TL;DR – With the new season starting in a few weeks we catch you up on everything you need to know about Season 3 of Star Trek Discovery (Timeline, plot points, and outstanding questions oh my)
Star Trek Discovery: Season 3 Primer –
It is not long until the next season of Star Trek Discovery comes out, and with its big jump and all the new Star Trek and Sci-Fi, we are getting you might need a catch up as to where we are and where we are going. In this primer, we will sum up the critical story posts that led to where we are, give an overview of where all this fits in the timeline, and look at the outstanding questions coming into Season Three.
Season 2 of Star Trek Discovery was a bit of an odd duck as it jumped between three competing yet complementary plot lines. For this primer, we are going to focus on the one storyline which matters for where the USS Discovery ends up at the end of the season (the Spock storyline we will explore before Star Trek Strange New Worlds and the Section 31 plotline before Section 31).
We started the season in Brother with Captain Pike (Anson Mount) taking command of the Discovery because the Federation is in crisis after just brushing off a war with the Klingons. Several red lights appeared across the galaxy all at once. Given the USS Discovery has the only engine able to get to the different locations before the lights disappear. These lights (officially Red Bursts) take us to the USS Hiawatha in Brother, to Terralysium in New Eden, Saru’s (Doug Jones) home planet Kaminar inLight and Shadows, then the Klingon monastery planet of Boreth inThrough the Valley of Shadows, Xahea inSuch Sweet Sorrow, and then finally the exit point for the USS Discovery in Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2.
These Red Bursts are essential for one; they are the narrative through-line for the whole season. Also, more importantly, they exist because it was Michael Burnham’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) mother travelling back into the past from a point far in the future. No matter how many times Gabrielle Burnham (Sonja Sohn) travailed into the past the suit rubberbanded back to the same place in time. Michael uses this rubberbanding to send the USS Discovery far into the future through the use of wormhole.
This slingshot is how they got to the far future, but not the why, which is a bit more complicated. The short story as to why the USS Discovery had to go into the future starts midway through Season Two. In the episode, An Obol for Charon the Discovery came across an ancient sphere that suddenly rips them out of warp. This sphere was hundreds of thousands years old and had spent its life scanning this part of the Milky Way, documenting everything it saw, creating one of the great databases of knowledge in the universe. However, entropy comes for all and sundry, and the sphere was dying. So that its information was not lost, the sphere called out to the Discovery and with its last metaphorical breath uploaded all its sensor data before passing into the beyond. Of the many things the sphere contained data on was the many AI’s from history’s past. This information was sort by Control a rouge AI created by Section 31 who wanted to help it destroy all organic life. We know Control was successful in this because in Gabrielle Burnham’s future the galaxy is a barren, lifeless mess. So the crew postulate that hiding the data and the ship (because it was attached to the ship’s data cores) in the future was the only way to keep it safe.
Now we have talked about ‘the future’ a lot in this primer, but what do we mean by that in the context of Star Trek? Well from what we can understand in the first trailer released for Season Three the USS Discovery ends up in the year 3188. Let’s put that in the perspective of where it fits with the rest of the shows.
- Today – 2020 (hope you are all doing well given *waves hands around*)
- Star Trek Enterprise (Season 1-4) – 2151-2155
- Star Trek Discovery (Season 1-2) – 2256 – 2258
- Star Trek The Original Series (Season 1-3) – 2265 – 2269
- Star Trek The Next Generation (Seasons 1-7) – 2364 – 2370
- Star Trek Deep Space Nine (Seasons 1-7) – 2369 – 2375
- Star Trek Voyager (Season 1-7) – 2371 – 2378
- Star Trek Lower Decks (Season 1) – 2380
- Star Trek Picard (Season 1) – 2399
- … … …
- Star Trek Discovery (Season 3) – 3188
This is a means that Season Three is a 789-year jump in time from anything covered in the main series so far … well bar two exceptions (there was also that one time-pod from the 26 century in The Next Generation). The first reference comes from the USS Voyager, who had many run-ins with timeships from the 29th Century. As well as this, in Star Trek Voyager, a backup copy of The Doctor (Robert Picardo) was found in the Delta Quadrant in 3074. The next reference comes from Star Trek Enterprise, where we hear about a Temporal Cold War. While we never see them directly bar for one brief moment but we know The Federation is still around in the 2500s, 2700s, 2800s, and fighting the sphere builders with the USS Enterprise J in the 2600s. We also know that the character of Daniels (Matt Winston) was working around to at least 3052, so that is the last point in time where we have confirmation that The Federation still exists. There is one more blip in this timeline, the Short Trek Calypso that is set 1,000 years after the USS Discovery was abandoned. Depending on when it was abandoned, this could be set as far as the 4100s or more.
This timeline means that The Federation mostly collapsed between 3052 and 3187 because of something called The Burn, which we will find out about next season. However, while we have had hints about the future, there has been very little explored from the 2400s onwards, so a 700-year jump gives excellent possibilities and significant challenges.
Given the plot threads that were dangled at the end of Season Two and what we have heard in the first trailer, there are several questions that Season Three raises that we may or may not get an answer two
The first is who is going to be the new captain of the USS Discovery. During most of Season One, it was captained by Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) whom we discovered was an imposter from the Mirror Universe. After his demise, Saru took over temporarily, but before it could be decided officially, Captain Pike took temporary command in Season Two. At the end of that season which would be the captain in the future was left up in the air with Burnham and Saru being possible contenders.
The next is the crew and characters of the USS Discovery. When moving so far in the future, it meant saying goodbye to several main and recurring characters. So we know that Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif), Sarek (James Frain) and L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) won’t be in Season Three outside of maybe a cameo communication. However, they may still appear in Strange New Worlds or Section 31 that should still be coming in the future. Also, I believe that Burnham’s mother was sent back to this time, so will we get to see her again in the series? But not only are they moving into Discovery’s future, but they are also moving into Star Trek’s future, this means that they will be entirely on their own, or will they. As I mentioned in the timeline section, there are at least two characters from past shows that may still be around in this time, namely The Doctor and possibly Daniels who could make an appearance. The one odd outlier is that we know that Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) is the lead for the new Star Trek Section 31 series. However, she went with the crew to the future, so that is going to be an interesting one to see played out.
A little more left of field is the possibilities of someone else joining the fray, or at least getting a good reference. It is at this point we need to do a little explanation of The Trill. The Trill are two different species, the humanoid members notable for the spots that start on their temples at go to their feet and then the symbionts that can merge with them. A symbiont can live many lifetimes longer than a humanoid Trill and so will have many hosts. The main Trill in Star Trek has been the Dax symbiont who we most know from their hosts Jadzia (Terry Farrell) and Ezri (Nicole de Boer). I bring the Trill up because we know there will be Trill characters in Season Three. Also, Burnham is seen entering what very much looks like the pool on the Trill Homeworld. So maybe Dax becomes our link from the past to the present, or perhaps not, we will see in October.
Finally, the last outstanding question is what happened to The Federation and more specifically, what happened to the galaxy? We know that The Federation has mostly collapsed in the future, but what does that mean? Is it down to its core planets, it is just a few starbases flung among the stars, is Earth, Vulcan, Tellar, Andor, Betazed, etc. even around anymore? Also, what caused the collapse? We know from one line of dialogue that it was not an internal collapse but was triggered from the outside. This destruction was caused by ‘The Burn’ which was ‘the day the galaxy took a hard left’. Well, that is something that immediately piqued my interest, and I hope we get to learn more about it.
So what will Season Three of Discovery be all about, is it rebuilding The Federation, is it discovering the cause of The Burn, is it just surviving in a fallen world, or a mix of all three? Well, I, for one can’t wait to find out.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Star Trek Discovery