Star Trek Theory: The Discovery Is Already In The Future
Star Trek: Discovery season 3 has launched with Michael Burnham separated from her starship, and she thinks the USS Discovery is still traveling through time - but it could already be in the future. The second season of Star Trek: Discovery ended with Michael Burnham forced to abandon her own time, fleeing to the 32nd century in order to save all life in the galaxy. What's more, she didn't go alone; her crew stayed with her, manning the USS Discovery as it followed her through time and space.
Unfortunately something went wrong. Burnham arrived over the skies of the planet Hima, a world she'd never heard of before in an unknown quadrant. She was actually aiming for Terralysium, a colonized world introduced in season 2, so clearly the Red Angel's time travel technology malfunctioned somehow; it's reasonable to assume Burnham had failed to factor in the weight of the Federation starship she was towing behind her. Making matters worse, there was no sign of Discovery. As the Star Trek: Discovery season 3 premiere progressed, Burnham was taken to an old Federation relay station, where she learned sensors couldn't find Discovery anywhere in 30 sectors. Disturbingly, the premiere suggests that "by the laws of temporal mechanics, [Discovery] could arrive tomorrow or... in a thousand years."Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now
And yet, there is another possibility: that Discovery has indeed already emerged in the 32nd century, unseen and undetectable. And, in fact, the Star Trek: Discovery season 3 trailer may already have hinted as much.
The USS Discovery Has Crash-Landed
Something has gone very wrong with Michael Burnham's time travel escapade. As noted, her calculations seem to have been off, likely because the Red Angel was never intended to tow starships through time and space. Consequently, Burnham has emerged at the wrong location, in a completely different part of the galaxy to the planet she was aiming for. She has also been separated from the Discovery, and she's unsure whether that separation is in terms of time, space, or even both. The Star Trek: Discovery season 3 premiere ends with Burnham assuming time is the problem, and that Discovery simply hasn't arrived yet. But there is another possibility.
Burnham has forgotten that her arrival in the 32nd century was abrupt and almost calamitous; in fact, she barely survived. The same could well be true of the USS Discovery as well. Because the Red Angel's time and space travel systems malfunctioned, Discovery could have arrived anywhere. It could have emerged from a wormhole to find itself in an asteroid belt or gravity well - or too close to a planet's surface, unable to resist its gravitational pull. This theory is verified by the Star Trek: Discovery season 3 trailer, which showed the USS Discovery crash-landed upon an unknown world.
Given this is the case, it's no surprise Burnham cannot find the USS Discovery. She asks Aditya Sahil, the man staffing the Federation, to look for "the warp signature of a starship bearing the identifier SCC1031." But that assumes Discovery is in flight, not crash-landed upon the surface of a planet, its warp engines offline. Unless the crew of Discovery send off some sort of cosmic SOS, there is no way they can be found by the Federation relay.
Where Exactly Is The USS Discovery in Star Trek?
All this naturally raises one simple question; what planet has the USS Discovery crash-landed upon in Star Trek: Discovery season 3? The most probable candidate is Terralysium itself, the world Michael Burnham originally intended to land upon. This colony world was settled by Michael Burnham's mother as she attempted to determine whether or not history could be changed. Discovery was drawn to Terralysium by the Red Angel in 2257, with Captain Pike classifying the colonists as a pre-warp society and thus subject to the Prime Directive. Hopefully that's changed over the last 900+ years; if not, Discovery will find it a lot harder to hide a crashed starship from the natives.
If this theory is correct, then Michael Burnham is unlikely to be able to get to her ship. She's dealing with limited resources, as a result of a mysterious galactic catastrophe called the Burn. Sometime between 3068 and 3088, almost all dilithium in the galaxy spontaneously destabilized - with explosive results. Countless starships were destroyed as the matter/antimatter reactions in their warp cores ran wild, and space travel became harder than ever before. Galactic powers like the Federation declined, with just a faithful remnant remaining, having to make do with dwindling resources. Even the Federation relay station Burnham visited could only scan 30 sectors, giving a sense of just how diminished the once-mighty Federation has become. Frankly, even assuming Burnham is in the same sector as Terralysium, she'll find it pretty hard to get there - if only because she'd have to obtain sufficient dilithium to make the voyage possible.
How Will The USS Discovery Get Off The Ground?
Michael Burnham, of course, is not the only crewmember of the USS Discovery to be both creative and resourceful. While the USS Discovery will surely have taken damage during its crash-landing, it is staffed by a brave and capable crew, including some of the best scientific minds of 2257. There's no reason to assume they will be unable to repair their starship, and get it into the air again. Unlike Burnham, they not only have a stock of dilithium, but they also have the technology to recrystallize it. What's more, if they want to travel vast distances, they also have the spore drive. They can literally cross from one side of the galaxy to the other in a matter of moments.
All this suggests the crew don't need Burnham to rescue them; they just need her to keep watching, in case one day they jump into the 30 sectors of space being watched by Aditya Sahil. He would recognize the warp signature at once, and would immediately contact Burnham, telling her he has found her missing ship. Star Trek: Discovery season 3 is not necessarily the story of a rescue mission in the far future, but rather a rendezvous in a stranger new world than Michael Burnham and her friends have ever conceived.