WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.
"The Vulcan Hello"
- Georgiou and Burnham secretly saving the aliens from a deadly drought. This Starfleet is not so down with the Prime Directive they're willing to let species go extinct rather than intervene.
"The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry"
- Burnham making peaceful contact with the tardigrade. It shows, despite everything she's been through, she's still a Starfleet officer who is out there to explore and make contact with new species.
- Georgiou's So Proud of You moment while Burnham is watching her Video Will. Doubles as a Tearjerker because all of Georgiou's words are a postmortem Innocently Insensitive.
- Tilly becoming Burnham's biggest fan after her success in getting the spore drive operational.
"Choose Your Pain"
- Stamets and Culber, especially during the Relationship Reveal.
- Tilly offering a prayer for Ripper before it's released, and then the looks of joy she and Burnham give when it revives and goes on its way, especially given that two episodes before they were running for their lives from it.
- Saru and Burnham beginning to reconcile, with Saru admitting his jealousy and her supporting him given his doubts of how he performed as commanding officer.
- While working together with Stamets and Burnham on the spore drive, Tilly has an uncontrolled outburst of "This is so fucking cool!" She immediately apologizes for the inappropriate comment, only for the normally dick-ish Stamets to smile at her and assure her that it is fucking cool.
- During their first introduction in the mess hall, which requires Tilly's "encouragement" (lightly kicking her under the table so she'll be sociable), Burnham's attempt to greet Ash Tyler is interrupted by Sarek's telepathic distress call. After the events in the shuttle, Burnham meets him in the mess hall again and makes an honest effort at a proper introduction.
"Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad"
- Burnham and Tyler dancing and having a snog. Awwwwww!
- Stamets talking about how he first met Culber to Burnham and the fact that, yeah, they are Like an Old Married Couple, but what Stamets likes is that they are both honest with each other.
"Into the Forest I Go"
- Tyler suffers a Heroic BSoD after unexpectedly coming face to face with L'Rell. Admiral Cornwell, herself in terrible shape, talks him through it, explaining that he's suffering from a PTSD attack but that he's safe. She's able to get him to pull himself together long enough to help fight off a pair of Klingon warriors.
- After everything is done, Stamets offers to jump the Discovery back to Starbase 46, safely away from Klingon reprisal, but Lorca tells him he's done enough, saying that warp drive will be fine. Stamets insists and then informs Lorca that this will be his last jump before he turns himself over to Starfleet Medical to find out what's going on in his body, a request that Lorca seems to readily agree to.
- Culber and Stamets' Anguished Declaration of Love and Big Damn Kiss as Paul is about to pull off an extremely dangerous set of spore drive jumps.
- Tilly is struggling with trying to impersonate her mirror counterpart, mostly because she is scared to death of what her counterpart is and what she has done. Burnham talks her down, saying that everything we know about the Terran Empire is just a facade. All the bluster and bravado that people in that universe project is to cover their deep and unrelenting fear of being stabbed in the back by those around them. But Tilly has something stronger—the belief of the crew that she can do this. And when a crew believes in you like that, that is what it means to be The Captain.
- It's quite sweet seeing the extremely morally grey Lorca be morally offended by the Terran Empire's racist totalitarianism. Unfortunately, it gets soundly negated when we find out he's actually from the Mirror Universe and has been plotting his comeback the whole time.
- Culber taking care of Stamets. "I'm not going anywhere." Followed up with a Big Damn Kiss.
- Bonus points for being a male homosexual kiss that is in the context of homosexuality, in a (depending on location) standard broadcast, for a major series.
"The Wolf Inside"
- Voq got a rather sympathetic portrayal during the prologue, so it's rather sad to see him so straightforwardly evil once the brainwashing wears off. Given this, it's even more heartwarming to see that his mirror verse self is so awesome and heroic, demonstrating that Voq at least possesses the capacity for good.
- Saru gives probably the strongest reaffirmation of Star Trek's optimistic values in the series so far, when he confronts Voq and apprehends him aboard Discovery. Voq, disguised as Tyler, angrily spits at Saru that he should have been left to die in space. Saru replies:
- It's twisted and dark, but Mirror Georgiou truly loves Burnham, and even considers her to be her true daughter. When Burnham doesn't call her "Mother," she's genuinely crushed, and she's genuinely disgusted by Mirror Lorca's Wife Husbandry behavior.
- "Computer, play Castilian Opera. The aria he loves, the one I hate."
- Stamets saying goodbye to Culber one last time, complete with a Big Damn Kiss. And Culber telling him, "Just open your eyes."
"What's Past is Prologue"
- Saru has been cold to Michael ever since she betrayed Georgiou, but when she contacts him, he earnestly calls her "my friend."
- Saru's Rousing Speech when the Discovery's crew realize their plan to blow up the Charon's mycelial core will either kill them outright or strand them in the Mirror Universe. From a man whose species know when certain death is looming, it goes to show how much faith he has in Discovery's crew—his crew—that he didn't sense it coming, even though the certainty that none of them would survive was great.
- A twofer! It begins with Redemption Equals Death getting subverted in high fashion. Emperor Georgiou decides that, since she'll never be able to reclaim her throne after being defeated, she might as well die saving Burnham, the closest person she has to a daughter - even if this Burnham is not really her Burnham. However, not wanting to watch Georgiou die twice, Burnham pulls her into Discovery's transporter and brings her with her to the prime universe.
"The War Without, The War Within"
- The crew is understandably not in a hurry to speak to Tyler when he gets out of sickbay and goes to the mess, but Tilly makes a point of moving to his table and telling him he can talk, or not, and she'll be there to listen. Then Detmer moves to his table as well, and soon other members of the crew are crowding around Tyler to give him their support.
- Counterpoint this to when Michael first comes aboard Discovery, and Detmer is among the first to recognize and avoid her. It emphasizes Saru's speech in the previous episode; this is no longer Lorca's ship, a ship run by someone from a universe that is all about projecting strength to hide their fear. It's a ship from a universe where compassion, understanding, and genuine kindness are the way of things. Where Lorca's ship was a place where isolation was a primary attitude, here and now, Discovery is a place where people come together and offer support.
- Sarek and Burnham talk about her relationship with Ash. Sarek notes that there is irony in Michael, whose parents were killed by Klingons, falling in love with a Klingon. He then goes on to note that there is also grace, and sees it as a metaphor for how the Federation and Klingons might one day become friends.Michael: I've made foolish choices. Emotional choices.Sarek: Well. You are human. As is your mother. There is no telling what any one of us may do, where the heart is concerned.
- And of course, by referring to Amanda Grayson, his wife, as Michael's mother, Sarek admits, in his own Deadpan Snarker way, that he sees Michael as his daughter, a level of emotional head-out-of-ass Sarek has a great degree of difficulty achieving.
- Sarek is also admitting-without-admitting, in true Vulcan fashion, that he understands Michael's feelings, because Sarek loves his wife as Michael loves Tyler. And by extension, saying-without-saying that he loves Michael, as well.
- Tilly bluntly telling Michael she needs to talk to Ash, if only to break up, because both Ash and Michael need to deal with what's happened. She clearly cares for both of them.
"Will You Take My Hand?"
- Mirror!Georgiou finds she can't bring herself to kill Burnham. And while they don't part on exactly friendly terms, it's clear neither wants to face the other in hostility in the future.
- Sarek and Amanda come to Earth to meet Michael, and they are practically beaming when it comes to their adopted daughter. Sarek even graciously accepts the title "Father" from her, something he did not do the last time she called him that. And then calls her "Daughter".
- Sarek smiles. It's a little, tiny thing, but remembering that Vulcans are creatures of deep emotion at heart, it shows how proud he is of her that he would crack even just a little.
- Michael's Patrick Stewart Speech at the award ceremony practically pole vaults the entire show over to the idealistic side of the scale single-handedly.
- During the awards presentation, not only do most of the Discovery's senior staff and bridge officers receive medals (and promotions, in a couple of cases), but we see that Doctor Culber also received a posthumous medal.
- The old girl herself, the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, on screen in all her glory for the first time in decades.
- In the end, the show demonstrates that idealism, compassion, loyalty, trust, and forgiveness—classic Trek themes—triumph over cynicism, hatred, and moral expediency.
- After learning that Po is the heir to the throne of her homeworld, Tilly assures Po that she will do well as queen because of her love for her homeworld. Po, in turn, assures Tilly that she will make a great commander one day.
- After Zora realizes that Craft views having an emotional relationship with her as cheating on his wife, she's utterly heartbroken, but she still helps him try to get back home to his family.
"The Brightest Star"
- Saru's sister, Siranna, knows that Saru intends to leave their world and offers him a knife ostensibly for harvesting night-blooming flowers, with the implication that she wants Saru to protect himself.Siranna: Look down, every now and then. There's beauty there as well.Saru: Stay safe, Siranna.Siranna: You too, brother.
- Saru finally gets to meet the alien he's been communicating with when a shuttle lands, and a Starfleet officer steps out to meet him:Philippa Georgiou: It's a pleasure to finally put a face to the name, Mr. Saru. An entirely new face, at that!
- The shuttle's registry prefix is SHN, implying that Georgiou was assigned to the USS Shenzhou, which would give the rather old ship a very special history for both of them when we first see it in "The Vulcan Hello".
- Everything about Pike's approach to command on Discovery. He is fully aware that their last captain didn't do much to gain anyone's trust, even before it was revealed he was an impostor using them, so he sets about doing what he can to put them at ease and earn their trust, even stopping for a chance to learn everyone's name. His approach to Saru is notable; even when it's confirmed he's been assigned command, he asks Saru's permission before sitting in the Big Chair, and when his mission is apparently over after the rescue of the Hiawatha crew, he immediately hands command back. It's quickly becoming apparent why Christopher Pike was held in such high esteem by James T. Kirk and earned Spock's Undying Loyalty in TOS.
- Despite his insistence that the crew maintain the Prime Directive, Pike returns to New Eden and trades a long-life power cell for the helmet cam recording, when he could have very easily just taken the helmet or copied the recording with Jacob none the wiser, simply so he could have an excuse to leave them a gift of electricity for their church.
- Not just that: Pike confirms to Jacob that yes, Earth has survived, and that Jacob's family's quest to try and preserve their scientific knowledge was not in vain.
- The crew of Discovery don't hesitate when they realize the planet is in imminent danger and try to come up with a way to save the life on it.
- After his initial What the Hell, Hero? dressing down of Tilly's actions that nearly got her killed, when she explains that she was trying to discover a way to fuel the spore drive without using Stamets as the gas, he instantly becomes sympathetic, sharing with her some of his own initial fears at having had something to prove as the only Kelpien in Starfleet, emphasizing that he understands, this doesn't disqualify her from the Command Training Program, and that he believes she'll go on to great things. Assuming, of course, that she curbs some of those risks.
"Point of Light"
- Michael congratulating Tilly on winning the half marathon at the start of the episode.
- Michael doesn't express a moment of disbelief at Tilly hallucinating someone that isn't there, offering Tilly total trust in the face of her seeming cracking, from an outside perspective, under the strain of the command training program, and managing to spot the thread that reveals just what her hallucination is.
- What's more, Michael has just finished crying herself due to the break in her relationship with Amanda. Despite essentially just losing her mother, which she can't do anything about at the moment, she immediately tries to help her friend.
- Once the nature of Tilly's hallucination is revealed, Saru assures her that they'll get her fixed up and back into the command training program despite her outburst on the bridge. Tilly thinks she blew it with Pike, but Saru knows Pike has a sense of humor and will understand.
- Amanda doesn't believe Spock is a murderer because she's his mother; Michael doesn't because he's her adoptive brother. Then Pike reveals he cares just as deeply for Spock when he agrees with them and orders Burnham to break into the medical file.
"An Obol for Charon"
- Stamets trying to keep Tilly calm by singing her favorite song with her before he has to drill a hole in her skull. For bonus points, the song in question is David Bowie's "Space Oddity", a little fitting perhaps for both Tilly and Stamets. There is a whimsical smile on Paul's face when he realizes what the song is, and he joins in with the line "...and I think my spaceship knows which way to go".
- When both of them think he's dying, Burnham and Saru express to each other that they view themselves as brother and sister. Burnham even tells him she (platonically) loves him.
- When Saru looks like he's leaving the bridge for the last time, Pike and the other bridge crew silently stand as he and Burnham leave.
- Saru, as his last request, urges Burnham to re-establish her relationship with Spock, because he doesn't want her to permanently lose her younger brother as he believes he's lost his younger sister.
- As it turns out, the sphere only wanted to share its life with Starfleet and, as a sort of thank you, it also gives them its sensor data on Spock.
"Saints Of Imperfection"
- Pike and the crew of Discovery willingly risk the ship and their own lives on the chance they might be able to rescue Tilly.
- Of all people, the pragmatic self-interested Mirror Georgiou is the one to go above and beyond to help Discovery survive.
- Stamets convincing Culber he's not a hallucination or a threat by recounting part of their shared history.
- The pure joy shown by Burnham, Stamets, and Tilly when Culber makes it out of the network, and Stamets's face when Culber whispers "Paul?" to him is a sight to behold.
- Tilly and "May" bonding throughout the episode. It culminates with Tilly talking "May" down from shooting Culber in revenge for the deaths he unintentionally caused, and "May" asking for a pinky-swear when Tilly says that they'll see each other again.
"Sound Of Thunder"
- Saru's reunion with his sister, Siranna, and introducing her to the wonders of the galaxy, the hundreds of thousands of species beyond Kaminar. Followed by Saru introducing his birth sister to someone he considers as close to him as a sister, Michael. THIS is the wonder of first contact.
- Siranna's eventual reaction to meeting the first non-Kelpien she'd ever encountered and learning she was from another star? Asking her in for some tea.
- Airiam's ongoing banter with Tilly and Detmer.
- Although also a Tearjerker, Spock's argument with Michael included Spock telling Michael that she has no reason to blame herself for her parents' death, the Logic Extremists' attack on her new family, or the start of the war with the Klingons. As Spock points out, literally none of these things were events Burnham had any chance of changing regardless of her actions.
- Airiam sorting through her day's memories. She erases all the boring bits of the day and stores all the moments hanging out with her friends.
- When Pike and Cornwell butt heads over how the Klingon War was fought, the former accuses the latter of ordering the Enterprise away from the fighting so he couldn't stand up to her morally-questionable tactics. Cornwell counters that the real reason he sat out the war was that if the Federation was conquered, she wanted the best of humanity to survive. Pike is floored by the compliment and can only utter a simple, sincere "thank you".
- Tilly's "I Know You Are in There Somewhere" Fight with Airiam, complete with Platonic Declaration of Love. Also a Tear Jerker, since it only partially works.
"The Red Angel"
- Airiam's funeral is attended by everyone on the ship, leaving no doubt that she mattered to her shipmates—her friends.
- Georgiou definitely cares about Michael on a deeply personal level, and is barely even trying to hide it at this point. When Michael almost dies during the gambit to lure out the Red Angel, she basically screams at Spock to let her and Culber in there to rescue her.
- The Reveal that the Red Angel is coming to protect Michael, her daughter.
- Gabrielle and Georgiou ("Phillipa") have a conversation where Gabrielle reveals she knows that despite all her bluster, denials, origins and history, Georgiou has come to love Michael like a daughter and is a far more noble person than Georgiou believes herself to be.
- Gabrielle reveals to Burnham that although she's been trapped in the future and unable to stay in the past more than brief periods, she's been able to watch Michael grow up.
"Through the Valley of Shadows"
- Burnham, grieving the renewed loss of her mother, takes a call from her adoptive mother Amanda, who comforts her and assures her that she will find her mother again. They are interrupted by the entrance of Spock, and Amanda can be seen smiling warmly at her two children finally being together again.
- Jet Reno bonds with Culber over having married similar people, then urges him not to waste the second chance he's been given.
- Pike proving why Starfleet named one of their highest honors after him: When confronted with the fate that awaits him if he takes the time crystal to stop Control, he wavers for a moment before re-affirming his oath as a Starfleet officer and accepting his fate.
"Such Sweet Sorrow"
- Tilly and Po are extremely happy to see each other again, to the point that Po basically ignores Pike so she can greet Tilly. Tilly is proud of the woman Po has become, now that she's taken up her responsibilities as Queen. Po is still steadfast that Tilly is on the path to be a great captain.
- With Michael having to take Discovery and the sphere data into the far into future to keep it out of the grasp of Control. Knowing it will be a one-way trip, the rest of Discovery's crew (minus Pike, Tyler, and any who accepted the offer to leave) insist on going with her into the future.
- We see several of the crewmembers recording messages for loved ones before going into the future, and while they include many Tear Jerkers, they are also full of affirmations of how much they value their friends and family.
"Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2"
- Cornwell's parting words to Pike:
- Stamets is lying wounded on a bio-bed in sickbay, and Culber goes to treat him. During this, Culber states that he came back from the Enterprise because his home isn't there. His home is wherever they go, together, and that he's sorry it took him so long to realize it.
- Burnham telling Spock that he doesn't need her to remain grounded, and that he will find the balance he needs between his Vulcan and human halves out in the galaxy as long as he finds the person farthest from him and reaches for them.
- As Discovery races for the wormhole, their friends and loved ones among the ragtag fleet protecting them watch them leave... It is bittersweet at best, verging on Tear Jerker status.
- The looks of wonder on the Discovery bridge crew's faces as they travel through the wormhole, mixed with Tear Jerker as several are also shown with tears in their eyes, possibly at what they were leaving behind.
- Somehow, even if it wasn't supposed to be possible, either Michael or her mother makes a jump back in time to create a final red burst so the ones who knew the secret would know Discovery, and their loved ones, had made it.