Star Trek: Discovery 3.04 Forget Me Not
Star Trek has always had an odd relationship with its futuristic representation if health, particularly mental health. While Gene Roddenberry's vision portrayed an optimistic, hopeful future, his argument that mental health issues would become obsolete is something of a falsity. Sure, we can imagine a future where cancer is treatable and there is a cure for any viral outbreak, but is it really believable that Starfleet officers wouldn't suffer trauma as a result of the experiences of space? Every main character goes through at least one or two extremely traumatic experiences each season! Of course, the TNG era did make an attempt to explore the impacts of mental health suffering. Despite the very strong objections of Rodenberry, Star Trek: The Next Generation followed up the epic Borg two-parter The Best of Both Worlds with an episode that saw Picard deal with the suffering he endured as Loctutus. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine saw Nog retreat to the holodeck after loosing his leg in the Dominion War. And let's not forget Barclays's own escape from real life into a Holodeck world in several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation too.
The universe of Star Trek is traumatic. For the crew of Discovery, leaving everything they knew behind to travel to a future where the Federation - their home - has been decimated and where no one will mourn them if they die, is perhaps most harrowing of all. So I was pleased to see that the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery devoted an episode to dealing with the post-traumatic suffering of the crew.
Doctor Hugh Culber assertions that crew of Discovery have not healed led to an interesting exploration of what the crew were feeling. For Tilly and Stamets, it was a way to work together to find a new way to fuel the spore drive. For Detmer, it was finally recognising that she was not okay. Like Stamets, she flew the ship into the future, stranding everyone and that sense of guilt really broke free in the dinner scene. It was horrible to see her and Stamets attack each other, both consumed by their own self guilt. Mental health struggles aren't pretty and it was great to see Star Trek: Discovery address that. I just hope this isn't all swept under the carpet moving forward.
Saru's dinner party didn't just offer a relfection of the trauma and conflict between the characters, but some moments of warmth and humour too between the bridge crew. This crew truly feel like a family and it was nice to see them all together, not facing the next big crisis. Michelle Yeoh continues to steal every moment though; she isn't one of the crew, but she's part of this weird and wonderful family none the less.
There was also an interesting development surrounding the sphere data and the evolution of the ship's computer. Anyone who has seen the Short Treks episode Calypso, will be familiar with the larger than life AI computer, voiced by Annabelle Wallis and it seemed 'Zora' was born in this episode. I do wonder what the eventual fate of Discovery will be, given the events of that short story.
The big focus of Forget Me Not was the visit to the Trill home world as new character Adira (Blu del Barrio) tried to connect with her host and uncover the memories of Admiral Senna Tal. The Trill culture was explored in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and this episode featured the return of the caves Jadzia Dax once visited. Trill's involvement with the Federation was never made clear. This episode seemed to suggest that Trill never formally joined and it was only characters like Curzon, Jadzia and Ezri that chose to become part of the Federation.
Trill culture in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was always secretive and isolationist and it was interesting that, even with the threat of the Burn to Trill culture, they continued to remain so here. It made the attempts by the Trill Commission to try and remove the host from Adira blindingly obvious, as was Guardian Xi's timely arrival to bring them to to caves and allow Adira to connect with her past selves.
The journey into the host's mind, Adira aided by Michael had some very evocative sequences, while the memory of Adira's romantic relationship with Gray (Ian Alexander) offered a touching exploration of the effect joining with a Trill has on a host's body. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine attempted some of this with Ezri in the show's final season, but this was slightly different - Adira and Gray remained involved both before and after the joining, which made Adira's decision to take on the host after Gray's death all the more meaningful.
Forget Me Not gave Star Trek: Discovery a renewed sense of optimism by the episode's end. Adira had finally connected with the creature inside her, becoming Adira Tal. What the continued presence of Gray means is interesting and is something new to the Trill culture explored in Star Trek. Will Ian Alexander remain part of the reoccurring cast moving forward? With her memories of Admiral Senna Tal in tact, she was also able to offer a path to the new Federation head quarters.
Season three is certainly moving at a pace. While the mystery of the Burn remains the season's biggest narrative hook, we have already seen the crew reunited, a visit to Earth and handled Adira's memories. In theory, we could be seeing a visit to Starfleet headquarters next week.