On Thursday the second season of Star Trek: Discovery wraps up with “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2.” All season long things have been building up to what has been described as a game-changing finale. The showrunners have promised that the finale will answer key questions fans have about the show. To get ready for what is coming, TrekMovie’s editors have put together some of the questions we have going in.
SPOILER WARNING: the following will include informed speculation as well as discuss elements of the season finale trailer.
Where and when is Star Trek: Discovery headed?
Part one of “Such Sweet Sorrow” set up the plan for Michael Burnham to use a time-traveling Red Angel suit to travel into the future, taking the USS Discovery with her. The preview for part two shows Burnham creating a wormhole and going through it, indicating some level of success with this plan. Her goal is to jump forward in time 950 years to the tech-free planet of Terralysium (seen in “New Eden”), which is where her mother has set up camp. However, Michael has never used the Red Angel tech before and the preview shows her opening the wormhole in the middle of a pitched battle. Nailing an exact time and place may not work out as planned; as Tyler noted, she could end up anywhere, perhaps only 500 years into the future (which is where the modified squid probe came back from in “Light and Shadows”). Going back in time shouldn’t be discounted either. Plus, it’s a big galaxy with four whole quadrants.
If they go, are they coming back?
It was established that time crystal they are using will be burned out on the journey, so this will be a one-way trip. Where and when they are going is especially important if we assume the jump is not just to keep the sphere data away from Control, but to solve an issue for the show itself.
The producers and cast of Star Trek: Discovery have often talked about how the second season will bring the show into sync with Star Trek canon. Answers have been promised to questions about why there was never a mention of Michael Burnham as Spock’s sister and especially why the spore drive technology was never heard of before, a technology that would have been of particular use to Captain Janeway. Jumping the ship and the show far into the future could provide the answer to these questions. If Michael was no longer around, there would be no need for Spock to talk about her (although it’s not like he was very chatty about his family anyway). And without Stamets and his tardigrade-infused blood, it’s possible that the spore drive died when it, he, and all his research left the 23rd century.
Where and when the Discovery goes could reveal the new setting for the third season and possibly for the rest of the series. But once the Discovery is safely away from Control, there is no reason the crew wouldn’t try to find a way to return home using some other means of time travel. Based on Star Trek canon, time travel will become much more common in future centuries, but there may be story-related reasons to keep Michael and her friends from having the journey home be their number one priority. (Plus there’s a risk of following too closely in Voyager‘s footsteps by featuring a crew whose number one goal is to get themselves home, especially if it takes a whole season or more to do so.)
Will Discovery’s time in the 23rd century be retconned?
The jump to the future should be enough for the canon sync with a few handwaves, but the show could take it a step further and find some way for Michael to go back in time and change her history, possibly saving her parents from the Klingon attack on Doctari Prime so she never went to live on Vulcan. This change in the timeline could also have the butterfly effect of Stamets never developing the spore drive tech. While completely turning all of the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery into a sort of pocket universe (à la “Yesterday’s Enterprise”) would solve the sync issue, that plan could backfire. It might be seen as an over-correction and even a betrayal to fans who have supported the show by attempting to placate canon purist critics who may never embrace Discovery anyway, even if they redesigned the ships, uniforms, and tech to perfectly match the 1960s aesthetic.
Who ends up on the Disco?
Last week we saw Tilly, Stamets, Saru, Reno, Nilsson, Detmer, Owosekun, Nhan, Rhys, Bryce, Osnullus, and Spock volunteer to stay with Burnham on the Discovery. While that is enough to fill out a bridge crew, it doesn’t leave much for running a ship with a regular complement of 136, so it’s possible there are additional personnel aboard as a skeleton crew.
There is also an issue with Spock, as we know that he has to end up back on the Enterprise. The episode preview may provide a clue: We see Spock exit the Discovery in a shuttle to escort Michael in the Red Angel suit, so he may end up having to return to the Enterprise due to events of the battle.
It’s also not clear where Dr. Culber is, but he indicated he was transferring to the USS Enterprise, so it’s possible he isn’t making the trip. Also aboard the Enterprise are Tyler and Admiral Cornwell, while, curiously, Po and Georgiou are back on the USS Discovery. Keeping track of who ends up where is important if we are assuming the ship and show are jumping to a new time and place, because whoever ends up on the Discovery will make up the core of characters in season three.
How does Georgiou’s final spot impact the Section 31 show?
Where Georgiou ends up is of particular interest. It has already been revealed that Michelle Yeoh’s former-Terran-Emperor-turned-Section-31-agent will appear in the third season of Discovery, which could explain why she is on board the Discovery even in the trailer for part two of the finale. But Yeoh has also signed on to head a new Section 31 series, which is planned to go into production after the third season of Discovery wraps next year. If Discovery is headed into the far future, does it make sense to also have a Section 31 show set in that same future? From a logistical standpoint, they have built a number of Section 31 sets, so these would be left behind on the other side of the wormhole. In theory, Georgiou could end up on a Section 31 ship during the battle, but if so, would she follow the Discovery into the future? Maybe. Georgiou could also find some way to return to the 23rd century to pick things up with Section 31. This opens up another option: The third season of Discovery could be set in multiple eras.
Is Sarek coming back?
It is not uncommon in Star Trek to have the heroes facing off against a powerful enemy alone, and we know that Control had infiltrated Starfleet subspace communications to prevent any calls for reinforcements. Michael’s adoptive father Sarek showed up halfway through that episode because he could track her using his special katric link. After he and Amanda said their goodbyes, they left before the battle with the Section 31 fleet started. Since Sarek is a high-level ambassador for the Federation and now knows exactly where this battle is going to take place, is he going to take his shuttle to Earth or any other Starfleet hubs to gather some reinforcements? If he doesn’t, he very well may be the worst dad ever.
What is Tyler up to?
During the finale, one person missing from Michael’s loyal group of volunteers was Tyler, who told her he had to be elsewhere to ensure something like the AI Control will never happen again. This sounds like he’s headed for a confrontation with his former Section 31 boss Leland, who has been taken over by Control. But Tyler also told Pike he needed to leave even before Leland’s fleet showed up, so where exactly did he go? The main Section 31 base which originally housed Control was destroyed, so wiping out the Section 31 fleet should finish it off. There may be some backup archive somewhere that Tyler needs to get rid of, or perhaps he went to find some help for the outnumbered heroes, with the most likely source being L’Rell and the Klingon Empire. Tyler’s final disposition will also be important as he is another likely candidate to join Georgiou in her coming Section 31 adventures.
Are there two more signals and how do they tie into Red Angel?
The central mystery established in the season opener was the seven red burst signals and the appearances of the Red Angel. It has been established that the Red Angel was, in fact, Michael Burnham’s mother Gabrielle, traveling back in time from 950 years in the future. However, she was entirely unaware of the seven bursts. In part one of the finale, it was speculated that Michael Burnham herself was causing the bursts from some point in the future. We might see this confirmed in the finale. Each red burst has led the Discovery to another step towards completing its mission to take on Control, with the fifth one showing up over Xahea. That leaves two more bursts to go. Perhaps we will see Burnham as the source of these bursts and get more of an explanation behind her motivation and means of creating them.
What’s up with Control?
Perhaps the most opaque element of the second season is Control, the main antagonist. This Section 31 program was used to assess threats to the Federation, but at some point, it decided to go rogue and kill its masters with the grand plan of wiping out all sentient life. A number of things about Control are unclear including: when it went bad, is it currently conscious? and why does it need the sphere data to complete its planned genocide? There has also been speculation that Control could tie into some other elements of Trek canon, like V’Ger or the Borg. Hopefully, the finale will add an element of depth and maybe even some nuance to this key ingredient of the season.
Does any of this tie into “Calypso” or “The Escape Artist”?
Before season two started in January, CBS All Access debuted four short films tied into Discovery, starting last fall. We have already seen the direct tie to two of these with “The Brightest Star” as a sort of origin story/prequel to the second season episode “The Sound of Thunder,” and the character of Po from “Runaway” returning for the season finale. There were two other Short Treks episodes. The final one (“The Escape Artist”) featuring Harry Mudd probably has no connection to season two. However, “Calypso,” written by Michael Chabon, could be a different story. That mini-episode featured the USS Discovery alone in space in the 33rd century, with an AI named Zora as its sole resident. The ship was visited by Craft, who was escaping a war with the V’draysh. Could the abandoned ship be the result of the crew of the Discovery leaving after successfully moving the ship and the sphere data away from Control? Could Zora herself be an evolution of the ship’s computer and the sphere data? And – as indicated by Michael Chabon – could the V’draysh be what is left of the Federation? It’s all very intriguing, but perhaps these questions may be more for season three.
Is Gabrielle Burnham alive?
In “Perpetual Infinity,” Michael’s mother was revealed as the Red Angel, who was snapped back into the future at the end of the episode although she was not in her suit at the time. She indicated to her daughter that she would see her again, so perhaps the suit isn’t needed to survive travel through a wormhole, as implausible as that may seem. Michael’s goal is to take herself and the Discovery to where Dr. Burnham has been hiding out in the future on Terralysium, which could give her a role to play in the finale. And while it was surmised that Dr. Burnham’s suit was destroyed, this was never confirmed, so it’s possible she could pop back to the 23rd century again.
What will the time crystal do to Reno?
At the end of the first part of “Such Sweet Sorrow,” engineer Jett Reno volunteered to expose herself to the radiation from the time crystal in order to get it powered up in time for the big battle, even though she knew that the visions of the future would be overwhelming as well as dangerous, and potentially lethal. So there is an open question as to whether Reno will even survive the ordeal. Tig Notaro’s Reno has been a breakout character this season, so it would not be a surprise if they find a way to keep her around. However, the ordeal with the time crystal is probably something that will have consequences. Will Reno be imbued with knowledge of the future? Will she go a bit crazy? Or is her acerbic wit enough to protect her from all of that?
What about the situation on Kaminar?
This season’s “The Sound of Thunder” showed the USS Discovery crew spark a revolution on Saru’s home planet of Kaminar. The Kelpiens were freed of their fear and their threat ganglia and the “Great Balance” mythology imposed by the Ba’ul was exposed as a lie. With the Kelpiens revealed to be the true dominant predators, the future of the planet was left uncertain. While the USS Discovery hung around Kaminar for a couple of episodes, there has been no update how things have progressed after Saru’s vahar’ai revolution and if they have found a new peace or returned to their old ways. Speaking to TrekMovie last month, Saru actor Doug Jones said the show would “circle back for a second to find out what happened there,” but time is running out.
Who will be captain of Discovery?
After Captain Lorca broke bad in the Mirror Universe, Saru stepped in as acting captain, but the first season ended with an unknown captain assigned to take over. We never met that captain, who was waiting on Vulcan, since Captain Pike dropped in to take command for his red signals mission. In part one of the finale he relinquished command, returning it to Commander Saru. There was a brief moment where it appeared Pike might make Saru the official captain, but Saru demurred for the moment. This may have been a bit short-sighted as the plan calls for him to jump the ship into the future, removing him from his chain of command. So, if all continues as planned, Saru would be the de facto captain, even if only “acting.”
But as they have left it an open question. It is always possible that events lead to Commander Burnham being made captain. There are some other possibilities as well. First there is Georgiou, who already holds the rank of captain. Also, it seemed curious that Admiral Cornwell was aboard the USS Enterprise in the first part of the finale as Number One was clearly capable of commanding the ship in Pike’s absence. Her being on board didn’t seem necessary, but it’s possible she ends up on the Disco before it enters that black hole. Or, at the very least, she can use her powers as an admiral to settle the issue of Discovery’s command. And don’t count out Number One as a long shot.
Will Spock shave?
The second season of Discovery has generated a lot of buzz, starting before it even aired. And perhaps the most buzzworthy element of the season was the introduction of Spock, with much of the early discussion about the character focused on the long hair and beard seen in the first publicity images. Discussion of “hipster Spock” dominated some of the early coverage of the show and more throughout the season. Even after he joined the Discovery crew in their mission, he never returned to regulation uniform. The second season has been touted as part of Spock’s origin story, with his bearded look explained as a specific choice to show his state of mind. From what can be seen in the season finale preview, Spock will be busy helping Michael. While a leaked photo may have already answered this question, we are still curious if Spock will find the time to shave the beard and present himself in the classic blue Enterprise uniform, as the Great Bird intended.
Any more questions?
Those are the things that have us at TrekMovie curious. Any other burning questions on your mind? Sound off in the comments below.
Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else.