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How Star Trek: Discovery's Midseason Premiere Was A Game-Changer For Michael Burnham

Michael Burnham on Star Trek: Discovery
(Image credit: Paramount+)

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 episode “All In.” Read at your own risk!

Star Trek: Discovery returned for the back half of Season 4 on Paramount+, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher. Right after The Federation vote narrowly decided for Starfleet to attempt to make first contact with the advanced species responsible for the dark matter anomaly, Cleveland Booker and Ruon Tarka had other plans in mind. Tarka has an idea to destroy the mysterious object responsible for the DMA, and with Booker able to pilot the prototype spore drive vessel, they can get it done. 

The stakes are once again at their highest in Star Trek: Discovery, and Michael Burnham (who is just crushing it as Captain so far) and the Federation at large must try and find a way to stop Tarka and Booker or risk galactic conflict with a highly advanced unknown species. The episode was huge for the Paramount+ character in terms of growth, and part of it is because of what Michael didn’t do in the episode.

Michael Burnham Actually Followed Orders

Michael Burnham is about as clever as Star Trek characters come, but she really struggles with insubordination. Her entire series arc contains repercussions and setbacks due to her not following orders and doing what she thought was best instead. To her credit, she’s usually right, but there’s only so much insubordination Starfleet will tolerate now that she’s Captain of Discovery. So, imagine my surprise when Federation President Rillak dismissed Michael’s wishes to try and seek out Booker herself, and she actually listened. 

Of course, Admiral Vance then secretly gave Michael permission to pursue Booker, knowing she might know where to find him and Tarka considering the years they spent together before she reunited with Starfleet. Still, it cannot be stated enough that, once again, Michael didn’t do anything until she received a direct order from a superior to do so. That’s tremendous growth for Michael’s character and a credit to how seriously she now takes the growth of Starfleet since being a key part of its rebuilding process. From a storytelling standpoint, I loved it because we still got to see Michael strike off and try to handle things on her own, but without the pain of knowing people at Starfleet might be furious when she returned. 

Michael And Booker Might Be Finished

Michael Burnham and Cleveland Booker had their differences all season long on how to tackle the DMA problem, but it largely left their relationship unaffected. That all changed late in the episode, when Burnham gave her beau another chance to “end this” plan to avenge his home planet Kwejian and create the weapon to attack the DMA with Tarka, and return to Starfleet while there was still time. Booker agreed to “end it,” but unfortunately, he was referring to going along with the Federation’s plan as well as remaining with Michael.

Michael looked devastated after Booker said that (I was wondering if David Ajala might seriously join Doctor Who soon), and later when she learned the true purpose of the DMA. It seems this “weapon” is actually the mining equipment of the unknown advanced species, meaning the destruction of planets and other things is likely unintentional. President Rillak made it clear that they must stop Booker and Tarka at any cost, and though it pained her to agree, Michael felt the exact same way. It was a huge episode for Burnham in terms of growth, but also a sad one to watch. Even sadder than when Tilly left!

Star Trek: Discovery premieres new episodes over at Paramount+ (opens in new tab) on Thursdays. Watch it along with a slew of other new Star Trek shows later in 2022 with a Paramount+ subscription, or check out some of the other great programming available on the service. 

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.