Dr. Culber's (Wilson Cruz) shocking death on Star Trek: Discovery and subsequent appearance in the Mycelial network made it clear that his complicated love story with Stamets (Anthony Rapp) was far from over.

Thursday's episode, titled "Saints of Imperfection," finally revisited the deceased medical officer's traumatic tale and revealed the extreme distress he'd endured since being killed by Tyler (Shazad Latif). Tilly's (Mary Wiseman) new sidekick, the apparition posing as her childhood friend, May (Bahia Watson), might have been a thorn in her side but the sentient creature also inadvertently played a key role in reuniting Stamets with Culber.

After witnessing Tilly disappear in that strange cocoon, a devastated Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) returned to the bridge to deal with the ongoing issue of tracking her brother Spock (Ethan Peck). They found a lock on his shuttle and after a short chase, were able to pull him aboard the Discovery... or so they thought. Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) emerged, informing the crew that she, too, was tracking the troubled Vulcan and found his shuttle abandoned.

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With Spock wanted for the murder of several Starfleet officers, Section 31's leader, Leland (played by Reign and Shadowhunters alum Alan Van Sprang), offered to assist the crew in finding him. Of course, he wasn't going to leave Georgiou behind — she's needed elsewhere — and instead, placed Section 31's newest recruit aboard. Tyler's assignment to the Discovery pairs the former Klingon torchbearer with a crew still leery of him for murdering Culber. However, Burnham still trusts him — more, even, than she does Georgiou, which Captain Pike (Anson Mount) has picked up on — so he has, at last, one friend on board. And an honest conversation about the Mirror Universe emperor's true identity was left for a later time.

Meanwhile, Stamets devised a plan to get Tilly back after deducing that not only was she still alive but somehow amongst the spores in the Mycelial network. It's a good thing that Pike trusts Stamets' judgment because Stamets' mind-boggling theory (that using the USS Discovery as a doorway into the network was their best shot at rescuing Tilly) seemed to fly right over his head — and ours. Either way, his plan worked and Stamets and Burnham were soon wandering around the network in search of their friend.

It turns out that May brought Tilly into the network to help kill a monster that had been harming the spores. We soon realize that the evil in question was actually Culber who used toxins from a poisonous tree to defend himself against the spores that were attacking his reformed cells, killing them off in the process. But Culber's fight for survival took its toll and the disheveled doctor hardly recognized Stamets when the science officer appeared before him. However, imminent danger cut their touching reunion short. Spores were attacking the ship's hull and if they didn't leave soon, they'd know exactly what it feels like to be eaten alive. Yikes! Plus, a much-needed assist from Section 31 only bought them a few extra minutes.

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With time running out, Stamets, Burnham, Tilly and Culber rushed to the doorway back to our reality only to be faced with another complication. Culber somehow could not cross over. A flashback revealed that Stamets accidentally transported Culber into the Mycelial network while still connected and Culber's body was reformed with help from the spores. Since his cells came from the network, it would be impossible for him to exist outside of it. Just when it looked like he'd be stuck in the network forever, the gang improvised a new plan to bring him back which involved the strange cocoon that engulfed Tilly.

While the others crossed back over to our reality, May helped Culber through the cocoon and Culber was essentially reborn, naked and all. But the move also destroyed their connection to the network which meant Tilly had lost her newfound friend. However, both she and Culber are back and that counts as a huge win.

Elsewhere, Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) called a secret meeting with Pike and Leland to relay their official new mission: team up to find Spock. One of those mysterious red signals left behind tachyon radiation which either alludes to time travel or is just the byproduct of a transporter. While they're unsure of what that means just yet, they do know that Spock is connected to it all and because of that, finding him the Federation's top priority. As such, Pike and Leland will be forced to worked together whether they like it or not. Given that there's no love lost between these old acquaintances, teaming up is sure to be a real task.

See how it all turns out when Star Trek: Discovery continues Thursdays at 8:30/7:30c exclusively on CBS All Access.

(Disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of CBS Corporation.)

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