Star Trek Discovery season 3 reached its fifth episode last week, and it finally revealed the state of Starfleet in the 32nd century. Michael Burnham and the Discovery crew have been on a mission to reconnect the failing Federation of the far future, but in 3×05 “Die Trying,” they faced a tough obstacle – the limited scope and funds of the contemporary Starfleet, as run by the cynical Admiral Vance (The Mummy star Oded Fehr).
Starfleet HQ at this point in time is located at a station in a distant quadrant, where what’s left of its fleet hides behind a distortion field that’s fuelled by the combined energies of each ship. The Discovery crew, with their big dreams and old-fashioned optimism, receive a frosty welcome once they get clearance to enter. Vance believes that the Discovery should be decommissioned and its crew scattered to other positions.
The reason why he’s so strict with the usage of Starfleet resources, he tells Burnham and Captain Saru, is because of how much the organization’s significance has dwindled since their day. Thanks to “The Burn,” as explained in the season opener, the Federation is no longer 350-worlds strong and it’s now made up of just 38. He also makes clear that he’s effectively on his own when it comes to running the Federation. In other words, the might of Starfleet has been diminished to just a few dozen ships and a spaceport.
Of course, in the end, the crew are able to change Vance’s mind and convince him that they’re best used together and that the Discovery is the key to restoring the Federation and Starfleet to their former glory, thanks to the ship’s Spore-drive teleporting combined with the cutting edge tech advancements of the 32nd century.
Star Trek: Discovery continues to further explore its strange new timeline each week and you can catch season 3 as it unfolds every Thursday on CBS All Access.