#KindnessIsALiteracy: Character Profile: Sylvia Tilly
#KindnessIsALiteracy is a recurring series on TrekEthicist.com that profiles individual characters and how they magnify and represent the literacy of kindness
Sylvia Tilly projects herself as an adroit, trusted ally early in the series when she immediately befriends Michael Burnham who at that point is still thought of in a negative light by everyone in Starfleet. Tilly’s key source of the literacy of kindness is how she weaponizes friendship.
Tilly bonds with everyone on Discovery, not just Michael. She provides a soft edge to a still harsh Stamets that we meet early in the series before the spore drive lightens his perspective. Stamets, who unlike the rest of the crew feels his solitary contribution to Starfleet is his independent research, is foiled by Tilly’s softened gestures and easy handed proposals.
In “Project Daedalus” when Airiam is overcome by Control, having imprinted and seized her mobile and higher functions through her artificial augmentation, Tilly brings her central self back to the surface in part by reminding her that one of the core memories Airiam never deletes is a memory of time spent with her. It is through Tilly’s magnetic friendship that she is able to assert a higher order than even Control.
In “New Eden” Tilly begins having what she believes must be hallucinations of her childhood friend, May, before learning in “An Obol for Charon” that May is actually the projected representation of a lifeform from the mycelial network. The lifeforms from the mycelial network reached out to Discovery for help, and, of course, they choose Tilly and choose to represent themselves as a friend.
In the Short Trek, “Runaway,” Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po is comforted and resolves her independent crisis through forming a friendship with Tilly. This friendship becomes an even stronger advantage as Tilly is able to call on Po’s assistance in “Such Sweet Sorrow” and we see that Po allies herself in Parts I and II with Discovery in her battle with Control, providing a crucial resource.
Sylvia Tilly’s remarkable presence throughout the series as a trusted adviser to the command leadership equally with her ability to bond with her crew on a level that no other character on Discovery is able to elaborate proves Tilly is the essential beacon for #KindnessIsALiteracy. Tilly is fluent in the ability to relate, understand, and through casual conversations connect to the other party in a magnetic appraisal of the circumstances of the crew’s predicament making her as close to the ship’s counselor as represented in later in the timeline with Troi and Ezri. Tilly is kind; Tilly is the ideal friend and asset in time of war, the entanglement with multiverse identities, and time centered struggles.