Star Trek Discovery has truly gone where no other show in the franchise has gone before. Season 3 kicked off this week and its premiere episode followed on from the end of season 2, where Michael Burnham jumped 1000 years into the future. In 3×01 “That Hope Is You, Part 1,” Sonequa Martin-Green’s heroine discovers that the galaxy is now very different from the one she knew. The organization that ties together the whole Trek universe doesn’t exist anymore: the Federation, and therefore Starfleet, as well.
We’ve known that this would be the case for a while, but this season opener reveals the reason behind the collapse of the Federation. When Burnham arrives in the 32nd century, she quickly meets trader Book (David Ajala), who explains what happened. There was a cataclysmic event called “The Burn” about a 100 years prior which caused the dilithium crystals that enable warp travel in starship cores to become violently destabilized. The result was that the peoples of the Federation were cut off from each other, spelling its doom.
Burnham has hope, though, that something can be done to restore the Federation. She elects to travel with Book, until she can reunite with the U.S.S Discovery, as he’s also in search of a small supply of stable dilithium in order to power his next voyage. The pair later come upon a Federation relay station where they encounter Aditya Sahil, a Starfleet loyalist trying to keep the spirit of the Federation alive. Burnham invites him to travel with them and they decide to track down other leftover pockets of the Federation.
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Despite the concept of Starfleet being no more, this season opener had a hugely hopeful tone, with the promise being that Burnham, and the Discovery crew when they eventually arrive, will be able to restore hope to the galaxy and maybe repair the Federation as a whole.
Don’t miss Star Trek: Discovery season 3 as it continues Thursdays on CBS All Access.