This episode starts quite sedately with the arrival of Admiral Cornwell who is coming aboard to interrogate Spock. Armed with video evidence of Spock’s murderous spree killing three doctors she puts Spock through a truth test, of which he is confirmed for telling the truth. Burnham informs Pike that Tyler is innocent because she just knows that he’s not capable of treason. Cornwell is unsure of Spock’s innocence, Saru questions her doubt asking if the test is flawed, she replies that it is 100% correct but then shows the video evidence of Spock killing the three doctors. Saru seems unconvinced of the credibility of the video, and Pike comments that the Spock he knows can’t be the Spock in the video and that it must be doctored. Cornwell’s response is that the video came straight from “Control”, the artificial threat assessment intelligence system from Section 31 programmed by Admiral Patar. She also informs Pike that Section 31’s command Admirals have not returned her calls and that she thinks that Patar has blocked her access to Control. Convinced that Patar is trying to take over Starfleet, Cornwell tasks Pike and the crew to go to the facility that Control is located.
Setting a course to Section 31’s headquarters, Pike makes haste whilst Airiam is working on the ships computer, Nahn is suspicious of Airiam and watches her closely.
We tend to see the back story of Airiam, once a complete human and happily married, Airiam watches a video memory of hers of her and her husband walking along a beach very happy. Then she watches other videos that show us that she is a happy and complete member of the crew. Tilly arrives and she explains that her shuttle crashed, and her husband died and we are meant to put two and two together to assume that she was almost fatally injured and ended up a cyborg, or cybernetic augmented.
On arrival at the Section 31 facility, it is surrounded by mines. Burnham and Spock finally have their big heart to heart conversation, but it turns into a human emotional melt-down between the two of them. Penetrating the minefield to get to the facility, Discovery is nearly destroyed but it does get to the facility and they get hailed from Patar to be informed that Starfleet ordered Section 31 to destroy Discovery and that the crew and Cornwell are all fugitives. Trying to contact the Section 31 station, an old penal facility the Discovery gets no response and they find no lifeforms. Burnham, Nahn and Airiam are tasked with getting Airiam into the facility so that Airiam can interface with Control and restart it. They find the Section 31 Admirals, including Patar, deceased for a few weeks.
Saru is suspicious of the hail from Patar and the video of Spock and finds out that Spock’s heat signature in the video is different to the other three and also Patar’s is the same and that it is a forgery made by Control
Airiam, as we all know, is under the control of… umm Control, she has been secretly emptying her memories so that she can download the data from the Sphere and download it to Control so that control can evolve to be able to complete it’s mission that Spock foresaw in the destruction of the galaxy, and, very aggressively, attempts to disable Burnham and Nahn so she can do it. Realising that she is doing something very wrong, the human side of Airiam fights with her cyber augmented side and, through a tough fight with Burnham, Burnham manages to lock her in an airlock. The human side of Airiam pleads with Burnham to open the airlock to space and thus kill er, Burnham hesitates but Nahn, who had been disabled by Airiam at the beginning of the fight, hits the button and sends Airiam into space and killing her after Airiam states to Burnham that Control wanted Burnham dead over everyone else.
VERDICT: I rate this episode 10 out of 10 because this is the first episode in this series that a valued bridge crew member dies, Airiam was very well portrayed by Hannah Cheeseman and the whole episode is just a wonderfully acted out episode and quite an important one in the main story and in Spock’s humanity. And Humanity is the key here, humanity in emotion and humanity in survival against Artificial Intelligence. We see sides to the characters not yet seen and I love this episode for it alone. We don’t know that by destroying Control that Spock’s image of the destruction of the Galaxy means that it’s been diverted or not, maybe we will find out in the next episode.
I love the respectful ending when the credits are not accompanied by music but just silence.