Season 3 of Star Trek Discovery will see the crew of Starfleet’s most classified vessel head 930 years into the future. At New York Comic Con on Saturday, the show’s cast and crew dropped some intriguing details about the strange new worlds and undiscovered countries that await the Disco squad in the distant future, while emphasizing the series’ continued attentiveness to the existing Star Trek canon.
“If we don’t deliver something that’s surprising and unexpected, we havent done our job,” showrunner Alex Kurtzman said of Discovery’s leap nearly a thousand years into the future. “That said, canon is very important to us. The events of canon have absolutely informed the future. but the future is not what they expected when they get to the other side.”
The latest trailer for Season 3 hints that while Starfleet may continue to exist in the future, its role in intergalatic politics seems to have dramatically shifted. Yes, at one point we see a Federation banner unfurl in dramatic fashion. But we also see Cleveland Booker (series newcomer David Ajala) questioning Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) about her Starfleet badge. “You believe in ghosts,” he says, hinting that either the Federation’s power has significantly waned, or perhaps that the intervening centuries have seen the idealistic organization betray its core values.
Throwing the Federation itself into question seems to be part and parcel of the big questions Discovery Season 3 seeks to ask about the Star Trek Universe. Kurtzman commented that one of the aims of the upcoming episodes was to “take everything you assume about Trek and put it in a blender.” Even so, he went on to reiterate that “Trek is who we are at our best. We’re looking to have something to say about the world that is now in the future we present on-screen.” So it would seem all that Roddenberry idealism hasn’t been totally lost after the time skip.
For the actors on Discovery, Season 3 put each of their characters in a position of possibly never being able to return home again. That meant embracing their new found family among each other as crew members, but also mourning all they’ve left behind.
“I love the idea of being able to change as rapidly as I have been changing as Michael Burnham,” said Martin-Green of her character’s storyline this season. “What’s interesting now is that we aren’t who we ultimately are going to be. You’re going on that journey with us. You see us on this journey, making these decisions to become who we were ultimately meant to be.”
Wilson Cruz added that a key aspect of Dr. Culber’s story this season is realizing that his partner, Stamets (Anthony Rapp) is the truest “home” he’s ever known. “This trip in the future is a clean slate, to create the person that he’s always wanted to be. Part of that is being a better doctor, a better partner, and a better person, and learning how to be of service to his crew,” Cruz explained.
Rapp also hinted that Season 3 will devote considerable time to exploring the more intimate, personal consequences of leaving everything behind to move a thousand years into the future. “They’re really allowing everyone to imagine, on a personal level, what it’s like to leave everything behind, and what that might do to people. It’s an enormous starange leap, and I think that’s really special,” he told the audience at Madison Square Garden.
While Season 3 will clearly be full of contemplative, mournful moments, we’ll also see the Disco crew come into their own and assert themselves with new confidence, particularly Ensign Tilly. “She does a lot of work for these people as an ensign,” said Mary Weisman. “This season, you’re gonna see even more of her stepping into her power. It’s not a time to wilt or to step back.
The biggest takeaway from the NYCC panel? The crew of Discovery is going to need to lean on one another more than ever. Doug Jones, who plays Saru, said the once-adversarial releationship between his character and Burnham has evolved to the point where “we’re like chosen brother and sister.”
Martin-Green echoed those sentiments, noting that “duty called for us all to jump to the future. That very act reverberated and bound us together, and bound us even moreso to everything we believe in as Starfleet.”
So what does the world of 93 decades into the future hold for the Disco crew? We’ll probably have to wait until Picard is over to find out.
Star Trek Discovery Season 3 will come to CBS All Access sometime in 2020.