DIS: S1 – E2: Battle at the Binary Stars

The Battle at the Binary Stars set the bar high for all other Trek shows that would follow. Like the title says, it featured a great clash both in space and within the ships themselves.

A few questions that the last episode brought up would hopefully be answered:

  • Would Michael be court marshaled? 
  • Would Starfleet respond with ships to counter the Klingons’ massive fleet?
  • Would the folks from the Federation survive this onslaught?

STARDATE: 1207.3

Like a splash of cold water in the face, this episode began with a trip down memory lane. We get to see how Michael got into Starfleet. 

She beamed aboard the Shenzhou with her adopted dad, Sarek. Georgiou greeted them, but Burnham was acting like a bit of a snob. Typical Vulcan. 

Burnham rocking that Vulcan hairdo. Courtesy of CBS
Burnham rocking that Vulcan hairdo. Courtesy of CBS

NOTE: Sarek was dressed in his awesome high-collared suit, which looked like it was updated straight out of The Original Series’ Vulcan episode, Journey to Babel. And Michael’s hair looked pretty awesome too. Vulcan all the way.

Sarek left Michael behind with Georgiou, who took the young lady around the Shenzhou for a tour. 

“This can be your new home if you want it to,” said Georgiou.

We flashback to the present where Georgiou is pointing a phaser at Burnham. Saru is giving her an update on the number of Klingon ships that have entered the system (24). Burnham pointed out that the Klingon High Council was made up of 24 houses. 

Georgiou wasn’t hearing it. The captain read Burnham her rights and sent her to the brig. 

Meanwhile, the Klingons were meeting (via hologram) aboard the flagship covered in coffins. T’Kuvma got an earful from the Klingons from the other houses about honor and how he was wasting their time. He preached of unity, but one of the 24, Kol didn’t care to hear it. T’Kuvma said his house was open to all, and its mantra was “Remain Klingon.”

A meeting of the Klingon leadership, via hologram. Courtesy of CBS
A meeting of the Klingon leadership, via hologram. Courtesy of CBS

Kol tried to end the meeting, but the other leaders wanted to hear more. 

NOTE: When they appeared in hologram form, the other Klingons immediately reminded me of the scene in Disney’s animated Mulan, where the family elders appear in spiritual form. George Takei voiced the leader of the elders, so there’s your tie to Star Trek.

Before he ended the transmission, Kol threatened T’Kuvma, saying:

“One day soon, I will put you back in your place, T’Kuvma.”

After that, T’Kuvma preached that the Humans, Vulcans, Tellarites, and Andorians hate the purity of the Klingons. The leaders poo-pooed the threat of the Shenzhou, but soon the rest of the Federation fleet arrived. 

Here’s are a few starships which showed up to the battle:

  • Clark
  • T’Plana Hath
  • Sue
  • Ride
  • Earhart
  • Dana
  • Edison
  • Yeager

Georgiou addressed the lead Klingon vessel. She said they were in Federation space, and said that she regretted the death of their warrior. She proposed that they either leave immediately or open a dialog. 

“… and to prove to you now, and as always, we come in peace,” said Georgiou.

T’Kuvma pointed out that the last statement was the Federation’s big lie.

“They come to destroy our individuality!” T’Kuvma yelled once the transmission ended. “Shall we rise together and give them the fight they deserve?”

The leaders chanted back to him: “Remain Klingon!”

“Why are we fighting?” he said to Burnham. “We’re Starfleet. We’re explorers, not soldiers.”

T’Kuvma ordered for the Klingon ships to fire at the Federation fleet. 

What followed was an incredibly intense space battle… but poor Burnham was stuck in the brig during the fight. While she stood and listened to the ship creak under the stress of war, Ensign Danby Connor (Sam Vartholomeos) wandered in. He thought he was in sickbay, but was suffering from a concussion and wasn’t making sense.

“Why are we fighting?” he said to Burnham. “We’re Starfleet. We’re explorers, not soldiers.”

But as he spoke, the Shenzhou took a direct hit, and the spot Connor was standing on was destroyed, flinging him into space. Force fields kicked in to save Burnham, but she was knocked out in her cell.

While she was unconscious, her mind wandered to the time when she was a child on Doctari Alpha as Sarek rescued her. Turns out that Sarek mind-melded with her way back then to save her life. 

When Burnham woke, the computer said that the shields and containment systems were down to 15%. Suddenly, Sarek entered her mind. She said this was not possible, but he explained that part of his Katra has been with her since he found her. 

“No matter your shame, gather your strength,” Sarek said. “Find a way to help those who need you.”

NOTE: Sort of like how a part of Voldemort was left in Harry Potter after the Dark Lord killed his parents! But, unlike Mulan, I am pretty sure there is no connection here.

She explained to Sarek why she was in the brig. She told him to leave her, but he said she was “gifted” and must do better. 

“No matter your shame, gather your strength,” Sarek said. “Find a way to help those who need you.”

The Shenzhou took another hit, and gravity from the binary star’s debris ring began to pull the ship. The Klingons stopped attacking. They had no shields, impulse engines, or thrusters. When it appeared that the Shenzhou was going to crash, the U.S.S. Europa saved them with a tractor beam.

The Europa’s commander, Admiral Brett Anderson, hailed the Klingons, hoping to arrange a cease-fire. T’Kuvma responded and accepted. After Anderson thought they would start talking to the Klingons, they sent a cloaked ship to ram the Europa.

WOW! This was a super-intense moment! 

The death of U.S.S. Europa. Courtesy of CBS
The death of U.S.S. Europa. Courtesy of CBS

A bunch more Klingon ships warped into the fight, and then the Europa self-destructed thanks to a deliberate warp core breach. 

T’Kuvma watched as the Europa destroyed the larger Klingon ship and told the others that the Federation had suffered more. Voq and the female, L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) rallied around T’Kuvma after he spoke, calling him “T’Kuvma the Unforgettable.”

Then all the Klingon ships warped away. T’Kuvma hailed all Federation ships.

“What you call your most remote borders, I call too close to Klingon territory,” said T’Kuvma. “You only live now to serve as witnesses of Klingon supremacy… to be my herald. We do not desire to know you, but you will know our great houses standing as one under Kahless — reborn in me, T’Kuvma!”

Meanwhile, Burnham negotiated with the computer to free her from the cell, which was keeping her alive with a containment shield. She asked the computer if she could get out of her cell, and through the blast door to the passage behind the doors would mean that she would survive.

“Negative, exposure to the vacuum of space for over 15 seconds would result in respiratory distress, shock, and suffocation before you are able to reach the blast door.”

NOTE: This is wrong, wrong, wrong! If she held her breath, her lungs would explode. If she exhaled all the air from her lungs, she would likely suffer from hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, causing her to lose consciousness after about 15 seconds. Ah-HA! That’s where the Discovery writers got the 15 seconds number from. Well, no science fiction show or movie gets this right. And the writers would need this little science cheat in future episodes…

This is a room (jail cell) with a heck of a view. Courtesy of CBS
This is a room (jail cell) with a heck of a view. Courtesy of CBS

Anyhow, Burnham talked the computer into engaging its “ethical protocols.” It opened the shields, which propelled her to the other side. The computer opened the blast doors, and she survived.

On the bridge, Georgiou and Saru schemed a way to get back at the Klingons. They had no warp drive, no impulse drive, and no phasers, but they did have photon torpedoes. They figured they could use a worker bee (which we saw first in Star Trek: The Motion Picture) to lay down a torpedo next to the Klingon ship’s hull. Georgiou said that she would pilot the worker bee personally.

“T’Kuvma lured Starfleet into a massacre,” she said. “It’s time I repaid him.”

Just then — Burnham walked onto the bridge to say to Georgiou that she could not do it. She told Georgiou that if they kill T’Kuvma, then he would be a martyr. If they capture him instead, he would become a symbol of defeat and shame. 

Georgiou wasn’t listening to Burnham’s plan. Instead, she was thinking about where she went wrong as an “adoptive mother” over the past seven years.

“T’Kuvma lured Starfleet into a massacre,” she said. “It’s time I repaid him.”

“Do you know why Sarek asked me to take you on?” Georgiou said. “I was a human who had seen a life of loss but still chose hope.” 

Burnham said she turned on Georgiou because she wanted to save the captain and crew of the Shenzhou, which was more critical than Starfleet’s principles. Burnham asked to deliver the warheads.

As they spoke, the Klingons used a bright green tractor beam to retrieve their dead soldiers. Georgiou decided to beam a torpedo warhead into a floating Klingon body. It worked, and the explosion rocked the massive Klingon vessel. 

Georgiou and Burnham beamed over to get T’Kuvma. They suck around the ship, picking off warriors with their phasers. But T’Kuvma himself appeared and fought Georgiou, as Voq attacked Burnham. This scene was great — if you enjoy human versus Klingon violence. I sorta do.

Sadly, Georgiou was killed by T’Kuvma, who was then killed by Burnham. Before she could reach Georgiou’s body, Saru beamed Burnham back to the ship. Burnham sobbed on the transporter pad.

Before T’Kuvma died, he told Voq to trust in Kahless. 

We see the crew of the Shenzhou abandon their ship. Burnham pleaded guilty at her court marshal. Starfleet sentenced her to life in prison. 


The Battle at the Binary Stars was an exciting episode, with a somber ending. Poor Burnham. If she could have just not attacked her captain, killed a Klingon, and started a massive war, she could have made captain, like she said she wanted (right before getting her life sentence). 

But don’t you have a special feeling about this young lady? I bet she’ll bounce back. Maybe, just maybe, she’ll be able to find her way in this crazy galaxy.

RATING: 4 out of 5


Directed by Adam Kane
Story by Bryan Fuller
Teleplay by Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts
Created by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman

Producers: Geoffrey Hemwall, April Nocifora, Aaron Baiers, Thom J. Pretak
Consulting Producers: Nicholas Meyer, Craig Sweeny
Co-Executive Producers: Jesse Alexander, Aron Eli Coleite, Joe Menosky, Olatunde Osunsanmi, Frank Siracusa, John Weber
Executive Producers: Bryan Fuller, Eugene Roddenberry, Trevor Roth, Akiva Goldsman, Heather Kadin, Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts, Alex Kurtzman

Based upon “Star Trek,” created by Gene Roddenberry

Casting by … Margery Simkin, CSA, Orly Sitowitz, CSA
Music and theme by … Jeff Russo
Costume Designer … Gersha Phillips
Visual Effects Supervisor … Jason Zimmerman
Edited by … Scott Gamzon, ACE
Production Designer … Todd Cherniawsky
Director of Photography … Colin Hoult, CSC


Sonequa Martin-Green
Doug Jones
Shazad Latif
Anthony Rapp
Mary Wiseman


Jason Isaacs

Special Guest Star

Michelle Yeoh

Associate Producer … Dana N. Wilson

Guest Starring

Mary Chieffo
James Frain
Kenneth Mitchell
Chris Obi
Terry Serpico
Sam Vartholomeos


Young Michael Burnham … Arista Arhin
Keyla Detmer … Emily Coutts
Voq … Javid Iqbal
Kamran Grant … Ali Momen
Dennas … Clare McConnell
Young T’Kuvma … Thamela Mpumlwana
Ujilli … Damon Runyan

Shenshou Computer … Tasia Valenza
Britch Weeton … Chris Violette
Troy Januzzi … Romaine Waite

Executive Story Editors … Bo Yeon Kim, Erika Lippoldt
Staff Writers … Kirsten Beyer, Sean Cochran, Kemp Powers
Production Manager … David Till
First Assistant Director … Tim Singh
Second Assistant Director … Kira McCord

Canada Casting by … Lisa Parasyn, CSA and Jon Comerford, CSA

Original Star Trek theme by Alexander Courage

Set Decorator … Peter P. Nicolakakos
Property Masters … Jim Murray
Supervising Art Directors … Mark Steel, Joshu de Cartier
Art Directors … Matt Middleton, Greg Chown, Jean-Andre Carriere, Stephen Stanley
First Assistant Graphics … Andy Tsang
Motion Graphics … Timothy Peel

First Assistant Art Directors … Chris Bretecher, Guinevere Cheung, Stephanie Chris, Hayley Isaacs, Alexandra Juzkiw, John Kim, Natasha Peschlow, Elile Poulin, Itsuko Kurono, Matt Morgan, Dan Norton, Corinna Porsia, Michael Stanek,

Script Supervisor … Lisa Burling
A Camera Operator … Tony Guerin
B Camera Operator … Sean Sealy
Sound Mixer … Ao Loo
Boom Operator … Sean Armstrong

Casting Associate … Emily Cook
Canadian Casting Assistants … Sara Dang, Lisa Demeo, Emily Johnson
Studio Manager … Robert Jones
Location Production Assistants … Chris Vargas, Fermin Balado

Costume Supervisor … Karen Lee
Assistant Costume Designers … Bernadette Croft, Damion Saliani
Lead Character Designer … Neville Page
Department Head Hair … Ryan Reed
Department Head Make-Up … Colin Penman
Make-Up Effects Department Heads … Glenn Hetrick, James MacKinnon

Prosthetic Makeup Special Effects and Specialty Armor designed and created by:
Glenn Hetrick and Neville Page’s Alchemy Studios

Production Accountant … Debbie Van Dusen,
First Assistant Accountants … Dawn Howat, Vess Stoeva
Second Assistant Accountants … Rebecca Pearson, Shane Pollard, Vanna Roopchand, Mark Bilas
Payroll Accountants … Melanie Foley

Lighting Design by … Franco Tata
First Company Grip … Robert Daprato
1st Assistant A Camera … Barrett Axford
1st Assistant B Camera … Brian White
2nd Assistant A Camera … Christina Louie
2nd Assistant B Camera … Craig Jewell
Digital Imaging Technician … Rob Stronghill

Assistant Production Managers … Kosta Orfanidis, Michael Stoyanov
Third Assistant Directors … Ross Vivian, Brooke Fifield
Production Coordinator … Janet Gayford
Script Coordinator … Melissa Goldstein
First Assistant Production Coordinator … Nicole Lane
Second Assistant Production Coordinator … Derrick O’Toole
Office Production Assistants … Tom Fitzpatrick, Laura Miles, Michaela Peker

Second Assistant Art Director … Hyebin Yoon
Storyboard Artist … Rob McCallum
Concept Artists … Goran Delic, Bartol Rendulic
Digital Asset Manager … James Jarvis
Art Department Coordinator … Katie Brock

Stunt Coordinator … Rick Forsayeth
Special Effects Coordinator … Darcy Callaghan
Special Effects Key … Sophie Vertigan
Lead Dressers … Kevin Haeberlin, Greg Langham
Contact Lens Supervisor … Mandy Ketcheson
Key Scenic … Jay Kirk
Head Painters … Peter Aquilina, Soux Ellis
On Set Painter … Brad Francis
Construction Coordinator … Ross Fraser
Head Carpenter … Travis Israel Staley
Transportation Coordinator … Jazz Helie
Transportation Captain … Michael Corazza
Transportation Co-Captain … Grant Volkers

VFX Supervisor … Ante Dekovic
VFX Producer … Aleksandra Kochoska
VFX Lead Artist … Charles Collyer
Senior VFX Coordinator … David Takemura
VFX Coordinators … Ayana Reid, Julie Rothfarb
Assistant Editors … Jeffrey D. Brown, John Mullin
VFX Editors … Jonathan Angus, Glenn Cote
VFX Assistant Editor … Greg Minihan
Post Production Coordinator … Ruben Michael Molina
Post Production Assistant … Ryan Miles

Researcher … Anthony Maranville
Assistants to the Writers … Tyler Dinucci, Brandon Schultz, Christopher Silvestri
Dialect Coach … Rea Nolan
Additional Dialect Coach … Jeffrey Simlett
Klingon Translator … Robyn Stewart
On Set Caterers … Gourmet Catering

Assistants to A. Kurtzman … Julian Gross, Robyn Johnson
Assistant to G. Berg & A. Harberts … Chris Danby
Assistant to H. Kadin … Kathryn Alsman
Assistant to A. Goldsman … Chloe Gebacz
Assistant to C. Sweeny … Kaycee Felton-Lui
Executive Assistant Toronto … Emma Sampson

Post Production Sound Services Provided by
Skywalker Sound, A Lucasfilm Ltd. Company, Marin County, California
Sound Designer … Christopher Scarabosio

Sound Services by … Warner Bros. Post Production Creative Services
Sound Supervisor … Jon Mete
Sound Designer … Tim Farrell
Re-Recording Mixers … Alexander Gruzdev, Brad Sherman
Music Editor … Matt Decker
Score Engineer and Mixer … Michael Perfitt
Scoring Assistant … Perrine Virgile
Orchestrator … Amie Doherty
Midi Tech … Tracie Turnbull
Score Wrangler … Matea Prljevic

Dailies Services by … Bling Digital
Post Production Services by … Chainsaw
Chainsaw Supervising Producer … Byron Smith
Chainsaw Online Editor … Chad Cole
Color Timing by … Company 3
Company 3 Final Colorist … Stefan Sonnenfeld
Editing Systems … Hula Post

Camera and Lenses by … Sim Digital
Main Title Design by … Prologue
Visual Effects by … Pixomondo, Crafty Apes, Spin VFX



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