When CBS announced their intention so start developing new Star Trek shows back in 2017, they took the franchise where no Federation crew had gone before: pessimism. Rather than zipping around the galaxy with the Federation’s trademark relentless optimism the crew of Star Trek: Discovery faced a terrible war that threatened to consume not only their fictitious lives but also viewers’ faith in Rodenberry’s utopia.
That first season was filled with betrayal, tragedy, and uncertainty. Major characters died without warning, heroes committed war crimes, and nobody was who they said they were. It was a bold move for CBS to go so far from Star Trek’s iconic canon, but it paid off. You can read our review of season 1, originally published in 2018, here. The writers’ willingness to ignore tradition made that season brilliant and daring, but unfortunately it also made it unprofitable for CBS.
The world is pretty terrible, perhaps more so now than it was in 2017, and viewers just didn’t want to pay for a show that reflected a twisted world. Thus, the creative team behind Discovery spent most of season 2 undoing what happened in season 1, backing away from the deeper questions in favor of mindless space action.
In this writer’s opinion Season 2 was pretty terrible, but that was partially because it had no real story of its own and seemed to exist solely to undo the original prequel premise. It was as though after finishing the first season the writers though to themselves “Wait, this is a prequel. We finished the blank bit in written history and now everybody knows what’s going to happen so there’s no suspense. Oh no what do we do? uh… um… time travel!”
Luckily I will not be restricted here by my inability to explain the plot of season 2 because for all effects and purposes there wasn’t one, but suffice it to say that all the characters got together and traveled several millennia into the future, beyond the chronological scope of any previous Star Trek show.
If this first trailer is to be believed, then season 3 of Discovery will be leaning heavily into that sense of possibility. The writers seem almost giddy with the freedom of not being constrained by prequel laws and have taken the opportunity to craft something filled with hilarity, community, hope, and even a space cat.
Season 3 probably will not be a “great” entry in the cinematic canon, but it will almost certainly be a fun, entertaining, and expertly crafted season of high budget science fiction. That’s something I’d watch any day, but facing a global pandemic and the other issues plaguing the world today it seems even more appealing.
Star Trek Discovery Season 3 premieres on CBS All Access on October 15th.