The Star Trek franchise for a long time found itself going further and further back into the past. Exploring the early years of the Federation either before Captain Pike or around the time of Captain Kirk. For a long time, our last glimpse of the future was Star Trek Voyager or Deep Space Nine.
However, with Picard and now season 3 of Discovery, the franchise depicts a very uneasy future. In Picard we saw the Federation pushed into a corner by their allies to not save the Romulans. We say a Federation at odds with itself. And finally we say one of the last living legends of the fleet’s glory days, Picard, disenfranchised with all of it.
Season 3 thrusts Discovery’s crew into the very distant future. About 930 years to be exact. The Federation is all but gone. Obliterated in a cataclysmic event called “The Burn.”
The Burn was a galaxy-wide disastrous event that occurred in 3064, in which most dilithium mysteriously went inert, causing the detonation of every active warp core. The event caused widespread death and destruction, made dilithium an even more sought-after resource, and led to the near-collapse of the United Federation of Planets.
Season 3 had multiple story arcs that ranged from good to meh.
Discovery finds out that the Federation worlds are completely disconnected from one another. Something (or someone) caused all the dilithium in the galaxy to destabilize. And all but a handful of starships exploded in an instant. Warp drive became impossible, and entire races were left in isolation.
Now Discovery‘s spore drive is the only way to connect Federation headquarters with the rest of the galaxy. Captain Saru and his crew stand alone as the Federation’s rapid response ship. And its only way to respond to imminent threats.
The season saw the send off of one my personal favorite Discovery characters, Michelle Yeoh’s Philippa Georgiou. However, I could understand why the series had to move on from her. As long as Georgiou stayed, Sonequa Martin-Green’s character Michael Burnham would never have the room to grow or develop into Discovery’s new Captain, something fans have been waiting to see for two seasons.
As sad as it was to see Yeoh leave, fans were introduced to two new interesting characters. The rebellious Cleveland Booker played by David Ajala; the wide eyed Trill, Adira played by Blu del Barrio; and the uptight Admiral Charles Vance played Oded Fehr. Booker brought a Han Solo-ish vibe to the season with his futuristic ship and romance with Burnham. Admiral Vance gave us a glimpse of the remnants of the Federation and its depleted fleet and dire situation. Adira was an interesting addition, someone for Stamets to take under his wing but their (she is Non-Binary on the show and real life) romance with their invisible lover was poorly represented.
As for the villains of this season we were treated to some decent ones. Janet Kidder as the cocky green skinned Osyraa and her group, The Emerald Chain was enjoyable but lacked the fear inducing gravitas of the A.I., Control or Jason Isaac’s Captain Lorca. The Emerald Chain was the Orion crime syndicate that rose to rival the crumbling Federation in the wake of the Burn.
Now as for the event that caused The Burn I both liked and didn’t like it. Trek is all about human emotion and exploring the soul. So naturally in Trek fashion, the burn wasn’t going to be something caused by The Borg or a devious plot from The Romulans. In the episode ‘Su’Kal,’ the Discoveryfound the planet where the Burn began. It was a planet with a heavy dilithium concentration caught within a dangerous nebula. On the planet was a Kelpian research vessel, lost for 130 years. Su’Kal was the only surviving member of the crew. He was a child at the time of the Burn. And his DNA was somehow linked to the planet’s dilithium supply. And the death of his mother caused a subspace rupture that destabilized all the dilithium in the galaxy. In short, the Burn was caused by a scared child. The death of his mother sent him into a sorrowful rage the echoed across the Galaxy. Discovery could have gone big here but chose to go small. It’s one of things I admire about Trek and hate it all at the same time.
Now Michael Burnham took a big leap forward this season. I really feel like Green is making the character her own and loving it. Some fans don’t like how a Burnham who was once a starfleet mutineer is now all of a sudden the savior of the Federation, but that doesn’t bother me at all. Green is exceptional this season as she can now get out of the shadow of previous captains like Lorca, Georgiou, and Pike. She is at heart more of a loose and easy Captain Kirk than a stern and serious Captain Picard.
At the end of the day, there was more good than bad about Star Trek: Discovery Season 3. It isn’t perfect yet, but Star Trek: Discovery took great strides toward becoming a more well-rounded Trek series. Season 1-2 were near flawless. Season 3 is more of a strong stepping stone to a more promising future of endless possibilities.
The future of Star Trek is very bright, even if Discovery Season 3 wasn’t the series’ brightest effort. Very recommended.