Star Trek: Discovery Breaking free of canon


Following on from the series finale of Star Trek: Discovery, show runner Alex Kurtzman has confirmed that season 3 will take place in the 33rd century.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 has come to an end and what an end it was; an epic space battle filled with tension, action and emotion. We said our goodbyes to Admiral Cornwell who gave her life in order to save the USS Enterprise from an undetonated torpedo impaled into the saucer section.  Hugh and Paul rekindled their love for each other, the Klingons and Kelpiens enter the fight just when everything seemed bleak and the crew of the USS Discovery save the future of all sentient life by taking the sphere date into the future and beyond the grasp of control.

It’s fair to say a lot happened in the space of an hour, including explaining and fixing cannon issues.

From the moment Star Trek: Discovery was announced it split the fanbase down the middle due to its setting which as we know is 10 years before Captain Kirk and the adventures of the original series. The focus of this split came in the form of canon which in turn opened up a debate on which universe Discovery is set. The makers of the show have always said it is set within the prime universe but with Klingon redesigns, new technologies and the very look of the show itself has convinced some fans its set in the J.J. Abrams rebooted Kelvin Universe, a universe Alex Kurtzman was himself a part of.

More from Star Trek: Discovery

We can argue against some areas the complaints focus on such as the redesigns of alien species, bridge and ship designs which can be put down to modernisation, more money to spend and advances in film making technology. I always think back to the Star Trek: Enterprise two-part episode ‘In a Mirror, Darkly’ in which mirror Archer and his crew capture the USS Defiant from Tholian space. The Defiant is from 100 years in the future and is supposed to be more advanced, but when you compare it to the NX01 Enterprise it looks dated. Why? Because Enterprise was filmed in 2000 to 2004 with more advanced techniques filmmakers can utilise to create more convincing sets with TV Monitors that display actual readouts and buttons that do more than just blink. I personally could not imagine Discovery working with a bridge design set firmly in the 1960’s.

Other areas like the Spore Drive, the holographic technology and the Discovery itself has, over the course of season 2 and at the promise of Kurtzman, caught up with the cannon established in the Original Series. By the end of ‘Such Sweet Sorrow’, Discovery is gone, as is the spore drive and Captain Pike, Mr Spock and Number One are returning to USS Enterprise to carry on with their five-year mission of exploration taking with them the secret of Discovery’s journey into the future, opting to tell Starfleet the ship was destroyed killing all on board. Spock even suggests that Starfleet keep all information on the Discovery and the spore drive classified and no doubt takes his own advice by keeping the fact he has an adopted sister secret as well, leading to the explanation of why in future series we never hear of Discovery or its technology.

Is it perfect? No. There will always be canon complaints and questions with Star Trek: Discovery’s first two seasons. The question is, is this the reason why season three is going into the future?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 17: Showrunner/ Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman attends the “Star Trek: Discovery” Season 2 Premiere at the Conrad New York on January 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter Alex Kurtzman confirmed:

"“Yes. We are jumping 950 years into the future for season three”"

During that interview he cites canon a number of times.

"“We love playing within canon. It’s a delight and a privilege. It’s fun to explore nooks and crannies of the universe that people haven’t fully explored yet. That being said, we felt strongly that we wanted to give ourselves an entirely new energy for season three with a whole new set of problems… We’re now completely free of canon, and we have a whole new universe to explore.”"

When asked about any crossovers with characters from other Trek series Kurtzman says:

"“There will be canonical references to everything that has happened in the various shows; we’re not erasing that. But we’re so far past that point that all of that is a very distant memory. We’re very excited to see how you put the elements of Star Trek in an entirely new universe”"

These quotes to me stand out the most and offer a real insight into the thinking behind season 3 and Star Trek: Discovery as a whole.  A prequel series to a long-standing franchise that has its own set of historical events and timelines has to sit in with what has already been established. This not only includes the technologies available but also the alien species known during that time period. As I have already stated the makers of Discovery have worked their hardest to explain how it fits in with cannon but I can’t help but get the feeling that after two years of justification and explanation, Kurtzman and co have decided to take Discovery away from the restrictions of cannon by sending Discovery and its crew to the 33rd century, where no Trek has gone before. Was this the plan all along or as a reaction to the fans?

Only Alex Kurtzman and the team behind the show can answer that, for me, I can only believe this change of direction to be a good thing.

Star Trek: Discovery’s 950 year jump into the future is a key point in Star Trek lore. It’s a time period we have never seen explored or exploited before and takes Discovery from a prequel to a sequel in one bound. They take with them into the future an already established set of characters that over the course of two seasons we have grown to like (and love in some cases), with even more development and back story to come from some. A technology in the spore drive which allows the crew to travel the space of the future without restrictions or a feeling of it all being ‘out of place’. The writers can introduce any alien spiecies, new technologies and situations in which no longer have to fit within a set of established constraints. The handcuffs are truly off to mould stories and a Trek future that fans have been wanting to explore for a long time.

With the shackles off it opens up the story telling to a greater degree and allows for multiple story elements over the course of season 3. What will the federation look like? Does it still exist? In Star Trek: Enterprise Captain Archer jumped 400 years into the future and found himself on board the USS Enterprise-J thanks to the temporal agent Daniels. The Enterprise-J is so vast in comparison to the ships that had come before it so what will the ships of the Federation be like with another few hundred years added on?

What could the overall narrative be for season three? could it consist of finding Burnham’s mother and returning to their original timeline? A spin on Star Trek: Voyager, instead of the journey home being a matter of distance it’s a matter of time. Or could Star Trek: Discovery return to the values of Star Trek and become a series about exploration, exploring a future we have never seen before.

Next. Jonathan Frakes directing two episodes of Star Trek: Picard. dark

All we can do for now is wait and see how the break from the restrictions of canon will impact on Star Trek: Discovery and future seasons.

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