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Recap / Star Trek: Discovery S4E07 "...But to Connect"

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The Federation holds a summit to figure out what to do about the DMA and its creators, with Burnham advocating diplomacy and Book pushing for a more aggressive approach. Meanwhile, Zora's sentience poses questions for her continued presence as the ship's computer: she determines the exact origin point of Species 10-C and the DMA, but withholds it For Your Own Good.


  • Ban on A.I.: It's said that while artificial intelligences are relatively commonplace in the future, AI's that have achieved some form of sentience are not allowed full system integration on Starfleet ships (implying ships computers, while advanced, are not considered AI's in the same sense). When it comes to Zora, Kovich eventually rules that her unique mixture of standard Starfleet ships computers with Black Box technology makes her less of a traditional AI than something unique unto itself, and rules her a new life form entirely. Zora is allowed to enlist in Starfleet and accept the chain of command, which lets them get around their normal rules.
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  • Betrayal Insurance: In a rare example, Zora herself provides the insurance against her possible betrayal by creating a kill switch to be used if she goes rogue.
  • Both Sides Have a Point:
    • The debate between "destroying the DMA" or "making peaceful first contact" boils down to this. Those supporting the former view argue that the DMA has already destroyed enough, and it needs to be stopped, which no one argues against. However, the latter group also points out that the only way to destroy it is too ecologically devastating, and could potentially rile up Species 10-C into a war that they may not realize that they're provoking if the effects propagate through the wormhole, so establishing First Contact and reaching out is a better approach. Again, no one argues that the risks are great. In true Trek fashion, diplomacy wins out by a wide margin, but Book and Tarka decide to take matters into their own hands.
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    • And there's the debate over what to do about Zora. Stamets points out how a sentient computer in absolute control of a starship could be disastrous (bringing up the apocalypse that Control nearly caused), with Kovich agreeing that there are regulations against it, but Adira and Gray defend Zora by pointing out that she is sentient and benevolent and shouldn't be terminated simply out of fear.
  • The Bus Came Back: Behind the scenes artwork shows that the Xindi-Insectoids are a part of the assembly.
  • Cliffhanger: This episode served as Season 4's mid-season finale, with Discovery episodes pausing for one month to allow another portion of Star Trek: Prodigy to air.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: This hits Burnham big time with Book, as his more militant attitude toward the DMA conflicts with her Starfleet ideals yet she wants to support him. In the climax, she very nearly lets him and Tarka make their case without counter-argument, only standing up at the last moment because Rillak silently pushes her into saying something.
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  • Continuity Nod: Tarka's anti-DMA weapon is a subspace isolytic weapon, the same kind used by the Son'a in Star Trek: Insurrection. The side effects of those weapons are brought up as a reason that it shouldn't be used, with the Second Khitomer Accords being mentioned by Rillak as why using it at all is illegal.
  • Do Androids Dream?: A section of the computer core contains what is described as Zora's subconscious, a semi-random blend of memories from the first encounter with the Sphere to the present. This convinces Kovich that she's more than just an AI.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: When Burnham finds Grudge and Book's message, she asks Zora where Book is. When Zora reveals that Book is on his ship and is leaving, she can only utter "Shit" before teleporting over there too late.
  • Explosive Leash: Out of concern for the possibility of her going rogue, Zora engineers a kill switch that will immediately delete her sentience and return control of the ship to the basic operating system. After she convinces everyone that she can be trusted, Stamets disassembles it as a show of good faith.
  • For Your Own Good: Zora withholds the location of Species 10-C because she fears the risk to the crew were they to approach such powerful beings.
  • Hope Spot: What appears to be the hopeful message of unity saves the day in the midseason finale. Stamets and Zora agree to work with each other on building mutual trust, and the latter rewards his honesty expressing concern over her by finally relinquishing the co-ordinates Discovery needs and agreeing to take an oath to serve Starfleet. After Rillak pushes Michael into delivering a Rousing Speech at the summit, the vote favors diplomacy over shooting first. Everything’s fine! Then Book teams up with Tarka in attacking the DMA.
  • I Am X, Son of Y: Book introduces himself to the council as "Cleveland Booker, Son of Kwejian". It's a rare variation where he refers to himself as the son of a homeland instead of a person.
  • Idealist vs. Pragmatist: The core conflict between Book (and the "Let's Blow Up The DMA" faction) and Burnham (and the "Let's Not" faction).
  • If I Do Not Return: Book leaves Grudge with Burnham before jumping away with Tarka.
  • Irony: Book advocates for attacking the DMA, which could have potentially catastrophic outcomes or lead to a war. Captain Burnham opposes this, and Book goes rogue to try to make it happen. This is an identical setup to the show's debut episodes, as Book himself points out... only that time Burnham was the one going rogue, and this time she's the one trying to stop her loose-cannon subordinate.
  • Literal-Minded: When Burnham spots Grudge in her Ready Room, she says her name just as she was trying to get Zora to locate someone for her. Zora takes it as Burnham asking for Grudge's location and responds in kind, prompting Burnham to mutter under her breath "Yes, I can see that."
  • Loophole Abuse: Federation protocol forbids having sentient AI in control of their vessels, but Kovich rules that Zora is a unique lifeform and thus is exempt, as long as she's willing to hold herself to Starfleet standards. She officially enlists, holds rank, and — most importantly — joins the chain of command, sufficient bulwark against her going rogue to soothe the other characters.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Tarka steals the prototype of a next-generation spore drive, which is compatible with any ship but still requires a Wetware CPU. This enforces the idea that Discovery is going to be chasing them down, since they have the only other person who can run a spore drive.
  • No-Sell: In trying to prove that he alone has the means to destroy the DMA, Tarka points out that one group tried attacking it with 1600 quantum torpedoes with absolutely no effect.
  • Obliviously Evil: Discussed regarding Species 10-C. As destructive as the DMA is, whoever constructed it could surely design a far more efficient weapon, so it's entirely possible that they simply don't realize the damage that it's causing.
  • The Reveal: Tarka wants to destroy the DMA to get access to its power source, which can be used to access alternate universes, including the one that he claims to have come from, and which his fellow refugee may have already returned to.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Book joins Tarka in destroying the DMA despite the summit voting against it. Zigzagged in that "throwing an ecological catastrophe at them as a form of First Contact" is difficult to countenance as "What's Right".
  • Ship Tease: Saru awkwardly giving a plant to T'Rina as a gift, the source of the flavor of tea that she gave him back in "All Is Possible".
  • Super Prototype: The Federation has been working on a next-generation spore drive. It functions similarly to the original spore drive and still needs a compatible navigator, but it's been compacted into a device the size of a toaster that can integrate into the navigational array of any ship just by being placed in the right spot.
  • Title Drop: Burnham says to the assembly, "For generations, the Federation has sought out new life, new civilizations, not to destroy, but to connect, even in the face of uncertainty."
  • Wham Shot: Tarka reveals a next-generation spore drive prototype, able to integrate with any ship. It still needs a compatible pilot, but this allows Book to jump his ship out of reach of Discovery before Burnham can stop him.