The future of the future has never been more mysterious. In season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery, the beloved and seemingly immortal sci-fi franchise will go where it’s never gone before: 950 years into its own future. This week, at New York Comic-Con 2019, CBS will almost undoubtedly release the first trailer for Discovery season 3, which will certainly cause Trekkies everywhere to freak out. But, what will happen in this trailer, and by extension, the next season of Discovery?
Here are five big surprises that would be amazing to see in the new trailer, regardless of how absurd each idea might seem. So far, Discovery has done a fantastic job of subverting fan expectations, meaning the twists of the next season could be the craziest yet.
The following is all pure speculation. As of this writing, neither the writer nor anyone at Tor.com has any knowledge of what will happen in Star Trek: Discovery, season 3. Nevertheless, accidental spoilers may be ahead. (We’ve been right before! You’ve been warned.)
6. Control was the Borg after all
Late in season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery, it really seemed like the rogue A.I known as Control was going to be outright revealed to be some kind of precursor or cyber-cousin of the Borg. And now that the Borg are making a huge comeback in Star Trek: Picard, it’s feasible that dropping a Borg twist in Discovery season 3 could provide some connective tissue between the two new Star Trek shows. To put it another way, those Borg similarities seem too huge to just be a coincidence. In fact, the whole reason why Discovery had to jump into the future was to isolate Control for as long as possible, but what if that ended-up creating the Borg by accident? Trek canon tells us that the Borg have existed in the Delta Quadrant since at least the 13th century, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some kind of wibbly-wobbly time-travel origin in which the proto-Borg were conceived in the future, and then ended up traveling back in time after that. In fact, Leland’s last words before “dying” were “This doesn’t end here.” Maybe he was telling the truth; because a Borg ship in Disco season 3 would be a showstopper.
5. The Federation is gone
The fate of the Federation is obviously a huge question that needs to be answered in season 3 of Discovery, and right now, there’s no reason to believe it exists at all. According to the files of the time-traveling agent Daniels in Star Trek: Enterprise, some version of the Federation existed as far as 3125, but considering Daniels was involved in a literal time war, it’s tough to say if that’s accurate. And, even if it was, the USS Discovery jumped to the year 3187, which is well past any recorded version of the UFP existing in the Milky Way galaxy. One deep-cut fan theory suggests that the Federation might actually have become villains in the far future, but what if it just doesn’t exist at all? If the Discovery is the last Federation starship ever, the stakes for the new season could get significantly higher.
4. Captain Burnham
Oddly, one of the greatest secrets of season 3 is probably one a Discovery season 3 trailer should get out of the way really quickly. Just like at the end of season 1, the USS Discovery is now in need of a new captain. It seems like a trailer for the new series will have to be extra-thin to avoid telling us who this new captain is, so the best bet here is that it’s just Michael Burnham. In the very first Discovery episode ever, Captain Georgiou was prepping Michael to have her own starship, and now, it seems like it may actually happen.
These are all twists that follow up on previous Discovery episodes or Short Treks, though. You wanna get nuts? Come on! Let’s get nuts.
3. Voyager‘s Doctor Comes Aboard
While technically any artificial lifeform from the 50+ years of Star Trek could survive to the 32nd century, there’s only one who has gotten anywhere close to that timeframe during their onscreen adventures: The Doctor from Voyager.
In the fourth season episode “Living Witness,” a copied program of the Voyager’s Emergency Medical Hologram is awoken (well, his mobile emitter is activated by accident) on a distant planet in the Delta Quadrant in the 31st century, one hundred years before the events of Discovery season 3. The Doctor stands as witness to the “crimes” his crew mates inflicted on the planet 700 years ago; crimes that the Doctor knows that Voyager were actually trying to halt. The episode itself is a commentary on how the events of history can get completely inverted by unreliable narrators and the passage of time, and by the end of the episode the Doctor is successful in restoring the rightful version of events. In a coda at the end of the episode, we see that the Doctor’s restoration of proper events is itself an event being studied by that planet’s historians in an unspecified span of time beyond the 31st century, and that the Doctor left the planet long ago to seek out the Alpha Quadrant, the Federation, and any trace of his old ship.
That places the Doctor’s quest within the same time frame as Discovery season 3. Maybe he’s still in the Delta Quadrant (which we know Discovery is able to reach thanks to the spore drive) or bumming around the Alpha Quadrant. If the Federation is gone, he’d probably be very interested in the sudden appearance of a Federation ship.
CBS has reportedly reached out to Robert Picardo in regards to reprising his role as the Doctor. Speculation is that this would be for Picard season 2, which is rumored to begin filming in March 2020, and which already involves a bounty of artificial lifeforms along with his shipmate Seven of Nine/Annika Hansen. But what if CBS is actually looking to include him in Discovery? Or both?
2. Q shows up
Most legacy characters are off the table for season 3 of Discovery if only because almost none of them would still be left alive in the late 32nd century. Unless of course, that character exists outside the regular flow of time. With so much nostalgia for The Next Generation and Voyager happening with Picard, the idea that Discovery could bring on a character from that era would be kind of amazing. What if the very last scene of the Discovery season 3 trailer featured the return of John de Lancie as Q? It’s a long shot, and some would say a move like that would be too fan-service oriented. But come on, how much do you want to see Burnham have to shutdown Q? Even as Tilly geeks out over him? And Saru sighs? And Georgiou schemes? And how curious would Q be to see a Federation ship pop up well past the Federation’s heyday? If Picard can de-age Brent Spiner to reprise Data, Discovery can do the same with Q.
But. This isn’t the craziest plausible thing that could happen in Discovery season 3. That honor goes to…
1. Pike is back…because of original series canon!
Okay, so this is a huge longshot, but what if Pike is straight-up in season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery? Right now, hardcore fans are saying: That’s not possible, because we know what happens to Pike in the original series of Star Trek. In “The Menagerie”; after his accident, Pike ends-up living on Talos IV with Vina, where the Talosians give both of them the perpetual illusion of young and healthy bodies. The thing is, we have no idea how long those illusions could last. And since Talos IV is totally off-limits–it seems like nobody went back there after the year 2267–we don’t know what the limits of Talosian tech even are. It wouldn’t be hard to explain that the Talosians made it possible for Pike and Vina’s consciousness to continue to exist past the expiration of their bodies.
Meaning, the greatest twist for Discovery season 3 could be that Pike is back! But this time, he’s kind of a space god!
Ryan Britt has been a contributor to Tor.com since 2010. His writing is often featured with Inverse, SyFy Wire, Den of Geek!, Vulture, and Star Trek.com. He is the author of the book Luke Skywalker Can’t Read and an editor at Fatherly. He lives in Portland, Maine with his wife and daughter. He loves being right about his Star Trek theories but loves being wrong even more.