Star Trek: Discovery's red angel could actually be from a race of aliens - the Iconians - first seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation season 2. The mystery of who or what are behind the seven signals/red angel visions promises to be the main focus of Star Trek: Discovery season 2's action, and fans are already speculating as to the nature of what the phenomena are. What we know so far is that seven anomalies erupted and spread throughout the galaxy, and Starfleet discovered they were more powerful than anything they’d ever encountered before. They also discovered that the signals appeared in a synchronous fashion, indicating there was some kind of intelligent design behind their appearance.
At the same time, Michael Burnham’s foster brother, Spock, began experiencing visions not unlike some he’d seen when he was a child and found them so disturbing that he took medical leave and checked himself into a psychiatric institution. A visit from Amanda in the episode “Points of Light” revealed that these were visions Spock had had before – years before, after Michael had run away from their home on Vulcan, a red angel appeared to Spock and directed him to her location. In Star Trek: Discovery season 2 episode 2, “New Eden,” the Discovery finds a settlement of humans in the Beta Quadrant who’d somehow arrived 50,000 light years away from Earth decades before warp drive had ever been invented. It was discovered that in a similarly beneficent fashion, a red angel (or something that looked a lot like Spock’s visions) had rescued them by transporting a church filled with worshippers from a WWIII Earth to safety in the Beta Quadrant.
So who are these mysterious benefactors? It’s still too early in Star Trek: Discovery season 2 for anything but speculation, but we hit on an interesting theory that connects the red angels to the Iconians, an “extinct” alien race introduced in the The Next Generation episode “Contagion.” This mysterious race of aliens left behind technology that would reappear on an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and a legacy that would permeate several notable (but apocryphal) Star Trek books and games. But even though we have very little to go on that’s canon, there’s still a decent amount of evidence that the Iconians could be the solution to Star Trek: Discovery's season 2 mystery.
- This Page: Iconians Explained & Where They've Been Seen In Star Trek
- Page 2: Evidence Red Angels Are Iconians & What It Means For Discovery
THE ICONIANS EXPLAINED: STAR TREK’S SPACE GODS
The Iconians are first mentioned (though remain unseen) in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Contagion.” Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) investigates a distress call made by another Galaxy class starship, the U.S.S. Yamato, and travels to the Romulan Neutral Zone in the Beta Quadrant to investigate. When he arrives, his friend, Captain Donald Varley, informs him that they’ve finally tracked down the Iconian homeworld. The Iconians are introduced as a highly advanced species that died out over 200,000 years before and whose existence had yet to be confirmed. But confirm it they do, and, after the destruction of the Yamato, Picard, Worf, and Data are able to beam down to the planet’s surface and investigate what happened to its erstwhile inhabitants.
Data finds evidence that the planet’s surface suffered an intense bombardment attack from space, thus indicating that the Iconians were purposefully wiped out by their enemies. Picard deduces that references to the race as “demons of air and darkness” referred to their ability to travel between worlds using Star Trek's highly-advanced gateway. These portals allowed them to travel to the far reaches of the galaxy by simply stepping through a gateway – no ships, no time, just a few steps and one could go from Earth to Romulus or Romulus to Bajor, or Bajor to El Auria. Picard also points out that the Iconians were probably feared because of their advancement, and their dubious nickname didn’t necessarily indicate their true natures.
Finally, in what’s perhaps the most important part of the Next Generation episode, Data discovers that the Iconian language permeating their homeworld is related to several other languages in known usage. That would seem to indicate that, even though their civilization was destroyed, some of the Iconians might have escaped. All in all, the Iconians were an ancient, technologically-advanced alien species who managed to escape an apocalyptic event and ultimately, albeit partly, influence future civilizations, even if only through language.
STAR TREK'S ICONIANS HAVE ONLY EVER BEEN SEEN IN THE "FUTURE"
Unfortunately, Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Contagion" episode is the closest that fans have ever come to meeting an actual Iconian in canon. The Dominion discovers one of their portals in the Gamma Quadrant, so the Deep Space Nine episode "To The Death" is devoted to keeping the powerful technology out of enemy hands, but other than that, there are only apocryphal mentions of the race left to explore. There were no canon sightings or references to Iconians before The Next Generation's "Contagion" - they didn’t appear in The Original Series, in the animated series, or in any of the movies.
However, what we know of the Iconians from the limited amount of exposure they’ve had in Star Trek more than allows for the fact that they could’ve been active in some capacity during the 2250s when Star Trek: Discovery is set. If their civilization ended 200,000 years before the events of The Next Generation and if Picard’s theory about there being survivors is true, then the fact that the species was introduced after the events of Star Trek: Discovery doesn’t preclude them from somehow being active during Discovery’s time period.