Star Trek Guide

Star Trek: Discovery Introduces a Mystery FAR More Interesting Than the Burn

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Episode 5, "Die Trying," now streaming on CBS All Access.

In Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery, the crew of the titular ship is now living and surviving over 900 years after the events of the original series. The team come to learn than the Federation has dwindled after many of their ships were destroyed in an event known as "The Burn," which caused most of the dilithium in the universe to explode. The reason behind The Burn is unknown, however it is no longer the most intriguing mystery in the series.

In Season 3, Episode 5, "Die Trying," Burnham, Dr Culber and Nhan -- the Discovery's Barzan security chief -- beam aboard the USS Tikhov in a bid to obtain a plant sample from the ship's seed store. There, they discover a hologram of a Barzan family. The Barzan family hum a song that Burnham recognizes as the same piece of music played by Adira Tal at the end of the previous episode, but she is certain this is not possible in a universe hindered by the effects of The Burn. Here's why this musical motif is a far more interesting mystery than The Burn.

Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now

The piece of music in question is described by Adira as a lullaby that one of the previous hosts of their symbiont heard as a child. As Adira has now gained access to the collective memories of all previous hosts, she knows it too. Adira plays the haunting tune on their cello while speaking with Commander Burnham in the closing moments of Season 3, Episode 4, "Forget Me Not." The tune was also heard earlier in the episode when Grey, Adira's boyfriend and previous host of the symbiont, played it in a flashback.

Different people knowing the same tune isn't normally cause for concern but in this post-Burn universe it becomes an issue worth investigating. As the newly discovered Federation members confirmed, communication distance has been limited following the effects of The Burn, leaving some planets and ship ports beyond their reach. With warp capabilities also severely hampered, any contact between extra-terrestrial species without the Discovery's revolutionary spore drive is almost impossible, making the distance between worlds seem farther than ever before.

This leads Burnham to wonder how Adira's Trill symbiont and this Barzen family could know the same song. Adira's symbiont was on Earth prior to joining the Discovery and the Barzen family lived on Barzen II prior to becoming trapped on the Tikhov when it got stuck in an ion storm. Despite the two planets both being in Alpha Quadrant, they are still separated by light years. As a result, the song could not have traveled by mouth, nor could it have been heard over shared communication streams, which are non-existent.

Lieutenant Willa, acting on a request from Burnham, claims to have found nothing on the song, commenting that half the people there know some version of it, including her. Burnham asks how all these people can know the same piece of music considering the distance and differences in culture. Willa just shrugs off Burnham's question, stating "some things get in the ether." The episode leaves us with no answers on the matter, but it does sow enough intrigue about the musical motif to ensure fans will keep their ears pricked for further instances of the song in future episodes.

While it remains a mystery that is arguably more interesting than The Burn, it is not outside the realm of possibility that the song is directly linked to The Burn. Little is known about what caused almost all of the universe's dilithium to explode, but it's fair to speculate that it was perhaps a signal that was sent to all warp-capable ships at the same time. On the other hand, the concept of light-delay might shelf this theory as a signal must travel and, thus, cannot impact every ship at the same time. That said, we are now facing the prospect of a song that traveled the universe seemingly unhindered by what we know is possible, so perhaps it is connected to whatever caused The Burn -- only time will tell.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Commander Michael Burnham, Doug Jones as Captain Saru, Anthony Rapp as Lt. Commander Paul Stamets, Mary Wiseman as Ensign Sylvia Tilly, Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber, Blu del Barrio as Adira, David Ajala as Cleveland “Book” Booker and Michelle Yeoh as Philippa Georgiou. A new episode arrives on CBS All Access every Thursday through Jan. 7, 2021.

About The Author