Good episode, this one. We learn that Airiam was a normal Starfleet officer who was in a horrible shuttle crash: her husband died and she could only survive as a cyborg; and every night she has to decide which memories to delete because of her limited capacity. There is a moral dilemma here, as in many ways she doesn’t wanna hang on to the painful memories, even though they define her. It makes her an intriguing and compelling character from the get-go. She is lonely and only has emotional input from playing various parlour games with others – without a human body, her social options are entirely limited. It makes her a tragic figure really, and this is the main interest of the episode.
It starts poorly. The female admiral (Cornwell) arrives on the Disco to give us all the exposition and scenario we need for this episode. Sigh. Bad writing. And SPOILERS straight from the beginning. Very bad writing. We are told we have to get to the HQ of Section 31, known as ‘Control’, which is the superbrain of Starfleet. The thinking is Control has lost control to ‘logic extremists’ (Vulcan terrorists). Meanwhile, Airiam’s eyes go red every now and then, due to the alien infection she got several episodes back.
We get to Control, Burnham and Spock having an argument about the pros and cons of logic along the way (vaguely relevant, but also fairly contrived). Airiam continues to act suspiciously – she doesn’t even trust herself – and nor does Commander Nhan – not that either of them bother to flag it up to anyone in a position to stop her.
The away-team (containing Burnham, Airiam and Nhan, OF COURSE) arrives in Control. It’s a mess. There’s a showdown… and it actually works. It’s emotional and tragic. And we pretty much save the universe from ‘the extinction of all sentient life’. Phew, that’s alright then.
But this episode works overall. There are decent themes about the nature of being, artificial intelligence and sentience. Worth a look.