CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery returns for its third season on October 15th. The streaming series ran into a bit of delay in post-production as a result of the ongoing Cornoavirus pandemic, but a lot of hard work and determination have made the season possible. With the premiere just weeks away, it’s a good time to review where the show left off at the end of season two.
The second season of the series embraced Star Trek lore even more so than its first season, and then threw a wrench in the warp core in its shocking finale. The third season is literally starting over with a blank slate, untethered from any Star Trek continuity.
10 Back To The Future
The overarching narrative of season two was the emergence of strange signals across the galaxy. This led the Discovery into a pretty complicated plot with only one out: going into the future.
At the very end of last season, the starship travels forward in time from the 23rd century – about ten years before the events of the original Star Trek series – to almost a thousand years later in the 32nd. Early clues from the season three trailer indicate this is a vastly different galaxy than the one they left.
The reason that the crew of the starship Discovery make the enormous leap forward in time that they do has to do with an artificial intelligence called Control. It’s a little complicated – and maybe a little familiar to viewers of Star Trek: Picard – but essentially this AI conspired with the shadowy Section 31 organization to take over the Federation.
Control is effectively destroyed in a major space battle, but the cost is the Discovery having to go forward in time; it was always going to it seems, thanks to the time paradoxes of the Red Angel mystery of season two.
The main object of the show jumping forward in time so much is ostensibly to free itself from the bonds of continuity. By setting the series ten years before the Original Series, it immediately clashed in continuity, design, and other elements with what had been established.
But it’s a little up for debate if Commander Burnham created a new timeline by going back in time as the Red Angel at certain points, like appearing to her brother, Spock. It’s possible the Prime timeline as its known is in fact an alternate timeline she created in doing so.
7 Spock Is The Past
By traveling into the future, Star Trek: Discovery is leaving behind massive chunks of its story in the past. Perhaps the biggest element is Spock. Burnham was introduced as Spock’s never-before-mentioned step-sister, and season two brought them together on screen. He remains in the past, of course, and his adventures will continue as part of the highly anticipated Strange New Worlds series.
Spock swore an oath to never discuss the fate of the Discovery at the end of season two, which explains away why no one ever knew about his sister (though some outside Starfleet know).
6 The Main Cast Returns
Despite the big change in when the show takes place in continuity, one thing not changing is the cast. The entire main cast returns for season three, headlined by Cmdr. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green).
Alongside Cmdr. Michael Burnham, the rest of the crew will also continue on their journey through season 3. So fans can look forward to seeing familiar faces as well as some new ones throughout the course of season 3.
5 O Captain, My Captain
The captain’s chair of Discovery has been a little bit of a revolving door for the series since it began. It started off with Captain Lorca (Jason Issacs) before he was revealed to be a Mirror Universe imposter and died (though he might come back).
Then command fell to Captain Christopher Pike, on loan from the U.S.S. Enterprise. It’s unclear at the moment who might take the chair next, though clues from the trailer indicate it will be the slightly odd but always fascinating Kelpian, Saru.
Though not technically part of the second season of the show, the Short Trek episode “Calypso” provided an early glimpse into the direction of the series. The mini-episodes – all of which can be streamed for free on CBS All Access – give the franchise a chance to try out new ideas and show different parts of the universe.
“Calypso” was a bit of an enigma, with the Discovery stranded a thousand years in the future and inhabited by a strange AI. It gave a possible preview of the third season, and also a question – is the AI part of Control?
3 Spore Drive
One of the most intriguing things about the premise of Discovery is the spore drive. This experimental means of propulsion makes use of intergalactic mycelium spores spread across the universe to transport from one spot to another. This skips the warp method every ship in Star Trek has relied on to this point.
The spore drive is likely to factor hugely in the third season. The Federation and Starfleet don’t seem to be in good health, and critical elements of warp drive, like dilithium crystals, may not be readily available.
2 Section 31
Another major ongoing aspect of the show that it brings with it into the future is Section 31. The Mirror Universe Georgiou remains part of the crew and is expected at some point in the near future to headline her own series based on the clandestine operation.
The divisive secret police of the Federation will likely continue to play a major role in the series, and one perhaps with serious consequences. Georgiou isn’t from the Prime universe, regardless of what era she’s in.
After serving as the primary antagonist of season one of Star Trek: Discovery, it’s unclear what role if any the Klingons will play in the third season. Their fate in the 32nd century remains as much a mystery as anything else. One thing that is for certain is that the Klingons of the 23rd century do know the Discovery still exists.
At least some of them do. L’Rell retains knowledge of the ship and her crew, and that could possibly become a factor at some point. Perhaps not for Burnham and company, but maybe for Strange New Worlds, which takes place in the past.
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