09 January 2021 16:41
This Star Trek: Discovery article contains major spoilers for the Season 3 finale. Starfleet doesn't always seek out new life and new civilizations; sometimes, it accidentally creates it. Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation can easily quote from various Picard monologues in the classic episode "The Measure of a Man," but what about the Voyager episode "Author, Author?" Just like Data had to prove his sentience in TNG, the holographic Doctor fought for his rights to express himself when he released his holographic pseudo-memoir, Photons Be Free! And, now, with a last-minute twist on Star Trek: Discovery, it appears that the liberation of sentient holograms could become a big deal again. Here's why one twist in the Discovery finale, "That Hope is You, Part 2," has big implications for Season 4, and the rest of Trek canon, too.
When Adira heroically beams-in the radiation-soaked dilithium planet to bring Culber and Saru some much-needed medication, their appearance is modified by the intelligent holographic matrix to make them look Xahean. (That's the alien race Po belonged to in the Short Treks episode "Runaway," and Discovery Season 2.) But, the big twist that comes next is that suddenly, we see Gray, who is now made to look not like a Trill, but a Vulcan! The holo-program has extrapolated Gray's conciseness and revealed him in a holographic form! Within the context of the finale, this makes Gray "seen" by Saru and Culber, not just Adira. But, when Su'Kal deactivates the holographic program, that means everyone reverts to their "normal" appearances, and Gray ceases to be visible. So, what's going on? Well, it seems that Gray's conciseness inside the Tal symbiont is acting independently of the previous hosts. There is precedent for this in the Deep Space Nine episode "Facets." In that episode, the personality of Curzon Dax decided to stay in the body of Odo and planned to do so indefinitely. The particulars are different, but the point is, the idea that one part of a Trill symbiont's memories could live in another form outside of the symbiont is not unheard of.