Star Trek fans were thrilled to learn that Star Trek: Discovery would be hitting a progressive milestone in season 3: the introduction of Star Trek's first non-binary and transgender characters. The first non-binary character has been revealed to be Adira Tal (played by Blu del Barrio), while the transgender character has been revealed to be Gray Tal (Ian Alexander). Thankfully, Star Trek did more with its new LGBTQ+ cast members than token novelty: the story of Adira and Gray Tal turned the LGBTQ+ milestone into a poignant metaphor about love and identity, which felt like classic Star Trek.
Warning - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Episode 4 SPOILERS Follow!
In "Forget Me Not" Adira Tal tries to deal with the broken bond with her Trill symbiont, as the Trill bonding with a human is a phenomenon that's never occurred before. To accomplish that union, Adira and Michael Burnham have to go to Trill, to seek out the alien race's fix for the issue. The Trill turn out to be near-extinction in this 32nd-century era, as the majority of their viable host bodies were destroyed in the Great Burn cataclysm. Seeing Adira gives hope to some Trill - but threatens others who believe symbiont bonding should remain unique to their culture.
Adira and Michael have to fight their way into a Trill ritual site called the Caves of Mak'ala, where Adira can commune with Tal and try to solidify their bond. As it turns out, Adira has been avoiding some traumatic memories buried inside her and the symbiont - and that memory is Star Trek's most sweet LGBTQ+ love story, to date.
Adira recalls in her communion with Tal that her Trill boyfriend Gray was the love of her life, and they had a happy relationship. However, when their ship was hit by an asteroid while on voyage, Gray Tal's host body was fatally injured. A medical bot determined the Tal symbiont would survive an emergency transplant, so out of pure love, Adira took the unprecedented risk to accept the symbiont, in order to hold on to Gray. There's no explanation of why Adira was the first human to successfully bond with a Trill symbiont - but we'd like to think unconditional love played a part.
The Trill has always been viewed as Star Trek's unofficial metaphor for transgender people or others on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. At the same time, a lot of fans felt that the series not directly including LGBTQ+ actors still fell short of diversity and inclusion goals. This episode makes it hard to sustain that criticism, as this tale of Trill love was as groundbreaking for Star Trek and sci-fi as it was inclusive.
Star Trek: Discovery is now streaming season 3 episodes Thursdays on CBS All Access.