Discovery ‘Season 3 –


ATTENTION: This article discusses spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery season 3.

Before the third season of Star Trek: Discovery began, the “What is the burn?” The mystery had been established as the main arc of the plot. Now the showrunners are talking about developing this arc and what inspired it.

Guin’s Omelas inspired the story of Su’Kal and The Burn

When the crew of the USS Discovery arrived in the 32nd century, they found a fractured Federation where chain travel had been severely restricted due to a lack of dilithium. Michael Burnham’s mission is to solve the mystery of The Burn, leading them to the Verubin Nebula and a crashed Kelpien ship. The only survivor Su’Kal had remained on the ship for a century waiting to be rescued, living in a holographic world created by his mother. The final episodes of the season had the startling revelation that it was Su’Kal as a child who caused The Burn through her unique connection to the dilithium. His emotional outburst at the loss of his mother spilled over into the subspace, rendering the dilithium inert throughout the Federation and beyond.

Adult Su’Kal (Bill Irwin) sees a recording of his mother in the Discovery season three finale

In a live chat after the Gold Derby final, Discovery Executive producers and co-showrunners Michelle Paradise and Alex Kurtzman discussed the season, including the development of The Burn’s story. Kurtzman explained how he and Michelle developed the story on walks together before bringing the Writers’ Room together, including the inspiration for the Su’Kal story:

In early conversations, the [Ursula K. Le Guin] short story [The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas] has come, which is a very famous science fiction story. And at the heart of this story is a child, centered around a village. It’s not exactly an individual analogy, because our story is different. But it was an inspiration. When we got the idea that it was all actually caused by a child. I think it came out of instinct that we wanted the answer to be something you didn’t see coming or expected, but that made sense once you got there. For this to work you have to know where you are going and you have to plant flags along the path that the audience consciously or unconsciously absorbs, so that when you come to that revelation you realize, “Oh, this has all been done. added something.

We knew there would be a dream world. We knew it was his own version of The matrix. We weren’t sure exactly what it would look like, and it took a full season to update it, the rules, and the logic. But we knew from the start that’s where we wanted to go.

Those who move away from Omelas is one of Ursula K. Le Guin’s most famous stories and is often used in classrooms to discuss ethics in literature. The 1973 short story tells the story of the utopian town of Omelas, which includes a grim truth. From Wikipedia:

Everything about Omelas is so pleasant that the narrator decides that the reader is not yet really convinced of its existence and thus elaborates on the final element of the city: its only atrocity. The city’s constant state of serenity and splendor demands that one unhappy child be kept in perpetual filth, darkness and misery. The child is helpless: anything nice, big or small, will turn Omelas from a utopia to a dystopia. The conditions are strict.

As a nod to Le Guin’s contribution to the season, one of the 32nd century Federation ships was named in his honor and mentioned in the episode “Scavengers”. The award-winning author died in 2018 and was never able to be added to the Trek canon, but after the episode aired that mentioned the USS Le Guin, the estate of the deceased author sent a tweet saying she would “be tickled!” by the reference.

And last week, CBS shared concept art for the USS Le Guin and other 32nd century Russian ships.

Concept art for the USS Le Guin

During the same live chat, Kurtzman’s co-showrunner Michelle Paradise opened up about finding an unconventional answer for The Burn and how it relates to the season’s theme:

It was something we had been talking about since the start of the season, in terms of what The Burn was and what would have caused it. And one of the things Alex and I talked about early on was, What does that mean?… One of the things that we explored a lot in season three was this notion of connection and disconnection. And when we came to the end of the season, it was, “What’s the greatest metaphor or symbol of disconnection that exists?”… This idea of ​​disconnection, which comes at a very emotional time, and a disconnection between this child and his mother, between two people. What is the most moving thing? This is what we were looking for as a symbol of disconnection. We couldn’t think of anything more emotional than this.

And the idea that this world was also created by his mother’s love for him, and by trying to make his world a better place, even in his absence. And the ways she kept reaching for him are several of the ways our characters have strained at each other over the course of the season. The way the characters that were born into this world – Admiral Vance and Book and all these other characters that have been adrift from each other and disconnected, reaching out and trying to connect. We wanted the world Su’Kal lived in to be the symbol.

Doug Jones as Saru (Doug Jones) with Su’Kal (Bill Irwin) in his dreamworld holodeck

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