Stardate 1207.2: An uncrewed communications relay at the edge of Federation space suddenly stops working, and the starship U.S.S. Shenzhou is sent to investigate. Captain Philippa Georgiou sends her first officer, Commander Michael Burnham, to investigate an object near a binary star that seems to be deliberately scattering the entire electromagnetic spectrum, including visible wavelengths. Burnham flies a thruster suit toward the unknown object, finding it to be an ancient vessel of some kind. When Burnham lands on the object, her presence triggers a sudden activation of the vessel, and an armed Klingon warrior appears behind her. When the Klingon attacks, Burnham attempts to escape, accidentally impaling the Klingon with his own weapon before slamming into part of the Klingon vessel and tumbling back toward the Shenzhou, unconscious.
Burnham awakens aboard the Shenzhou, rescued by suffering from acute effects of exposure to the radiation emanating from the binary star nearby. She leaves sick bay before her treatment is complete to warn Captain Georgiou of the Klingons’ presence. When Georgiou orders the Shenzhou‘s weapons brought to bear on the object just visited by Burnham, an enormous Klingon ship decloaks just ahead. As Georgiou consults with Starfleet, Burnham seeks the advice of her adoptive father, Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan. Georgiou is steadfast in her desire for a diplomatic solution, but Burnham advises her that the Klingons will only respect a show of strength: a battle worthy of their mettle. When she is unable to convince her Captain of this course of action, Burnham attempts a mutiny, but it’s too late: as the Shenzhou waits alone for reinforcements, an entire Klingon fleet warps into view.
The Klingons have been anticipating the humans’ spreading influence in the galaxy, and T’Kuvma, the leader of the Klingons aboard the ceremonial ship discovered by the Shenzhou, wants to unite all 24 of the Klingons’ disparate houses to attack the Federation before they themselves are attacked. T’Kuvma is annoyed when not all of the Klingons share his zeal…but the Federation ship before him has fallen so easily into the trap, he sees no reason to delay the war he sees as not only inevitable, but prophesied.
Cast: Sonequa Martin-Green (Commander Michael Burnham), Doug Jones (Lt. Commander Saru), Shazad Latif (Lt. Ash Tyler), Anthony Rapp (Lt. Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Cadet Sylvia Tilly), Jason Isaacs (Captain Gabriel Lorca), Michelle Yeoh (Captain Philippa Georgiou), Mary Chieffo (L’Rell), James Frain (Sarek), Chris Obi (T’Kuvma), Maulik Pancholy (Dr. Nambue), Terry Serpico (Admiral Anderson), Sam Vartholomeos (Ensign Danby Connor), Arista Arhin (young Michael Burnham), Emily Coutts (Keyla Detmer), Justin Howell (Torchbearer / Rejac), Javid Iqbal (Voq), Ali Momen (Kamran Grant), Bonnie Morgan (Crepuscula), David Benjamin Tomlinson (Or’eq), Tasia Valenza (Computer Voice), Chris Violette (Britch Weeton), Romaine Waite (Troy Januzzi)
Notes: Stardate 1207.2 equates to May 11th, 2256 – ten years before the first season of the original Star Trek (and 2-3 years after the events depicted in The Cage and the Cage-derived flashback scenes from The Menagerie), and 95 years after These Are The Voyages…, the series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise. As that finale takes place 5 years after the remainder of the fourth season of Enterprise, this may mean that Captain Archer’s last contact with the Klingons (in Affliction and Divergence) was one of the last contacts with the Klingons “a hundred years ago”.
Tasia Valenza, the new Federation computer voice (assuming the role left vacant by the late Majel Barrett Roddenberry), is the only cast member with ties to prior Star Trek: she was a Vulcan would-be Starfleet cadet vying against Wesley Crusher and others for a coveted slot at the Academy in 1988’s Coming Of Age. She also appeared in the 1990s series Space: Above And Beyond.
The Klingons’ ritual scream at the heavens – a warning that a dead warrior is ascending – was first established in Star Trek: The Next Generation (Heart Of Glory, 1988); the concept of a multitude of Klingon “houses” originated in another TNG episode (Sins Of The Father, 1990). Ironically, Burnham’s adoptive brother, Spock, took a similar headlong plunge into danger in a Starfleet thruster suit in 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The original Klingon Torchbearer’s weapon is identified by Burnham’s heads-up display as a bat’leth, though very different in design to the one wielded by Worf in many an episode of TNG; it’s possible that, much like the Torchbearer’s title, this bat’leth is more ornately ceremonial than functional (though that doesn’t prevent it from being deadly).
Credited, but not appearing in, this episode are series regulars Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, and Jason Isaacs.
The Shenzhou is named for a real family of Chinese spacecraft that had only just started flying the last time there was a Star Trek series on the air.
LogBook entry by Earl Green