Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Discovery Has Already Set Up Its NEXT Catastrophe

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Episode 1, "That Hope is You," now streaming on CBS All Access.

In the Season 3 premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, Michael Burnham time-traveled to the year 3188. She and her crew initially went forward in time to ensure the survival of life throughout the universe, and although she learns that they were successful, the future also isn't exactly the place they hoped to find. Indeed, after meeting a space courier named Cleveland Booker, Michael is informed the Federation has been all but destroyed.

Details about the event are scarce, but the fall of Starfleet came after a catastrophic event called "The Burn," in which the universe's dilithium exploded. And while the event itself may have happened roughly a hundred years ago, another Burn could soon be coming.

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In the Star Trek franchise, dilithium is the element at the heart of warp cores, which allow spaceships to travel beyond the speed of light. All of the Federation's starships had warp cores, as did many of the ships possessed by the Klingon Empire, Vulcans and Romulans. Therefore, as the dilithium exploded everywhere in the universe, all of the warp-capable ships were destroyed as a result.

There is no explanation for why the dilithium suddenly grew unstable and exploded. However, there is still some left in the universe -- though very little. The element is still being used by starship pilots to power their ships, and it's still an element that can be traded and bargained for, as seen in "That Hope is You."

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But if the dilithium exploded once, it means it could always happen again. A hundred years ago, the element exploded, and no one really knows why. And yet, dilithium is still being used to power some starships. Since there is a mystery surrounding the destruction of the dilithium, it's almost certain to come into play in the rest of Season 3. There may be less of the element left in the universe, but if another Burn-like event happens, it could once again spell catastrophe. What's more, the Discovery may now be the only Starfleet ship left in this future, and if dilithium were to explode again, it would destroy the ship. Therefore, the crew's entire livelihood could be at stake, meaning the Discovery needs to solve this mystery, lest another disaster burns across the universe.

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