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8 theories for Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, from Dr. Culber to Spock to Chabon

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Jul 24, 2018

The most important thing that Star Trek fans learned from the trailer for Star Trek: Discovery is that juxtaposing Lenny Kravitz's "Fly" with outer space action yields excellent results. That aside, there were a few other things to pick out of the first real look at the new season.

From Captain Pike taking command of the titular starship to Burnham worrying about her "foster brother, Mr. Spock," there were a ton of tantalizing clues and hints about what's in store for the USS Discovery next season. But, there's still a lot of time between now and early 2019 when the show beams back on the air. Which means there's plenty of time to theorize about what everything in the trailer and everything we learned at San Diego Comic-Con might mean for the future of Trek.

Here are eight theories about Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, all about Spock, Captain Pike, Tig Notaro new character Reno, and even how Michael Chabon's Short Trek "Calypso" might fit in.

Classic Spock

Season 2 will be a search for Spock and he won't appear until the final episode

Though Jonathan Frakes already spilled the space beans on a child version of Spock in flashback scenes, and showrunner Alex Kurtzman has confirmed a new Spock actor has been cast, there’s no reason to believe we’ll actually see an adult Spock at any point in the season. If the creative team behind Discovery are clever, then looking for Spock will occupy much of the narrative, but the pay-off will be preserved until either the very last episode of the season, or perhaps the mid-season finale (assuming there is one this season.) In this way, Spock will be like Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens or the planet Earth in Battlestar Galactica.

Why has Spock taken leave to investigate this mystery? For some reason, it seems like it might have something to do with other dimensions or time travel.

enterprise crop

The USS Enterprise will be sidelined and Kirk won't be mentioned at all

The new trailer establishes that Captain Pike takes over as the captain of the USS Discovery. Who then, will be the new Captain of the Enterprise when he leaves? Every hardcore Trekkie knows the answer to that: Captain James T. Kirk! But, because this point of Discovery happens in 2257 and Kirk doesn’t take over the Enterprise until 2264, chances are a line of dialogue will tell us that the Enterprise is being sent back to Earth for extensive refits, which will allow it to be ready for Kirk to slide into that center seat seven years later. For all these reasons, it seems like Kirk won’t be someone people are talking about... yet.

red matter trek 2009

Are red bursts connected to the red matter from the 2009 Trek movie?

In the new trailer, Pike mentions "red bursts," which is weird because it’s not a very in-depth description; the fact that the bursts are red tells us almost nothing. But Spock used "red matter" in the Star Trek 2009 movie, which ended up causing rips in space and in time... so, will some of the Trek canon problems be solved by more "red matter"? In other words, are the "red bursts" in Discovery Season 2 actually rips in spacetime that lead to the Abramsverse? Maybe.

Tig as Reno Disco

Reno will become the Chief Engineer of Discovery

This seems like a foregone conclusion, but just like Ash Tyler became the new chief of security of Discovery in Season 1, it seems like Tig Notaro's new character, Reno, will become the chief engineer of the ship this season. Several members of Discovery's writing staff have pointed out many times that we haven't actually seen the main engineering section of the ship yet, and that the spots where Stamets and Tilly work actually just an engineering lab, separate from the actual warp core room itself.

Pike in Disco

Captain Pike Will Leave During the Season, His Big Accident Will Be Retconned

Just like Harry Potter had a new Professor of the Dark Arts teacher every single year at Hogwarts, it seems like Discovery is destined to have a different captain each year. There’s no way this show will keep a character as iconic as Captain Pike on the show for more than just this season. In fact, because Pike has to get promoted to Fleet Captain and be involved in a terrible accident before the original series, it’s possible he’ll not make it through the entire season as the captain of the ship.

In the original series, Captain Pike is confined to a wheelchair and unable to communicate by 2267. In "The Menagerie" we’re told this is because he got hit with some "delta rays" on a routine inspection of a cadet's spaceship. But what if that’s not the real story? What if something happens in this season of Discovery that leads to his paralysis? And, whatever that thing is is so important, that Starfleet classifies the whole thing and makes up a cover story?

In Season 1 of Discovery, we saw Starfleet classifying the Mirror Universe in like less than a minute, meaning they would totally create a lie about what really happened to Captain Pike, too, if there were some galaxy-altering implications connected to it. Pike is also used to top-secret stuff. His famous mission to Talos IV was totally classified by the time Kirk was in charge of the Enterprise.

Burnham season 2

Burnham will become the Captain by the end of the season

If Pike is written out of the show and into a retcon situation by the end of the season, then the USS Discovery needs a new Captain. In the very first episode of the show, Captain Georgiou told Michael Burnham she was ready for her own ship. Could that finally come true this season? If so, Mr. Saru will probably be a little hurt. Poor Saru! He was a great acting captain! Still, because the show is really Michael's journey, it makes sense for her to become the head honcho of the starship.

Stamets communicator

Stamets will defy orders to use the spore drive to rescue Dr. Hugh Culber

While investigating the "red bursts" may or may not require the use of the Spore Drive, that doesn’t mean Stamets isn’t still able to operate it. And, in the previous season, Stamets was able to speak to Hugh while he was connected to mycelium network. So, if Starfleet tells Stamets he can’t use the mycelium network again, then it seems like he will anyway, to save the love of his life. Actor Wilson Cruz (who plays the "deceased" Dr. Culber) has said over and over again that he’ll be back, and that the romance between Paul and Hugh is far from over. Do Starfleet officers have a history in other Star Trek series of defying orders to save their loved ones? You bet they do.

Michael Chabon Star Trek hero

Michael Chabon's "Short Trek" will connect to the season-long mystery

Right after Comic-Con, news broke that author Michael Chabon would be writing one of the four "Short Trek" films that will debut ahead of Discovery Season 2. This story is set to start a new character named Craft (played by Aldis Hodge) who is the only human alone on a deserted spaceship. No matter what happens with Craft, it seems like this short film, called "Calypso" could set-up the season-long mystery for Discovery. Maybe Craft encounters the "red bursts" close-up. Maybe he finds out they are alien gods. Maybe he finds out they're time-travelers from another dimension. At this point, it's all on the table.

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