony Rapp as Stamets (Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/CBS)This episode left a lot of exciting possibilities open for the rest of the season, particularly with Saru. I still have my problems with how serialization changes Star Trek storytelling, but it’s being used very well in this instance. After solving the sphere problem, Saru continues to die. He asks Burnham to kill him before the pain drives him mad. It’s a tough, emotionally affecting scene. I actually started to question whether this really was Saru’s last episode. Then, as Burnham prepares to sever Saru’s ganglia, they crystalize and fall off on their own. He immediately gets better. It turns out surviving the death process doesn’t drive you mad after all. Without his ganglia, he feels an absence of fear and more powerful than ever before. That knowledge, he realizes, could change the Kelpiens’ way of life and how they view themselves as prey. I smell a trip to Kaminar in the future. As well as a continuing search for Spock. One of the last things the Sphere saw, it turns out, was Spock’s ship. That knowledge allowed Burnham to track his coordinates even further. A little too convenient maybe, but the story has to move forward somehow.Star Trek: Discovery streams Thursdays at 8:30 on CBS All Access.Previously on Star Trek: DiscoveryStar Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 3 RecapStar Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 2 Recap ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Teases Troubled Patrick StewartHow Designers Achieved the Sci-Fi Sound Magic of ‘The Orville’ Stay on target Star Trek: Discovery appears to be remembering this season that it’s a prequel. Despite the modern special affects and aesthetics, it realizes it’s going to have to start looking, at least a little, like the original series. Nobody is clamoring for a return to wooden sets and obvious TV flats. But fans have been wondering how exactly we get from the seemingly more futuristic tech on Discovery, to the relatively simple devises of TOS. We’re already starting to see why mycelial travel isn’t really a thing going forward. Now, the uniforms are starting to look more classic, and we get a good look at the lifting drawer-style replicators. I have to admit I, and I’d guess most Star Trek fans, are suckers for this kind of thing. Whatever issues the show itself has, it’s exciting to see Discovery’s world start to look like the Starfleet we recognize.Speaking of which, this episode begins with a brief appearance from the Enterprise. Captain Pike’s number one beams aboard with information about Spock. She’s not entirely buying the story that he murdered three of his doctors either. Something’s going on. She tracks the warp signature from Spock’s ship and gives Pike the coordinates. He sets the Discovery on an intercept course, and the Search for Spock continues. (You have no idea how tempting it’s been to call one of these recaps that this season.) The search, as it always seems to, hits a snag almost immediately. They’re pulled out of warp by a strange sphere floating in space. Things go all the way wrong almost immediately.Rebecca Romijn as Number One (Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/CBS)The universal translators malfunction. Everyone starts speaking different languages at random. Saru, being the only one who understands almost every language being spoken, figures out what’s happening. The sphere uploaded a virus to the Discovery. It overloaded the translators and flooded the computers with all kinds of alien and human languages. He and Burnham are able to repair the translator, but that’s the least of the ship’s worries. The sphere has it trapped in a stasis field, and the virus has spread throughout the ship’s system. The ship can’t move, it’s support systems are failing and Engineering has been completely cut off.This week’s episode has all the makings of an exciting hour of Star Trek, and it delivers. This is about as classic Trek as Discovery gets. Something’s affecting the ship that the crew doesn’t quite understand. They react to individual symptoms, which inevitably fails, and thinking they have no other options left, prepare to resort to violence. That allows the show to debate the merits of firing on things they don’t understand while the smart people aboard look for another way. It’s extremely good Trek. This one adds an emotional undercurrent with Saru getting sicker as the episode goes on. The sphere isn’t just affecting the ship, it’s triggering the Kelpien death process, the mechanism by which their bodies prepare to be culled by their predator species. Even if they survive, the pain is said to drive them mad.Oyin Oladejo as Joann Owosekun; Doug Jones as Saru; Anson Mount as Captain Pike; Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer; Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham (Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/CBS)It’s an interesting addition to a familiar Star Trek story, and also answers a question we’ve had about Kelpiens for a while. How is a species that has achieved interstellar travel still prey? This storyline provides an evolutionary answer that provides the episode with some affecting drama. The relationship between Burnham and Saru is one thing Discovery has done very well. We spent all last season watching them grow close and begin to trust one another. The possibility that Burnham could lose one of her best friends on the ship feels real and heartbreaking, even though we know logically that the show isn’t going to just kill off Saru. Right?Discovery pretty much got everything right with this episode. It’s everyone working together to solve a problem that seems to grow more impossible by the minute. Each character has something meaningful to contribute. It’s just plain fun to watch the entire ship work together to solve this crisis. Even the well-earned emotional beats serve a secondary purpose. Burnham realizes that the sphere is triggering Saru’s death process because Kelpiens are extremely empathetic. That means the sphere must be a living creature that’s dying. That means it’s holding the Discovery in stasis for a reason, and all they need to do is listen to it. Honestly, this is well-worn Trek territory. Each series has done some version of this plot multiple times. There’s a reason though. It’s an extremely good story, and Star Trek series, including this one, keep coming up with fresh, exciting new ways to tell it.