On June 18, 1990, Captain Jean-Luc Picard was assimilated into the Borg Collective and I was nine-years-old. The famous third season finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation was one of the first TV shows I was allowed to stay up late to watch, and for a variety of reasons I had a lot of feelings about it. And though I didn’t know it’s what I was doing at the time, that summer all I did was craft fan theories about the resolution of Picard’s Borg problem—more than a few those ideas involved time travel, and one idea definitely involved gambling…
The supposed fan backlash to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in 1999 is as legendary today as it is mysterious. Unlike cultural events that are documented in real time in 2019, the real zeitgeist reaction to The Phantom Menace is tricker to pinpoint. But, I remember. I was there. And unlike now, there wasn’t an immediate consensus formed on the internet. Instead, 17-year-old kids like me had to search their feelings about The Phantom Menace without an echo chamber.
In 1999, I thought the film was excellent. Disturbing, but excellent. And now, exactly 20 years later, after having held a variety of differing opinions in-between, I think my first reaction was the right one: The Phantom Menace is great because it is a deeply weird movie. It shocked me and rattled me to my core. Here’s why that mattered.
In 2020, Star Trek: Discovery will boldly go where Star Trek has never gone before: 930 years into their future, which is 1168 years in our future! Relatively speaking, this future-setting of Discovery season 3 could feel just as disorienting to Burnham and the crew as a time traveler from King Arthur’s court arriving in 2019. The USS Discovery won’t exactly be like dinosaurs warping around in a future galaxy, but they will certainly be out of step with the times.
And, because the new season will happen at the end of the 32nd century — well past most existing Trek canon — the biggest question is connected to what will be the same in the Trek galaxy. Will Starfleet exist? And what about that peaceful multi-world government, the United Federation of Planets? Will everything Burnham, Saru, and Stamets believe in still exist in the year 3187? If you look closely at the Short Trek episode “Calypso,” there’s every reason to believe the Federation does exist, but that it might not be the peaceful government we’ve come to know and love. Like, at all.
Possible spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery season 3. Full spoilers for all of season 2, and the Short Trek episode “Calypso.”
If you’d never seen a Star Trek series before Discovery, you may have assumed that the season 2 finale opened a wormhole for the exit of the titular starship, while opening a door for a new show about Captain Pike, Spock, Number One and the crew of the USS Enterprise circa 2257. Because the original Star Trek doesn’t happen for another eight years in the established timeline, the idea that we could see the adventures of the Enterprise before Captain Kirk took over isn’t that all that crazy. Even before the season 2 finale of Discovery, fans began petitioning for a new spin-off series featuring Spock and Pike aboard the classic Enterprise with Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, and Rebecca Romijn reprising their roles from Discovery.
Here are five reasons why this retro-spinoff is a great idea, and three reasons why this starship needs to stay in spacedock.
Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery season 2, “Such Sweet Sorrow, Parts 1 and 2.”
Based on the massive twists and turns we’ve seen in this season of Star Trek: Discovery, the remaining two episodes will offer enough surprises to fill not one, but two starships. It’s now no secret that the USS Enterprise is returning for the big finale episodes, but what does that mean for the canon of the original series? We know Rebecca Romijn will return as Number One—the first officer of the Enterprise—but who else? Could other classic characters from The Original Series be hanging around the Enterprise? Could we get a glimpse of them in this episode? Or even a passing reference?
Based on the timeline, here are eight characters from Star Trek: The Original Series who could feasibly be on the USS Enterprise in the last two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery season 2.
Warning: Speculative spoilers could follow. When this list was compiled, the writer of this article had not yet seen Discovery season 2, episode 13, “Such Sweet Sorrow.”
Last year, Captain Pike didn’t have a personality. Before Star Trek: Discovery’s second season, Christopher Pike was less of a character and more of an answer to a trivia question. But now, thanks in part to the new episode “Through the Valley of the Shadows,” Pike has become a completely rounded person. Not only does Pike’s decision in this episode make him one the bravest Star Trek captains ever, we now know he actually faced —and passed — one test that James T. Kirk famously screwed up.
The greatest threat to the galaxy has returned to the Star Trek universe! The struggle is pointless, it’s time to submit to Control and wear some black leather and talk like a robot, just like the Borg. But wait—is the rogue A.I. on Star Trek: Discovery really going to turn into the Borg? At this point, the show has not made this connection explicit, but nearly every fan and critic who has been writing about the show across the internet has breathlessly mentioned the return of the Borg. So what’s the deal? Is Discovery doing a Borg homage or is Control a real-deal Borg origin story?
Here are five reasons why Control is totally the Borg, plus three reasons why it totally isn’t.
Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery, season 2, episode 11, “Perpetual Infinity.”
At the very start of the Star Trek: Discovery episode “The Red Angel,” the history of time travel in the Trek universe got a little more wrinkled. According to this episode, Starfleet has been desperate to develop some reliable time travel since the very early part of the 23rd century. This feels a little crazy, but what’s even crazier is that a close reading of nearly every single time travel episode of the original series supports this idea. Yep. That’s right. Discovery’s “temporal arms race” seems to be something Captain Kirk was totally involved with during TOS. Here’s how it all works.
Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery, Season 2, Episode 10, “The Red Angel.”
Renegade cyborgs and a scheming A.I. became the latest enemies of Starfleet in the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, “Project Daedalus.” But beyond the obvious fact that Trek canon has dabbled in evil supercomputer stories many times before, the second season of Discovery has been slowly explaining a more subtle techno-paranoia present across several eras of Star Trek. In “Project Daedalus,” we essentially see why (almost) all other incarnations of Star Trek hate holograms. And not only does this anti-hologram retcon make perfect sense within Trek canon, but it’s also illustrative of real-life fears, too.
The male duo of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock is famous; not only for being the most enduring on-screen bromance of all time, but also for birthing an entire subgenre of fan fiction. But Kirk…Kirk was not Spock’s first. What about Pike/Spock? How did Spock’s long relationship with Captain Pike prepare him, or guide him, or shape him into being Kirk’s best friend in the original Star Trek?
The second season of Star Trek: Discovery is answering that question right now, and actors Anson Mount (Pike) and Ethan Peck (Spock) both have very specific insights as to how their versions of Pike and Spock are creating the dynamic duo the original series.
When a prequel series to the original Star Trek was announced, hardcore fans started freaking out and these are the kinds of things they said: How can anything that takes place before the OG Trek effectively reconcile the discrepancy between retro-future tech of the 1960s and the slick tech of the 21st century? Plus, why are they wearing all-blue jumpsuits! Funnily enough, these complaints aren’t unique to the discussion about Star Trek: Discovery; the same exact conversations were happening when the prequel series Enterprise aired in 2001.
From its very first episode, Enterprise casually floated the idea that someone from the future might be messing with the past, and also, the canon. And now it looks like some that stuff may actually happen. Is Discovery heating up the temporal cold war? Will season 2 change the Prime Timeline? Right now, all signs point to yes.
In Star Trek: Discovery, Anson Mount’s Captain Pike is probably the most by-the-book Star Trek captain since Captain Picard, insofar as he’s a dude who really, really doesn’t want to violate the Prime Directive, but ends up being forced to anyway. But while the most noticeable difference between the captains might be the pacing of their storylines—Pike never even stops for a tea break!—the biggest divide comes down to the idea that the Prime Directive isn’t really the Prime Directive during the era of Discovery. In fact, it seems the second season of Discovery is all about demonstrating how the Federation’s General Order One evolves into the more strict version of the Prime Directive seen in later series.
Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery, season 2, episode 6, “The Sound of Thunder.”
Perhaps the most futuristic thing about Star Trek: The Next Generation was that way back in 1987, the show’s creators and designers predicted that the portable phones of the future would become jewelry. In the grand scheme of wearable sci-fi tech the Trek communicator badge is iconic for its simplicity, but also because it made a silly idea into something legitimately cool. But now that the communicator badge has returned—a full century early—on Star Trek: Discovery, what are diehard fans supposed to think? Did Section 31 rip-off the future?
When Star Trek: Discovery first aired in late 2017, fans of The Next Generation were all probably stoked to hear the name “Kahless,” the Klingon Jesus, who showed up as a clone of himself in the episode “Rightful Heir.” And now, in “Point of Light,” the third episode of Discovery’s second season, one small detail connects Lt. Tyler to Worf and those clone-happy monks in a very specific way. And it’s all about the name of that planet at the end of the episode.
Turns out that Captain Pike is so hot for the Prime Directive, he will literally jump on a phaser and die rather than interfere with a culture’s natural development. Except when it comes to giving out space batteries. Space batteries are fine. The point is, on some level Pike’s actions in the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery — “New Eden”—might scan as hypocritical. But, that’s not exactly Pike’s fault. Maybe General Order One, better known as the Prime Directive, is inherently hypocritical.
Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery season 2, episode 2, “New Eden.”
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