Star Trek: Discovery theories – week 2

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, including scenes from the trailers, as well as for Star Trek: Picard Season 1 and other iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

The second episode of Star Trek: Discovery’s third season, Far From Home, was pretty good. It reintroduced us to most of the crew, who had of course been absent in the season premiere. From a theory-crafting point of view, Far From Home didn’t offer up as many new theories as the first episode, but there are still a handful of new ones coming on board – and a single debunking! There was also one line which strongly hinted at confirmation of a theory I postulated last week, but having thought about it some more, I don’t consider it solid enough proof to say that the theory is outright confirmed just yet.

Please remember that these are just theories. I don’t have any “insider information” about the plot of Star Trek: Discovery, and I’m not saying that any of these things are definitely going to happen. No fan theory is worth getting too attached to or worked up about – no matter how convincing it may seem!

Let’s start with the theory that was debunked.

Debunked theory #1: The USS Discovery will arrive before Burnham (due to time travel).

The USS Discovery.

This theory was based on how time travel can mess up the causal link between two events. Because the very nature of time travel stories can lead to this kind of circumstance arising, I wondered whether the writers might have seen fit to spring a surprise on us by having Discovery arrive in the future before Burnham did – perhaps by many months.

One thing I’m slightly concerned about as we go into the next few episodes is that Discovery will use the fact that Burnham has a spent a whole year in the 32nd Century as an excuse to make her know more about what’s going on that Saru and everyone else. Turning Burnham into a superstar has never been a high point of the series, and one of the reasons I hoped this theory might’ve been true was to spend more time with Burnham as a “fish out of water” like she was in That Hope Is You. Seeing her completely out of her element and needing to rely on others was welcome relief for a character who can feel invincible and almost magical in her talents at points. Hopefully now that this theory has been debunked we won’t just see a complete slide back into the Burnham-centric stories of seasons past.

So that’s the only debunked theory. Now let’s look at a few new ones!

Number 1: Lieutenant Detmer is going to die.

Lieutenant Detmer in Far From Home.

What was going on with Detmer this week? After being thrown from her seat when Discovery crash-landed she appeared to be concussed and was sent to sickbay. However, the doctor told her nothing was wrong and discharged her, yet until the final moments of the episode she still seemed to be suffering, and the way she touched the side of her head with her cybernetics seemed to imply whatever’s going on was related to her implant.

It’s possible, as I mentioned during my review, that this will just turn out to be a storyline that goes nowhere. However, modern Star Trek shows have been good at setting up story arcs in one episode that won’t be paid off until later, and I wonder if we’ve seen the beginning of the end for Discovery’s helmsman.

Killing off a character we’ve known since the premiere would be a bold move, no question. But at the same time, Season 3 is set to be a semi-reboot of the series, and killing off a character would be a definitive statement in that regard. If Detmer is set to be bumped off, however, it would be a shame considering that, despite her being physically present for much of Discovery’s run, we don’t actually know her very well.

Number 2: We haven’t seen the last of Zareh.

Zareh killed Kal in cold blood. Is he going to come for Saru next?

Georgiou and Saru succeeded in defeating Zareh, and killed a number of his goons. However, Saru let him go rather than allow Georgiou to execute him, and despite being thrown out into the dangerous wilds of the Colony, with its parasitic ice and who know what else, he isn’t dead yet.

Oftentimes in fiction, when a character is treated in this manner they end up coming back – often looking for revenge. I’m worried for Saru; will Zareh seek to kill him if he survived? For all we know he could be tracking Discovery, or even have stowed away on board, in search of revenge against the Starfleet crew who beat him.

Zareh is clearly not the “main” villain of the season. But Discovery has used secondary villains to great effect, and one comparison that comes to mind is Mudd in Season 1, who followed up his first appearance with an episode in which he tried to kill Lorca and the crew.

Number 3: There will be some kind of further tie-in with Calypso.

Craft, the main character from Calypso.

The use of the pidgin term “V’draysh” to refer to the Federation seems to tie Discovery to the Short Treks episode Calypso, which was broadcast prior to Season 2 in late 2018. Fans had been speculating ever since about just when that episode is set, and Discovery’s journey into the future at the end of Season 2 complicated matters. One way we could see the two storylines connect would be for Craft, Calypso’s protagonist, to make an appearance.

In Far From Home we seemed to get a strong hint that Calypso is set somewhere around the same time as Season 3, but this raises more questions than it answers! If Calypso is set at the same time as Season 3, how do we account for its storyline, which sees the USS Discovery having been abandoned?

One possibility is that Calypso takes place in an alternate timeline or parallel universe, but this would be a less than satisfying explanation. It’s possible that, somehow, the USS Discovery will be sent back in time and then abandoned, but how could this work? Well…

Number 4: Mirror Georgiou will travel back in time to the 23rd Century.

Mirror Georgiou in Far From Home.

If the USS Discovery has spent almost a millennium abandoned in a nebula, then logically Calypso must take place in the 42nd Century. Right? Not necessarily, because, as mentioned, it’s possible that the ship somehow returned to its own time period.

If someone were to take it back in time, they would still have to deal with the issue of keeping the ship safe from Control, and hiding it in a nebula is a good way of doing that. But who would want to take it back in time? All of Discovery’s crew seemed content to sign up for the one-way mission to the future… except for Georgiou, who was aboard Discovery when it left only because she was fighting Leland.

Although she said this week that she likes the violent, chaotic future, there may be a reason for Georgiou to want to return to the 23rd Century. Or it’s possible that there’s some reason why the ship needs to go back in time – for example, to tell the Federation in the past about the spore drive so they would be less reliant on dilithium?

In any case, it’s not impossible to imagine that Georgiou would take the ship back in time, accomplish whatever mission she had, and then leave the ship hidden in an obscure nebula for the crew to return to in the 32nd Century. This would also set up Mirror Georgiou’s role in the upcoming Section 31 series, which is supposedly set in the 23rd Century.

Number 5: We’ll see the return of a classic Star Trek character – such as the Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager.

The Doctor.

I postulated this theory weeks ago, before the season began, and since we’ve seen nothing in the first couple of episodes to rule it out I think it’s the right moment to officially include it in my list of theories as the season goes on.

In short, there are a handful of characters who could still be alive in the 32nd Century. The Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager once had a backup copy reactivated somewhere around the 31st Century, and if that version were to have survived his journey back to the Alpha Quadrant it’s quite possible he could still be alive and active as of Burnham and Discovery’s arrival.

Then there are other synthetic characters that we could see, such as Lore (Data’s “brother”) or Soji. If Booker were to turn out to be a synth, having Soji (or a Soji-type synth) show up would tie in with that and would make a lot of sense.

After that we get into the slightly more obscure character possibilities, including Benjamin Sisko, who had gone to stay in the realm of the Prophets, which exists outside of normal time, or even someone like Crewman Daniels from Enterprise, who was native to the 31st Century.

Because the 32nd Century is so far ahead in the timeline of most of what we’ve seen in Star Trek, there are limited possibilities. However, if the producers desperately wanted to bring in any character at all – even someone random like Chakotay – all they would have to do is come up with a reason why that character time travelled or was put in stasis. A character crossover would tie Discovery to the ongoing Star Trek franchise in a big way, and when it worked so well last season with Pike, Spock, and Number One, why not replicate that success this time?

Number 6: The tree seen in the trailers is a memorial to the USS Discovery or Captain Pike.

The Discovery crew will soon visit a large tree.

Another theory returns, this time one I had postulated when I looked at the second Season 3 trailer. It’s a pretty simple theory, but here’s how it goes: the large tree that the crew will visit is a memorial, either to the USS Discovery itself – which Starfleet was told was destroyed – or to someone the crew are familiar with, such as Captain Pike.

That’s all.

Number 7: The Orion Syndicate control the trading post on Hima (and are a major faction in the 32nd Century).

An Orion guard at the trading post.

This is the only theory I had from That Hope Is You that saw any advancement this week. In short, I had speculated that the trading post Book and Burnham visited on Hima was operated by the Orion Syndicate – an organised criminal enterprise that has been seen or mentioned on a number of occasions in Star Trek. This was partly due to the nature of the facility and the work the couriers undertake, and partly because we saw a number of green-skinned aliens who I assume to be Orions.

This week, when looking at some of Saru and Tilly’s equipment, Zareh says to one of his goons that he plans to sell it to “the Orions.” That might be a reference to the Orion Syndicate, but it’s just as much a possibility that one of Zareh’s trading partners is a group of Orions who are unaffiliated with any criminal gang. Though I consider the possibility that we’re going to be dealing with the Orion Syndicate likely, it’s not 100% confirmed just yet.

So those theories are new or were advanced. Now, for the sake of keeping every theory in one list, let’s briefly recap a few others from last week that are still in play, but saw no movement this week. To read up on these theories in more detail, click or tap here to be taken to last week’s theory post.

Number 8: Booker is a Coppelius synth.

Book may not be human…

What’s the deal with the orange glowing lights on Book? And how can he seemingly make a healing plant emerge out of the water using only a prayer? Book is a mysterious character, and one possible explanation for his abilities is that he’s synthetic. If he’s a synth, it’s possible that he’s a descendent of the synths on Coppelius who we met in Star Trek: Picard. This would be one possible way for the two shows to come together.

Number 9: Hima is Terralysium.

The planet Hima.

Burnham chose Terralysium as her destination when programming the journey to the future. So why didn’t she emerge there? It’s possible that Hima is Terralysium, and that the planet has seen its name changed in the 930 years since Burnham saw it. I saw nothing in That Hope Is You to say that isn’t a possibility.

Number 10: Dr Gabrielle Burnham will make an appearance sooner or later.

Dr Gabrielle Burnham was the original Red Angel.

Dr Gabrielle Burnham’s malfunctioning Red Angel suit trapped her in the 32nd Century. Michael Burnham deliberately chose this time period in order to reunite with her mother. We haven’t seen Dr Burnham in any of the trailers, nor seen any hints at her fate. But I would put money on her showing up somehow, in some form, before the end of the season.

Number 11: The Federation was in serious decline before the Burn.

Why are there so few stars on the Federation flag? Does this represent systems and races that have seceded or left the Federation? And if that’s the case, why does the decades-old, pre-Burn flag represent those secessions? Perhaps the answer is that the Federation was already in decline. The Burn may have been the final straw – but not the only straw.

Number 12: The Federation’s response to the Burn – not the event itself – is what caused its collapse.

A 23rd Century Starfleet crew.

Book stated that in the aftermath of the Burn, the Federation couldn’t explain what happened, nor guarantee that there wouldn’t be a reoccurrence. Considering the Burn was a pretty devastating event, this was clearly not satisfactory to many people, and may be what ultimately led to the secessions and withdrawals from the Federation.

Number 13: Book and the other couriers all operate in a small area of space (to save dilithium) which is why he’s never seen the Federation.

Book with Michael Burnham.

With dilithium in short supply, it makes sense to assume that most factions and individuals – even couriers like Book – would operate in a relatively small area. Book’s “patch” simply may be a region with no Federation presence, which is why he’s never seen them for himself.

Number 14: The Burn is the result of a superweapon – perhaps one detonated by the Federation itself.

Does this moment depict the Burn?

The cause of the Burn is not known right now, and there are multiple possibilities as I discussed when I took an in-depth look at the Burn before the season started. One possibility that stands out, however, is the Burn being the result of a superweapon. If the Federation were facing an existential threat – such as one caused by the Borg or the super-synths from Star Trek: Picard – they may have had no choice but to use such a weapon. The setting Burnham and the crew find themselves in may thus be the aftermath of a Pyrrhic victory, one in which the Federation defeated a powerful adversary but at an impossibly high cost.

Number 15: The Burn was caused by one of the Red Angel suits.

Burnham with her Red Angel suit.

There are two Red Angel suits known to exist – Michael Burnham’s and Dr Gabrielle Burnham’s. The suits are very powerful, and it isn’t a stretch to think they could be weaponised or cause some kind of accident. In an age where time travel has been prohibited, they could also be the only surviving examples of time-travel tech. If someone nefarious got their hands on a suit, they could travel back in time and attack the Federation by, oh I don’t know, destroying most of their dilithium.

Number 16: Someone stole Burnham’s Red Angel suit.

Burnham in her Red Angel suit.

After Burnham landed on Hima, she sent her suit back in time to set off the final Red Burst for Pike and Spock. Then she ordered the suit to self-destruct. It’s possible, as hinted above, that somehow this in itself caused the Burn. But it’s also possible that someone intercepted the Red Angel suit after it left Hima. The finale of Season 2 confirmed the presence of the final Red Burst, but that’s all we know. Since we didn’t see on screen the destruction of the suit, we can’t be sure that it was destroyed as Burnham planned.

Number 17: The ban on time travel is being flouted – maybe by the Federation.

The Bounty, Kirk’s stolen Kingon Bird-of-Prey, travels back in time in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

It’s impossible to un-invent a powerful, useful, weaponisable technology, no matter how hard you try. Considering how crappy the 32nd Century seems to be, are we convinced that nobody at all is using time travel to try to give themselves an advantage? Not the Dominion? Not the Borg? Not Section 31? Seems unlikely to me, though for production-side reasons of wanting to keep the timeline intact and to avoid overcomplicating the plot we might be told this is true!

So that’s it. Those are my extant theories as we get ready for episode 3. The first two episodes have done a great job setting up the 32nd Century and the state of the galaxy as our characters have arrived. I genuinely have no idea what’s going to happen next, but I’m truly excited to find out! Remember to check back in a few days’ time for my latest review and to see these theories updated after the next episode premieres.

Star Trek: Discovery is available to stream on CBS All Access in the United States, and on Netflix in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The Star Trek franchise – including Discovery and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.