Star Trek: Discovery season 2's bold finale takes what is arguably the biggest risk in franchise history by jumping the titular starship and her crew into the far future - but this move will potentially save Star Trek. With the two-parter, "Such Sweet Sorrow", the CBS All-Access prequel addressed the biggest fan complaints that have plagued it since its inception. More so, Star Trek: Discovery reinvented itself and thrillingly opened up Star Trek's distant future for exploration and... discovery.
In "Such Sweet Sorrow", the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery (with a big assist from the Starship Enterprise commanded by Captain Christopher Pike) saved all sentient life in the galaxy from being wiped out by Control, a malevolent A.I. that had taken over Starfleet's black ops organization Section 31. Meanwhile, Michael Burnham's endgame was to remove the titular starship from the 23rd century by using the Red Angel time suit to take the Discovery into the future - 930 years from the series' 2257 setting. Michael's plan worked; she and the U.S.S. Discovery vanished into a temporal wormhole - presumably reaching Terralysium, a peaceful planet in the Beta Quadrant introduced in "New Eden", the second episode of Star Trek: Discovery season 2.
No Star Trek series has gambled like this before; the U.S.S. Discovery not only jumped into a far point in the timeline fans have never seen, but Michael, her ship, and the Discovery's loyal crew were wiped from Starfleet history, a conclusion Star Trek: Discovery spent all of season 2 building towards. Here's how Star Trek: Discovery's monumental time travel fixed the series' overall issues and gave the Star Trek franchise back the vital element it had been missing for many years: its own future.
- This Page: Star Trek: Discovery Was A Prequel That Never Fit Into Canon
- Page 2: How Star Trek: Discovery Going To The Future Saved Star Trek
Fans Were Angry Star Trek: Discovery Was Another Prequel
Before Star Trek: Discovery's creator and original showrunner Bryan Fuller left the franchise, his plan was for the series to be an anthology, with each season taking place during a different era of Star Trek. CBS nixed that idea and went with Star Trek: Discovery as a prequel set a decade before The Original Series. This was not a popular idea with fans, who also griped that Star Trek: Discovery is the first Star Trek series that doesn't air for free on television and is only available on CBS All-Access in the United States (though CBS did air the pilot episode for free in September 2017, hoping to lure new subscribers). Star Trek: Discovery was immediately placed under the gun as skeptical fans considered whether this prequel, which looked much more advanced than the beloved series it precedes, was worth paying for. However, Star Trek: Discovery proved to be a huge success for CBS All-Access.
Still, the fact that the first new Star Trek series in 12 years was yet another prequel rubbed further salt in the wound for fans yearning for Star Trek to continue its forward progress. Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager, as well as the four The Next Generation feature films, all thoroughly explored the 24th-century. But that all stopped with the failure of Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002, which remains the lowest grossing Star Trek movie and brought the 24th century of the saga to a dead stop.
In 2005, Star Trek: Enterprise, which was also a prequel set in the 22nd century, was canceled after only 4 seasons. That ended any new Star Trek movies or TV shows for 4 years until J.J. Abrams reinvigorated the movie franchise with 2009's Star Trek - which was yet another prequel about Kirk and Spock and set in an alternate timeline to boot. The sequels Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond, and the scrapped Star Trek 4 were also set in the Kelvin version of the 23rd century. Ultimately, Star Trek: Discovery shoehorned into canon as a The Original Series prequel (albeit set in the Prime timeline) made fans feel like the Star Trek franchise, which is one of pop culture's most optimistic visions of the future, was doomed to be constantly looking backward at its own past.
Star Trek: Discovery Never Really Fit Into Canon
Meanwhile, Star Trek: Discovery itself rankled Star Trek purists. The serialized prequel series was visually stunning and on par with the J.J. Abrams movies. The cast is youthful and attractive, the sleek starship looked far more advanced, boasting canon-breaking technology like holograms and the spore displacement hub drive, and many fans just couldn't reconcile how Star Trek: Discovery could come before the hokier-looking The Original Series. Star Trek: Discovery's season 1 story was primarily about the heretofore unheard of Klingon War (many fans hated the redesigned Klingons). Further, Michael Burnham, the lead character, was Spock's adopted sister whom the Vulcan never mentioned before and she boasted a more loving relationship with Ambassador Sarek than Spock had.
In truth, Star Trek: Discovery had to update Star Trek and couldn't maintain the pre-established look of the franchise (even Star Trek: Enterprise ran into similar complaints about its updated visuals back in 2001). Beloved as they are, the episodic series that came before it are simply outdated in the Peak TV era, and Star Trek: Discovery also has to compete with the best series Netflix and HBO have to offer, as well as keep pace with what audiences saw in J.J. Abrams' films. But it was also clear that there ultimately wasn't a way to satisfyingly reconcile how advanced Star Trek: Discovery was for the era it was set in.
Star Trek: Discovery season 2 took steps to address its timeline issues (such as how it explained why the Starship Enterprise was crippled by and abandoned holographic communications) but, for its many virtues, Star Trek: Discovery was an outlier within the franchise. The solution the producers arrived at and spent all of Star Trek: Discovery season 2 building towards with its Red Angel/time travel story was to remove and redact the starship and its crew from the 23rd century - and this was an ingenious move.