Michael Burnham lands almost 1000 years in the future in the Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere. So, what does the universe look like?
We have waited far too long to revisit Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the Discovery crew. The heroic team abandoned the lives they knew to save the universe. To stop the evil AI, Control, from getting hold of world-ending data, Burnham led her friends to a wormhole to the future. In the Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere, Burnham crash-lands on a planet, her crew nowhere to be found.
But she’s not alone. On her way down, Burnham knocks down Cleveland ‘Book’ Booker’s (David Ajala) ship and the two become inseparable. Whether they like it or not.
Book is Michael’s (and the viewer’s) guide to the future, and he has a lot to show us. Here are five important changes that we learn about the future in the Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere – A World Without the Federation
Yes, you read that right—there is no Federation and no Starfleet in the future. The universe that Burnham and the others sacrificed for is anarchic and brutal.
A little over a century before Burnham arrives, the universe’s dilithium went ‘boom’. As any Trekkie would know, the Federation runs on dilithium. Every time there’s techno-babble on a Star Trek property, dilithium crystals aren’t far from the conversation.
The destabilization of these crystals would have undoubtedly immobilized the Federation. And if you thought that was bad, there’s worse to come. Apparently, there were Temporal Wars as well, which put an end to all time-travel technology. Suffice to say, Burnham sticks out like a sore thumb in the future.
The sole member of ‘Starfleet’ is Aditya Sahil (Adil Hussain), a man who has spent 40 years cooped up alone in a derelict space station waiting for a Starfleet officer to walk through his door and bring him hope.
Michael is the one carrying that hope and she officially makes him a Starfleet officer. Were there tears shed during that scene? Yes, there were. The future looks quite bleak, but Sahil is attached to an idea and an ideal that Trekkies know and love, and the writers leverage that nostalgia to pull at our heartstrings.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere – Ecological Disasters
Burnham’s destination in the 32nd century had been Terralysium, but she ends up on Heem. The planet is a wasteland, with a central city that’s a hub for the courier ring run by Andorians and Orions. These two species are now working together to trade with couriers like Book.
We learn, much to our horror, that some of the cargo being traded are endangered species. After the fall of the Federation, there was no one to protect the animals of the universe. Book comes from a family of killers and poachers who hunt these poor creatures. Just like the other couriers on Heem.
Book, however, is one of the good guys, using his ecology-whispering powers to steal these creatures and hide them away on the beautiful planet Sanctuary.
This isn’t the first time that Star Trek has tackled the human impact on the environment, but the Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere seems to hint that the show will dive deeper into this environmental issue.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere – Technology to Die for
Star Trek shows are all about the tech, especially considering how that tech has shaped real life. What I liked about the premiere was that it’s not overly bleak. There’s a lot to love about this version of the future, and if Michael was of a certain temperament, she would have enjoyed being a mercenary. But she’s highly moralistic instead.
Some of the coolest technology is in Sahil’s office. He has a digital parrot alarm clock (that changes color!) and all his furniture is nano-technology that reconstitutes itself to his needs. He never has to worry about moving his furniture.
Holotechnology is so widely used that it’s become a trick of the trade. And hello, portable transporters are my jam, because you’ll never have to get stuck in traffic again. Scientists of the world, please use the Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere as inspiration for the next great tech breakthrough.
Now for the bad part. The weapons are lethal. The Couriers are carrying around phasers that literally disintegrate bodies. We know phasers have been powerful in the past, but these new ones look particularly painful.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere – The Future is Diverse
First of all, yay for some much-needed South Asian representation on Star Trek. We have had so little in that department ever since the franchise premiered in 1966.
Aside from Rekha Sharma’s Landry (who appeared for around three and a half episodes), the closest we have had is Shazad Latif’s Ash Tyler—at least he had two seasons as a main character. I really hope Sahil is a good guy and he sticks around for this season.
I couldn’t help but notice that the human characters on Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere were mostly people of color. Even the extras. That’s unheard of on a genre show. There are essays on how actors of color often appear in science-fiction and fantasy hidden under layers of makeup or covered by helmets, so Discovery is really working hard to break the mold.
And the show is set to go even further when the franchise’s first non-binary and transgender characters make their appearances later this season.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere – Michael is Smiling
What an absolute pleasure it is to see Michael Burnham smiling, laughing, and generally being jubilant. She has an optimistic outlook throughout the episode, even though she can’t locate Discovery at all.
Michael keeps picking herself up and getting on with things. She’s not wide-eyed with wonder, but observant and excited. It’s how we would all be were we in Michael’s shoes. The Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere also showcases how resourceful Michael is—she knows how to trust and to get out of scrapes.
I like this side of Michael, and honestly, she deserves to catch a break. She’s found a good egg in Book, and she’s sided with Sahil as well to reinstitute Starfleet. She doesn’t know when Discovery will reach this future, it could be now or in another 1000 years—that’s not stopping her optimism.
In the meantime, we’re going to watch Michael make her mark on the future and bring back hope to the universe.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere is full of exciting possibilities, suspense, and a new world for viewers to explore. We can’t wait for the rest of the season.
After watching the Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiere, what do you think of the new setting? Let us know in the comments below.
New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 are available every Thursday on CBS All Access.