It has taken us a while to get to our final trailer analysis from First Contact Day, and the season four Star Trek: Discovery teaser was the longest and had the most going on.
Perhaps the most immediately noticeable aspect of the trailer was the new Starfleet uniforms, which were explained by the costume designer during a panel. But the new uniforms along with some new ranks indicate some time has passed between season three and season four, or at least the parts of season four we are seeing in the trailer. And there are a lot more freeze-frame moments. So, let’s now take a closer look to try to decipher what’s going on.
The teaser trailer kicks off by establishing a tone and what could be some of the themes for season four. We begin with newly minted Captain Michael Burnham walking alone in a corridor of the USS Discovery, which appears to be in distress.
As Captain Burnham continues her walk we hear her voiceover—and it feels like she is actually talking about life in 2021, not whatever she is facing in the 32nd century.
We are living in uncertainty…
[COSTUME DETAIL: Burnham is wearing a new kind of spacesuit]
We cut to what appears to be a 32nd-century Federation ship or facility that has its gravity inverted as the voiceover continues…
Even for a crew as familiar as it as this one…
We then cut to the bridge of the USS Discovery with Michael and Book looking at the viewscreen with concern.
[DETAIL: Behind them and out of focus is an unknown female in civilian garb who appears to be the President of the Federation… more on her later]
The rapid shots continue with separate glimpses of Paul Stamets and Sylvia Tilly during a ship crisis. Captain Burnham’s voiceover continues…
The stress is taking its toll…
[COSTUME DETAIL: Tilly is wearing new tactical suit/vest]
This opening segment returns to Michael Burnham in the corridor, now entering an empty bridge.
Her voiceover continues as the opening segment wraps up…
But we are not in this alone… None of us are.
Now that’s a big anomaly
In January, executive producer and co-showrunner Alex Kurtzman teased that season four will not have a traditional big adversary, saying: “What happens when the villain is not actually any kind of living, breathing entity, but something else?” The second segment of the teaser gives us our first sense of what this is. It starts with a quick establishing shot of the USS Discovery along with some other 32nd-century Starfleet ships, including what looks to be a Saturn Class off starboard.
Scientist Paul Stamets (possibly at Federation HQ) gives a briefing on the incredible scale of what they are facing.
Five light years across… That’s the size of the gravitational anomaly.
This giant gravitational anomaly appears to be the big threat of the season and explains the inverted Federation facility seen earlier in the trailer. We get a handful of shots of the Discovery dealing with gravitational problems.
[CHARACTER DETAIL: Detmer has a new cranial implant, and gets her eyebrow back]
And to drive home the point of the threat this gravitational anomaly offers, we hear Admiral Vance ask…
Where is it headed next?
Cut to quick shots of Tilly and Owosekun. Tilly says…
It can go anywhere.
[CHARACTER DETAIL: Owosekun has been promoted from Lt. Junior Grade to Lt. Commander.]
And to give you a sense of how bad things are, Michael looks on in horror.
Then Tilly, Dr. Hugh Culber, and Adira Tal observe devastating damage done to the USS Discovery as Tilly in voiceover cautions…
We may not have any kind of warning at all.
This president is not above asking for help
At about the halfway point, the somber music pivots to something with a little more hope with an establishing shot of the bridge of the USS Discovery, this time without any sparks flying and with the full crew.
[DETAIL: It appears Saru is on the bridge in Captain’s uniform, but at his previous post as first officer. He is also wearing a pin on his lapel, more on that later.]
We now hear the voice of a new character who appears to be an important part of season four—almost certainly the President of the Federation, who was mentioned in season three but never seen. She speaks about the scale of the problem.
Federation, non-Federation, this anomaly threatens us equally.
[CHARACTER DETAIL: President appears to be partly Cardassian, hinting that Cardassia may have joined the Federation sometime after the Dominion War]
As we hear the president speak we cut to Book and Michael under fire in an alien forest.
[COSTUME DETAIL: Michael is wearing a new red leather outfit]
Cut to Dr. Culber, Dr. Pollard, and Stamets joining hands. Book is on his way in.
Cut to a different moment with Culber talking to Tilly, saying…
Whatever it is, we will figure it out together.
[CHARACTER DETAIL: Tilly has been promoted from Ensign to Lt. Junior Grade.]
Earlier this year, co-showrunner Michelle Paradise said the work of rebuilding the Federation will continue in season four. One major step towards that would be to bring back the Vulcans who had left the Federation and reunified with their Romulan cousins, renaming Vulcan to Ni’Var. We get hints of that in the trailer: While at Federation HQ we see President T’Rina of Ni’Var speaking to the President of the Federation while Admiral Vance and Michael Burnham look on. Also in the background is Michael’s mother Gabrielle Burnham, who was last seen on Ni’Var as a Qowat Milat sister in season three.
As the two presidents greet each other with the traditional Vulcan salute, T’Rina says…
Indeed, we are more than allies.
You are the captain now
The next segment gives us a sense of mission the crew of the Discovery is being tasked with, with an establishing shot of Michael Burnham on the bridge while the ship is in distress.
Perhaps clarifying the chain of command with regard to Captain Saru (previously seen on the USS Discovery), the Federation President addresses Burnham at Federation HQ…
Captain Burnham, make no mistake, you are in charge.
This is followed quickly by Burnham in the captain’s chair, to emphasize the point.
Adira Tal, now an Ensign in Starfleet, speaks to their boyfriend Gray (presumably about Captain Burham).
She has faith in me.
One of the storylines promised for season four is that Gray will become visible to others besides Adira; however, in this moment from the trailer, Gray still appears as he did in season three (with the same season three ghost boyfriend costume). This may be before they have figured out how to make Gray seen by all.
[CHARACTER DETAIL: Adira has new shorter hairstyle, Gray’s hair remains the same]
Off we go…
The final moments of the trailer get even more rapid-fire, with a sense of the Discovery heading off on its mission to save the galaxy from the anomaly, starting with an establishing shot of the ship warping away.
Michael and Tilly are joined by Michael’s mother and the unknown Vulcan female seen earlier with President T’Rina at Starfleet HQ. They are all examining an alien ruin.
Michael can be heard in voiceover…
We are facing something we don’t understand… Something that could tear us all apart.
[DETAIL: Michael and Tilly are in the new tactical suits and have Qowat Milat swords.]
Season three ended with Saru back on Kaminar to help Su’Kal, who is not seen in the trailer. But we do get a shot of a Kelpien female, and Saru.
[COSTUME DETAIL: Here Saru is not wearing a known Starfleet or Federation uniform. But he is wearing the same pin seen earlier on his Starfleet uniform]
T’Rina prepares to perform a Vulcan mind meld on Book as we hear Michael’s voiceover…
But there is only one way to confront the unknown…
The music and the clips ramp up faster and faster as the teaser comes to a close, starting with Book hugging Michael, followed by more chaos on the Discovery including some gravity flipping and a Grudge cameo.
[CHARACTER DETAIL: Detmer has been promoted from Lieutenant to Lt. Commander]
Things come to a fever pitch as we return to Michael alone on the bridge with the spacesuit’s helmet now deployed.
Cut to black and then a shot of (guessing) Michael and Saru’s hands clasped. Her voiceover ends by emphasizing the theme of this trailer (and possibly the season)…
It’s all in the cards
In addition to the shots and dialogue in the trailer, there are a series of title cards that also tell the story…
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