What also awaits, there is a version of a universe beyond their imagination: one in which Starfleet and the entire United Federation of Planets have ceased to exist. Starfleet was virtually wiped out in a flash, in a catastrophic event known as The Burn that occurred just over a century before Burnham’s forced landing on an unknown planet.
As a new ally named Book (David Ajala) explains, this is the name given when all of the dilithium in the galaxy suddenly exploded for some unknown reason. With dilithium being the primary source of core energy in every warp-capable ship, it meant the simultaneous destruction of thousands of spaceships and the loss of millions of potential lives not only in the Federation, but in any civilization that depended on it.
All of the Federation’s protection for the planets of the Alpha Quadrant has presumably disappeared, as has its insistence that civilizations respect each other or, other than that, learn to live without conflict. It is more or less a lawless, Darwinian free-for-all – and Burnham and all of its advanced technologies are considered obsolete.
Each iteration of “Star Trek” is a reflection of the era in which it airs, with elements of its storytelling updated to suit the era-specific sensibilities of its audience. Specific rules and principles propagate from series to series and generation to generation to maintain a standard framework around which fans can engage with what they love about the franchise and what it stands for.
This makes the start of the new season of everything fans take for granted about “Star Trek” a refreshing challenge and one that has the potential to change the way we view the Trek universe in general. Fans can argue and complain about the merits and legitimacy of events in the Prime and Kelvin universes, but by removing the Federation entirely from the equation of a more distant future than the series has boldly preceded it. is inspired.
People imagine that our future is based on everything we know in the present, and that includes the assumption that the rules that hold the fabric of our existence together can be tested but will generally hold up or can be fixed if a break.
But if everything we take to be true disappears overnight, it calls the course of our existence into question. In a real sense, the world experienced it in 2016, when America elected a despot, and much of the public calmed down by reminding their frightened friends that the system of checks and balances of the Constitution would guarantee that it would not do too much harm to the nation and the world.
It’s no wonder, then, that this new season tilts on the table assuming that the brilliant, powerful and righteous Federation of Gene Roddenberry would survive and thrive beyond a thousand years, a similar assumption to what we assume as a citizen devoted to the Roman Empire could have held out.
Book characterizes The Burn as the event that irreparably changed the course of the galaxy, “the day the galaxy took a left turn,” he said. In the season premiere, “That Hope Is You, Part 1,” we see the immediate effects of this change of course. Book is essentially an outlaw, surviving the best he can and seeking out whatever remaining dilithium he can get to power his equipment, just like everyone else in the universe.
Starfleet’s presence is non-existent, and Book advises Burnham to hide any identifying material for his own safety. However, before we see where Burnham lands, we see a man whose only job seems to be to wake up and scan a digital view of the galaxy for any sign of the Federation’s return.
That is to say, hope remains. . . it is only now in the form of pure aspiration, worthy of a group of travelers accustomed to being recognized as agents of authority entering a frontier where they are curiosity and strangers.
The cinematic modernity of “Star Trek: Discovery” has been criticized by purists who lack the more cerebral focus of previous series and decry the emphasis on action, explosions, and sinister themes. This interpretation is not entirely out of bounds; “Discovery” is part of a franchise that got its start in an era of successful entertainment dominated by the franchise.
Above all, it is also a “Trek” chapter that began in an era of despair. The first two seasons feel more like a reaction to it than a response, with storylines designed to earn its place in the “Star Trek” universe instead of expressly forging its own path.
Granted, Season 1 does a part of that, primarily by introducing a technological innovation in the form of Discovery’s “spore drive,” an organic system that allows the ship to jump great distances in space almost instantly. But it was mostly given to us as action and reaction character-driven work, testing what the role of an explorer should be in times of conflict. Season 2 left some of that behind and felt lighter while still running like a franchise movie.
And I can’t say that the third season diverges from this approach. If anything, the series settles into 32nd century chaos after the second episode, when we see what happened to Discovery and his team and Witness Burnham adjusts to the survivalist spirit of this new. age. (The ship followed Burnham through a wormhole that propelled them forward through time, but didn’t land exactly where she did, either physically or chronologically.)
Once everyone knows about The Burn and Starfleet’s demise, the season points in the familiar direction to find out not only what caused this story-changing disaster, but if and if they can get back to their roots. own time.
This development also turns “Discovery” into something of an environmentalist tale. Never mind the fact that the ship discovers a method of travel which is essentially based on mushrooms; the dilithium crisis could just as easily be a parable of the instability we are experiencing as it engulfs resources and taxing the planet’s natural systems into obsolescence.
But as the Discovery team follows their uncertain path, the season’s spiritual chorus reminds Burnham, the crew, and the viewer what the AWOL organization they represent, and asks if the disbandment of a body is reason enough to abandon its ideals.
The late Gene Roddenberry built “Star Trek” around an ideal of unity, curiosity and adventure, with the notion that humanity and its allies could bring a message of hope and understanding to hostile places then. even that they specifically sought to refrain from interfering (while, in truth, often doing just that). The new series “Trek” – “Discovery” and “Star Trek: Picard” use their plots to speak to a world caught in nationalism, exclusion, xenophobia and division.
“Picard”, which takes place long after the events of “Star Trek” and James T. Kirk’s adventures on the Enterprise, introduces a Federation that has been corrupted by politics and lost its way. “Discovery” precedes the original “Star Trek” in the franchise timeline, which means its mistakes and lessons inform Kirk’s knowledge of the story. These captains and crews have a map, in other words.
The 32nd century takes us beyond those old edges – past official channels of diplomacy and agreed upon rules of governance into a future that is very imperfect. But he does so with the awareness that although he knows, as Burnham says, that “our numbers are few, our minds are not diminished.” Following the dissolution of a system or an organization, the higher ideals that forged them may remain.
It remains to be seen whether these new episodes of “Discovery” will show viewers a way to evolve towards them.
Season 3 of “Star Trek: Discovery” premieres Thursday, October 15 on CBS All Access.