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

Welcome Trekkies! Safely through the Galactic Barrier, Capt. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz), Mr. Saru (Doug Jones) and Lt. Commander Detmer (Emily Couttsvisit a dead planet to unlock the secrets of Species 10-C in Star Trek: Discovery‘s Episode 11, “Rosetta.”

RELATED: Keep up with Star Trek: Discovery with our recaps!

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

Star Trek: Discovery Episode 406

Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+

Episode 11 opens with Burnham and a rare Queen Grudge cameo, recording a grim Captain’s Log in her quarters. In less than 29 hours, the Dark Matter Anomaly (DMA) will destroy United Earth and Ni’Var. With billions of lives at risk, the only hope comes from U.S.S. Discovery‘s first contact mission with Species 10-C, but they live within a seemingly impenetrable hyperfield.

Attempting to learn more about the 10-C, Discovery investigates a dead planet. About 1,000 years ago, the former gas giant died when massive asteroids struck it, causing the atmosphere to burn away.

Located nearby, Huge Dyson Rings, composed of the same material as the DMA’s controller, orbit a sun or star — beam me up, Scotty, we have a Dyson Sphere! 

Burnham’s background as a xenoanthropologist comes in handy, and she hypothesizes the planet was once the 10-C’s homeworld. She prepares to lead an away team to glean some cultural context for first contact with the 10-C to convince them to deactivate the DMA before it’s too late.

As Burnham, Saru, Detmer and Culber prepare to depart, Ensign Adira Tal (Blu del Barrio) awkwardly tells Detmer to “fly good,” and it’s adorable. Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) looks on (Pa #2, and concerned hubby of the excellent doc).

Then, we get an Armageddon-style shot of the away team looking very cool in their sleek, 32nd Century beyond-the-Galactic Barrier space suits as Burnham underscores the mission’s importance.

Wilson Cruz as Culber, Emily Coutts as Detmer, Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Doug Jones as Saru of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.

Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+

Meanwhile, Cleveland “Book” Booker (David Ajala) and Ruon Tarka (Shawn Doyle) are hiding Book’s ship behind some debris aft of Discovery. At the same time, they figure out how to get inside the hyperfield to deactivate the DMA’s power source. Book suggests remaining cloaked and close to Discovery to ingress, but Tarka suggests hitching a ride instead. Book agrees if no one is hurt, using a pair of now-extinct Kwejian animals to illustrate his point. 

To complete their plan, Tarka must numb the now-sentient Zora’s sensors. But sweet Badgey’s ghost – there’s a catch! Tarka must install a patch manually, and the necessary access point is in engineering! Book insists on joining Tarka.

In Discovery‘s docking bay, Burnham’s team discovers Federation President Laira Rillak (Chelah Horsdal) waiting for them. Rillak questions Burnham’s decision to investigate the planet herself, but Burnham says Lieutenant Commander Nilsson (Sara Mitich) is a pro at command.

The president concedes Burnham’s presence as a xenobiologist is valuable but then questions her decision to bring Saru. Still, the captain says Saru’s extra-human sensory capabilities could be vital, and every minute counts. 

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Joining Rillak, Ni’Var’s President T’Rina (Tara Rosling) says that she cannot express a greater sense of urgency than Burnham must already feel and urges them to travel safely. “Make the trip count; don’t screw it up,” surmises Dr. Hirai (Hiro Kanagawa).

United Earth’s General Ndoye (Phumzile Sitole) expresses concern over the decision, believing the mission is an unnecessary delay. Although Burnham promises she’ll find helpful information on the planet, Ndoye remains unconvinced.

The Dead Planet


Photo: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Next, Discovery‘s shuttlecraft heads through the dead planet’s ionosphere, causing them to lose comms. However, the shuttle’s scanners seem to be working.

Saru notes the shuttle’s scans detect numerous impact craters on the planet’s surface from roughly 1,000 years ago, aligning with when the 10-C constructed the hyperfield. Culber remarks it’s likely the 10-C were aware of the incoming disaster and attempted to evacuate accordingly.

As they get closer, the shuttle’s sensors detect ruins. One structure remains more intact than the others, suggesting it was reinforced and, by extension, unique to the 10-C. Additionally, Burnham theorizes the 10-C lived in the planet’s gas layers before the disaster.  

Upon landing, the away team activates the shuttle’s cloak. Saru scans for life signs and notes he detects no lifeforms, including the away team. Burnham instructs them to ensure their phasers are set to stun.

As the team explores further, Saru steps in blue dust. Shortly afterward, he appears disoriented, hearing a shrieking sound and seeing a vision of some horrible event. However, Culber calms him and dismisses it as vertigo.

That’s when the team spots an object, which turns out to be the cusp of a giant bone. An overhead shot gives a sense of the scale of the bone, and “extremely large” is an understatement: it dwarves the four crew members!

Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Episode 11 Rosetta

Photo: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Back on Book’s ship, Tarka concludes Discovery won’t go anywhere until the away team is back, so they have time for their sabotage. Book reminds his personal Caesar that Discovery‘s crew is his family.

However, Tarka convinces the former courier the fatalistic plan is worth it with the saving billions of lives speech, adding, “you can’t have everything.” 

RELATED: Learn why Tarka is Caesar in Star Trek: Discovery‘s “Rubicon”!

Meanwhile, on the planet, Culber scans the enormous skeleton. His scans indicate before fossilization, the bones would have been flexible like cartilage. As the captain surmised earlier, it looks like the 10-C’s physiology adapted for floating in gas layers.

Burnham’s scans indicate something else chilling: the away team isn’t looking at one skeleton but a mass grave. The crew concludes a full-planet evacuation must have been impossible. 

However, Saru is still having intrusive visions. As Detmer has a pre-cog moment and wonders what the blue dust is, Culber answers it’s a complex hydrocarbon compound with no match in Federation databases. 

The captain orders the team to find a way inside the structure to learn more. As Culber and Detmer head off, Burnham approaches Saru and asks what’s happening. Saru answers that he’s feeling something he hasn’t felt in a very long time: the coming of death.

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby

Aboard Discovery, Rillak approaches Hirai, working on an ancient Earth crossword puzzle in the ship’s bar. He explains Dr. Kovich (David Cronenberg) introduced him to the game. As customary, Hirai asks for help: “an act which a person is bound to complete.” Rillak answers “mission” and starts talking business; despite Hirai’s protests, after all, her answer is ten letters, not seven.

Rillak tells Hirai his bluntness earlier was inappropriate and undermined her attempt to calm everyone. Hirai says things happen whether or not people worry, but Rillak warns those struggling need support to be happy cogs. She tells him to exercise more tact moving forward, filling in the crossword answer as she does: “OBLIGATION.”

Meanwhile, Book and Tarka are preparing to infiltrate Discovery. They use devices to mask their life signs and beam abroad, arriving above the mess hall, a potential shortcut so long as it’s empty inside the Jeffries tube.

While making their way to engineering, they eavesdrop on Ndoye and T’Rina. Ndoye laments she’s not at home helping with evacuation efforts and decries Burnham’s mission as a waste of time, and asks how T’Rina is so calm. T’Rina says Ni’Var’s evacuation protocols are well defined, and this mission is how they best serve their people. Ndoye leaves the discussion frustrated, inspiring Book to approach her for help.

Back on the planet, Burnham and the away team enter the structure, but Saru continues to be affected by the visions. Burnham says she thought Saru had lost the extreme fear response after Vahar’ai, ordering Culber to stabilize her first officer.

As Burnham and Detmer continue to look for evidence about the structure’s purpose, Culber examines Saru. Although the Kelpien insists something is triggering his experiences, Culber is doubtful because EV suits filter out contaminants. Just then, Culber becomes affected by the same intrusive visions that Saru has been experiencing!

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

Photo: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Back on Discovery, Book wants to recruit Ndoye. He observes Ndoye voted for their plan at the assembly and believes after what they overheard; she’ll see the value in “taking control” of the situation. Book and Tarka decide to split up, leaving Tarka to create a diversion and install the patch independently.

However, when Tarka arrives near engineering, he spies Discovery crew members inside. This time, it’s Jett Reno (Tig Notaro) and Adira, and what he sees is a tender moment between two of my favorite space queers (post-tender moment, Tarka messes with the replicator to create a diversion).

Reno is ordering a cup of the steaming hot, bitter elixir of Klingon warriors, aka Raktajino, and offering a bit of life advice to Adira, who wants to be more confident, like Detmer. Reno has some vital life advice for them: no one is okay all the time, citing Detmer’s struggle with PTSD (and probably C-PTSD if we take what we learned in this week’s episode).

Reno suggests that Adira gets to know Detmer. Just don’t start with, “I want to be you.” 

RELATED: Mary Chieffo Talks Star Trek’s Klingons, Coming Out and Juilliard

Now, back on the planet, Burnham touches something on a stalagmite. When she also starts experiencing the visions, the captain instructs Detmer to continue collecting data.

Saru, Culber and Burnham quickly realize they’re having a shared hallucination. Culber says something must be affecting their minds and causing the shared visions. Eventually, the away team discovers the dust causes the hallucinations, as Detmer is the only member who has not come into contact with it and the only member without visions. Once Detmer reprograms the EV suits, they can continue exploring. 

Emily Coutts as Detmer of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Photo: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Meanwhile, Tarka is now in engineering, and Book is with Ndoye. Book says when Burnham collects data for first contact with the 10-C, his ship will enter the hyperfield attached to Discovery, and Tarka will disable the DMA’s power source. Ndoye must contact Book and tell him what Burnham is planning, so he doesn’t have to put anyone at risk.

Although the general is hesitant, she is desperate to save United Earth and eventually caves to Book and Tarka’s plan. Since it’ll stop the DMA, Earth will be safe, so she says yes. But she insists they give diplomacy a chance to work.

While Ndoye is busy plotting, the away team has discovered the reinforced room, a nursery. Culber says the bones match the ones outside. Still, based on the difference in methylation profiles (and actual biomarker of aging in epidemiologic studies), the bones in the cavern belonged to infants.  

Burnham decides to let the hydrocarbons into her suit to learn more about the room. She sighs and says, “It feels like love.” Then, the rest of the away team joins her to feel the emotion, with Culber adding, “It’s peaceful.” Followed by Saru, who says, “It feels safe.” Detmer, however, starts crying because she’s never felt these emotions.

Burnham notes that although Kelpien and human biology are different, the hydrocarbons affect all team members almost identically and convey emotions. Detmer comments that maybe some feelings are universal. In response, Culber says it will profoundly connect the Federation with the 10-C if that’s true.

Burnham instructs the team to collect samples of the hydrocarbons for further study. Culber says many chemicals correspond to emotional states like norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. Here, Saru chimes in with Star Trek, saying there are also numerous species whose means of expression are entirely chemical, like the Plim of Asp 27, who communicate by changing the scent of their breath.

The away team believes the hydrocarbons are like pheromones. Burnham is hopeful the hydrocarbons will serve as the first contact team’s Rosetta Stone, helping them learn to communicate with the 10-C. The captain explains the 10-C’s emotions tell a story, which provides context.

Anthony Rapp as Stamets of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.

Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+

As the away team heads home, they discuss the 10-C and the DMA. Hopefully,  they can connect through empathy, says the doctor, the first step in diplomatic relations. Saru is less optimistic, saying it’s equally possible they already know and do not care. 

Now, in the ready room, Stamets briefs Burnham, Saru, and the first contact team about 16 other hydrocarbons found on the planet’s surface by DOTs. Hirai responds with his usual wit, but Rillak stares him down, and he offers something more enthusiastic instead (which just about kills him). 

After the meeting, T’Rina asks Saru for a stroll on the holodeck. Oh, and Stamets tells Burnham that he has hope for the first time in a long time. Then, the camera pans over to Book, hiding in a crawl space on Discovery. He hails Ndoye and says “thank you” for the tip. 

Near the end of the episode, we learn during Tarka’s shenanigans, Reno discovered him installing the patch (which was successful, there is a lovely shot of Book’s cloaked ship attached to Discovery). However, as Book transports back onto his vessel to update Tarka about his shenanigans, Reno clears her throat and says, “Nothing like coming home to an unexpected hostage. Am I right?”

The Plim of Plim?

Either last week or the week before, there was a reference to Gilligan’s Island. This week, Saru references the Plim of Asp of 27. Although this reference isn’t as clear, the Plim do not exist in the Star Trek Universe. They are from  Invader Zim, also owned by Paramount. The alien species sounds like the inspiration behind the 10-C. Hear me out, and let’s get to sleuthing, Trekkies!

Like the hyperfield and Dyson Rings, the Plim planet is was imprisoned by an ancient planetary field, trapping the species from the rest of the universe for hundreds of years. The Plim live in underground hives, like the structures the away team found, and have no bones, similar to the 10-C’s cartilage-like bones. Hmm? 

Star Trek: Discovery streams every Thursday on Paramount Plus. 

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Rebecca Kaplan