DISCLAIMER: This recap of Star Trek: Discovery holds enough spoilers to keep Section 31 busy for a decade. Jump to black alert (or emerald alert) at your peril.

Welcome Trekkies! Episode 10’s recap is still coming from Rura Penthe, so excuse me while my fingers freeze. In this week’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery, “The Galactic Barrier,” we see several pairs of Star-Trek crossed lovers’ piteous misadventures threaten the Federation. But unlike the story of yore, things end on a hopeful note.

Ready to dive into this week’s recap? Vamos voar!

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Doctor Kovich (David Cronenberg) is back on Star Trek: Discovery, baby, and he’s not alone! The episode opens on a task force roundtable (United Nations-style) about communicating with Species 10-C. Also attending the meeting are delegates, including General Ndoye (Phumzile Sitole) of the United Earth Defense Force, Ni’Var’s President T’Rina (Tara Rosling), Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr), and President Laira Rillak (Chelah Horsdal).

Hiro Kanagawa as Dr. Hirai and David Cronenberg as Kovich of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive.

We learn the purpose of the meeting is to discuss establishing communication with 10-C. Thus, newcomer Dr. Hirai (Hiro Kanagawa) is also at the table. Hirai will appear in the final four episodes of the series, and his introductory explanation of confirmation bias provided a good laugh to this psych nerd.

Kovich is here to tell viewers and the Discovery crew everything we think we know about 10-C is wrong, and everything we believe about the DMA and its reappearance is wrong. The DMA Controller’s reappearance doesn’t give the Federation concrete intelligence about the 10-C or their goals.

He also cautions the Federation’s mere arrival could be seen as an act of aggression, especially after Cleveland “Book” Booker (David Ajala) and Ruon Tarka (Shawn Doyle) attacked 10-C’s technology with an isolytic weapon. However, since Book and Tarka acted unilaterally, Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) suggests the Federation finds a way to communicate the men worked independently.

But Kovich and Hirai say communication with the 10-C may be difficult. They don’t even know if their language is remotely similar to anything the Federation has encountered.

Phumzile Sitole as Capt. Ndoye and Hiro Kanagawa as Dr. Hirai of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive.

Suddenly, Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) calls Burnham out of the meeting, asking if Vance and Rillak can come to the lab. The astromycologist says he has terrible news: the new DMA is more powerful, and it’s churning through space at a much faster rate.

We also learn no one has heard from Book or Tarka. But more importantly, Rillak plans on joining the mission. Vance tries to talk her out of it, but her mind is made up. She has already transferred power to the Vice President and expects Vance to support the VP in her absence, even if it’s an indefinite absence.

Meanwhile, Book is pissed off! The DMA is back and stronger than ever, which means it’s threatening more lives than ever. However, Book has a plan: he got the hyper-field coordinates from Episode 8’s Haz, and he plans to cross the Galactic Barrier to destroy the DMA’s power source. 

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However, Tarka points out the flaw in Book’s plan: (1) there is no mycelial network in the barrier, (2) the negative energy existing inside the barrier will eat through a ship’s shields and fry his prefrontal cortex immediately, aka the brain region responsible for planning, decision making, and moderating social behavior, and (3) his plan doesn’t include Tarka, who can fix the previous two flaws in Book’s plan.

Blu del Barrio as Adira, Sonequa Martin Green as Burnham and Anthony Rapp as Stamets

Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive.

Tarka says they need programmable anti-matter to get through the Galactic Barrier, and he knows where to get it. We’ve seen the stuff save Discovery more than once. Like when Lieutenant Gen Rhys (Patrick Kwok-Choon), Ensign Adira Tal (Blu del Barrio) and Lieutenant Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) devised a plan to ride the programmable matter-wave earlier this season.

Back at Federation HQ, Discovery is just finishing its shield upgrades (the same upgrades Tarka suggested to Book). Here, we also learn Communications Officer Ronald Bryce (Ronnie Rowe Jr.) won’t be joining his crewmates on the mission. Instead, he is staying behind to help Kovich and Hirai figure out how to communicate with 10-C: a comm officer’s dream!

The mission has First Officer Mr. Saru (Doug Jones) thinking about what he wants in life, so he gathers his courage to ask T’Rina on a date and to tell her that he’s caught feelings, and it’s AGOOONNNNYYYYY!!! Especially when she walks away, saying nothing.

Trust me, before watching this week’s Discovery; it may be worth rewatching this Into the Woods clip for a good laugh. Star-Trek crossed lovers all over the place in this week’s episode.

On another part of the ship, Burnham runs into Adira and Stamets. Adira is back from Trill, where they dropped off Gray (Ian Alexander) for Guardian training. 

Next, Burnham meets with Rillak, and the captain lays down some ground rules for the mission. She asks Rillak not to say anything that could jeopardize her crew’s trust in her. Rillak, for her part, asks Burnham to leave the mission’s diplomatic aspects to the First Contact Task Force—although knowing the president, this will change before the season’s end.

Then, Burnham goes to the bridge. Saru tells her that getting everyone prepared is like herding cats. So luckily, the captain is on hand to give one of her patented breathy speeches, which she’s outstanding at this season.

Hailing the entire crew and delegates, she gets on the comm to remind everyone they are genuinely boldly going where no one has gone before, although that’s not true as there’s a reference in Beta canon. The Q Continuum has sent a mighty being beyond the edge of the Milky Way.

Black Alert!

After jumping to the guessed location of the barrier (they are nine lightyears short), Saru is wandering the ship’s halls with Doctor Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz), who congratulates Saru on saying something about his feelings. And that’s when he sees T’Rina on Discovery; it turns out Ni’Var’s delegate didn’t arrive in time, and T’Rina will be representing the planet during first contact.

Wilson Cruz as Culber and Doug Jones as Saru of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive.

Meanwhile, Book and Tarka have arrived where Tarka stashed the anti-matter, and it’s an Emerald Chain work camp. Booker recognizes the Chain architecture right away and pulls a gun on Tarka, demanding the truth.

Booker asks, “It was here. Wasn’t it? It was here that you were held as a prisoner.”

“Yes, it was,” responds Tarka.

*Tears warning,* which should be a thing for Star Trek: Discovery. Doyle does a fantastic job in all of the flashback scenes, and the episode gave him a chance to show his acting range. Like, get ready for tears, y’all.

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In the first flashback, ten years ago, Tarka is transferred to an Emerald Chain prison camp to help another scientist, Oros, played by Osric Chau (and I doubt they cast Chau for a one-off), to finish an alternative to the dilithium engine for Osyraa.

Tarka adds although it took the pair a year to adjust to each other, they eventually became friends. However, as we see the story unfold, it seems as if their relationship is more than a friendship. But maybe, I’m shipping.

Shawn Doyle as Ruon Tarka and Osric Chau as Oros of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive.

Jumping back to Discovery, they arrive at the Galactic Barrier. As described in the script of “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” it does look like the Aurora Borealis, but with the energized particles that make up the Northern Lights more pronounced, like lightning bolts in space.

Rhys and Saru take a moment to say how cool it is. Then, the crew gets to work. As usual with science, all the models in the world can’t reasonably predict the real thing, so they scramble to make last-minute adjustments to the ship’s shields.

Once inside the barrier, it looks like the human body episode of The Magic School Bus. Then, at one point, the entire crew experiences a shift in their visual spectrum (those brain effects Tarka talked about?), which is pretty cool for the viewer. 

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Suddenly, Rillak comes in to say that she received an encrypted message for Burnham’s and the president’s eyes only: the DMA has moved to a new location and will begin impacting Ni’Var and Earth in less than three days. Burnham wants to tell the crew immediately, but Rillak doesn’t think it’s a good idea, saying the bad news will spread like an embarrassment of Dooplers distracting the team and delegates.

Sonequa Martin Green as Burnham, Chelah Horsdal as President Laira Rillak and Oded Fehr as Admiral Vance of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive.

Meanwhile, there’s another flashback to Tarka’s time at the Chain work camp, including some pretty significant info: Oros was working on an interdimensional transporter. The scientist believed the technology Osyraa had them working on was enough to power the new tech to get him “home,” a mythological place beyond suffering.

Once upon a time, in an Emerald Chain tower, Oros invited Tarka to join him on a journey to another universe. Boy meets boy, boys fall in friendship (or love), they build some fantastic interdimensional tech, and the rest is TBD (well, not all the rest, read on).

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After completing the interdimensional transporter, the two scientists test the tech while imprisoned by the Chain. However, as they take each other’s hands and power up the machine to go “home,” everything shuts down, and Chain footsoldiers storm the room.

For a moment, we pop into the present so that Book can give Tarka some advice. He tells him for years, he blamed his father for working for the Emerald Chain, but now, he feels the blame was misplaced. He adds it was easier to blame his father than it was to accept that his father was powerless to change the atrocities committed by the Chain.

In a man-to-man bonding moment, which we need more of on television, Book tells Tarka that his relationship with his father is part of his driving force. And Book believes that whatever Tarka’s relationship was with Oros, it is Tarka’s driving force. AWWWWW!

Shawn Doyle as Ruon Tarka and David Ajala as Book

Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive.

Back to the flashback, Chain lackeys are beating up Tarka and Oros. We learn that before transferring to the facility, Tarka made a deal with Osyraa to figure out what Oros was working on. However, at some point, Tarka lied to the lackeys and decided to tell them that Oros’s transporter would never work, which pisses them off! 

Having developed feelings for Oros, Tarka apologizes to him and shoots the soldiers so that they can escape. However, first, he must remove the Emerald Chain control device from each of their necks. But Oros is badly injured from the beating he just received and can’t leave.

Oros says he forgives Tarka and insists that he saves himself; with some nudging, Tarka leaves the work camp but doesn’t go far. He finds a hiding spot in some nearby caves and attempts to wait for Oros, who never comes but leaves a message for his beau at the work camp, leading Tarka to believe he made it home.

So finally, we have the truth. For years, Tarka has been trying to find a power source large enough to send him home to Oros. 

Shawn Doyle as Ruon Tarka and Osric Chau as Oros of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.

Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive.

Now, back to Discovery, the ship has encountered a problem getting through the Galactic Barrier. The spatial cell they use to ride through the barrier has run into many other cells and is stuck. Stamets has a solution, but it gives the bridge crew five minutes to safely get the ship. 

Despite Rillak’s objection to the plan (her throat veins pop), Burnham orders her crew to carry out the risky plan. Rillak seems even more distraught (remember how the DMA is about to destroy Earth) as the team gets through the most dangerous part of their mission by thinking about where they will visit on Earth if they survive First Contact with Species 10-C.

Stamets promises not to kill the crew and delegates, and Commander Joann Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo) and Lieutenant Keyla Detmer (Emily Coutts) do some badass piloting, safely getting everyone into the next spatial cell with six seconds to spare. Plus, let’s not forget Zora (Annabelle Wallis), who also plays a significant role (Stamets even thanks her for it, showing character growth).

Meanwhile, Burnham and Rillak are having a less pleasant talk on another part of the ship. The captain wants to tell everyone about the news they received from Vance. She believes that Rillak is withholding information to feel like she is more controlling the situation.

Burnham admits she is angry about the whole situation (and at Book), and she thinks Rillak might be angry. Here, we learn that Rillak’s mother is on Earth, and her partner recently relocated to Earth. She is worried, and since she hasn’t been honest about it, Burnham encourages her to think about what she wants to do about informing the crew.

In the last few moments of the episode, we finally get some feel-good moments before Rillak drops the news bomb. The Federation is officially in extragalactic space. Tarka and Book are ready to find true love and save the galaxy simultaneously, while Burnham and the Discovery crew have successfully navigated through the galactic barrier.

Tara Rosling as T’Rina and Doug Jones as Saru of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Rillak and Saru in Star Trek: Discovery. Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+ © 2021 CBS Interactive.

However, the feel-good moment is quickly over—Rillak addresses the entire ship to tell them about the DMA’s relocation and the horrible news. Many of them now have friends and colleagues under direct threat. 

In the Discovery bar, Saru walks up to T’Rina to give his condolences. After admitting she finds him a comforting presence, she asks the First Officer to sit with her. 

Meanwhile, Rillak and Burnham are busying themselves with work. They have found a planet, and Burnham has set a team to see where 10-C is, but more information is needed, TBD. Burnham also tells Rillak that people need to know that their leaders are there for them in times of crisis, and that’s why she wanted to allow Rillak to tell everyone about the DMA. Finally, the two women have learned to communicate.

The episode ends with Burnham saying, “We have to succeed. We have to.”

New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery are available to stream every Thursday on Paramount Plus. 

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