Star Trek Guide

Discovery Officially Makes J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Movies Canon

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery season 3, episode 9, "Terra Firma, Part 1".

Star Trek: Discovery season 3 has officially acknowledged the existence of the Kelvin timeline and made J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies part of the Prime Universe canon. Now that Star Trek: Discovery is set in the 32nd century, over 900 years after the events of the prior seasons and of Abrams' trilogy, CBS All-Access' series has been gradually incorporating all of Star Trek into one combined and defined canon. Happily, this now includes Abrams' movie trilogy at last.

J.J. Abrams directed Star Trek 2009, its 2013 sequel Star Trek Into Darkness, and he produced 2016's Star Trek Beyond, which was helmed by Justin Lin. Abrams' films are the most financially successful Star Trek movies and they brought a new audience to the 50+-year-old franchise while giving Star Trek a much-needed facelift in terms of visual effects and modern blockbuster-style filmmaking. Abrams chose to make his movies about younger versions of Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and the crew of the Starship Enterprise but he wisely didn't want to reboot the existing Star Trek TV shows and movies - and thereby infuriating millions of fans. Instead, Abrams and his Bad Robot production company opted to set their Star Trek in an alternate timeline that had its roots in the Prime Universe and the original Spock played by Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy's Spock validated Abrams' alternate universe, but it was kept separate from the Prime Star Trek universe and no one in the original reality knew the Kelvin timeline (which received its official name in 2016) existed.

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Star Trek: Discovery season 3, episode 9, "Terra Firma, Part 1" revealed that the United Federation of Planets in the Prime universe does indeed know about the Kelvin timeline. This is thanks to a 24th-century Starfleet Officer named Lt. Commander Yor, who was a time soldier and veteran of the Temporal Wars. As Kovich (David Cronenberg), who could be an agent of Section 31, explained to Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz), Yor was the first person to ever travel both forward in time and from a parallel universe - specifically, the alternate reality created by "the temporal incursion of a Romulan mining ship". Kovich is undoubtedly referring to Nero (Eric Bana), the villain of Star Trek 2009, who time traveled from the 24th century to the 23rd and instigated the Kelvin timeline when he destroyed the U.S.S. Kelvin, which was commanded by Lt. George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth), the father of James T. Kirk.

Thanks to Lt. Commander Yor, Starfleet, the Federation, and Kovich learned that Nero's disappearance (as well as Ambassador Spock's) birthed a completely separate alternate reality that unfolded in both similar but wildly different ways. The fact that Yor came from 2379 and wore a Star Trek: The Next Generation-era uniform, clearly indicates that a version of TNG happened in the Kelvin timeline in the next century after Kirk and Spock finished their voyages aboard the Enterprise. Kovich also inferred that the Federation has a means to actually cross between universes, but doing so is banned by the Federation as a result of the devastating Temporal Wars.

Previously, Star Trek: Discovery season 3 gave a shout out to the late Anton Yelchin, who starred as Pavel Chekov in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek trilogy, in the form of the U.S.S. Yelchin, a 31st-century starship that was destroyed by the dilithium cataclysm called The Burn. The nod to Anton Yelchin was an indirect acknowledgment of Abrams' Kelvin timeline mixed with a belated but appreciated recognition of the beloved actor who tragically died in 2o16 right before Star Trek Beyond's release.

However, Lt. Commander Yor's crossing over from the Kelvin timeline finally merges the two versions of Star Trek into one macro, multidimensional universe, which both sides recognizing the other. Because of Ambassador Spock, the crew of Abrams' Starship Enterprise already knew they were living in an alternate timeline but Trekkers now definitively know that the Prime universe is aware of the Kelvin. Although the two realities must remain separate, Star Trek: Discovery has bridged the Prime and Kelvin universes into one Star Trek, united.

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