Regardless of how you feel about Star Trek: Discovery, we can all agree that the series feels incongruous with the timeline in which it was set. A prequel to the original Star Trek, it took a lot of big swings and made interesting choices to explain (retcon) that incongruity. For example, a deception by a villain in an earlier episode called for the disuse of holographic communication beyond the visual effects capabilities of earlier Star Trek TV shows. In the season 2 finale, the events that transpired made it treason to ever talk about the USS Discovery or its crew. (Thus, why no one ever mentioned them before.) The season 3 trailer for Star Trek: Discovery reveals that, finally, they are going to start telling their own “Star Trek” story.
With the advent of CBS All Access and its need for content (as well as the reunification of rights with the ViacomCBS merger), Star Trek is back in a big way. Like with Star Wars, the problem is how to tell a new Star Trek story while still drawing on the nostalgia for earlier incarnations. Star Wars, arguably, erred too far on the nostalgia side of things. It proved difficult to tell new characters’ stories while so caught in the legacy characters’ codas. Star Trek: Discovery erred too much on the side of reinvention, so much so that it (and even Star Trek: Picard) didn’t “feel” like Star Trek.
Star Trek’s central theme of trusting in institutions to follow the lead of good people is a tough sell for audiences right now. In a show with teleportation and warp speed travel, audiences have a more difficult suspending their disbelief that institutions can work. That’s what makes the Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 trailer so perfect.
The Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Trailer Is About Rebuilding an Institution for the Future
Image by Michael Gibson via CBS All Access
The fate of the USS Discovery is, essentially, unknown. At the end of a convoluted time-travel heavy season, the only recourse for the ship (and a record of billions of years of galactic history) was to flee to the future. A future, we should add, that is “supposed to be” devoid of all life. The ship vanished, and the characters left behind polished up the story. The Star Trek: Discovery season 3 trailer shows what happened to the titular ship and, in doing so, finally takes the series out of the shadows of those that came before.
Crash-landing the ship on a planet 950 years in the future, they find a universe that still contains life. However, the Federation is a myth, destroyed in a cataclysm called “the Burn.” So, the crew of the Discovery decide to rebuild the Federation and face the sort of “insurmountable” challenges that Star Trek crews are known to handle. (Except, of course, the crew of Star Trek: Lower Decks.)
Instead of constantly fighting against the Federation, this crew can finally start fighting for it. In what is essentially a soft reboot of the series, it finally allows Star Trek: Discovery to tell the kind of hopeful stories about fighting oppression the show wanted to tell since the pilot episode. Because the Federation lost its influence, they can represent the proper way to use power and influence the way Star Trek always has. It also makes the Discovery portion of the Star Trek Comic-Con at Home panel make more sense. The focus on using their platform to tell stories with important political and philosophical message lines up nicely with reintroducing the Federation as an ideal and not a flawed bureaucratic organization.
Who Will the Discovery Crew End Up Fighting?
Image by Michael Gibson via CBS All Access
The one thing not revealed in the trailer is the antagonist of the season, save for simple chaos. We know the crew will meet new characters, some still loyal to the Federation even after all this time. Featured most prominently is David Ajala, playing Cleveland Booker. He’s apparently some kind of resistance fighter (or just a tough guy) and a love interest for Sonequa Martin-Green’s Cmdr. Michael Burnham. Michelle Yeoh’s Philippa Georgiou (of the evil “mirror universe”) makes an appearance kicking some space-gangs’ asses. We also see the first non-binary and trans characters in Star Trek, Adina, played by Blue del Barrio, and Gray, played by Ian Alexander. Yet, all of these seem like new friends rather than villains.
My suspicion is that after the Burn, the galaxy decided to become xenophobic, authoritarian, and isolationist. Thus, it will be up to the Discovery crew to “rekindle the light of civilization,” much like Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. While the series is best forgotten, Roddenberry’s core idea for the show (unfortunately) became incredibly relevant. Perhaps his prescient storyteller’s mind saw the need someday for a hopeful, sci-fi series to restore faith in institutions rather than celebrating making them more perfect. There also seems to be a time-jump in the season, and that Discovery does fly again (possibly refitted, too).
The thing that is for certain, however, is that this is finally Star Trek: Discovery’s story. They are free to go forward not worrying about how their story “fits” with the established canon of the Star Trek multiverse.
The new season of Star Trek: Discovery premieres on CBS All Access on October 15, 2020.
What did you think of the Star Trek: Discovery season 3 trailer? Do you like the new direction? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured image via CBS All Access
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.