Professor at the Diner I
Somehow I managed to make my way from the lighted horror to a diner,driven by hunger. I ate peas porridge and felt slightly less weighed down by the night. I noticed alfI no longer was around. I cared an ounce. If I am to be weighed down into oblivion, I’d rather alf1 not be the cause.
Star Trek: Connection, Communication, and the Ideal, Written after Election Day
Star Trek: Discovery, Season 3, Episode 4 is about connections—connections that occur on multiple levels and in multiple ways—connections, as Captain Saru states regarding the two intelligences manifested by Computer, that “are beyond the algorithm I presumed”. In tandem with connections is healing that occurs through communication and what Computer identifies as “communal unifiers”.
These themes inform Adira’s journey. Adira must be able to communicate with her symbiont. Doing so requires that Adira and the accompanying Captain Burnham connect with the Trill, who are separated because they at odds. Some of the Trill exhibit prejudice: only the Trill should serve as hosts to symbionts. The human Adira is an abomination; thus, another separation—this time between the symbiont and Adira—should take place. A conversation ensues that is reflective of that regarding abortion: does the life of the symbiont or of the host take precedence over the other?
The remaining segment of the Trill find there is no need for separation. This segment believes Adira could be their future since they no longer have enough viable hosts due to the Burn. The Trill must move beyond rigid dogmatic ideals to survive and evolve. Rather than being an aberration as Leader Pav proclaims, Adira could be as Captain Burnham states: “a miracle”.
Guardian Xi secretly takes Adira to the Caves of Mak’ala so she can recall lost memories and thus communicate with the symbiont. This process begins with Captain Burnham, who, upon the request of Adira, speaks words of inspiration. Adira then is baptized in the sacred caves that feel like home to her. She enters and then disappears into the water—moving into an interior space in which she must commune with the symbiont to remember what she has forgotten due to trauma. Captain Burnham enters the same space and tells Adira, “If you don’t face what this is, no matter how painful, you’ll never move forward”. Adira faces her pain and remembers. Adira’s memories include gifting her love Gray, a Trill who became host to the symbiont, with a quilt. The quilt can represent the one and the many connected to form a whole. After joining with the symbiont, Gray stated, “I’m still me. I’m just . . . more me…..There aren’t any fences. I’m many, and I’m one. Like everyone….The joining’s based on trust.” By remembering the cause of trauma, Adira gains more than what she lost: she is connected to Gray and all of the other previous hosts of the symbiont that was implanted in her after Gray’s death. Admiral Senna Tal, one of the previous hosts, states, “Tal accepted each of us. Joining made us more than we could ever be alone. And while the human joining is unusual, Tal accepts you as well”. He welcomes Adira to the circle, an infinite unit, without prejudice. The Trill give Adira a new covering—not a quilt but a white blanket with a gold printed border—after her emergence from her baptism as a new being: a being encasing multitudes. This connection of and communication between the one and the many results in a repaired Trill community. The Trill utter a prayer and release their prejudice. Leader Pav now is open to another joining— the joining of the Trill with the Federation. Adira now is a messenger—her purpose is to communicate that the gift of the symbionts is for everyone rather than a selected few. She will travel as part of the Discovery crew to spread this message.
Back on the starship, a similar process of healing is taking place. Captain Saru must be able to connect with his bridge crew through communication in order to help them heal from their separation from home—connectedness, identity, belonging, rootedness—through vast time and space. Captain Saru holds a dinner, a communal unifier during which he and the bridge crew engage in a ritual—“[a] time to take the measure of loved ones and what we have all accomplished together”. The second communal unifier is prayer. As a prayer, the bridge crew repeats what they said when they all agreed to follow Captain Burnham: “Aye”. However, the dinner erupts into divisiveness. The communal unifiers do not seem to work because the crew is not receptive to communion. Later, though, the bridge crew and the larger crew connect with one another. As Dr. Culber states, “We all had to stop pretending we were fine first” in order to feel joy. While Dr. Culber admits they are all not fine, he does state that they “will get there”. Adira was able to feel fine through connection and communication that occurred on what became her ancestral home. In order to fully heal, it seems the crew must reach home—whatever or however that might manifest.
Connection continues to occur beyond what has been presumed: Captain Saru has “a theory” about the two intelligences of Computer: “The sphere data was transmitted here for us to protect it. It lives on within Discovery. As we are now inextricably connected, perhaps now it desires to protect us”. Like Adira, Computer exists in multiplicity. Adira, though, has become something other than host and symbiont. She is the host of and thus is many. At the same time, Gray appears as far more solid and far more present than the other hosts. Adira has become something else. She, the crew, and even Computer experienced post-traumatic growth, which results when, as noted by Dr. Culber, “certain life events . . . can inspire us to evolve, to live our lives in a different way”. Stagnancy results in death, but through loss comes gain and evolution that is more than can be presumed.
More than ever, the existence of the Star Trek community shines as the ideal. This community is defined by the understanding, acceptance, embrace, and support of the individual and the operation of the individual as part of the whole. Gray noted that everyone already is many. However, as Guardian Xi stated, “A symbiont can’t thrive in an unwilling host”. Fortunately, healing can occur and trust can result, leading to transformation. When the host becomes willing, then there is the possibility of immeasurable and infinite expansion.