Star Trek Guide

Star Trek Discovery: Unanswered Questions Left By Season 3, Episode 1

Michael Burnham arrives in a whole new world in the Star Trek: Discovery season 3 premiere, and by the end of the episode there are many questions left unanswered. Following a fight with a rogue AI called Control in the previous season, the crew of the Discovery were forced to jump forward 930 years into the future in order to protect valuable data that would lead to the destruction of all life in the universe. But while the year 3188 isn't a post-apocalyptic wasteland, it's not without its problems.

The first person Burnham meets (by crashing into him) in "That Hope Is You, Part 1" is a courier called Cleveland "Book" Booker, who is trying to escape with some stolen cargo. After the two of them form a reluctant alliance, Book tells Burnham that the Federation was ripped apart more than a century ago by an unexplained event called "the Burn." Chaos now reigns in the galaxy, with only tatters of Starfleet remaining - but Burnham is determined to piece it back together.

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There's just one problem: crashing into Book's ship interrupted the Red Angel suit's guidance of the USS Discovery, which didn't emerge from the same wormhole as Burnham. The ship is now lost in time, with no way of knowing where - or when - it might emerge. With its titular ship missing, here are the questions Star Trek: Discovery has to answer after the season 3 premiere.

Where Is The Discovery?

The biggest unanswered question, of course, is where and when the Discovery will emerge from the wormhole. The trailers for Star Trek: Discovery season 3 have shown Burnham with long braids instead of her short hair cut by the time she's reunited with the crew, and more a more grown-out 'do in-between, indicating that quite a long time will pass before she sees her friends and crewmates again. As Burnham realized with dread in "That Hope Is You, Part 1," the ship could emerge in a day or it could escape the wormhole in a thousand years. With the premiere focusing on Burnham's arrival, we can expect to see the Discovery again next week, based on the promo for episode 2.

What Caused The Burn?

As Book tells Burnham, the Burn was an event in the mid-31st century, when all of the dilithium in the galaxy exploded simultaneously. Dilithium is a mineral that is used to power the warp drives on starships, which means that every warp-capable ship in Starfleet was destroyed in the Burn - a devastating loss of life, and one that crippled the Federation. Communication between star systems is now limited due to the failure of the Federation's long range sensors. Aditya Sahil, the lone guardian of a damaged Federation relay station, is only able to detect signals within a range of about 600 light-years, and without Starfleet to enforce interstellar laws (like those protecting endangered species) the galaxy has become a new Wild West. Despite the Burn, dilithium is still being used to power ships, but it's expensive and difficult to get hold of. For now, the cause of the Burn remains a mystery, and one that Burnham is determined to solve.

What Is Earth Like In 3188?

Though Burnham and the Discovery were supposed to arrive on Terralysium, Book tells her that she's actually ended up on a planet called Hima. The city of Requiem is suitable futuristic, and the sight of it raises the obvious question of what exactly Earth looks like after almost a thousand years. Does the Federation have any more power on the human home planet than it does out in the far reaches of the galaxy? And even outside of the effects of the Burn, how much will have changed on Earth since the Discovery's last visit?

How Much Of The Federation Is Left?

Burn's impression of the United Federation of Planets is that it's dead, with only a few deluded "true believers" still carrying a torch for the once-great intergalactic union. At the end of Star Trek: Discovery's season 3 premiere, Book introduces her to one of these true believers, Sahil, who is officially sworn in by Burnham. Sahil inherited his vigil from his father and has no way of contacting Federation pockets beyond his limited reach of about 30 sectors. It remains to be seen what has become of the other remnants of the Federation. Have they all upheld the same ideals that Burnham believes in, or could parts of the Federation have been warped into something darker?

Where Do Book's Powers Come From?

Book appears to be human, like Burnham, but he demonstrates a curious ability to communicate with plants and animals by chanting, which causes a pattern of lights to appear on his face. Book says that this is an occasional genetic trait among members of his family, most of whom are poachers and killers, which he speculates could be his gene pool's way of balancing things. Perhaps his abilities are a natural part of human evolution, or perhaps there's more to Book than meets the eye. He wouldn't be the first of Burnham's love interests to appear human, but turn out to be something else entirely.

Are Cats An Endangered Species In 3188?

One of the most disturbing implications of Star Trek: Discovery's season 3 premiere is that cats, like Book's Maine Coon companion Grudge, are now an endangered species. After a discussion with Burnham about how the Federation is no longer around to enforce the Endangered Species Act, Book looks over thoughtfully at his pet. Cats have been something of a fixture in Star Trek, often serving as companion animals to members of Starfleet. Data had a beloved cat called Spot in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and noted when she got pregnant that there were a dozen male cats on the Enterprise (Reginald Barclay's cat, Neelix, among them), meaning that the ship probably had a couple of dozen cats in total.  If cats have become an endangered species in 3188, it's another symbol of how far the Federation has fallen - and Grudge is symbol of hope that it can be restored.

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