Building the “ultimate” Star Trek crew… with NO main characters!

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the entire Star Trek franchise, including the most recent seasons of Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and Strange New Worlds.

A little while ago I put together my “ultimate” Star Trek crew – based on a post that the official Star Trek social media team put out. It was a lot of fun to consider which characters to include for the main roles that we’ve seen across the franchise, and I like to think I put together a crew who could work well together.

This time, I thought it could be fun to take the “ultimate crew” concept to a slightly different place – by limiting myself to secondary characters, recurring characters, and even characters who only made one or two appearances. In short, no main characters allowed!

We have quite a selection of officers and crewmates to choose from!

Over the course of more than 850 episodes and 13 films, Star Trek has introduced us to a huge range of characters. Although some were disappointing and others rather forgettable, most Star Trek characters have been fun, interesting, and memorable – so there’s quite a lot to choose from when it comes to putting together a list like this one!

I’m going to follow the same basic rules as last time, and here they are:

  • First of all, I don’t want to pick too many characters from a single series. If you’re just going to pick the entire crew of the Enterprise-D, what’s the point? We might as well just go and watch The Next Generation!
  • Secondly, the fact that characters come from different eras or timelines is entirely irrelevant. This is pure fantasy – though who knows, maybe one day Star Trek will do some kind of massive crossover event featuring characters from all over the place!
  • Third, characters have to occupy a role that we saw them fill on screen; i.e. Captain Picard can’t be a tactical officer, nor could Michael Burnham be assigned as the ship’s Chief Medical Officer!
  • Fourth, I want to include all of the major roles that we’ve seen main characters occupy on Star Trek – something that the social media post that inspired this piece didn’t do!
  • Finally (and most importantly), I want this to be taken light-heartedly and in the spirit of fun!

So without further ado, let’s get started!

Starship Class:
Galor-class Warship

A Galor-class warship as seen in Lower Decks.

I wanted to pick something a little different from the usual Starfleet vessel – though how exactly our crew came to commandeer a Cardassian ship is something you’ll have to imagine for yourself! I put the Galor-class on my list of ten great starship designs a while ago, and I really do find it to be a strangely beautiful vessel.

The semi-circular “saucer” above the deflector at the front gives it a vaguely Federation (or at least Star Trek-inspired) look, but the “wings,” elongated tail section, and yellow-gold colour scheme makes it stand out as clearly being of Cardassian design. Originally described as a “scout ship,” we’d later see the Galor-class as the workhorse of the Cardassian fleet, and Galor-class vessels played a prominent role in the Dominion War.

I’ve always thought the design was a neat one, and with an interior that may be reminiscent of Deep Space Nine, perhaps it won’t be quite as “alien” to our crew as it might initially appear!

Admiral:
Charles Vance

Admiral Vance’s first appearance.

Admiral Vance has been a great addition to Star Trek: Discovery since his Season 3 debut. Despite Starfleet – and the Federation as a whole – being in dire straits due to the lingering aftermath of the Burn, Admiral Vance never lost faith in Starfleet’s ideals. He did everything he could to hold the Federation together through the toughest of times, and was fair and level-headed.

Whether it was a diplomatic negotiation with an adversary or racing to help evacuate a planet before a catastrophe, Admiral Vance had the stomach and the skills for it, and was even willing to put his own life on the line to help others. He’ll be coordinating our mission back at Starfleet Command – and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have in that role!

Captain:
Edward Jellico

Captain Jellico.

I have to be honest: I adore Captain Jellico, despite the character only making a single appearance in Star Trek. The two-part episode Chain of Command, from The Next Generation’s sixth season introduced the gruff, standoffish captain. Jellico temporarily assumed command of the Enterprise-D while Captain Picard was on another assignment, and he handled himself well against the Cardassians.

Captain Jellico had a very different style of command to Picard, and upset the apple cart on the Enterprise-D in a pretty significant way. Commander Riker and Deanna Troi were both particularly put out by Jellico’s “take no prisoners” approach, but there’s no denying that he ran a tight ship and got results. Maybe he isn’t the most friendly character, but I’d trust Captain Jellico to handle whatever the galaxy has in store. I’d also be curious to see how he handled a longer assignment – my suspicion is that he’d eventually establish a solid working relationship with his crew, and perhaps even make a few friends.

First Officer:
George Kirk

George Kirk on the bridge of the USS Kelvin.

George Kirk – father to Samuel and James T. – served as the first officer of the USS Kelvin in the early 23rd Century. Although we only saw him in action in the alternate reality, he was clearly an outstanding first officer, an inspiration to his sons, and someone who exemplified the very best of Starfleet.

In the alternate reality, George Kirk saved the lives of the crew of the Kelvin, sacrificing his own life in the process when Nero’s ship attacked. He seems like the ideal candidate to serve on our fantasy crew, and I think he’d work exceptionally well with Captain Jellico.

Helm:
Keyla Detmer

Lieutenant Detmer in Discovery Season 4.

Last time, I said that Tom Paris felt like Star Trek’s first bona fide pilot – and Keyla Detmer is definitely cut from the same cloth! A pilot by vocation, Detmer not only loves her job, but as we’ve seen on multiple occasions, she’s damn good at it too! Detmer guided the experimental USS Discovery during trials on its spore drive, then took the ship into the unknown – saving many lives during the bumpy landing in the 32nd Century.

In Season 4, we saw her navigate the dark matter anomaly and the galactic barrier, occasionally having to set aside her own feelings to focus on her work. Detmer was given a sub-plot of sorts in Season 3, but I would’ve liked to have seen it fleshed out a little more, especially considering the difficulty of dealing with mental health on screen. But regardless, Detmer makes for a great pilot and a fantastic helm officer.

Chief Engineer:
Joe Carey

Carey in Voyager’s first season.

When the USS Voyager’s original chief engineer was killed, Lieutenant Carey should have replaced him. Because Captain Janeway felt that there was a “political” need to have more Maquis in senior positions, however, it was B’Elanna Torres who was elevated to the role. But from what we saw of him in those early Voyager episodes, Carey would have made a perfectly creditable chief engineer in his own right.

Voyager’s writers quickly ran out of ideas for the “one ship, two crews” concept, and with less conflict between the Maquis and Starfleet members of the crew, perhaps there was less of a role for him on the show. But from a strictly in-universe point of view, I think we can trust Carey to head up main engineering on our mission!

Chief Medical Officer:
Dr Pulaski

Dr Pulaski in the episode Up The Long Ladder.

Is this a bit of a cheat? Dr Pulaski was the Enterprise-D’s CMO for all of Season 2 of The Next Generation… but actress Diana Muldaur was only ever credited as a “special guest star,” so I’m choosing to include her!

As you may know if you read my character study of Dr Pulaski, I’m a pretty big fan! Although there were aspects of her characterisation that didn’t work particularly well – such as her conflict with Data – overall I liked what she brought to The Next Generation, and I would have loved to have seen more from her.

Dr Pulaski may not have the friendliest bedside manner, but as she demonstrated on many occasions, she more than makes up for it with her medical expertise. Not only that, but she was absolutely unflappable, taking whatever the galaxy had to throw at the crew in her stride, and coming up with some outside-the-box ideas on more than one occasion. And despite her initial misgivings about Data, over the course of her year aboard the Enterprise-D, we saw her attitude shift. She’s a great doctor and will serve us well on our mission!

Nurse/ Sickbay Assistant:
EMH Mark II

The EMH Mark II in Message in a Bottle.

The idea of an Emergency Medical Hologram is a great one – but it clearly needed refining! We got to know Voyager’s EMH over the course of that show’s run, but a second version was developed in the years after the USS Voyager was lost. A Mark II EMH was installed on the USS Prometheus – an experimental long-range tactical vessel that the Romulans attempted to steal early in the Dominion War.

Hopefully we won’t ever need to activate our EMH Mark II, but if things go bad out there – which they can on dangerous assignments – it’s good to have backup!

Counsellor:
Dr Boyce

Dr Boyce.

Dr Boyce served as the Enterprise’s Chief Medical Officer under Captain Pike, but in The Cage we saw that he was more than just a doctor. In one of the episode’s most powerful sequences, Dr Boyce listened to and advised Captain Pike as the latter struggled with the weight of command. In that sense, Dr Boyce not only served as a template for the subsequent creation of Dr McCoy, but also as a kind of counsellor.

In the 23rd Century, it doesn’t seem that many Starfleet vessels had dedicated counsellors, so the role would fall to other members of the medical staff. Dr Boyce was clearly experienced at this, as his advice to both Captain Pike and other members of the crew would demonstrate. I wondered whether Strange New Worlds would bring back Dr Boyce, but that position was taken by Dr M’Benga instead!

Tactical:
Major Hayes

Major Hayes in Enterprise Season 3.

Major Hayes was a rare character in Star Trek in some respects. As a bona fide soldier rather than a security officer, Hayes occupied a role that few characters before or since have really aimed to inhabit, and he was the perfect inclusion for Enterprise’s much darker third season. Although we didn’t get to see a lot of Hayes’ strategic planning, what we did see of his work during preparation for away missions and when recommending the crew take part in tactical drills is enough to fill me with confidence that he’s someone who knows what he’s doing!

There’s obviously a difference between combat on the ground and combat in space, and as someone less familiar with ship-to-ship combat, Hayes might need some on-the-job training! But his hardworking attitude more than makes up for any deficiencies, and I’m sure he’d be a quick study, applying his knowledge of ground-based military operations to conflicts in space.

Security Chief:
Michael Eddington

Eddington prior to his defection to the Maquis.

Deep Space Nine’s Lieutenant Commander Eddington was a wonderful addition to the series; a complex, nuanced character whose motivations were understandable and even a little sympathetic – and whose anti-Cardassian stance was, in a roundabout way at least, kind of justified by subsequent events. Eddington would defect from Starfleet to the Maquis after spending time with colonists in the demilitarised zone along the Federation-Cardassian border, but before that, he served as chief of Starfleet security aboard DS9.

In that role, Eddington actually did a pretty good job. We saw Eddington in action on several occasions prior to his defection, and even his defection itself was meticulously planned. He was a good officer and a loss to Starfleet – and he’ll do a great job on our team!

Communications:
M’Ress

M’Ress at her post.

I like the Caitian race, and it’s one I wish we saw more of in Star Trek! M’Ress was the first ever Caitian that we got to know, debuting in The Animated Series, and she served as a kind of deputy or backup communications officer for Uhura on the Enterprise. M’Ress proved herself, though, and would be a perfectly capable comms officer in her own right.

M’Ress was a character who was easy to animate but harder to bring to live-action, and while we did see a couple of Caitians in one of The Original Series films, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about this interesting race. Regardless, M’Ress will make a fine addition to our crew!

Science Officer:
Saavik

Saavik on the Genesis Planet.

Although she initially seemed to be on the command track in The Wrath of Khan, by the time of The Search for Spock Saavik had transferred to become a science officer. In that capacity she served aboard the USS Grissom and worked with Dr David Marcus to investigate the Genesis Planet – and played a key role in saving Spock.

Vulcans tend to make great science officers in Star Trek, and Saavik is no exception! Her fierce devotion to logic doesn’t stop her from developing solid working relationships with her non-Vulcan crewmates, though, and I have no doubt that she’d be a fantastic addition to any crew – particularly one which may be on an exploratory or scientific mission.

Operations:
Nog

Nog aboard the USS Defiant.

Nog has to be one of the best recurring characters in all of Star Trek! His arc took him from a petty thief and troublemaker in his youth through to becoming an upstanding Starfleet officer – and a war hero to boot. As the first Ferengi to serve in Starfleet, Nog was also a pioneer, someone who broke barriers and paved the way for closer cooperation between the Federation and the Ferengi Alliance.

I adore Nog, and it was so terribly sad that Aron Eisenberg passed away a couple of years ago. However, Nog’s legacy lives on in Star Trek, with the Eisenberg-Class USS Nog being his namesake in the 32nd Century. Nog took on different roles within Starfleet, but it was the operations division where he settled. He was promoted to lieutenant at the end of the Dominion War – and in one alternate future, we even saw him as a captain!

Transporter Chief:
Janice Rand

Rand in The Motion Picture.

The former Yeoman Rand had been promoted to chief petty officer by the time of The Motion Picture, and in one of the film’s most harrowing sequences, she tried to engage the Enterprise’s malfunctioning transporter to save the lives of Sonak and another officer; she would sadly be unsuccessful.

But it isn’t fair to judge Rand’s competency with the transporter by one bad incident! She did her best under difficult circumstances aboard a newly retrofitted ship that was experiencing technical issues, and while the death of Sonak may have contributed to her decision to transfer out of the role, I’m sure that giving her a second chance won’t be a problem. Right?

Cadet:
Peter Preston

Midshipman Preston in the Enterprise’s engine room.

Many Starfleet ships take at least one cadet along for the ride, and I think that Peter Preston from The Wrath of Khan would be a great choice. A line which wasn’t included in the original cut of the film identified Preston as Montgomery Scott’s nephew, and he would serve alongside his uncle in engineering.

Unfortunately, Preston would be killed during Khan’s initial attack on the Enterprise, but stayed at his post in an attempt to save the damaged ship. His death was devastating for Scotty, and made a huge impression on Admiral Kirk, too. If Peter Preston had lived, I’m sure he’d have completed his training and gone on to be a wonderful engineer in his own right.

Bartender:
Vic Fontaine

Vic in It’s Only A Paper Moon.

When our crew needs a break, where could be better to go than Vic’s Lounge? Vic Fontaine was a sentient hologram, and his 1960s-inspired Las Vegas bar and casino was installed at Quark’s on Deep Space Nine. Vic would become a true friend and confidante to the crew, and even helped Nog with his rehabilitation when he suffered a wartime injury.

The whole point of having a bar or recreation area on board our ship is to give the crew a place to relax, and what could be more relaxing than stepping out of the real world into a simulated one? Vic is a great host – and a great singer to boot! James Darren, the actor and singer who played Vic, released an album shortly after appearing Deep Space Nine called This One’s From The Heart, featuring many of the songs from the show. It’s well worth a listen for any Trekkie!

Non-Starfleet crewmate:
Zhaban

Zhaban in Season 1 of Star Trek: Picard.

Because Star Trek: Picard’s production has been somewhat slapdash, Zhaban ended up being written out of the series after the first season. But I think he was an absolutely fascinating character, and someone I’m sad that we didn’t get to spend more time with. A former Tal Shiar operative, Zhaban felt indebted enough to Admiral Picard that he gave up his career to live on Earth at the Picard family vineyard.

For the purposes of our mission, I think having an ex-Tal Shiar on board could be incredibly useful, and Zhaban clearly has a varied set of skills – even if his relocation to Earth might mean he’s a little rusty in some areas! Regardless, I can think of countless ways that a former operative of one of the quadrant’s premiere espionage agencies could prove useful, and it’s primarily for that reason that I’m insisting that we bring Zhaban along for the ride (as Picard should have done in Season 1 of his show!)

Villain:
The Tholians

A 23rd Century Tholian leader.

The Tholians have been part of Star Trek since The Original Series, but in all that time we’ve only seen them on a handful of occasions. The Enterprise two-part episode In A Mirror, Darkly told us a little more about the Tholians, including that they’re native to a planet with extremes of heat and temperature, finding it impossible to tolerate “standard” temperatures that humanoid life can survive in.

I wanted to choose a villain that would be familiar to most Trekkies, but with enough mystery to still be interesting – and to potentially allow a story to unfold in very different ways. The Tholians may not be as iconic as the Klingons or the Borg, but I reckon they’re ripe for a deeper dive and an exploration of their culture and society.

So that’s it!

The main crew members of the Enterprise-D.

Did we manage to put together a crew that will become as renowned and as iconic as any other in Star Trek? Well… maybe not quite! But I think all of the characters above are fun in their own way, and I’d definitely welcome back any and all of them to the franchise in future.

For our purposes, though, our crew is complete and it’s time to start our mission! I hope everything goes according to plan…

As I said last time, there are hundreds of wonderful characters that the Star Trek franchise has created over the span of more than fifty years. I picked out a few examples here, but there’s really no right answer to the question of who should be part of the “ultimate” Star Trek crew. Such decisions are entirely subjective, so if you didn’t like any of the characters I included, or I excluded someone that you think should be incredibly obvious, well that’s okay! There’s plenty of room in the Star Trek fan community for discussions like these!

A few weeks ago I was inspired by a social media post that the official Star Trek marketing team put out. That post led me to create my earlier list, and putting that list together led me to think about some of the secondary and recurring characters who I could’ve also included – which is how we ended up here! I hope this was a bit of fun; I certainly had fun writing it up and looking back at older episodes of Star Trek to pick out some of my favourite characters.

The Star Trek franchise – including all characters, television series, and films mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 – my worst theory failures!

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-3, Star Trek: Picard Season 1, and for other iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

During Star Trek: Discovery’s third season, I wrote a weekly series of theories, speculating about what may be going on with the show’s various storylines. I had some successes in my theories and predictions, but there were more than a few misses as well! Now that the season is in the rear-view mirror, I thought it could be fun to go back to some of my theories and see how wrong I was!

All of these theories seemed plausible at the time – for one reason or another – yet ultimately proved to be way off base. One thing I appreciate about Discovery – and a lot of other shows and films too, both within the Star Trek franchise and outside of it – is that sense of unpredictability. Nothing in Discovery Season 3 was mundane or felt like it had been blatantly telegraphed ahead of time, and the fact that the narrative took twists and turns that I wasn’t expecting was, on the whole, great! There were a couple of storylines I personally didn’t think were fantastic or handled very well, but on the whole, Discovery’s third season was an enjoyable ride.

Book’s ship at warp in the season premiere.

Some of the theories I had were pure speculation based on nothing more than guesswork and intuition, and others seemed truly reasonable and plausible. While the season was ongoing I tended to just write up any theories I had, no matter how wild or out of left-field they seemed to be! Whether that was good or not… well the jury is out! The theory lists I published were well-read, so I assume at least some folks found something of interest!

I like to caveat these kinds of articles by saying that no fan theory, no matter how plausible or rational it may seem to be, is worth getting too attached to or upset about. The internet has been great for fan communities, allowing us to come together to discuss our favourite franchises and engage in a lot of theory-crafting. But there is a darker side to all of this, and some fans find themselves getting too attached to a particular theory to the point where their enjoyment of the actual narrative is diminished if that theory doesn’t pan out. Please try to keep in mind that I don’t have any “insider information,” and I’ve never tried to claim that a particular theory is somehow guaranteed to come true. I like writing, I like Star Trek, and writing about Star Trek is a fun activity for me – that’s why I do this, and if I ever felt that theorising about Discovery or other shows was harming my enjoyment, I would stop. And I encourage you to take a step back if you find yourself falling into that particular trap.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at ten of my least successful Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 theories!

Number 1: Cleveland Booker is a Coppelius synth.

Book and his adoptive brother in the episode The Sanctuary.

When we met Book in That Hope Is You at the beginning of the season, it wasn’t at all clear who he was. However, there were inhuman elements to Book, such as his ability to heal, to use a holographic interface seemingly attached to his body, and glowing, almost electronic-looking areas on parts of his skin. With Book’s origin somewhat of a mystery, I wondered if he might turn out to be a synth – and specifically, a synth from the planet Coppelius (or one of their descendants).

We met the Coppelius synths in Star Trek: Picard Season 1, and I was hopeful as Discovery’s third season got underway that there’d be a serious attempt to connect the two shows – as this was something Picard wholly failed to do in its debut season. I’ve said numerous times that Star Trek needs to do more to bind different parts of the franchise together, and after Picard basically ignored Discovery, I was hoping for some kind of connection to manifest in Season 3. Booker being a synth could have been one way to do that.

Book’s telepathic abilities caused glowing areas to appear on his face.

So really, it’s not unfair to say that this theory was concocted more for production-side reasons than anything we saw on screen. Book’s abilities as we saw them in That Hope Is You (and subsequently in episodes like The Sanctuary, There Is A Tide, and That Hope Is You, Part 2) were clearly more organic and telepathic than anything artificial or technological in origin – except for his holographic computer interface. So perhaps this was always a bit of a stretch!

Booker turned out to be a Kwejian native – though what exactly that means is unclear. Given Book’s human appearance, it’s possible that the people of Kwejian are descendants or offshoots of humanity, or perhaps, given their telepathic nature, they’re somehow related to the Betazoids. In the season finale, Book promised Burnham he’d tell her more about his background, and how he came to use the name Cleveland Booker, so perhaps we’ll learn more about Book’s people in Season 4. He was a wonderful addition to the season, even if I was way off base with my theory about his possible origin!

Number 2: The Burn is connected to Michael Burnham – and/or the Red Angel suit.

Michael Burn-ham.

The Burn’s origin was not definitively revealed and confirmed until the season finale, so for practically the entire season I was talking about some form of this theory! There seemed to be a few possible clues that Discovery gave us – which ultimately turned out to be red herrings as the Burn was unconnected to any of them – about the ultimate answer to the Burn, and several of them could have been interpreted to mean that Burnham was, in some way, connected to the event that shares part of her name.

The main reason I considered this theory plausible, though, was because Discovery has always been a series that put Burnham front-and-centre in all of its main storylines. Having a connection to the biggest story of the season thus seemed possible. When the event’s name was revealed, the fact that it shared part of her name seemed to lend credence to that idea – at least it did considering I’d already started down that rabbit hole!

One of two Red Angel suits seen in Season 2.

That Hope Is You saw Burnham arrive in the future immediately following the events of Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2 – the Season 2 finale. She took off her Red Angel suit and set it to self-destruct, but as we never saw the self-destruction for ourselves on screen, it was a bit of a mystery as to what became of the suit. In a future where time travel technology had been prohibited, the Red Angel suit may have been one of the last extant ways to travel through time, and would be incredibly valuable to factions like the Emerald Chain, so I reasoned that perhaps someone had intercepted the suit, and either intentionally or unintentionally caused the Burn.

I’m glad this one didn’t pan out, because it was nice to give Burnham a break! In the end, Burnham wasn’t strongly involved in the resolution to the Burn’s storyline, with that task being given to Saru, Dr Culber, Adira, and of course Su’Kal. After Burnham had just saved the galaxy by defeating the Control AI, there would have been an interesting ethical and philosophical dilemma for her if she had learned that her actions and/or the Red Angel suit had been responsible for the Burn – but it would’ve been hard to pull off and arguably too similar to the guilt she felt at the outbreak of the Federation-Klingon War in Season 1. So overall, it was an interesting theory well worth considering, but I’m glad it wasn’t true!

Number 3: The USS Discovery could arrive in the future before Burnham.

The USS Discovery had a rough landing in the 32nd Century!

Time travel stories are complicated. Once the link between cause and effect is broken, almost anything becomes possible. Even though Burnham and the Red Angel suit were leading the way into the future, the mechanics of the time wormhole were not explained, and it was at least plausible to think that the USS Discovery might’ve arrived first.

I first posited this theory after the season premiere, and it seemed plausible for practically all of Far From Home too. One thing that could’ve happened, had this theory been correct, would be that Burnham would’ve been out of her element for a lot longer than just one episode. In That Hope Is You, we saw her completely awed by everything she saw, experiencing a completely new world for the first time. And that premise meant that we were seeing Burnham in a whole new way, not in control of the situation and having to rely on others instead of trying to shoulder all of the burden all of the time. Had the USS Discovery found her after the ship and crew had spent a year in the future instead of the other way around, Burnham could’ve been our point-of-view character for learning what was new and different, instead of reverting to type.

We missed a year of Burnham’s exploits in the 32nd Century.

With both Red Angel suits gone, I doubt we’ll see the time-wormholes they could generate ever return either. But it would be interesting to get to know a little more about how that technology worked – would it even have been possible for the USS Discovery to arrive earlier than Burnham? Burnham arrived on the planet Hima, and Discovery arrived near a planet called the Colony, so considering the wormhole had two different exit points it seems possible to me anyway!

Because of the one-year time skip, we didn’t get to see much of Burnham’s exploits with Book in the 32nd Century prior to Discovery’s arrival. It would have been interesting to see either Burnham or the crew trying to learn more about their new home and the origins of the Burn, because in some ways it could be argued that we as the audience arrived with the first part of a story already complete. I kind of want to see that part for myself – and maybe we will in flashbacks in future seasons!

Number 4: Lieutenant Detmer is going to die.

Lieutenant Detmer in People of Earth.

One of my hopes going into Season 3 was that Discovery would finally spend some time with other members of the crew, and I was pleased that it happened. After two full seasons I felt that we hadn’t really got to know anything about people like Owosekun, Rhys, and Detmer, despite their being permanent fixtures on the bridge. Though not all of the less-prominent officers got big storylines this season, one who did was Detmer.

In the episode Far From Home, Detmer was thrown from her seat following the ship’s crash-landing. Concussed, she was sent to sickbay where, after a once-over, she was patched up and returned to work. However, there were hints – at least, what I considered to be hints – that all was not well with Discovery’s helm officer, and I wondered if her first significant storyline might in fact be the setup to her death. There just seemed to be so much foreshadowing!

Detmer eventually survived the season.

Ultimately, however, Detmer’s storyline took a different path. I appreciate what it was trying to be – an examination of post-traumatic stress that ended with a positive and uplifting message showing Detmer “getting over it,” for want of a better expression – but because it wasn’t properly fleshed-out after Far From Home, with Detmer only given a handful of very brief scenes before her big turnaround in The Sanctuary, I just felt it was underdeveloped and didn’t quite hit the notes it wanted to. So despite a potentially interesting premise, the execution let this storyline down somewhat.

Especially after the way she was acting in Far From Home, I can’t have been the only one to predict an untimely end for Detmer! I heard several other theories that I considered to be very “out there,” such as Detmer’s implant being possessed by Control in the same manner as Ariam had been in Season 2, but I firmly believed the setup was foreshadowing her death due to injury rather than something of that nature. It’s probably good that it didn’t happen, as it leaves her a slightly more rounded character if the show wants to do more with her in future. However, there were several officers in the final trio of episodes who could’ve been killed off after the ship was captured by the Emerald Chain, including Detmer, and it feels somewhat like Discovery was playing it safe by not doing so. Aside from Ryn, no major hero characters lost their lives in Season 3, and while character deaths aren’t something I desperately want in a show like this, they can certainly raise the stakes.

Number 5: The Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager (or rather, a backup copy of him) will make an appearance.

The Doctor.

This was my most popular pre-season theory! I stuck with it practically the whole time, and branched out to include a handful of other characters from past iterations of Star Trek who could, in theory, still be alive by the 32nd Century. By the standards of my modest website, an absolutely huge number of you read this theory – and it continues to be popular even today, despite the season having concluded months ago. So I wasn’t the only one half-guessing, half-hoping that the Doctor might be included in Discovery!

The reason why I considered the Doctor to be one of the most plausible characters who could make an appearance is because of an episode from Voyager’s fourth season: Living Witness. In that episode, a backup copy of the Doctor was activated sometime in the 30th or 31st Centuries after being discovered among museum artefacts, and while the story was interesting in its own right and a critique of how things we consider to be “historical facts” can shift over time, what really interested me was its timeframe and its ending.

A picture of the Doctor seen at the end of Living Witness.

At the end of Living Witness, in a scene set even farther into the future, it was revealed that, after living with the Kyrians and Vaskans in the Delta Quadrant for decades, the Doctor eventually took a small ship and set out to try to reach Earth. If he had survived and completed his journey, he could’ve reached Earth in the years prior to the arrival of Burnham and Discovery. The timelines lined up for a possible crossover.

However, it wasn’t to be! Though we did see the return of the Guardian of Forever, which had originally appeared in The Original Series, no major characters from any other Star Trek show made an appearance. Perhaps the producers and writers felt that, with Seven of Nine carrying the torch for Voyager with her appearances in Season 1 of Picard, including a second main character from Voyager in a new show would’ve been too much, or at least that the timing was wrong. Regardless, I think it would’ve been amazing to see, and despite this theory failing to pan out in Season 3, it’s one I may very well bring back in time for Season 4!

Number 6: There will be a resolution to the story of the Short Treks episode Calypso.

Craft, the protagonist of Calypso.

Poor Calypso. I’m beginning to feel that the Short Treks episode is doomed to be a permanent outlier in the Star Trek canon, evidently connected to a version of Season 2 that never made it to screen. Broadcast in the months before Discovery’s second season, Calypso introduced us to Craft, a soldier from the far future fighting a war against the “V’draysh.” We also got to meet Zora, an AI who was the sole inhabitant of a long-abandoned USS Discovery.

Here’s where things get confusing. Season 3 saw some moves toward Calypso, including the apparent creation of Zora from a merger of the Sphere data with Discovery’s computer. The voice actress from Calypso even reprised her role, although the name “Zora” wasn’t mentioned. We also heard the villainous Zareh use the term “V’draysh” to refer to the rump Federation – seemingly confirming that Calypso must be set in roughly this same era.

The unmanned USS Discovery tows Craft’s pod.

However, we also saw some big moves away from Calypso as well. The most significant one is that the USS Discovery has undergone a refit. While this isn’t readily apparent from the ship’s interior – something I really hope changes in Season 4 – it was very apparent from the exterior of the ship. Calypso showed off a pre-refit Discovery, which means that resolving the story of this short episode feels further away than ever.

As I mentioned in the intro, it seems clear that Calypso was originally written with a different version of Season 2 in mind – perhaps even to serve as a kind of epilogue in the event that Season 2 would be Discovery’s last. Even going into Such Sweet Sorrow – the two-part finale of Season 2 – the possibility of hiding the ship in a nebula, as depicted in Calypso, existed, and with a few changes and tweaks to the season finale, Calypso would have been a natural epilogue to that story. That’s what I think happened on the production side of things, anyway. With the storyline of Season 2 up in the air, a somewhat ambiguous short episode was created to serve as a potential epilogue if the show was cancelled. Discovery wasn’t cancelled, though, and now the writers have to find a way to square this particularly tricky circle. Or they might just try to ignore it!

Number 7: The Spore Drive will become Starfleet’s new method of propulsion.

The USS Discovery making a Spore Drive jump.

When it became apparent that warp drive in the 32nd Century was very difficult due to the lack of dilithium and the aftereffects of the Burn, I thought the writers and producers of Discovery had played a masterstroke by finally finding a way for the show’s most controversial piece of technology to play a major role.

The Spore Drive, which was introduced in Season 1, received a mixed reaction from fans. Some insisted that it “violates canon” by allowing a 23rd Century starship to effectively travel anywhere in the galaxy, and others wondered why the technology had never been mentioned in settings where it would have logically been useful – such as to the crew of the USS Voyager, stranded tens of thousands of light-years from home! Though I would suggest that many of the fans who felt this way about the Spore Drive also had other gripes with Discovery, by pushing forward in time there was an opportunity to expand the role of the Spore Drive in a way that wouldn’t undermine anything in Star Trek’s established canon.

Captain Saru orders Black Alert and initiates a Spore Drive jump.

The dilithium shortage the galaxy is experiencing, made a hundred times worse by the Burn, seemed to offer an opportunity to expand the role of the Spore Drive. And at first, Starfleet did seem to be keen on making use of it. However, despite Discovery’s extensive retrofit, the Spore Drive remained aboard the ship and Starfleet seems to have made no attempt to copy it or roll it out to any of their other vessels. The huge planet-sized cache of dilithium in the Verubin Nebula has also solved – at least in the short-term – the galaxy’s fuel problem, so there’s less of a need from Starfleet’s perspective to invest in recreating the Spore Drive, despite its seemingly unlimited potential.

Perhaps this will be picked up in Season 4, especially with Book’s ability to use the Spore Drive getting around the last hurdle in the way of a broader rollout. There was potential, I felt, for the dilithium shortage and Burn storylines to parallel real world climate change and how we’re slowly running out of oil, but the Verubin Nebula’s dilithium planet kind of squashed any real-world analogy! Again, though, this is something that could potentially return in Season 4.

Number 8: Dr Issa is a descendant of Saru’s sister Siranna.

Dr Issa’s holographic message.

The Short Treks episode The Brightest Star was broadcast in between Seasons 1 and 2, and introduced us to Saru’s sister Siranna. She returned in Season 2, in the episodes The Sound of Thunder and Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2. In Season 3, the same actress who played Siranna also appeared as Dr Issa – the commander of the crashed Kelpien ship in the Verubin Nebula and the mother of Su’Kal.

Because of this production-side coincidence, as well as Saru’s incredibly strong reaction to seeing Dr Issa in holographic form, I speculated that Dr Issa could be a descendant of Siranna, and thus a great-great-niece to Saru. That familial tie could have explained why Saru found himself so emotionally compromised during the final few episodes of the season, and why he risked everything to help Su’Kal.

It seemed that Saru was seeing something more in Dr Issa than just a fellow Kelpien.

However, it seems that this was little more than casting coincidence! Perhaps it was easier for the producers to work with someone who was already familiar with the Kelpiens – and Kelpien prosthetic makeup – instead of casting a new actress for the role. Or perhaps it was deliberate – presenting Saru with someone superficially similar to Siranna to push him emotionally. Regardless, this theory didn’t pan out.

It could have been interesting to see Saru coming face-to-face with a distant relative, and it could’ve added to the Su’Kal storyline. However, in the time allotted to Saru’s exploits in the Verubin Nebula, it would have been difficult to add this additional emotional element and have it properly developed, so perhaps it’s for the best!

Number 9: The holographic “monster” is either Dr Issa or the real Su’Kal.

The holographic “monster.”

The episode Su’Kal pushed hard for a creepy “haunted castle” aesthetic when depicting Su’Kal’s holographic world, and a big part of that was the holographic “monster.” The monster seemed like a very odd inclusion in a holo-programme designed for a young child, and even though an attempt was made to excuse it by saying it was an old Kelpien legend, I wasn’t convinced that there wasn’t something else going on.

Additionally, the monster didn’t behave or appear like any of the other decaying holograms. After decades of continuous use, Su’Kal’s holographic world was falling apart. Many of the holograms were flickering or fading, and they were quite basic in what they could say or do. In contrast, the monster moved with a natural, organic fluidity, and didn’t flicker or appear in any way artificial – even as the holographic world disintegrated around it.

The monster turned out to be just part of the holo-programme.

The Verubin Nebula’s radiation was said to be fatal, but in horror and sci-fi radiation is often seen to cause mutations. Given the monster’s vaguely Kelpien appearance and dishevelled, decrepit, morbid look, I wondered if it was actually the real Su’Kal – or Dr Issa – having mutated and decayed after decades in the hostile nebula. The final piece of evidence I added to this little pile was the strange way that the monster interacted with Burnham in the episode Su’Kal – it seemed curious about her, perceiving her in a way I thought was almost human.

Despite all of that, however, the monster turned out to be exactly what the crew believed it to be: just another part of the holo-programme. This theory was quite “out there,” as it would’ve been a big twist on what we as the audience were expecting. There were hints that I felt could have built up the monster to be something more, but ultimately these turned out to be red herrings!

Number 10: Season 3 is taking place in an alternate timeline or parallel universe.

“An alternate reality?”

Over the course of the first two-thirds or so of Season 3, there seemed to be breadcrumbs that at least hinted at the possibility that Burnham and Discovery had crossed over to a parallel universe or alternate timeline. The biggest one was the initial absence of Dr Gabrielle Burnham, but there was also the strange piece of music that seemed to be connected to the Burn, the fact that the time-wormhole didn’t take Burnham and the ship to their intended destination of Terralysium, and a couple of hints from Voyager (as mentioned above) and Enterprise that could have been interpreted to mean the Burn never happened in the timeline depicted in those older shows.

There was also the possibility that the Burn was caused by the interference of time travellers. The resolution to that storyline could have been for Burnham and Discovery to go back in time and prevent the Burn from ever happening – restoring the “true” timeline and undoing the Burn. Both of these theories seemed plausible for much of the season.

It seemed possible, for a time, that Discovery Season 3 was taking place in a parallel universe.

I’m glad, though, that neither theory came to pass! “It’s a parallel universe” is almost akin to “it was all a dream” in terms of being a pretty lazy excuse for storylines in sci-fi, and the idea of undoing the Burn, while interesting in theory, would have effectively wiped out all of the good deeds Saru, Burnham, and the crew did across Season 3, like helping the peoples of Trill, Earth, Ni’Var, and Kwejian. So it was to the show’s overall benefit to stick firmly to the prime timeline.

Doing so is actually rather bold. Discovery took Star Trek to some very different thematic places in Season 3, largely thanks to the Burn and its lingering effects, and I could understand the temptation to brush all of that aside. We still got some parallel universe action in the two-part episode Terra Firma, which revisited the Mirror Universe. With the Burn now in the rear-view mirror and Discovery moving on to new adventures, perhaps it will be possible for Star Trek to establish the 32nd Century as a major new setting, allowing Discovery Season 3 to be the springboard for a host of new shows and films.

So that’s it. Ten of my worst Discovery Season 3 theories!

I had some pretty significant theory misses last season!

Though we can debate some of the story points across Season 3 – and I still haven’t written my big piece about the Burn yet – overall I think Season 3 did a good job of establishing the show in its new setting. The Burn presented a tantalising mystery to solve, and for the first time in the series, it felt as though more members of the crew had significant roles to play in the season’s main storylines.

With Burnham having ascended to the captain’s chair, and a new threat seemingly having reared its head, Season 4 is going to take Discovery to different places yet again. And if there are theories to be crafted – and I daresay there will be – I’ll be writing them up! Even though a lot of the theories I came up with in Season 3 didn’t pan out, I had a blast thinking them up and writing them down. At the end of the day, it’s an excuse to spend more time thinking and talking about Star Trek.

So I hope this look back was a bit of fun! Stay tuned, because as and when we get news about Season 4 I’ll be taking a look here on the website, and when the season premieres later this year I’ll be reviewing every episode… and probably coming up with a few more theories!

Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 is available to stream now in its entirety on Paramount+ 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.

Star Trek: Discovery theories – week 3

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-3, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Star Trek: Picard, and other iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

I know, I know. If you’re in the United States you’re already able to watch the fourth episode of Discovery, so some of these theories may already be out of date if you’ve seen Forget Me Not. Sorry! There were several things going on this week that I wanted to talk about as well as Discovery, including my Halloween write-up of the Voyager Season 6 episode The Haunting of Deck Twelve. If you missed that one I hope you find the time to check it out, as Voyager can sometimes feel like an underappreciated series in the overall Star Trek canon.

So let’s look at People of Earth and consider some of the theories we’ve been able to craft or advance as a result of that episode. There were two debunkings, a couple of new theories, and minor movement on a couple of pre-existing ones. But let’s start, as always, with one theory that was confirmed.

Confirmed theory: Book and the other couriers have never been to Earth.

Book’s ship at warp.

Michael Burnham confirmed this early on in People of Earth. Because of how expensive dilithium is, a trip to Earth from whatever sector of the galaxy she and Book were in was impossible. Book, in fact, had never visited Earth. Though the outcome of this was not what I expected at all – having thought that Earth would still be the Federation’s capital – I was right about Book.

In a way this speaks to the state of the galaxy. With dilithium in short supply and the Federation mostly gone, people are confined to either a small area or, as in the case of the Coridanites we met in Far From Home, a single planet. Book’s ship is capable of warp, but without enough dilithium there was no realistic prospect of him travelling to Earth. Presumably, now that he’s arrived at Earth, he also has no way to get back to the Hima sector.

So that theory was confirmed. Next up we have a couple of debunkings.

Debunked theory #1: The tree is a memorial to the USS Discovery and/or Captain Pike.

Tilly with the tree in People of Earth.

This was a theory I postulated when we first saw a glimpse of this scene in the second Season 3 trailer. I had speculated that the tree would be some kind of memorial either to the USS Discovery – which Starfleet considers to have been destroyed – or perhaps to someone the crew knew, like Captain Pike. This was a hunch, really, based on the strong emotional reaction they seemed to have when they saw it.

However, the explanation was even simpler. The tree, which had been seen in The Next Generation, was in the grounds of Starfleet Academy, and several of the crew, including Tilly and Detmer, recalled it with fondness from their time studying there.

This theory could have been a neat connection to the life and friends that the crew left behind when they left the 23rd Century. However, the way it was done accomplished this goal too, and at the same time showed just how much time had passed.

Debunked theory #2: Hima is Terralysium

The planet Hima.

When Burnham arrived in the 32nd Century in That Hope Is You, she landed (alright, crashed) on the planet Hima. However, she had intended to arrive at the planet of Terralysium. I had speculated that the two planets were, in fact, one and the same and that Terralysium had, for some reason, seen its name change at some point in the intervening centuries. This wouldn’t be uncommon based on history!

However, in People of Earth Michael Burnham revealed that she had tried to find her mother, Dr Gabrielle Burnham, including by contacting Terralysium. It now seems obvious that the two planets are not the same.

It would have made sense to think that a planet – especially one that had such a small population of pre-warp humans – would have seen its name change, especially if it had come under the sway of some other power (like the Orion Syndicate). It wasn’t the case, though, and this theory is toast.

So those theories were debunked. Let’s look at some new theories that we have in the aftermath of People of Earth.

Number 1: Discovery Season 3 takes place in an alternate timeline – or a timeline that is going to be overwritten.

Burnham in People of Earth.

I’ve been reluctant to posit this theory. In the run-up to the season premiere I even wrote that I considered it unlikely, as it would further complicate the already-fractured Star Trek timeline. However, there are possible signs or hints we can see that could indicate Discovery Season 3 takes place in an alternate timeline, parallel universe, or different reality.

First is the absence of Dr Gabrielle Burnham, Michael’s mother. She’s nowhere to be found, and while there are possible explanations for that – as we’ll see in a moment – one possibility that remains in play is that Dr Burnham is in a different parallel universe from Michael and the Discovery crew. Specifically, she may have remained in the prime timeline – i.e. the main Star Trek timeline which runs from Enterprise to Picard – while Burnham and Discovery exited the wormhole in a different universe. Something similar happened to Spock in 2009’s Star Trek, so it isn’t entirely beyond the realm of possibility.

The second part of this theory – which is really a standalone theory all its own – is that the timeline where the Burn occurred and which led to the bleak 32nd Century that we see at the moment isn’t the “true” timeline. Time travel gets messy, but in short: if someone interfered in the timeline and caused the Burn, from Starfleet’s perspective that should never have happened. They would want to undo it in order to restore the “real” timeline, one in which the Burn did not occur.

If that’s the case, much of the rest of the season may be dedicated to figuring out who caused the Burn, how, why, and then travelling through time to prevent it from ever happening.

The reason why I haven’t discussed these theories before is that I would consider both of them to be huge storytelling risks. Discovery has always been part of the prime timeline, and jumping to a different reality would be a huge change. And secondly, telling a multi-episode story, perhaps one that lasts all season, only to undo or overwrite it could easily end up feeling like a waste of time. Star Trek has done this before, but only with individual episodes like Year of Hell or Yesterday’s Enterprise. Undoing or overwriting an entire season would be a much more complicated undertaking.

However, the possibility exists, so these theories are now included on the list.

Number 2: The spore drive is going to become Starfleet’s new method of faster-than-light propulsion.

The USS Discovery initiates Black Alert and jumps through the mycelial network.

With the loss of most of the galaxy’s dilithium, it seems that faster-than-light travel – at least in the former Federation – is difficult and costly. It’s certainly possible that other factions have developed non-dilithium travel methods, and in That Hope Is You we saw Book mention a couple of possibilities for that.

However, there’s also the spore drive. At the end of Season 2 it was strongly suggested that the existence of the USS Discovery and the spore drive would be covered up by Starfleet and/or Section 31, meaning that it’s plausible to think that by the 32nd Century all knowledge of it would have been lost – especially in the post-Burn chaos that engulfed what remained of Starfleet. But the spore drive doesn’t rely on dilithium, and allows for instantaneous jumps across the galaxy – if the technology was able to be rolled out, Starfleet could be back up and running.

This season we’ve not only seen the spore drive in use, but in People of Earth Stamets gave a technobabble explanation of the way it works to Adira, firmly cementing the spore drive as being in play for the remainder of the season.

While I would expect at this stage the bulk of the story to be about unravelling what happened with the Burn and perhaps finding a way to undo it or fix it, one possible outcome could be a slow restoration of Starfleet and the Federation by rolling out the spore drive to more and more ships. Reconnecting the scattered ex-Federation worlds and bringing them back together would be far easier with the spore drive, so it remains an option.

Number 3: We’ll meet Dax when Discovery arrives at the Trill homeworld.

The Dax symbiont.

The revelation that Adira has been joined with a Trill symbiont was interesting. The first trailer last year showed us the Trill homeworld, and ever since I’d been kicking around the possibility of the Dax symbiont making an appearance. Obviously we won’t see Ezri Dax, as Trill hosts seem to have similar lifespans to humans and Klingons based on what we saw in Deep Space Nine, meaning Ezri would not still be around in this era (barring some kind of stasis or time travel story that I just don’t consider a reasonable possibility). However, the Dax symbiont could, in theory, still be alive.

We just don’t know how long symbionts live. They can certainly live for centuries; how many centuries is unclear. It’s certainly possible that Dax could have survived this long, and it would be a wonderful way to tie Discovery to the wider Star Trek franchise.

So those theories were new. Next let’s look at the remaining theories from last time, some of which saw some minor movement this week.

Number 4: Lieutenant Detmer is going to die.

Detmer in People of Earth.

I debated including this theory again this week, because it seems as though the writers of Discovery are planning to go down a mental health/post-traumatic stress storyline with Detmer. However, in Far From Home we got a lot of possible hinting at a head injury or perhaps damage to her eye implant. Though it’s looking less likely that Detmer will die and more likely that we’ll see some kind of PTSD story for her character instead, the way it was set up in Far From Home still feels to me like she’s gravely injured. Perhaps that just means the storyline was not set up very well. But I want to keep this theory in play for a little while longer while we see what, if anything, will happen to Detmer.

Number 5: We’ll see the return of a character from a past iteration of Star Trek, such as Voyager’s Doctor.

The Doctor.

After visiting Earth, perhaps the argument could be made that this theory is less likely. However, if we are going to get the return of a classic character, it seems more likely that any Starfleet officer would be with the rump Federation, even if they’re human or originally from Earth.

Dax seems the most likely candidate right now, but as I’ve written on a number of occasions there are several others who could conceivably be alive and active at this time, including a backup copy of the Doctor as seen in the Voyager Season 4 episode Living Witness.

In short, just because we didn’t see any classic Star Trek characters when Discovery visited Earth that doesn’t mean we won’t if and when they link up with the remainder of Starfleet and the Federation.

Number 6: Booker is a Coppelius synth.

A crowd of Coppelius synths seen in Star Trek: Picard.

Everything we saw of Book this week suggests that he’s human, so in that sense we’re perhaps moving a step or two back from a theory which, let’s be honest, is a bit “out there!” However, we also saw nothing to rule out the idea of a synthetic origin for Book, and in some respects we could argue from a thematic perspective that his relationship with Grudge mirror’s Data’s relationship with his cat, Spot, in The Next Generation.

The abilities Book had in That Hope Is You – including strange glowing spots which could be technological in origin – are still unexplained. Burnham may well know more about Book, having spent at least some time with him over the past year. But for us as the audience, Book is still a mystery. Is he human? Possibly. Is he an alien, either from a familiar or new race? Possibly. Is he a synth, and if he is, could he be part of a synthetic civilisation founded on Coppelius? That’s still a possibility.

Number 7: Dr Gabrielle Burnham will make an appearance.

Michael and Gabrielle Burnham.

As mentioned above, Dr Burnham’s absence is strange in some ways. However, there are perfectly reasonable explanations for why she hasn’t shown up. Upon realising the future had been saved from Control she may have gone in search of the Federation. She and her Red Angel suit may have been captured by someone in this timeline. Or she may have ended up in a different sector of the galaxy.

Burnham was able to contact Terralysium, but as we just noted above, she and Book have only seen a small fraction of the galaxy due to their limited ability to travel. Thus it’s quite possible that Dr Burnham is alive in the galaxy somewhere, and will be able to reunite with her daughter.

Number 8: The Federation’s response to the Burn – not the event itself – caused its collapse.

A Federation fleet seen in Battle at the Binary Stars.

Captain Ndoye suggested that the reason the Federation left Earth was because some folks on Earth felt that, in the aftermath of the Burn, they were turning the planet into a target. With the cause of the Burn still unknown it’s possible this feeling wasn’t unique to Earth and was repeated elsewhere.

We are edging closer to seeing this theory confirmed, but I don’t want to say the matter is settled just yet. We haven’t met the rump Federation yet, and I’d like to hear their side of the story and why they think the Burn led to the Federation’s collapse, shrinking, withdrawal, or however you want to put it.

So those theories saw movement this week. As usual I’ll briefly recap my remaining theories so they’re all in one place. For a more detailed look at any of these, take a look at my first two theory posts, which you can find on my dedicated Star Trek: Discovery page.

Number 9: The ban on time travel is being flouted, possibly by the Federation.

Is this woman, seen in the Season 3 trailers, a Starfleet officer?

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!

Number 10: The Burn was a superweapon – perhaps one the Federation detonated.

Is this a flashback to 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 11: The Burn was caused by one of the Red Angel suits.

Dr Gabrielle Burnham’s powerful 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 12: Someone stole Burnham’s Red Angel suit.

The last we saw of Burnham’s suit in That Hope Is You.

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 13: 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 (that Mr Sahil owned) 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 14: The Orion Syndicate controls the trading post on Hima – and may be a major power.

An Orion guard in That Hope Is You.

The trading post Book and Burnham visited on Hima had a number of Orions present, including working as traders and guards. In addition, in Far From Home the courier Zareh suggested to one of his goons that he would sell “to the Orions.”

The Orion Syndicate has been part of Star Trek going back to The Original Series, and it makes sense in a chaotic, post-Burn environment that they would be able to operate more openly – and they may have even become a major power.

Number 15: There will be a tie-in with the Short Treks episode Calypso.

Craft, the main character of Calypso.

We got a first hint at this when Zareh used the word “V’Draysh” to refer to the Federation, as this was a term first used in Calypso. If Calypso takes place in or around the 32nd Century there could be some further crossover, perhaps even seeing protagonist Craft show up. It does raise questions, however, such as why the USS Discovery was abandoned in a nebula.

Number 16: Mirror Georgiou will travel back to the 23rd Century.

Georgiou with Michael Burnham.

Georgiou was not planning to travel to the 32nd Century, but was aboard Discovery when it left due to fighting Leland/Control. She has expressed her appreciation for the chaotic, “free” nature of the future, but there could be a reason for her to travel back in time. Not least because she’s supposed to be the main character in the upcoming Section 31 series which is meant to take place in the 23rd Century!

There could be a reason for Georgiou to travel back in time, but if she’s to work with Section 31, the main one I can think of would be to warn Starfleet about the Burn and give them time to prepare and/or prevent it.

Number 17: We haven’t seen the last of Zareh.

Zareh.

Despite being quite content to kill all of Zareh’s goons, Saru balked at the idea of killing the man himself. Instead, he and Georgiou let him go, sending him out into the wilds of the Colony – despite being told by the locals that that’s a death sentence. However, we didn’t see Zareh die. And in stories like these, characters like Zareh tend to pop back up looking for revenge.

So that’s it. Those are my theories going into episode four, which, as already mentioned, may be available to watch by the time you’re reading this! Hopefully next week we can get back on track with review and theory timings so we don’t run up against a deadline again. I make no promises, though!

Discovery Season 3 continues to be fascinating, and thus ripe for finding new and interesting theories. I love that the story is still a mystery even after three episodes, and there are so many different ways it could unfold – including many I can’t even predict or imagine. The best television shows manage to do this, and just like Star Trek: Picard earlier in the year kept us on our toes right until the finale, Discovery is doing a great job of keeping its mysteries and storylines under wraps.

I’m having a fun time with Season 3, and one great thing about being so late with this week’s theories is that there isn’t long left to wait for the next episode! Check back in the coming days for my review and an update to this theory list.

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.