Episode 2 drops us right back into the middle of Michael's mutiny. Captain Georgiou makes a comeback from the nerve pinch and calls for the weapons to be powered down. Michael has a flashback to seven years ago, when she first met Captain Georgiou. She's fresh from her commencement at the Vulcan Learning Center and Science Academy, the first human to ever do so. Sarek is leaving her aboard the Shenzhou to begin her career with Starfleet. Amanda and Spock are conspicuously missing from the scene.
Back in the present, 24 Klingon ships—one for each house in the Klingon High Council—arrive. Georgiou charges Michael with mutiny and has her brought to the brig. T'Kuvma, leader of an unrecognized ancient house, approaches the 24 houses with hopes of unity. Some of the houses dismiss him outright, but some stay to hear him out. He has only one tenet he abides by: REMAIN KLINGON. Racial purity is the order of the day, and any dealings with the Federation will obviously taint their pure, gloriously unadulterated Klingon blood.
Georgiou sends T'Kuvma a transmission warning the Klingons that they are in Federation space, but would welcome a dialogue between them, as the Federation "comes in peace." This enrages T'Kuvma, who sees this as a bald-faced lie, and opens fire.
The damage to the Shenzhou knocks Michael unconscious and brings her back to the memory of the bombing of the Learning Center when she was younger. Sarek entered into a mind meld with a younger Michael that left a piece of his katra with her. This leaves him conveniently able to reach her in the present even though they are thousands of light years away. Even with half the ship depressurized and the other half held together with emergency force fields, this isn't a sentimental visit. He's here to remind her that her death would be a vast waste of valuable resources, and therefore needs to not happen.
The USS Europa finally arrives, carrying Admiral Anderson and saving the Shenzhou from impact with an asteroid. He opens talks with T'Kuvma, who in turn sends a cloaked Klingon ship on a collision course with the Europa. The Europa self-destructs and takes the Klingon ship with it. T'Kuvma urges the houses to return to Qo'Nos and spread his message. He is T'Kuvma the Unforgettable, the glorious return of Kahless the Deathless.
Michael Vulcan-logics her way out of the rapidly destabilizing brig. On the bridge, Saru devises a plan to deliver a torpedo into T'Kuvma's ship, and Georgiou volunteers to run the suicide mission. Michael convinces her to instead try to capture T'Kuvma, since the worst thing one could do to a Klingon is deny them a hearty death. They end up transporting a torpedo onto the body of one of the slain Klingons, since T'Kuvma has this thing about honoring their dead by using their bodies in caskets on the outside of his ship like scales on the world’s most hardcore snake.
Georgiou and Michael beam over to T'Kuvma's ship, where a fight ensues. Georgiou is killed by T'Kuvma and Michael kills T'Kuvma in retaliation. Saru beams Michael out without the Captain's body, in a scene reminiscent of Star Trek (2009). Voq promises the dying T’Kuvma that his death will be the rallying call to unite Klingons once again.
The crew of the Shenzhou abandon ship. Michael is brought before a tribunal, and pleads guilty to all charges. When asked, she states that she did what she did because she believed their lives were more valuable than Starfleet principals. She is summarily stripped of rank and sentenced to life in prison.