‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 3 Analysis: Rounding Up The Prime Suspects Behind The Burn

There is a big mystery impacting everything in the third season of Star Trek: Discovery and we have put our best detectives on the case. These are their preliminary findings. Warning: this case contains SPOILERS.


Since before the season even began, the trailer teased the mystery of “The Burn,” a cataclysm that caused the almost complete fall of the United Federation of Planets by the end of the 31st century. An earlier analysis speculated on “The Burn,” and our detectives were in the right ballpark in their suspicion that it was something that severely impacted warp travel, but off the mark when it came to identifying Omega particles as the culprit. It has now been established that “The Burn” involved nearly all dilithium in the region around the Federation (and possibly beyond) going inert and then exploding, causing massive damage to Starfleet and other ships carrying the critical crystals used to control warp drives.

The mechanism behind The Burn is still unknown—and that earlier analysis did not examine who may be behind it if it wasn’t just a natural disaster. Given the damage that has been done to the Federation and the stated goal of the season to see the Federation re-established, we must assume we will meet opposition along the way. But from whom?

Let’s first examine the known facts, and our associated assumptions.

Fact: Everybody is still talking about “The Burn”

It is apparent that even with the explanation given in the first episode, there is still much more behind the mystery of The Burn to be discovered. Remember the previews of season two? They were all about the Red Angel. And we all remember how that turned out. In the Discovery season three trailer, we hear Burnham say, “I’ve been searching for clues as to what caused The Burn,” and Tilly tells Michael “You are going to figure out what caused The Burn, and help to rebuild the Federation.” Clearly, the season will continue to focus on the origins of The Burn.

Beyond previews, the “What is the Burn?” message has been a big part of the season three marketing from CBS. Members of the press and other influencers were sent telltale swag boxes which included little “What Is The Burn?” signs to hold up for a virtual photo booth. Well after the season premiere, CBS continued to promote the mystery on social media.

That’s enough to build a case on. The Burn is our new Red Angel, the mystery underlying season three, with more to be uncovered about what caused it… or should we say “who”?

Fact: Season 3 will have a main villain who was previously thought of as an ally

For another key piece of information spilled by executive producer Alex Kurtzman, take a gander at this excerpt from a recent SFX Magazine:

[Kurtzman’s] quick and firm when asked if there’s a “big bad” this season. “Yes! It goes back to what I was saying earlier, which is that putting things in a blender means people who used to be allies are now enemies and vice versa. That’s a really interesting thing to play with, because it forces you to take what you know about Star Trek, and some of the characters and some of the species and aliens, and see them through the looking glass in a different way.”

So, if there is (1) an overarching villain this season, and (2) the hunt for the cause of The Burn will fuel at least the next few episodes, then we can come to only one logical conclusion…

Deduction: The season 3 villain was responsible for The Burn

Take another look at season two. The Red Angel was teased early on, as was the eventual appearance of Spock. Coincidence? No. Ultimately, the two were inextricably linked. Therefore, we can safely assume that The Burn and the “big bad” will be similarly linked. Could the big bad—allies who are now enemies—have turned because of The Burn? Perhaps. But it makes more storytelling sense for the big bad to be the cause of The Burn.

So who are these villains, allies now enemies, who caused The Burn? Who had the motive, means, and opportunity to detonate dilithium on a galactic scale? Obviously, we don’t have enough evidence yet to prosecute any one set of villains. But we can make some educated guesses.


Based on what head honcho Kurtzman said, it’s safe to assume the villains aren’t going to be traditional bad guys like the Borg or Romulans. Nor will it be a group that has played both sides, like the Klingons who had a rap sheet a mile long before becoming (on-again-off-again) allies with the Federation in the 24th century. We are also ruling out friendly species like the Tamarians who haven’t appeared in more than a single episode of an older series.

The people behind The Burn are going to be someone we know… and trust. Let’s take a look at our prime suspects, any evidence (including possible alibis), and potential motives.

The Trill

Dossier: A humanoid species known for their distinctive spots, which appear in two rows (one on each side) from forehead to toe. A small number of Trills undergo a rigorous testing process to allow them to be joined with sentient symbionts; the two personalities merge and a joined Trill gains the memories of the symbiont, which often lives for hundreds of years as it is passed from one body to another, lifetime after lifetime. The Trill were members of the Federation, enjoy contact with other species, and are technologically advanced.

Motive: Already somewhat insular, something happened by the 31st century to convince the Trill that an interconnected Federation is a threat, likely to their dwindling population of long-lived symbionts.

Evidence: It’s been established through previews that the Trill will appear in season three. Kurtzman has confirmed that this will include a visit to the Trill homeworld, and co-showrunner Michelle Paradise has said they will be “leaning into Trill mythology.” There is also a new Trill character (Gray, played by Ian Alexander) with a recurring role. And it has been established in canon that the Trill are secretive. Not only did they initially hide their symbiotic nature when they joined the Federation, but they also lied to their own people when it came to how many Trill were capable of joining with a symbiont.  However, all indications are that the Trill inclusion in season three will be more as allies than foes, with Adira (who is somehow linked to the Trill) working closely with the Discovery crew.

Determination: Free to go… for now.

The Xaheans

Dossier: Humanoid, with the ability to control technology from a distance along with personal cloaking ability, Xaheans have a society built around a close relationship with their home planet, believing they and the dilithium-rich planet are “twins.”  Xaheans had friendly relations, but no indication they were part of the Federation as of the late 24th century.

Motive: Fiercely attuned to the natural balance of their home planet and concerned over excessive dilithium mining, the Xaheans decided to dramatically curtail the demand for the crystals.

Evidence: Xaheans showed an advanced level of understanding of dilithium, including developing recrystallization technology decades before it was developed by the Federation. While a race facing an existential crisis could be capable of anything, this species introduced in a Short Trek (with a return in Discovery and mention in Picard) is likely a bit too obscure to have the emotional punch of a friend-turned-enemy.

Determination: Released on their own recognizance.

The Andorians

Suspect: Andorians

Dossier: Blue-skinned with silver hair and antennae (and prone to calling humans “pink skins” for a while), Andorians are a militaristic race with a sense of honor and an appreciation for passion. Early encounters with humans were adversarial, but eventually, the two species learned to trust each other, and Andorians became one of the founding members of the Federation and can certainly be considered a traditional ally.

Motive: After playing second fiddle to Humans and Vulcans, the Andorians may have decided they wanted to be on top and concocted a scheme to take down the Federation leaving them holding enough dilithium to run things in the ensuing chaos.

Evidence: In episode one (and in previews) it’s been established that by 3188, the Andorians have partnered up the notoriously criminal Orions. They appear to be in charge of “The Mercantile,” controlling the supply of the remaining dilithium in the region that includes Hima (where Burnham landed in the 32nd century) and “The Colony” (where the USS Discovery landed). However, just because Andorions have found a way to thrive in the post-Burn era, does not definitively indicate they were responsible; they could simply have found a way to make the best of a bad situation.

Determination: Don’t leave town.

The Vulcans

Dossier: The Vulcans were the first alien species to make direct contact with Earth. Pointed ears, green blood, and superior physical strength are physical qualities that distinguish them, along with their suppression of emotion and reliance on logic as a guiding principle. They are also one of the founding members of the Federation.

Motive: By the 31st century, Vulcans could determine the experiment of interplanetary connectedness has failed, resulting in too much war and bloodshed, so they develop a radical plan to return things back to the closest thing to the pre-warp era as possible.

Evidence: As the quintessential allies, no group would have a bigger impact as the bad guys as the Vulcans, epitomized by the ultimate Star Trek alien, Mr. Spock. Although relations were sometimes a bit frosty during the 22nd century, there simply would be no Federation without the Vulcans. But throughout Star Trek history we have seen some Vulcans use logic to justify what could be seen as extreme activity, including joining criminal groups like the Maquis. The Vulcan axiom of “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” could even be used to justify the deaths of millions if it was believed to be saving trillions. However, there is a hint that the Vulcans are still part of what is left of the Federation from the recent trailer. And making Vulcans into the bad guys, especially after a whole season searching for Spock, is probably a bridge too far.

Determination: Persons of interest.

The Bajorans

Dossier: A humanoid and very spiritual race, the Bajorans are distinctive for their nose ridges and prominent earrings. After living under Cardassian occupation they gained their freedom through a resistance movement shortly before a stable wormhole to Gamma Quadrant was found near Bajor. While some Bajorans had joined Starfleet and Bajor was under the protection of the Federation, as of the late 24th century they maintained their independence, but it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that they may have joined in later years or centuries.

Motive: After decades of Cardassian occupation and then continued alliance with/obligation to the Federation, Bajorans may have decided that they’ve had enough of other species’ rules and ideas and wearied of being at the crossroads of many conflicts. Enacting The Burn could be one way to level the playing field, as well as keep the general riff-raff from mining more of their home planet’s resources. It’s even possible they could continue to connect with the Gamma Quadrant after The Burn.

Evidence: They have a history of taking matters into their own hands, and have always been able to make the ends justify the means in their quest for autonomy—including resorting to terrorism. They are also surprisingly resourceful and have the orbs (Prophets) on their side. They are not known for having the most reputable spiritual leaders (see Kai Winn). There is also the possibility they came under the influence of the Pah-wraiths (the sworn enemy of the Prophets) who once conspired to destroy the wormhole. Certainly seen as friends of the Federation, the Bajorans would provide some heavy emotional impact if they turned out to be the bad guys, but so far there are no outward indications they are involved.

Determination: Under surveillance.

The Kelpiens

Dossier: Tall, incredibly fast, and equipped with heightened senses, the Kelpiens were a pre-warp civilization kept from progressing as a species by the Ba’ul, with whom they shared their home planet, Kaminar. Once known for their ability to “sense the coming of death” (with help from their threat ganglia), they have since reclaimed their natural evolutionary step: they no longer live with fear and their ganglia have been replaced with quills, putting them on the offense instead of the defense. At the time of Discovery’s leap into the 32nd century, Saru was the only Kelpien in Starfleet, however, they did assist in the final battle with Control.

Motive: After generations of being isolated from other cultures and killed off before they reached maturity, the Kelpiens have a reason not to trust other species, or the rest of the galaxy in general.

Evidence: How they dealt with the Ba’ul after their “liberation” is unknown, but it’s possible they wiped them out in retaliation; Saru’s sister Siranna was piloting a fighter ship not long after discovering that her entire worldview was a lie created by the Ba’ul, so we know they learn quickly and have fighter instincts. They have had generations to build up their anger at their oppressors, and who knows who else? We also don’t know much about them yet, like how long they live, how strong they can become, and what other suppressed abilities they may have rediscovered. The Kelpiens are also the most prominent new race developed by Discovery and so perhaps provide a bigger impact within, especially with Saru, by making them the primary villains.

Determination: Seeking a warrant.

Next Steps: Gather more evidence

As of now, we simply don’t have enough to make a call. This list is not comprehensive and there could be other possible suspects that currently aren’t on our radar. For now, we must remain diligent and continue our investigation into The Burn before we can make an arrest.

If you have seen anything, or have your own suspicions, please let us know in the comments below, and we may open a new file.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news, reviews and analysis here at TrekMovie.com.

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Given the omnipresent reach of the Mycelial Network, could this have anything to do with it? This is Discovery after all.

Maybe. I feel like the mycelial network will be used mainly to help the Discovery crew get around quickly and push the narrative forward. You can never be too sure; in both seasons 1 and 2 the network had an impact on what was going on beyond just transportation.

And you’d suspect it already does in the upcoming episode given Discovery goes from whatever frontier worlds the wormhole put them into to Earth in a matter of an episode (not that conventional warp drive ever stopped them from doing that *cough*Broken Bow*cough*).

None of them its gonna be the Iconians

The Iconians were never an ally, so no.

Honestly, if I had to put my money on it, I could see the Vulcans (or a sub-group of Vulcans) being behind the Burn. If it happened 120 years in the past, there would still be Vulcans alive that could have been involved.

Now that’s a race I haven’t heard about in a while

Were the Kelpians ever allies though? The Federation ignored them, more or less. They weren’t allies.

With an episode titled “Unification III” coming, might the culprits be a new Vulcan/Romulan alliance? We already saw Romulans infiltrate high levels of the Federation in “Data’s Day” and Picard Season 1. Maybe they took advantage of the good will given to them after the Hobus Supernova and used it to infiltrate the Vulcan government in some hare-brained plot to destabilize the Federation and level the playing field with the crippled Romulan Empire?

Nah, the timeline doesn’t work. But that could be a good storyline for a movie or Picard Season 2 or 3.

They’re going to find out the Earth Defense force is aligned with the bad guys. Im calling it now. Disocvery never goes the clever route. we all saw the mirror universe story line coming from a mile away.

I’m not convinced that the the Earth Defence Force will be an official, public ally of the villain, but behind the scenes I’m convinced there will be not just alignment, but linkages.

But I disagree that it’s not clever. Most fans assumed that humanity/Earth will be on the side of good. Turning that on its head, overturning expectations is smart.

Wow, “deconstructing” human organizations to “probe” them, now in which 2020 Trek series did we just have that original plot. You could say for postmodernist Trek this IS the default expectation by now! :P

Suspect: Michael Burnham’s Red Angel
Dossier: Starting wars with Klingons, Jumping through time without thinking through the consequences.
Motive: Messing up bigger, better things. Family issues.
Evidence: Yeah, coincidental, BURN-ham, RED angel. But seriously, flying through time dragging a starship along for the ride with a toxic AI on board, when flying it into a star was a helluva easier solution…
Determination: Lock her up.

It’s too obvious, but knowing the writers on Discovery it’s gonna be that…

What about the other Red Angel?

Burnham’s mum and/or the community on Terralysium may have felt that disenabling warp travel and sub-space communication was what was necessary to prevent the destruction of biological life.

In fact, the more I think about it the more I think that it was Dr. Burnham.

She was past grimdark despair in her efforts to save the multiverse from Control or some other malevolent transcendent AI.

Or it could be someone else on Terralysium with the right mitochondrial DNA.

We know that the timesuit went back, but I’m more than convinced that Mama Burnham didn’t survive getting sucked back up into that time wormhole. (Not sure why Michael didn’t realize that given that her mother’s logs said the materials in the suit were essential to protect the traveler.)

I can totally go with that line of reasoning since they already used this “twist” last season, everything pointing to one “Burn” but then being an unexpected one (alternative: surprise appearance by the missing father :D) It totally fits the soap opera-ization of large scale scifi twists in this show.

It’s this and only this. In continuing with the theme of everything being about Burnham. Ugh.

They try so hard to foist upon us an unsympathetic character as saviour of the galaxy, as though viewers should like Burnham by fiat. Making her destroyer of the galaxy would be karmic. But then it would turn into a quest for personal redemption, and we’ve already skipped down that lane with her before viz. the Klingons.

My suspicion as well.

I have recently started re-watching Star Trek Enterprise, and in the Season 1 Finale – Crewman Daniels takes Archer into the future. 800 years into the future. And technology itself seems to have been destroyed or missing.

The assumption being the other side won the Temporal War.

Now Booker, in Discovery mentioned the end of the Temporal Wars, and mentions the Burn happened 100 – 120 years ago.

It could be related, or just the result of the writers being ignorant of Enterprise (which I find hard to believe as the Temporal War is mentioned explicitly)

If I’m remembering things correctly that timeline was caused by removing Archer from the timeline and was presumably erased after he’d gone back to the 22nd century much like the future we saw with Enterprise J that was overwritten when they defeated the sphere builders.

The Star Trek: Enterprise episode was set in 2151-52.

Star Trek: DIscovery season 2 was set in 2257-58.


So the two events are about a century apart.

No mentioning of Vulcan logic extremists? The Vulcans are certainly a candidate but I’m still rooting for Michael… The Burn…Burn-ham… That’s no coincidence. Though I believe it’ll be some sort of accident and / or paradox that’ll make her do it. Trying to prevent the Burn from happening, she’ll ignite it… And Detmer is the one to see that happening via her implant.

It’s this. Spot on.

What about the species where their space was being destroyed by warp drive? Destroying dilithium would certainly fix the problem.

Also, I’m inclined to believe it’s the Romulans. Revenge for their star going nova.

Federation = V’draysh

Burnham = The Burn

I mean, she is the focal point in Discovery, isn’t she.

Earth environmentalists. Was not Starfleet accused of destroying the fabric of spacetime with warp drive? Maybe someone did it to put an end to what they see as imperialism and the humanization of the galaxy? Seems like “The Burn” put an end to that

Starfleet wasn’t, just all warp ships in general.

But yes, maybe it could be someone who resents the influence of the Federation across the galaxy (it wouldn’t be a first). They could even have expanded into the Delta or Gamma quadrant by now.

but that accusation won’t come for another 100 years or so from “now”. that was a late “Next Gen” story. we’re 10 years before Kirk

What difference does that make though? Fact is it still happened, just later. We’re now 900 years post-Discovery, so anything from the past in that time between 2200s-3100s could shape what is happening now.

Heck it could even be before Discovery and happened during Enterprise since we know the Temporal Wars could be involved in some way.

I NEVER put anything past the Vulcans. ;)

Yeah, they act noble and all but we know they still have elements in their society who want to remain isolationists and can still be pretty racist as evidence in Enterprise and Discovery. Maybe that has happened again centuries later with a societal shift with the species.

In fact, I actually thought a faction of them could’ve been the ones to help to destroy Mars in Picard because they hated the notion of helping the Romulans that much. Of course we found out it was the Romulans who destroyed their own chances of getting help but I’ll set a side my eye roll on that.

I also can see that it could be the Vulcans. Now, to put a personal spin on the whole thing, let’s say it is a descendant of Spock that started it. I know what most of you are going to say; “He didn’t have children.” Note that Spock has never been open to talk about his family (look at Sybok for example). It could be that he did have a child in secret (maybe while on Romulus). I know that is a stretch and I seriously doubt this is the case, but it is something that came to mind.

Saavik was pregnant with Spock’s child in Star Trek IV, which is why she remained on Vulcan. Unfortunately, the scene that said so was cut from the movie.

Maybe while he was on Romulus he hooked up with that Romulan Commander from The Enterprise Incident.

This may sound super improbable and cliched but actual Kurrzman said in an interview St.. Michael would look into the fate of Spock and what she finds would “impact her search for what happened” or something. Intruiging…

Well Tiger2, some Romulans thought that the destruction of the fleet and loss of billions of Romulan lives was a logical price to pay.

There is a commonality in Romulan and Vulcan extremes.

Romulans have always been portrayed as the opposites of Vulcans in that regard, despising logic and IDIC and being driven by their vicious emotions. In fact, that informed their split from Surak’s teachings and exodus from the common homeworld 2000 years ago. These drives for extermination, no matter how industrial and well planned they seem, are not logical and are thus driven by emotion. Nobody has ever accused Hitler of being a logical creature. Because there is no logic in megalomania and inevitable self-destruction.

“I NEVER put anything past the Vulcans. ;)”

Thanks for your vote of confidence, Tiger (cough) :/

It was Badgey. Badgey did it.

I’m calling it now. Badgey is responsible for the burn. He got his hand on a mobile emitter, and decided that he would be happier in a galaxy that wasn’t overcrowded with organic beings. He used technology that he stole from the Pakleds to cause the Burn, and now that the Federation is weakened there is nobody to stop his ultimate plan to teach all life a lesson.

I think Kurtzman wants to keep all the shows separate considering different timeframes these shows take place in. But maybe it was EMH – he both had a mobile emitter and as hologram he could still be alive by the time Burn happens and with all that time since Voyager his program might’ve malfunctioned and he became evil (it happened once already when he tried to “improve” himself) causing The Burn to happen. Granted, Picardo wasn’t confirmed for any Star Trek role, but he (and the rest of the cast) also might be under NDA to not say anything to not reveal the big twist by accident.

I wonder if The Burn has something to do with Discovery’s presence? Perhaps opening of the wormhole, then the red angel / DSC coming through the caused the burn, and when they arrive the 100 / 120 years has passed. Would be interesting to see if they’re trying to fix what they unknowingly caused, and how that truth might affect their presence in 3188.

Don’t forget a similar cataclysm was foretold in 29th Century by Captain Braxton. Nice little lead-in…

Then again I’ve always got these wrong and I’m usually way off – but the fun is in the guessing – and just sitting back and enjoying the story unfold.

Some of the motivations you discuss for the different species might work if this was set a few years or even decades after we last saw them. But the burn took place about 800 years in Discovery’s future. It seems suspect that whatever grudge people held in the 23rd or 24th century would still be such a big motivator almost a millennium later.

I’m not pushing them as suspects, but holding a grudge for extreme periods of time is so Bajoran; there’s practically an Orb for it.

And we have a cat named Grudge.

Go figure.

Is there anyone else less likely to let go of something? (Looking at you mama Burnham…)

Cardassians, Borg, Species 8472 pick one…

Those would be potential allies, according to Kurtzman’s prediction.

This feels very andromeda heavy. Nitzcheans were the best buds of the humans in the comminwealth. They collapsed the commonwealth. Andromeda was pilfered from genes story arcs that were peototypes for trek. Vulcans occupy a similar place in trek. They’re similar enoigh bbut very different. Superior to humans through a philosophical doctrine. Vulcans are not above suspician.

Now that most species have seeded multiple worlds warp had served the survival purpose. Now it was simply leading to wars and politics. End warp to stop war.

Or iconians. Or other races with intersteller transporters. Now they would have a monopoly on travel.

I Will put it out there that its the ‘Prophets’ they said there was going to be a cost for helping in the dominion war, this could be it. Plus Sisko gets a chance to return into this series….

They are a very good candidate. The “cost” though was Sisko having to abandon everything and join them in the Celestial Temple.

My really crazy and unlikely theory:
It’s the Bajorans and specifically The Emissary:
1) Supposedly Avery Brooks is coming back to Star Trek
2) Discovery will turn out to be a new wave era novel by Benny Russell. Probably published posthumously after he started to be recognized in the 70s.

“Discovery will turn out to be a new wave era novel by Benny Russell”

No doubt while he was on a heavy trip of ‘shrooms!

It all makes sense now!

It explains why Paul Stamets is named for real world Paul Stamets.

Also motive:
The future without the Burn is worse.

I hope it’s not the Vulcans. Spock was so good and noble that subsequent storytellers have thought it was a clever twist — or even interestingly “edgy” — to make the Vulcans bad guys. I hate that. I’d prefer to have a species of people in the Federation who are like humanity’s older siblings — people just slightly more morally advanced than we are, who we can look up to and emulate. I find that a much better use of the Vulcans than making them villainous.

I feel exactly the same way about Vulcans. Spock and Tuvok for the win.

Absolutely! I’ve looked up to Spock since 1969, and Tuvok was a worthy successor.

Great article, and it’s fun to speculate — but there’s one issue: Didn’t Alex Kurtzman say that “The Burn” was *not* caused by conflict or any hostile group? The Federation was doing just fine until this catastrophe suddenly happened?

If that’s true, it means there isn’t actually any “big villain” involved, even if some allies and enemies have switched places by the 32nd century. So I think it could be one of these causes:

1. Burnham’s time-travelling suit malfunctioned and accidentally triggered the dilithium explosions when it emerged in the past.

2. The Discovery crew eventually use the ship to try to return to the 23rd century, but something goes very badly wrong during the attempt and they accidentally cause The Burn. At some point in Season 3, they’ll find historical evidence of their own role in the disaster (some scientific macguffiny “signature”, or they’ll actually find old fragments/wreckage from the Discovery). So they’ll try to change history by doing it correctly “the second time”.

Could that be how it ties up with “Calypso” and Discovery gets abandoned on the way to the past?

Sybok – Interdimensional King of the Galaxy! Grovel before his holiness, or feel….his….PAIN!!

Yeah, all this business of “what if the good guys are the bad guys now” is really cynical. Not to mention ridiculously overplayed at this point.

I think the Kelpians are the best options here if they have to do something like that, since they were a developing civilization the last time we saw them, and it would help Discovery feel more like it’s telling a tighter, self-contained story.

I guess it depends partly on how much the writers want to lean on the morality play aspect of Star Trek. We’re seeing a lot of good institutions turning bad lately, and they may be writing us a cautionary tale…

Yeah, I don’t have anything against that, but Trek’s been telling that tale for 20 years now. At this point it would be more against the grain to tell a story about people actually acting like the evolved civilizations they purport to be.

Also, “Picard” already kind of took on that theme recently and I think is poised to do it in a more meaningful way. But I guess we’ll wait and see, at the end of the day the quality of the story told is all that matters!

Yeah, I really prefer it when Trek is aspirational, rather than cautionary. We have a lot of examples of how bad things can be; show us what a wonderful society looks like!

Corylea, much of the civilized world has now devolved into a state where they glorify emotion and want to make justice subject to personal sympathy and attitude, no matter which side they are on – much like in the Middle Ages, so I’m totally not surprised Vulcans and other “logic extremists” (say the emo-extremists that rule the day) would be vilified. Before a new dawn of Enlightenment and Age of Reason, I doubt there will be much interest in holding up the virtues of logic and truth and instead it’s all about HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL!!

Revenge of the Horta!!

The culprit is clearly Wesley Crusher.

I think they said most dilithium, but not all. There was some at the trading facility.

My money is on the Klingons. They were allies in the 24th century.

But they already had conflict with the Klingons in season 1 of Discovery.

My totally uneducated and more than a bit tongue in cheek guess is that “The Burn” will end up referring to Michael Burnham from the Mirror Universe, long thought dead but somehow thrust into the future, just like her doppleganger, to wreak havok. After all, the only thing better than one Michael Burnham is two Michael Burnhams. It loosely ties into Kurtzman’s “promise” that the big bad is a supposed ally (I can see TPTB pulling a Lorca style switcheroo at some point) and as we all know Burnhan is the fulcrum for everything that transpires in this show. The season will probably climax with Georgiou killing the evil Burnham, cementing her turn from evil witch to nurturing mother figure.

This sound’s like very plausibly Discovery writing. I suspect you’re right about most, if not all of this. How disappointing.

Spoiler- it’s a Talalxian STD so virulent that it mutates to compromise dilithium, as foreshadowed in A.C. Crispin’s Star Trek: Muculent Reckoning (Pocket Books).

“foreshadowed in A.C. Crispin’s Star Trek: Muculent Reckoning”

Fictitious “reckonings” are very much en vogue among the chattering classes and their MSM right now so I totally go with that!


It’s Barry Allen. He got bored just screwing up one universe with his time travel.

This is great. I am really enjoying all possible scenarios. But knowing what to expect from Discovery, their “super secret plot and ideas” from Season 2 were not that “super”…like TG47 said above, the Burn very likely will be Burnham. Mom Burnham.

They were going to meet her right away and they haven’t mentioned her in the first two episodes. This is ackward. Also, Michael dying to go to the future to see her, it was a cliffhanger, so surprised they haven’t dropped a word or a scene, at least 5 seconds talking to Book, about Mom, Gabrielle Burnham….this is fascinating….

Now that Control is under “control”. I wish they add some continuity to the story. If I tragically lost mom and dad when I was a child, and I see mom again, am I going to be chilling out, having a Time Travel suit?

She has solutions for everything. Surprised she throw her suit. Now that Control is under “control”, I would be looking for Mom and see how to rescue Dad.

This is the type of details that makes me think about the writing, but hey, its just a show to enjoy, which I do very much.

Tiger2 mentioned something like this few weeks/months ago. They can come up with few ideas, not all from our personal wish list! =D

I thought checking out Terralysium and finding out what happened to mama Burnham would be a priority for Michael (even though logic says her mum did not survive being sucked into a time wormhole without her timesuit on).

However, it was 40,000 light years from the main Federation sectors. So, Michael may have reasonably felt she needed to find Discovery first.

Regarding her father, who died at the hands of the Klingons, given that her mother has already tried to get back to rewrite the ending and has not, perhaps Michael is wise to let it go. It sounds as though his death my be at least part of the event/point in time fixed by the time crystal in the S31 timesuit.

As to why Michael had to send back and destroy her timesuit, I’ve argued this on earlier threads. But beyond not taking the risk of completely undermining her mission and/or letting it fall into enemy hands (which no honourable officer could permit), the time crystal in that suit was anchored to Pike’s accident so there was a risk of the suit being pulled back to the 23rd century.

The Andorians might have done it. Andorians are a militaristic race but why would they cause the burn to harm the Federation?

The Orions and Andorians are working together now so they are up to no good.

The Andorians are the founders of the Federation along with Vulcans, Humans, and Tellarites.

Andorians didn’t do it. Vulcans will never do that either. None of these alien races caused burn.

I feel like a new alien threat to the galaxy was responsible. The ones here seem too far fetched.

What if The Burn is just….

There’s a Monty Python reference for everything, it seems. Well played.

Maybe the temporal wars caused the burn.

All that time travel screwed up the future. Causing an imbalance of the timeline.

Honestly these scenarios are outliers. Maybe the burn was a natural phenomenon at a galactic scale.

As long as this sort of crap is what Discovery is about, I’m going to have a hard time embracing Discovery.

Right? “Who murdered Dilithium?” reads like a sub-standard version of an Agatha Christie novel, and a far cry from what Star Trek was once about, nurturing curiosity for exploration and inspiring the next generation of scientists (not criminal investigators ;).

Very much so. I’ve enjoyed the first two episodes of the season reasonably well, but I’m fearful that when the season-long-mystery kicks in, I’m going to roll my eyes and begin waiting for the season to be over. Maybe not; but that’s how the first two seasons went, more or less. Until I’ve got a reason to not be cynical about it, I’m probably gonna stay cynical.

“I’m fearful that when the season-long-mystery kicks in”

You should be even more fearful when the mid-season “super twist switcheroo” hits us like a bucket of waste water emptied out of the window, such as “Forget the Klingons, we are going Mirror!” in season 1 and “Forget Red Angel faith vs. science mystery, we are going Evil AI!” in season 2!

I had really hoped the Burn would be a scientific problem that had to be overcome rather than the work of some villain, but I guess this is what we’re getting. To me there’s a lot of drama to be mined from a galaxy grappling with an existential crisis and showing how some relationships are strengthened or strained as a result. You could even throw in some group that denies it’s even a problem to relate it to some of our modern day issues, but nope, I assume it’s going to be some overwrought soap opera again. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but I doubt it.

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest something no one has yet considered.

What is its dilithium itself? They discover that dilithium is actually a crystalline life form, that went inert for the purposes of warp propulsion after achieving sentience.

I just can’t see many other possibilities that would cause all dilithium to go inert like that all of a sudden after working fine for so long. The idea of dilithium being some kind of life form that decides it doesn’t want to be used like that is one sci fi type expansion that would “make sense”

I like this. A rock based life form like the horta or the supposed look of the Tholians or maybe the Excalbians.

I kind of jokingly thought this after the first episode, because it’s something they would do, but it doesn’t make any sense. Keep in mind that the dilithium exploded, presumably across the galaxy, all at once, though somehow some of it didn’t.

At the very least, I wonder if we are about to lean about some previously unknown property of dilithium, like a connection to some energy source in another dimension? A key part of this mystery is how whatever happened affected dilithium across the galaxy all at once… and on two separate occasions.

It was starfleet that did it.

I think it may have something to do with the warp speed limit introduced in TNG, “Force of Nature”. High warp was established to do a lot of damage to the subspace, and to Hekarans homeworld. So a speed limit was introduced, and ignored ever after.
May the Burn be provoked by the Hekarans to save their homeworld?

By the time Voyager came around the Federation had upgraded their warp drives so that wasn’t a problem anymore.

I’m surprised 1000 years down the line, the Feds et al are still using ships, and they are still powered by dilithium. It’s like the three ages of Middle Earth, where for thousands of years, everyone uses swords, axes and shields and rides horses, with no technological advancement whatsoever. San Francisco still looks like it did in the 24th century. Sure, programmable matter and super-fast transporters are cool, but they’re just so 25th Century. And, spore drive technology stayed under wraps since the Glenn was destroyed and the Disco disappeared? No one else discovered it? Or anything else? 1000 years. Seems a bit too close to “home” to be so far in the future.

I’m glad that more people are using common sense and observing with their own eyes instead of believing the BS they are being served. TPTB may think the audience is stup!d but the best fan is the critical fan who helps improve the product with constructive criticism instead of praising the emperor without clothes (we don’t need discussion forums for that)!

I assume you’ll be taking over as showrunner on all Trek from now on Vulcan Soul since you have all the answers

It’s Burn-ham. Has to be. She destroyed the universe and will now save itbwith one of her millions of talents.

It would make sense that it would be one of the many species, that doesn’t use Dilithium in their Warp Drives. The romulans for example. But then again in this universe it seems like everyone suddenly started using Dilithium to power their ships after it became scarce … makes no sense to me, but that’s how the show is written.

Btw.: anyone noticed, how they ignored the speed of light again in episode 3? It’s becoming really anoying.

“anyone noticed, how they ignored the speed of light again in episode 3? I”

When your “science advisor” is more remembered for her tats than anything productive she contributed to improving science in Discovery, that is the end result!

has anyone said the Romulans didn’t use Dilithium? I realize they use a mini singularity the same way the Fed used matter/antimatter. but the reaction is still channeled via dilithium crystals

And where are you getting that from?

Sascha, Trek assumes that warp travel is possible. It doesn’t violate general relativity.

Space gets warped, but the object within the warp bubble doesn’t face inertial forces or move faster than light INSIDE the bubble.

It’s very convenient that a physicist (Albucierre) came up with a theoretical solution for warp within General Relativity that does what Trek speculated 30 years earlier.

More, other physicists have been improving it. It’s still pretty out there, but a couple of preconditions (existence of gravometric waves and the existence of exotic matter) have been established in the meantime so it’s less completely out there.

Trek’s been ignoring Relativity for over fifty years now. Makes for a really boring Wagon Train in Space if every episode is just a still of the crew sleeping it off in cryogenic tubes.


Crystalline lifeform.

A faction in the Temporal Cold War, see ENT Season 2 “Future Tense”.

What about Organians. These guys can do the burn if they want. Also Q continuum is a possibility :)

Metrons. The Prophets. Thasians, Talosians, to name a few others….

I could almost see it as Q being a bit hungover for a century or two and accidentally causing the whole mess

Suspect: Alex Kurtzman
Planet: Earth
UFP-Member: No
Origin: 21st cenutry
Travelled to the 23rd century to destroy the federation, starfleet, the klingons and canon.
Travelled to the dawn of the 25th century to destroy the rest of the federation, starfleet values, the borg, romulans and common sense.
Travelled to the 32nd century and finally succeeds to destroy everything Star Trek stands for.

Well done….

LOL, I like this :)
Just one thing, the whole idea of bald klingons and overall design was idea of Michael Piller. One thing that is also stupid to me is the idea of the Discovery’s registration number 1031. It is because Piller likes Halloween. That is so in the face regarding canon. Discovery should have higher registry number than constitution class vessels.

Kurtzman actually “tried” to repair it a little, but still not great outcome.

I had a bad case of the Burn in college. So based on that, I’m going to blame it all on some random chick at a 31st century gas station.

Space herpes….

The burn is a ridiculous thing, so I think we’ll get an equally ridiculous cause AND solution.

Also, like others have pointed out, they could have called it anything. But they called it the BURN. Since this show is heavily centered on Michael Burnham, it will be related to her. If by the middle of the season someone or something else is implicated, we’ll know it was her or her mom, or even MU Michael, or MU Momma Burnham.

If people will remember back a number of years, there was a Gene Roddenberry TV show that had a very similar plot. It was a show called Andromeda that aired in 2000 – 2005. It was about a Starship named the Andromeda Ascendant that gets stuck in time and awakens 300 years in the future. Finding that the organization it belonged to is no longer around, it tries to rebuild the now fallen Commonwealth (an association of planets). Notice any similarities? It can still be seen on PlutoTV.

I think much of this discussion is based on a false premise in the article. AK said: “ … people who used to be allies are now enemies and vice versa,” referring to developments AFTER the Burn, not that former allies became enemies by CAUSING the Burn. It’s fun to speculate, but, as Spock would say, there’s insufficient information to even form a theory.

This is all well and nice but to be perfectly honest I really don’t care much about the causes of this “burn”. They created this mystery that I guess is supposed to be engaging and keep viewers wondering but as a viewer I really don’t care. It happened is good enough for me and I don’t care to guess the cause. They may or may not clue the audience in on this. I think it might be better if it remains a mystery because I just don’t trust this group to come up with a good explanation behind it.

Cool discussion of the issues.

The only point that sticks out is the Andorian-Orion mercantile.
There’s no reason an Andorian and an Orion would not run a large business in the 24th century, so there’s no good reason to assume that this Andorian and this Orion represent their entire species – and some kind of strategic alliance.

One idea I’ll throw out about precedent. The only real precedent we have for S3 so far is Chabon’s short. The V’draysh thing has been confirmed here, so I wonder if “The Burn” is not a similar contraction or pidgin word for something we already know.

The Breen.

You left out Earth…

There are very good reasons why the UEDF and the United Earth…whatever…could very well be the big bad. No longer the home of the Federation or Starfleet. Xenophobic. Locked down. Militaristic.

There are plenty of reasons Earth could be a huge problem.

How bout her moms suit that was yanked back to the future without her?

WHY a big bad again. Don’t they have new ideas?

Why can’t it be like climate change that they themselves are to blame by overusing the technology? Like a social commentary on our today’s issues