In Review: Star Trek: Discovery (S5 – EP6) Whistlespeak

Captain Burnham must consider breaking the Prime Directive when a local tradition in a pre-warp society threatens Tilly's life.

Synopsis: In Whistlespeak, Captain Burnham must consider breaking the Prime Directive when a local tradition in a pre-warp society threatens Tilly’s life. Culber tries to connect with Stamets and Adira steps up when Rayner assigns them a position on the bridge.


The Story

The quest to put the Progenitors map to their technology together leads the crew of the Discovery to a Pre-Warp civilization where 800 years prior a Denobulan scientist installed a weather tower to bring the world rain. However, In the years that have followed the people that live on this world have credited the rains to their gods and have events and ceremonies set up so that they can prey for rain. Believing that this world’s weather tower, disguised as a mountain summit, is the key to the next clue to the progenitor’s map. Captain Burnham and Tilly beam down to the planet disguised as population members. When meeting the aliens for the first time. Burnham is fascinated by the language and customs of the world. The aliens speak to each other over long distances using something called Whistlespeak, which is something that Burnham is really intrigued by. In order to get access to the Progenitor clue, which is hidden somewhere in the weather tower or the summit. Burnham and Tilly enter a race. The winners of this race get to go inside the summit as a sacrifice to this worlds gods. Burnham and Tilly are totally unaware of this fact until the race ends. At which point Burnham has to make a difficult choice.

Elswhere, Adira is still second-guessing themselves after being used as the means of getting the time bug onto discovery a few episodes back. Thankfully, Rayner is on the case and tells Adira that it wasn’t on them and empowers them to do their job.

Also, Dr. Culber is undergoing some sort of spiritual awakening due to the aftereffects of his experience of bonding with a symbiont on the Trill homeworld. He tries to talk to Stamats about this awakening that he is going through, but Stamats is not able to understand fully.


The Acting

Sonequa Martin-Green and Mary Wiseman get a chance to share lots of screen time in one of this show’s more interesting episodes. Like always the dynamic between Burnham and Tilly has always been a pretty interesting one in that Burnham has always been somewhat of a mentor figure to Tilly and this episode only serves to show viewers how far Tilly has come in her character’s journey.

Wilson Cruz puts in an interesting performance in this episode as we see Dr. Culber struggle with what can only be viewed as some sort of spiritual awakening. I loved the scene near the beginning of the story where Culber is conversing with a holographic simulation of his grandmother. I also thought the scenes between Culber and Book (David Ajala) were really strong.



A really interesting story in which we see science and spirituality come up against each other in lots of interesting ways. I really enjoyed the bit at the end where the leader of the alien race asks Burnham if they have to give up their gods now that they know that their water is coming to them via technology. Also interesting was the juxtaposition between the beliefs of the people on the alien world and Dr. Culber’s spiritual awakening.

Overall. A really strong episode that will likely spawn some mighty big discussions about spirituality and science. Can the two co-exist?

Star Trek: Discovery (S5 - EP6) Whistlespeak
  • Story
  • Acting
  • CGI & Stunts
  • Incidental Music

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at:
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