Star Trek: Discovery season 3 episode 4 saw Adira reunited with her deceased boyfriend, Gray, but how is it possible that the two are still able to communicate? Discovery season 3 introduced Adira in its second episode, and revealed that she is human but carries a Trill symbiont named Tal. Adira is the only non-Trill to ever successfully bond with a symbiont in history. Initially, Adira does not have access to the symbiont’s memories from past hosts, something the crew of Discovery desperately needs if they are to be successful in tracking down what is left of the Federation.
Season 3 episode 4, “Forget Me Not”, sees Adira and Discovery’s crew journeying to the Trill homeworld so that Adira might connect properly with her symbiont. On Trill, Adira uses the sacred Caves of Mak’ala to make the connection and regains her memories of receiving the Tal symbiont after the previous host, her boyfriend Gray, died because of an asteroid collision with the Generation Ship they both lived on. All the past hosts appear to Adira and welcome her to their ranks, including Gray, but while the other hosts disappear before Adira leaves her trance in the Caves, Gray does not. The end of the episode sees the two of them talking after Adira is back aboard Discovery, Adira wondering how it is possible that Gray is still with her.
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While there is precedent in Star Trek canon for the kind of connection Adira and Gray seem to have, it has thus far only been achieved through a Trill rite known as The Rite of Emergence, which Adira did not perform. It is more likely that because Adira is human, her connection with Tal affects her brain in a different way, causing her to see a hallucination of Gray. It is also possible that Gray’s presence is because of his and Adira’s past relationship, something that is unprecedented in Trill society.
The Trill Rite Of Emergence Explained
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the show that provided the franchise with almost all of its established canon about Trill, mostly through the main characters of Jadzia and later Ezri Dax. Both Jadzia and Ezri were hosts to the Dax symbiont; after Jadzia was killed by Gul Dukat in 2374, Ezri assumed the role, gaining all the memories and experiences of Dax’s past hosts. One of those hosts was a man named Joran, who had only been a host for a short time due to his unstable and violent nature.
Both Jadzia and Ezri Dax were forced to deal with Joran in some capacity during their time as hosts, and it was through these dealings that audiences learned about two rituals Trill are able to perform to communicate with past hosts: the Zhian’tara and the Rite of Emergence. The Zhian’tara is a complicated ritual that involves a Trill Guardian telepathically transferring the consciousnesses of a symbiont’s former hosts into separate bodies, but the Rite of Emergence is a less involved ritual that can be performed solely by the host and allows them to bring the personality of one predecessor forward. During the Rite of Emergence, the current host is able to see and talk to a manifestation of the previous host that only they can see, a description that sounds extremely similar to Adira and Gray’s situation.
However, while Adira is able to see and briefly speak to some of Tal’s previous hosts in the Caves of Mak’ala, she does not perform the Rite to bring Gray forward. As a human, it is unlikely she would even have any knowledge of the Rite, much less be able to perform it intentionally. It is possible that Adira or one of the Trill Guardians accidentally initiated the Rite during her time in the Caves, but since it has been shown to be a very intentional act, this is unlikely. It is much more likely that Gray is appearing to her for some other reason, possibly because of her biology.
Adira Is Human, Not Trill
The Trill-symbiont joining process is something that is sacred in Trill culture, but like everyone else in the 32nd century, the Trill were devastated by The Burn and the number of viable hosts that could be joined with a symbiont was drastically reduced. Even so, the idea of a non-Trill joining with a symbiont was considered to be an abomination, until Guardian Xi took a chance and showed Adira how to fully connect with her symbiont. In doing so, Adira showed the Trill leaders that it is possible for non-Trill to become symbiont hosts, but it is still possible that the joining could cause unexpected side effects for Adira because of her human biology.
Specifically, Adira and Tal’s joining could be affecting Adira’s brain. The only other instance of a symbiont being joined with a human was during the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Host”, in which Commander Riker joins with the Odan symbiont to save its life when its pervious host dies. The joining is ultimately unsuccessful, but Riker is able to carry the symbiont long enough for another host to arrive. While Riker is joined to Odan, Dr. Beverly Crusher reports that he is experiencing unusual brain activity. This could indicate that Trill symbionts have a different effect on human brains than they do on Trill. If this is true, it would mean that the version of Gray Adira is seeing might only be a hallucination brought on by her joining with Tal.
This idea actually echos a storyline from the previous season of Star Trek: Discovery, in which Ensign Tilly began seeing what she thought were stress-induced hallucinations of her childhood friend, May. In fact, the hallucinations were caused by an alien lifeform that was attempting to communicate with Tilly to ask for her help. Discovery might choose to revisit this idea with Gray and Adira, perhaps having Gray be a manifestation of Tal that is attempting to communicate with Adira in a way that will get her to listen most effectively. But is it possible that Gray is more than just a hallucination?
Gray And Adira’s Connection Is Special
Gray and Adira’s previous relationship might hold the key to why Adira can still see and talk to him. The two were romantically involved before Gray’s death, and it was clear from the scenes they had together in “Forget Me Not” that they cared deeply about each other. This means that Adira is not only the first human to bond with a Trill symbiont, but also the first person in Star Trek canon to have had a romantic relationship with one of her symbiont’s past hosts.
To date, there has been no other instance mentioned of two people who were romantically involved playing host to the same symbiont. Adira and Gray are the first since they were together before and during Gray’s time as Gray Tal, and now Adira is Adira Tal. Joined Trill do sometimes reconnect with past lovers, but this is considered taboo in Trill society and generally results in the Trill being ostracized. Because of their previous relationship, Adira shares a much stronger bond with Gray than she does with any of Tal’s other hosts. This bond could be the reason that she can see and talk with him even while not in direct communion with her symbiont.
Neither Adira nor Gray seem to understand yet how Gray is still with her, but though his presence is unusual, it does not seem to be harming Adira in any way. In fact, the two of them seem rightfully thrilled to be able to see each other again, since Adira was devastated by Gray’s death. If their love really is what is allowing them to see and talk to each other, it could mean that despite Gray’s death, he and Adira can continue their relationship, albeit under less conventional parameters.
Star Trek: Discovery has a number of possible ways to explain Gray’s continued presence, but Gray and Adira’s love story is by far the most compelling narratively. The creative team could even decide to explain their newfound connection through a combination of several different factors, including Adira being human and her and Gray’s relationship. Whatever the show decides to do, audiences can expect to enjoy some interesting storylines in Star Trek: Discovery season 3 surrounding Adira and Gray.
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