Star Trek Discovery: Every Starfleet & Federation Change In The 32nd Century
Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Episode 5 - "Die Trying"
Star Trek: Discoveryseason 3's 32nd-century setting has resulted in seismic changes in Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets. Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the U.S.S. Discovery permanently jumped to the future and reunited in the year 3189. But the future they saved isn't what they hoped for: the galaxy has been irrevocably changed by a dilithium-based catastrophe called the Burn that led to the collapse of the Federation.
In Star Trek: Discovery season 3, episode 5, "Die Trying", the time-displaced starship has finally located Federation headquarters. Michael had previously met a solitary Federation liaison, Aditya Sahil (Adil Hussain), who lived on a derelict relay station; however, Mr. Sahil wasn't a commissioned officer before Commander Burnham gave him that honor and charged him to be her new communications officer. After Burnham rejoined the Discovery's crew and became First Officer under Captain Saru (Doug Jones), the starship jumped to Earth, expecting to find Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco, where it had always been since the Federation and Starfleet were founded in the 22nd century.Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now
Instead, the Discovery learned that the United Earth of 3189 is an isolationist planet that kicked the Federation out after the Burn happened about a century before. However, the Discovery's newest crewmember, Adira Tal (Blu del Barrio), is the new host of the Trill symbiont that contained the memories of Starfleet Admiral Senna Tal (Kenneth Welsh). After Michael helped Adira become embraced by the Tal symbiont on Trill, the brilliant teenager was able to glean the coordinates to the Federation's hidden headquarters.
Thanks to Discovery's spore displacement hub drive - the unique technology that gives Captain Saru's starship a singular advantage in a galaxy devoid of warp-capable vessels - our heroes were able to arrive at Federation Headquarters, at last. What they found was both dazzling, in terms of the fantastic technology that now exists in the 32nd century, and sobering, in terms of the grim realities that Starfleet and the Federation now face just to continue to survive.
The New Federation And Starfleet Headquarters
The Federation and Starfleet were separate entities that have combined out of necessity, and their new headquarters is an enormous starbase in a secret location and hidden by a distortion field. The starbase appears to be spherical structure large enough to house multiple starships, which possibly comprise the bulk of the diminished Starfleet. Burnham also deduced that the distortion field appears to be sustained by the collective energy of every ship within it. The starbase has the technology to instantly scan the Discovery's personnel and even determine that the Tal symbiont was inside Adira. Discovery was also piloted into spacedock automatically.
Federation Headquarters appears to be a military installation, which a central hub housing Starfleet Command, but it also has aspects of a self-sustaining planet. The Discovery flew past what Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) described as "a flying rainforest", and there are other structures for the population's living and recreation. Since the Discovery's crew only interacted with Starfleet personnel, it's unclear whether there is a civilian population of families as well, but tis is very likely since the Federation Council and the President also presumably live and work here.
The 32nd century's Federation Headquarters certainly shows how technology has jumped lightyears ahead of what Trekkers know from the 23rd and 24th centuries, while still remaining distinctly Star Trek. Prior starbases were essentially fortresses hanging in deep space, and the U.S.S. Yorktown in Star Trek Beyond was the most dazzling starbase up to that point since it was an enormous city housed in concentric rings. Star Trek: Discovery's Federation Headquarters appears to be the next level and the Discovery's crew justifiably marveled at how much the technology they knew had evolved.
Changes To Starfleet's Starships
The U.S.S. Discovery was the most advanced starship of the 2250s but much has changed in the next thousand years that has altered starship technology in stunning ways. The 32nd-century starships docked at Federation Headquarters are significantly larger, sleeker, and more powerful. Some starships feature organic metals in their hulls, holographic walls, and detached warp nacelles are now standard, which left Lt. Keyla Detmer (Emily Coutts) wondering where their warp cores are located. No doubt, the newest wave of starships also feature programmable matter and Starfleet Officers now have personal transporters.
Star Trek's 32nd century Starfleet ships are made up of neutronium, which was only theoretical in the 23rd century. The U.S.S. Enterprise battled a massive planet-killer made of impenetrable neutronium in Star Trek: The Original Series classic episode "The Doomsday Machine", and in Star Trek: Voyager, the eponymous starship encountered ships made of neutronium in the Delta Quadrant, yet the Borg of the 24th century hadn't assimilated the knowledge to make neutronium. However, neutronium is now commonplace in the 32nd century and is far more durable than the Discovery's tritanium hull.
Speaking of Voyager, the Discovery flew past the 11th generation of the legendary starship, the U.S.S. Voyager-J! This means the original vessel commanded by Captain-turned-Admiral Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) endures as a legacy ship, like the Starship Enterprise. However, the 32nd-century generation Enterprise wasn't revealed and it's unknown whether that line of ships is still active and whether the Enterprise is still the flagship of the Federation.
Discovery also passed new Starfleet scout ships and the huge, new Constitution-class starships, which Lt. Joann Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo) estimated could sleep 2,000 crewmembers. The size of starships in 3189 seems to speak the fact that since there are fewer ships in Starfleet, the vessels are larger and require larger crews to compensate. However, it's unclear how much dilithium the Federation has and how warp-capable Starfleet's current armada actually is.
Changes To Starfleet And The Federation
Captain Saru, Commander Burnham, and Adira Tal met with Starfleet's Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Charles Vance (Oded Fehr), a stern man who carries the burden of keeping Starfleet and the Federation running in the post-Burn galaxy. The cause of the Burn itself continues to be an unsolved mystery and the Federation doesn't have the resources to investigate the numerous theories that exist. Instead, the Federation operates under the belief that the Burn was an attack upon it, and all of its security measures are in place to preserve what's left of the galactic union.
According to Admiral Vance, from its peak of 350, only 38 worlds (that they know of) remain as part of the Federation, but those planets include Kaminar, the homeworld of Captain Saru and the Kelpien race, and Barzan, the planet Commander Nhan (Rachael Ancheril) hails from. However, Starfleet no longer has five-year missions and no longer seeks out new worlds and new civilizations. With dilithium scarce thanks to the Burn, exploration has taken a backseat to merely protecting the Federation worlds Starfleet is still able to reach. One of the main antagonists of 32nd-century Starfleet is the Emerald Chain, the Andorian and Orion Syndicate controlled by a crime lord named Osysraa.
Vance also confirmed that time travel is banned by the Federation, which spent the 30th century fighting the Temporal Wars and trying to uphold the Temporal Accords. This is why the Admiral initially regarded the Discovery's story of time travel with suspicion since their very presence in 3189 is a criminal act. In terms of personnel, major advancements in holographic technology have made holograms commonplace, with Starfleet utilizing holographic security officers and a highly-evolved version of the Emergency Medical Holograms (EMH) named Dr. ELI (Brendan Beiser).
However, Section 31 is (unsurprisingly) also operating in the 32nd century, and one mysterious agent wearing glasses (David Cronenberg) personally interrogated (and may have done something insidious to) Emperor Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). Despite everything being very different, the U.S.S. Discovery is nonetheless home at last and Captain Saru's crew is eager to serve the Federation as needed in Star Trek: Discoveryseason 3.About The Author
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