****STARSHIP-SIZED SPOILERS AHEAD!!****
The season 2 finale of CBS All Access’
“Star Trek: Discovery” (“Such Sweet Sorrow” part 2) saw the crew of the titular starship following ‘red angel’ Michael Burnham forward in time 930 years to the late 32nd century… truly ‘ going where no (Trek series) has gone before.’ Last month, at New York Comic Con, a trailer for the third season was unveiled.
The S3 Trailer.
The following are observations and analysis regarding the “Star Trek: Discovery” S3 trailer. Other opinions and observations are very much welcome in the comment section below (
no trolling, please, thanks!). Here goes…
The trailer picks up right after season 2, with Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin Green), still in her time-suit, crash landing on an alien planet sometime in the late 32nd century. The planet was supposed to be the remote human colony of Terralysium (seen in S2’s “New Eden”) but I’m guessing from the multiple moons visible later on that this is not the case.
Burnham opens her landing party kit, which includes all of her standard issue 23rd century landing party gear; tricorder, communicator, phaser, uniform badge and what might be a homing beacon. Like most of the Star Trek: Discovery’s technology, the equipment reflects subtle and not-so-subtle redesigns to what we saw the crew of Kirk’s Enterprise use back in TOS Star Trek (1966-9).
We see Burnham in what appears to be a cargo hold of some kind sporting different hairstyles to reflect a passage of time. Burnham’s narration mentions an entire year she spent “looking for the domino” that started all of this. I’m assuming she’s referring to the second season’s storyline which followed Burnham’s year-long quest to solve the “red angel” mystery that ultimately stopped a sentient artificial intelligence from destroying the entire Federation (like The Terminator’s “Skynet”/“Legion”). She may also be referring to a year spent in this new 32nd century looking for what led to an apparent collapse/demise of the Federation and Starfleet (more on that below). However, my guess is that the the year spent refers to last season’s storyline. As I’ve said in an earlier review of the S2 finale (“Such Sweet Sorrow” part 2), the time jump by Burnham and Discovery into the 32nd century was largely unnecessary, since the rogue Leland-AI was destroyed by S31 operative Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) well before Discovery jumped off into the future. The crew could’ve simply waited a couple of minutes for Georgiou’s confirmation that the Leland AI was destroyed. That said, I think a jump forward in time is a very healthy thing for the series overall. I’ll explain later. Moving on…
On this new alien planet (that is not Terralysium) we see Burnham walking and talking with a 32nd century native named Cleveland Booker (played by David Ajala, formerly “Manchester Black” of the CW’s “Supergirl”). Booker is the first new character we see in the trailer.
Booker (aka “Book”) chides Burnham for believing in “ghosts”, a reference to the Starfleet emblem on her uniform. Apparently Starfleet, and perhaps the entire Federation, are long gone in this bleaker-than-expected 32nd century…
Burnham, who seems fresh to this century in the scene, doesn’t quite like the sound of Starfleet being referred to as a “ghost.”
Burnham and Booker’s stroll is interrupted by the abrupt beam-in of an armed landing party, consisting of a human, a possible Cardassian (?), two antennaed Andorians and even a Lurian (the same species as Deep Space Nine’s famed barfly “Morn”). This group carries large cylindrical weapons that are a lot more imposing than hand phasers. The 32nd century transporter effect is more refined and subtle than the process we’ve seen in previous Star Trek series.
We see indications that Andorians have reverted back to their warrior roots (which were referenced in TOS Star Trek’s “Journey To Babel” and throughout the 4 seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise). We see humans fighting alongside the Andorians as well, suggesting that members from the core planets of the Federation (Earth, Andor, etc) might still have some kind of loose association with each other (a long shared history, if nothing else), even if the United Federation of Planets, as a formal political body, no longer exists.
Booker and Burnham open up a can of old-fashioned whoop-ass on their would-be attackers.
Booker and Burnham reach the office of some sort of government official (?) who still keeps an old United Federation of Planets flag stowed away. He deploys it for his two visitors. It would seem the Federation is either gone, usurped (ala the Old Republic of “Star Wars”) or hopelessly adrift, perhaps following a devastating war.
The official (character name/actor unknown) joins hands with Michael, whom he’s apparently been waiting for, telling her that he’s “watched this office every day, believing that my hope was not in vain. ” My guess is that this well-dressed man is someone who wants to see the fallen Federation restored to its former glory; I’m guessing that he is a Federation leader-in-absentia.
To Michael, the mysterious well-dressed man says, “ You were that hope. ” I’ll admit, Michael being a ‘chosen one’ is a trope that made me a bit queasy (it’s something also heavily hinted with the Daj character in the new “Picard” trailer). Waiting for a ‘chosen one’ has become a lazy and ridiculously overused cliche in modern science fiction/fantasy movies and TV shows (and in storytelling since time began, for that matter). That said, I’d prefer to see how it plays out before I do any eye-rolling just yet. Maybe the writers have put a fresh spin on it, who knows? Being a Star Trek fan, I’m a natural optimist…
The trailer is cut to make it seem that this is Burnham’s surprised reaction to the statement that she is “that hope”, but I think it’s a bait-and-switch; in this closeup, Burnham is clearly wearing a very different hairstyle (and she is in a different room) than she was in her previous scene with the would-be Federation official.
The starship Discovery herself is alive and well in this new era, none the worse for wear after her violent escape from the 23rd century.
Acting Captain Saru (Doug Jones) and Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) are dressed in civilian attire as they egress from a hatchway. I’m guessing that their Starfleet uniforms might attract undue attention in this time (see: Burnham getting attacked earlier), so they’re choosing to remain as anonymous as possible for the time being. Imagine if an arrow-firing time traveler from the the army of King Edward I landed in a sensitive 21st century US military base, and it makes sense.
Saru gives the crew another inspiritional pep talk, “This ship bears the name Discovery, she’s carried us into the future… and it will be our privilege to make that future bright! ” I sincerely hope that Saru becomes the permanent captain of Discovery, since few can deliver an inspiring speech quite like our favorite Kelpien (a talent the character discovered himself sometime during the 2nd season). Doug Jones, acting under tons of complex makeup, manages to perform through it, straight to the audience.
^ My own pic of Doug Jones (left), taken in January of this year at the IMATS Makeup Trade Show in Pasadena; here he’s posing with makeup artist Vlad Taupesh (right) and one of his creations. I’ve been a fan of Jones’ work since the 1990s. He is a latter-day Lon Chaney. Jones is, without a doubt, one of the kindest and humblest people I’ve met in entertainment. This encounter was the second time I’d met Doug Jones; the first occasion was back in San Diego Comic Con 2012, where we talked about his career in mime and his roles in director Guillermo del Toro’s films, such as the first two “Hellboy” movies and “Pan’s Labyrinth” (this was several years before his amazing work in the Best Picture-winning “Shape Of Water”).
Ensign Tilly (Mary Wiseman) delivers hugs to her fellow bridge officers. I’m assuming this scene takes place shortly after their successful time jump into the 32nd century. Tilly is often an audience surrogate aboard Discovery, with her relatable flaws ( nervous babbling, stammering, snoring, etc) that make her the most human crew member aboard the ship. Sometimes her nervous babbling got a tad excessive in S2 (especially considering she is now a commissioned officer and no longer a cadet), however, Mary Wiseman imbues her character with so much warmth and charm that any flaws in how she’s written can be overlooked.
Nice to see that Lt. Joann Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo) and Lt. Keyla Detmer (Emily Coutts) returning as well. I’m hoping both of these actors are given more business this year. Lt. “Owo” (as she’s affectionately called) was part of a landing party in S2’s “New Eden”, but both characters have remained sadly underdeveloped. That said, the two are more visible than some of their nearly anonymous fellow bridge officers, such as Lt. Bryce (Ronnie Rowe Jr.). This is an area where the writing of the series, now under the direction of new showrunner Michelle Paradise, could stand some shoring up. I’m very curious to see how Paradise mines this potentially rich family of characters.
Returning from the dead in S2 (after having his neck unceremoniously broken in S1) is Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz). Culber’s resurrection came via the essence of thought, combined with the ‘mycelium network’ of spores connecting all points of the multiverse (it was a little goofy to accept, but so are all sci-fi resurrections, for that matter). The mycelium network exists in a nether dimension that Discovery’s experimental ‘spore drive’ uses to travel far faster than Star Trek’s traditional warp speeds. Hugh’s live-in love aboard the ship also happens to be the ship’s expert on ( and co-creator of) the spore drive itself, Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp). It was a physical manifestation of Paul’s grief over his lover’s death that led to Hugh’s eventual resurrection within the mycelium network. Both characters had a rough time reconnecting after Hugh first returned from the hereafter (see: S2’s “If Memory Serves”) but they reaffirmed their commitment to each other when Paul was seriously injured last season (“Such Sweet Sorrow” part 2). Hugh and Stamets’ relationship has stood the tests of death, mourning, resurrection, and of suddenly finding themselves stranded in an all new (possibly hostile) century together.
An armed boarding party levels their weapons at the crew on duty in Discovery’s engine room. The spore drive interface chamber is off to the left (it looks not too unlike the radiation chamber where Spock was killed in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”).
Commander Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Ensign Tilly are startled to find an armed boarding party in their engine room. I’m guessing this was not quite the warm welcome to the 32nd century either character was hoping for.
A Vulcan-ish character (judging by her hair and slightly pointed ears) is mucking around somewhere in the bowels of the ship. By her uniform, she would appear to be a member of the same armed force that boarded Discovery. Some of the Federation’s remnants might be at war with each other, as evidenced by the not-very-friendly fire reception that Booker and Burnham received.
The symbiote pools on Trill. Trill are a symbiotic species introduced in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (S4’s “The Host”) but explored in depth during the run of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (1993-9). On the Trill home world, a humanoid host would be selected (via a rigorous screening process) to join with the slug-like symbiont to became a joined being; a merger of two entities into one. One of the great rewards of joining include gaining access to the life experiences of many hosts (and symbionts) passed down through many generations. Since the symbionts far outlive their humanoid hosts, they could be surgically removed and rejoined with a new host after the previous one expires. Symbionts which hadn’t reached maturation, or were awaiting a suitable host, were kept in bioluminescent pools, where they were carefully tended by guardians until implantation. There are far fewer available symbionts than hosts, hence the intense competition between host candidates for the joining procedure.
The symbiont pool as originally depicted in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” S3.4’s “Equilibrium.” Obviously CBS-AA threw a lot more money into their version, but it’s still a faithful enough recreation of the above original set.
Humanoid Trill hosts. Joined Trill would make ideal ‘living witnesses’ for Discovery’s crew to learn what led to the downfall of Starfleet and the Federation, since each humanoid host has access to the memories and life experiences of their centuries-old symbionts. I’m assuming the Trill’s presence in S3 fits with that reasoning.
The mirror universe’s version of the late Captain Phillipa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh), a former emperor who is now an operative for Starfleet’s Black Ops division, known as Section 31. Mirror-Georgiou was pulled from her own universe near the end of the first season, where she played a role in helping the Federation put an end its costly war with the Klingons (which the Federation was losing). She was later recruited into Starfleet’s Section 31, while living on the Klingon home world of Qo’nos. By the end of S2, Georgiou had rapidly risen in the ranks of the clandestine organization; a position she cemented when she killed an AI-possessed Leland, her immediate superior. Georgiou’s role in S3 is unclear, especially given the on-again/off-again rumors of her own Section 31 spinoff.
Where No Trek Has Gone Before.
Discovery being thrown forward in time 930 years at the end of S2’s “Such Sweet Sorrow” part 2. The light streaking of Discovery’s journey through time was similar to the wormhole distortion effect seen when the USS Enterprise’s warp engines were thrown out of alignment in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979).
The idea of plunging the series forward in time 930 years works for two main reasons. First of which is that it avoids stepping on the toes of the well-established continuity within Star Trek’s fictional 23rd and 24th centuries (the late 24th century will be revisited in “Picard”, coming in early 2020 from CBS-AA as well).
The 2018 Short Trek “Calypso” (loosely based on Homer’s “The Odyssey”) saw Aldis Hodge as “Craft”, a man returning home from a 33rd century war who finds himself aboard a deserted starship Discovery under control of a sentient AI named “Zora” (Annabelle Wallis). The two have something resembling a romance until Craft, like Odysseus, is compelled to continue his journey home.
Secondly, a fourth millennium future is an era of Star Trek that we’ve never seen before, save for a 2018 Short Trek segment called “Calypso”, written by Michael Chabon (a sci-fi novelist and showrunner for next year’s “Picard”). The 15 minute “Calypso” was entirely set within the confines of the starship Discovery during its brief glimpse of the 33rd century, so Star Trek’s 32nd century offers fresh new territory for exploration. Personally, I wish that “Star Trek: Discovery” hadn’t began its life as yet another prequel; we’d already had “Star Trek: Enterprise”, as well as the alternate 23rd-century of the Bad Robot ST movies. That said, throwing the ship forward in time to a whole new century (
whether such a move was preconceived or not) is a nice way to amend that situation.
Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery was greatly aided by the charismatic presence of Anson Mount’s Captain Christopher Pike; a character first played by the late Jeffrey Hunter in the original TOS Star Trek pilot, “The Cage” back in late 1964. Sadly, we won’t see Pike in Discovery’s season 3, but I hope that CBS-AA decides to deliver a Pike-era series (or miniseries) someday. While I’ve often said I’ve had enough of Star Trek prequels? This would be a prequel I might make a little room for…
With new showrunner Michelle Paradise, who wrote the gripping if overly
busy two-part S2 finale ( “Such Sweet Sorrow” 1 & 2) and a whole new millennium to play in, I’m very curious to see where a creatively unrestrained Star Trek: Discovery ‘ boldly goes’ next year. In the trailer, Mirror Phillipa Georgiou herself puts it best when she says, “Let’s see how this plays out, shall we?”
No official date is yet given for the S3 premiere, but guesstimates are sometime in spring to mid-2020.
CBS-All Access, Trekcore.com