10 Unresolved ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 3 Mysteries

Star Trek: Discovery season 3 mysteries - TrekMovie

The following analysis has spoilers (and potential spoilers) for Discovery season three.

With eight episodes behind us, we are over halfway through the thirteen-episode third season of Star Trek: Discovery, so we thought we would take a moment to assess where we are in terms of the various mysteries and theories introduced this season.

Before we get into the open questions, let’s first tick off a few mysteries that appear to have already been wrapped up.

  • USS Discovery captain: Saru.
  • Starfleet and the Federation: Found but diminished.
  • Detmer’s condition: Apparently just PTSD and dealing with it.
  • Burnham’s mother: Found on Ni’Var, with the Qowat Milat.
  • Connection to Temporal Cold War: War long over, time travel now banned.

But there are still a number of mysteries that remain to be solved:

The Burn

Known: Even before the season began, “What is The Burn?” had been presented as a central mystery for the season, and we had a theory too. Turns out we were right about how The Burn impacted warp travel; it wasn’t The Omega particle, though, but that all dilithium became “inert” sometime in the late 31st century. And this happened after dilithium became very scarce, forcing Starfleet and others to search desperately for alternatives. The Vulcans believe their research into an alternative to warp travel caused it, although Burham’s research indicates this may not be true. And as of episode eight, an origin point for The Burn had finally been located.

Unknown: We can’t yet say we truly know what caused The Burn. It’s not even clear how widespread it was and if it impacted the whole galaxy or just the immediate area around the Federation. We can eliminate some suspects, including Gabrielle Burnham. But it is still not entirely clear if The Burn was a natural phenomenon or something created, or even if it was intentional or an accident. Nor is there any idea yet on if there is a way to reverse the effect or find a viable alternative to bring the Federation back together.

Clues: Right now the biggest clue is that the source of The Burn is in a nebula which emanates a waveform that can be resolved as audible music, which has become part of many cultures in the 32nd century. There is also an unidentified Federation ship sending a distress call from that same location. 

Federation ships exploding from The Burn

The Big Bad

Known: Before season one co-showrunner Alex Kurtzman confirmed there will be a “big bad” villain for the season, adding that in the 32nd century “people who used to be allies are now enemies and vice versa.” In episode one we were introduced to the Emerald Chain, a brutal alliance of Orions and Andorians who are in opposition to what remains of the Federation. The Chain is controlled by an Orion named Osyraa. The Chain also controls trade in dilithium, but Osyraa’s big secret is that they are running out of it.

Unknown: Is there another entity that will emerge, possibly backing up The Emerald Chain. Did the Andorians or Orions have anything to do with The Burn? If some other group was responsible for The Burn, will they show up to try to stop it being reversed and/or the Federation from being reconstituted?

Clues: There have been a number of references to Bajorans (who were high on our list of suspects) working with the Emerald Chain, which included Osyraa recently using a Bajoran form of measurement when threatening Book’s homeworld. Many characters who claim to not know the origins of The Burn have negative views of the Federation itself, so it’s possible Admiral Vance and Kovich (we will get to him next) are hiding something. Then again, maybe a green cigar is just a green cigar, and the Emerald Chain is the big bad for season three, as the Andorians do qualify as a former ally turned enemy.

Emerald Chain leader Osyraa in episode 308

Georgiou… and Kovich

Known: Former Emperor Phillipa Georgiou was debriefed at Federation HQ by a mysterious person named Kovich. Since that time she has been suffering debilitating blackouts (that include flashbacks to her time in the Mirror Universe), but a clip for this week’s episode indicates Kovich isn’t responsible. He explained that her condition is terminal is due to her jumping through both time and alternate universes. From a production point of view, Michelle Yeoh has been tapped to lead her own Section 31 Star Trek show, which was initially going to go into production after season 3 of Discovery. Work on that show continues, but it isn’t clear if or when it will move forward.

Unknown: Regarding Georgiou, we don’t know if or how her condition can be cured. Also, what is the connection to the visions of her past? As for Kovich himself, it isn’t known what position he holds with the 32nd century Federation and Starfleet. And the big question: will season three of Discovery set up the Section 31 show? An even bigger question: does Kovich know more about the Kelvin universe and will that somehow tie into his story, or Georgiou’s.

Clues: The preview trailer for episode 309 indicates that Michael and Georgiou will go on a mission to find a cure to her condition on some kind of ice planet. The clip for this week combined with his first appearance indicates that Kovich has access to classified information, which coincides with our theory that he is part of Section 31 and/or Starfleet Intelligence.

David Cronenberg (Kovich) and Michelle Yeoh (Georgiou) pose for a photo on the set of “Die Trying”


Known: The characters of Adira and Gray were announced before the season started, along with hints that they would be tied into Trill mythology. Adira was revealed to be a teen human who had joined with the Trill symbiont Tal after Tal’s Trill host—and Adira’s boyfriend—Gray died on a generation ship. After finding a way to communicate with Tal on Trill, Adira has seen visions of Gray; however, those visions have since stopped. Adira has also become close to Paul Stamets, who has become something of a surrogate parent. While awkward, Adira has genius-level intelligence and has become an important part of the science team.  From a production point of view, we know that Adira and Gray will continue to be characters in season 4.

Unknown: Why has Gray stopped communicating? When Gray returns, will he remain solely visible to Adira? Even though it turned out to be Tal and not Dax as we theorized, will Adira be able to tap into Tal’s memories, as Jadzia and Ezri did with Dax?

Clues: When on Trill, Adira was welcomed into the circle of Tal’s hosts, including some who were in the Federation and Starfleet—notably Senna Tal, a 32nd-century Starfleet Admiral who sent the message that brought the USS Discovery to Earth. Adira says they can still feel Gray, indicating Gray may not be communicating by choice.

Adira in a preview image for episode 309 “Terra Firma, Part 1”


Known: From the Short Trek’s episode “Calypso,” we know that the USS Discovery will someday be abandoned and left under the care of a sentient AI named Zora for a thousand years before being discovered by a soldier named Craft. Zora appears to be an evolution of the ship’s computer combining with the Sphere data picked up in season two, and it has been showing a protective affinity for the crew of the Discovery in season three.

Unknown: When will Zora fully emerge and take over control of the USS Discovery computer? What impact will it have for the ship to controlled by a sentient AI? How does the 32nd-century refit of the USS Discovery mesh with the USS Discovery seen in “Calypso” that includes Zora, but not the upgrades? And what happens to the crew to make them abandon the ship?

Clues: Admiral Vance (and Kovich) have mentioned the Temporal Cold War and Temporal Accords, and it’s possible the ship will eventually be “de-fit” to protect the timeline.

The Sphere Data/Computer speaks to Saru with Zora’s voice in 304

Spore Drive

Known: With dilithium scarce and no alternatives found, Starfleet has designated the USS Discovery with its unique spore drive as a rapid response asset, giving the ship a 32nd-century refit and new designation as NCC-1031-A. Even though Starfleet is now aware of the technology, there is still the limiting factor of Paul Stamets being the only person in the universe capable of navigating the ship due to his infusion of tardigrade DNA.

Unknown: Will Starfleet find a way to replicate the technology, leading to a restoration of the fleet and the Federation itself?

Clues: Early on in the season, Captain Saru tasked Stamets with finding a way to use the drive that didn’t rely on him as the navigator. Tilly has suggested dark matter picked up in season two could provide a solution. Adira has upgraded Stamets’ interface with 32nd-century tech, which could possibly be a step towards allowing others to navigate the ship.  

Stamets with his upgraded spore drive interface


Known: Cleveland “Book” Booker (David Ajala) was introduced in the first episode and has been a major recurring character. He was developed to be the point-of-view guide for the crew into the new century. As an empath, he is capable of communing with some plants and animals, especially the large and dangerous tranceworms of his native planet Kwejian. After the Emerald Chain began harvesting these worms, he left his home, took on a new name, and became a courier with a special mission to rescue tranceworms and bring them to sanctuaries. His closest companion on his ship has been a cat named Grudge, and he has developed a romantic relationship with Michael Burnham.

Unknown: What is the extent of his powers as an empath, and are they unique to his home planet? Are his powers entirely natural or do they involve any technology? After coming to respect Michael and Starfleet, how will he integrate and assist with the USS Discovery crew and their mission to restore the Federation? What is the story behind his name?

Clues: When he (and his friend/brother Khyeem) use their powers, glowing elements on their foreheads can be seen.  

Book uses his empath powers in episode 308

First Officer

Known: After Michael was removed from the position for insubordination, Captain Saru appointed Tilly as acting first officer until he could find a permanent replacement.

Unknown: Will Tilly be that permanent replacement, or will someone else step into the role?

Clues: Tilly’s first episode as XO had some mixed results. There are many potential candidates including: Michael returning to the job, Book, Lt. Willa, or another member of the Discovery crew.

Tilly with Captain Saru in a preview of episode 309


Known: After spending a year apart from the USS Discovery between episodes one and two, it took some time, but by mid-season, she seemed recommitted to the ship and Starfleet, albeit no longer as first officer. Instead of running off with Book, she has brought him into their cause. Her mother has been found and is safe, and her investigation into The Burn is bearing fruit.

Unknown: How will the remaining story of the season be tied into Michael’s character arc? Is it possible that she is somehow connected to The Burn, as has been theorized? And how exactly did her hair grow so long in just a year?

Clues: The lead character of Discovery is Michael Burnham. The primary story arc for the previous two seasons has tied into Michael’s personal character arc. We have seen instances of this in season three, such as the visit to Ni’Var, where again Michael is the quintessential person needed to resolve the story.     

Michael Burnham in season three of Discovery


Known: She is a queen.

Unknown: Is she just a cat?

Clues: As laid out in our earlier theory, characters and the production treat Grudge as something more than just a pet. However, she continues to mostly act just like a big fat cat, so maybe it’s all just for publicity’s sake 

One of many Grudge publicity photos

Any other mysteries?

That’s quite a few mysteries left to resolve in the five remaining episodes. Do you think some of these have already been resolved? And are there any other big questions you are looking to see wrapped up before the end of the season? Sound off in the comments below.

New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery premiere on Thursdays on CBS All Access in the U.S. and on CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada, where it’s also available to stream on Crave. Episodes are available on Fridays internationally on Netflix.

Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek Universe on TV at TrekMovie.com.

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As long as they don’t try to make out that Grudge is somehow related to Spot it’s all good.

No, he is another lost sibling of Spock. 😂

Probably would have Spot among her ancestors that many generations later. It wouldn’t mean anything though.

Just a correction, Momma Burnham wasn’t found on Ni’Var, she was found on Essof IV. In the 23rd century, it was home to a Section 31 research facility. In the 32nd century, it was colonized, possibly by the Romulans? I wouldn’t exactly say that’s all wrapped up… At least, I hope it isn’t.

The top summary was just a quick recap and she was found by the Discovery crew and remains on Ni’Var. And while there may be more to her story it’s no longer a mystery where she is

The season started off quite good but has been getting worse since the mid way point. All I hope for now is that the resolution to The Burn isn’t connected to Burnham in some way. That would suck.

I’ve come to realise it’s not a good show but I’m compelled to watch it anyway. I find it comforting in a weird way. Even bad Star Trek is good Star Trek.

Took the words right out of my mouth.

Exactly my thoughts as well, at this point. Just like season 2, so much reason to hope for a great Star Trek show. Great season premiere. But just after the halfway point of the season, I realize I’m watching this show every week only because it’s called Star Trek and not because I’m actually enjoying the terrible writing and production choices.

So, about Yor. Someone was definitely having a bit of fun. “YOR, THE HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE”?

I’m wondering if Zora is only part of a name. Like Zardoz. Or has something to do with Soong-type androids (who haven’t shown up so far in the 32nd century… what happened to Coppelius?)

I can almost see Saru dressed as Zed.

There was a character named Zora in TOS “The Savage Curtain.”

Extensions. She has hair extensions. That’s…a technology we have already today. Vanity and interest in personal style isn’t gone by the 23rd or 32nd century…

Some times the easiest answer is the right answer folks…

If there’s one killer app for programmable matter, it’s hair extensions



I’m pretty sure there was some show on DS9 where due to cosmetic alterations to go under cover someone lost their hair. Once back home Bashir regrew it in half an hour.

Wouldn’t be surprised of some of the arcs won’t be resolved this season and continue on to the next (maybe even things surrounding The Burn). I got the feeling they were quite fast with breaking the (main) story for season 4..

I wouldn’t be too sure about any of these “solved” cases… I still believe there is much more to Detmer than just PTSD and the Federation might still turn out to be the big baddie of the season. We still have no idea why the V’draysch was regarded as a menacing entity.

And I actually believe Saru won’t stay Captain for good. So far, being Captain of Disco only took a year… He will be removed somehow, either becoming the next Federation president or disappearing in time and space… Next season will have a new Captain… It won’t be Michael… If she’s Captain, the show is over because that is the final scene… like Clark becoming Superman on Smallville…

The Emerald Chain is nothing but a side plot to emphazise on the dark future aspect and insert some Star Wars mobster flair à la Crimson Dawn. They’ve most likely nothing to do with the Burn…

Grudge is NOT just a cat. How boring would that be? He is either a shapeshifter from the same species as Isis (TOS Assignment Earth) or another shapeshifting species, even a Founder.

As for the source of the Burn, I stand by my theory: it’s a distress call involving Sabotage by the Beastie Boys, the ship in the center is the Enterprise A under Pine Kirk’s command in Shatner’s aged body :-) Either that or it is BURNham… Or both… KT Michael could be aboard Pine’s Enterprise, stranded there for 90 years…

The Calypso Discovery is from / in another timeline once this version of the 32nd century gets altered…

Also: mind those telling names! DSC is full of telling names, actually it is riddled with telling names, drowning in telling names! Admiral Vance… Ad Vance… Kovich… Covid… Adira… Addition to the crew. Grey… grey matter mental memory…

Grudge…? Book…? BURN-ham…?

“As for the source of the Burn, I stand by my theory: it’s a distress call involving Sabotage by the Beastie Boys, the ship in the center is the Enterprise A under Pine Kirk’s command in Shatner’s aged body :-) Either that or it is BURNham… Or both… KT Michael could be aboard Pine’s Enterprise, stranded there for 90 years…”

This all sounds so utterly horrible I’m sure they’ll use some or all of it.

I’m still intrigued by the idea of the ship being the Kelvin Universe version of the Discovery – no A. (Even though it would an be unlikely solution.)

Discovery went forward in time in the same year that Star Trek (2009) is set in the Kelvin universe.

What if KU Discovery exists, and has the sphere data but the KU Discovery’s captain decides to hide the ship from Control instead.

If KU Discovery doesn’t have access to a timesuit that would enable it to jump forward, then using the spore drive to jump to another universe where Control is absent and then hide the ship in a nebula would be a not-awful alternative. Especially as Spock the elder knew there were two timelines.

This would mean that KU Stamets and at least a pilot would have had to take a no return trip from the KU to the PU. So, odd outcomes all round.

Osyraa- best Trek villain ever? (Narrowly edging out Romulan incest lady from Picard.)

She’s the worst. Osyraa is not even close

I love her sneer. She’s definitely in the top tier of Trek villains with just one appearance. Let’s see where it goes.

I thought she was terrible, myself.

Sarcasm is a hard concept apparently not just for AIs :p

Only if she sported a cool facial tattoo and referred to Captain Saru on a first name basis, like the the mother(f****) of all villains, Nero ;)

Borg Queen.
The Female Shapeshifter.
Gul Dukat.

Long list ahead of Osyraa,

Shran was never a villain though. Maybe an antagonist at times but most of his actions were because he knew others were never being completely truthful. He did go a little too far torturing Ambassador Soval though.

He was kind of a villain in his first episode.

But he wasn’t though. He suspected the Vulcans was using the monastery P’Jem as a front for them to spy on Andor and he simply wanted to prove it. And he was right, so how does it make him the villain? He looked like a villain to the NX-01 crew at the beginning because how they were treated; but clearly only because of Shran’s mistrust of Vulcans and knew Starfleet had such a strong relationship with them. Once everything was revealed, even Archer realized Shran was right all along and Shran realized they weren’t helping the Vulcans and could even be trusted.

None of that is bad guy stuff, it’s just two groups that wasn’t sure of the other intentions and both suspicious of the other until the truth came out.

The same could be said of Q perhaps anti hero would be a better way of describing those two.

Q was just a god playing with his toys.

True, Q is definitely a bit more complex. He was never a villain but he did come off as someone who would snap humans out of existence because he really didn’t trust them originally.

Not sure how you restore a fleet when most of it went klaboowie, along with the magic crystals that made them work…..unless….wait for it…..you go back just enough to prevent it from happening to begin with. Screw the temporal accords, resets are a right!!

No more time travel!

You are right Phil, that would fit right in with the zeitgeist and contemporary mindsets. “Screw laws, screw history, screw culture, I have rights!!!” :)

Maybe season 4 might resolve these mysteries. Section 31 would cover some of it. Osyraa is the worst villain ever.

Like Garth Lorca, I too have suspected that Grudge is possibly a shape shifter. It would make an interesting connection back to DS9 if Grudge were from the (possibly all but extinct) Dominion.

It doesn’t make much sense that 900 years into the future the technology doesn’t seem to exist to recreate Disco’s spore drive. They have amazing technology (programmable matter) that makes it a little hard to believe they couldn’t replicate tech from the 23rd Century.

I also have a hard time with the Discovery going through all this refit work and yet, somehow, the Disco crew is still sporting their 900 year old uniforms. If they’re a part of the Federation and Starfleet in the 32nd Century, they should have the uniforms that actually show they belong.

Unfortunately, I agree with some of the other comments here that the show has gotten worse as the season has progressed. Hopefully, they’ll pull it out in the end.

“somehow, the Disco crew is still sporting their 900 year old uniforms”

FTIW, unlike chain mail armor and modern kevlar protection vests, the new uniforms don’t seem to be any more advanced than Discovery’s (aesthetics notwithstanding), so they might as well keep the old ones!

Finally someone brings up the big plot “wormhole” of this season, technology! This is Star Trek folks. In 700+ years the absolute necessity of fastest then light speed travel, would have produced a number of alternatives to dilithium based warp drive. Having the after effects of the “Burn” so never ending is totally opposite of Star Trek’ technology canon. “Necessary is the mother of invention”. Star Trek has shown that time after time. This is basic, in reality and in futuristic SciFi. I like DISCO, I love Star Trek. Is it just me? Maybe my suspension of disbelief needs to be fluid?
Maybe my ” suspension of disbelief ” needs to be fluid?

The calypso episode had discovery abandoned in a nebula I think the Starfleet ship that has been mentioned in the latest episode is the discovery ????

I don’t really understand what the problem is with having no dilithium?!
Dilithium is used as a means to generate power using a controlled matter-antimatter reaction. Dilithium is needed to generate power, it’s NOT part of the warp drive itself!

The Romulans, for example, had another way of generating huge amounts of energy with their quantum singularity.

To quote from memory alpha:
“An artificial quantum singularity (also known as a confined, or forced quantum singularity) was a method utilized by the Romulans for generating energy, instead of the more traditional matter-antimatter reaction used in Federation starships.”

It seems you’ve missed a beat on how warp power works. Dilithium isn’t the energy source. And we know that the Romulans use it and need it for something.

Matter/antimatter or a singularity are the source of the massive energy needed to generate a warp bubble. It takes a massive amount of energy.

(Current warp theory in real life physics has managed to get the energy requirements to generate a warp field down to about a large planet-sized mass of exotic matter.)

Controlling such a massive energy source in turn needs a specialized regulator. This is the role of dilithium crystals in Star Trek.

Now it may be that the Romulans have another regulator in addition to dilithium, but we know from Nemesis that they valued dilithium and needed it in quantities beyond anything trade to other species would justify. In Nemesis, the backstory was that Remans had been marginalized and exploited as dilithium miners.

Another consideration is that the singularity drive was not used for all Romulan vessels, just the largest warbirds. So, we don’t have anything to support it being a viable technology for widespread use.

Unless you need dilithium to create a reliable quantum singularity too

Even if the singularity is reliable, harnessing and regulating that incredible amount of energy is a non-trivial problem.

We haven’t heard of another regulator at that scale other than dilithium: it seems to be the common denominator regulator across all warp technologies.

Benamite plays a key role for slipstream drive technology, but what it’s role is in the process isn’t as clear. Whatever that may be, benamite is in scare supply also.

This will get done for trolling but it’s like shooting fish in a barrel and I can’t resist.

One mystery I’d like to be solved is how does Alex Kurtzman and his band of hacks keep getting work?

As far as I’m concerned, you win the Internet today for that comment, Collector.

The biggest mystery is, why didn’t Tal think he would never see snow again and delay he travel to Starfleet current base of operations to see it?

Who attacked the Generation ship? What was Tal up to?.

Why is Micheal keeping Aditya Sahil existence a secret?

I think Grey stop talking to her because he fears Tal will come to the surface and convince her to go through with his mission, which is a suicide mission.

About Adira and Gray stopp appering. I think its that Gray want to give Adira “space” as Stament’s mention to get real life Friends. To open up to them, not to clutch forever with him as an “Ghost”

What the hell is t he Temporal cold war?

Who is involved>

When did it start and when did it ended?

Who is Adytia Sahil?

The Temporal Cold War was established in the series Enterprise. If you haven’t an interest in that series, Memory Alpha should be able to answer your questions.

It involved the Federation and lasted centuries, ending before The Burn.

I have a mystery: why wasn’t the early TNG era uniform subjected to the visual reboot? Does this mean that the times we saw the 23rd century represented in TNG/DS9 that it was visually accurate? Shame they didn’t take the opportunity to change the spandex

It’s ridiculous for an Ensign to take over as Executive Officer. Paul Stamets would have been the logical choice. Nothing wrong with Tilly, but that’s just now how it works. No Ensign ever gets promoted over the heads of more experienced officers like that.

I like Disco. I anxiously wait for Thursdays and watch with anticipation. The rest of the time, I have an episode of any given Trek series on in the background, seen dozens of times before.

Being both a fan of Disco, and well versed in Trek, I have to admit, most every episode of Disco leaves me uneasy. There is always something out of sync with the rest of the ST universe. Sometimes it’s small, like technology not lining up with the timeline, but usually it’s the way the characters react, handle situations, or behave.

It’s all in the writing, i think. That Roddenberry sensibility that humanity had evolved, which carried from TOS to ENT, has diminished. I don’t feel like it was intentional, but that these writers want to “break expectations”, but are going about it in a way that strips the altruistic spirit that all prior Treks had.

Season 2’s Pike, and Season 3’s Disco crew, in general, has been better at this. But it’s still not there yet.

I really wish they would dust off the writer’s bibles for the previous series and use them to refocus and ground Disco for S4 onward.

i’m somewhat afraid i will not be compelled with the solutions to all these mysteries. i like to see the actors, i love the sets and the music. but i can’t ignore the terrible writing. and why tilly as acting first officer? thats absurd …