The first half of Star Trek: Discovery’s two-part season finale gave a lot of credence to a compelling fan theory that’s been in the works for weeks now. Given where things stand at the end of “Such Sweet Sorrow,” it seems more than likely that next week, the U.S.S. Discovery will rocket into the future permanently – or at least for a considerable length of time.
Since the season started leaning more heavily into time travel and Dr. Burnham’s mission finally came out into the open, the “Calypso” Short Trek has felt more and more predictive. It doesn’t hurt that two other Short Treks now directly connect to season 2’s storyline, nor that it included the presence of a time traveling Discovery and an artificial intelligence – two elements that figure prominently into the Control/Red Angel storyline. We theorized two weeks ago that Dr. Burnham might wind up becoming Discovery’s “last captain,” i.e. the person who orders the ship to stay idle until their return which is where Craft finds it centuries later in “Calypso.”
We don’t have confirmation of the identity of that last captain, but it is starting to look more and more like the Disco will wind up very far from home – be that distance measured in centuries or light years. The plan to send the ship into the future guided by the Red Angel to ferry the sphere data far away from Control already has it written in its code that there’s very little chance of return. So much so that the crew who decide to accompany Burnham on her mission pen heartfelt goodbye letters to loved ones they don’t plan to see again. That scenario might imply a twist ending to some who think Discovery’s one-way mission is a little too obvious, but given how every character is positioned at the end of the episode, we think this is a set-up more than a misdirect.
It’s hard to ignore that everyone who remained on the Enterprise can’t journey to parts unknown due to their canon obligations, the fact that they might get their own series, or both. Also, aside from conceiving the master plan to slingshot Discovery and Michael into the future to take the sphere data as far away from Control as possible, much of “Such Sweet Sorrow” centered itself around tying up loose storylines and allowing everyone the chance for a proper goodbye. The title in and of itself evokes a bittersweet parting of the ways.
Captain Pike got a well-deserved standing ovation from the Discovery crew before he rejoined the Enterprise, while Ash and Michael made sure to passionately embrace one last time. Burnham even got a chance to say goodbye to her foster parents, who weirdly showed up in the middle of a military conflict to give her a hug. Spock accompanying the Discovery on its journey is a fly in the ointment of canon, but we’re willing to bet the second part of the season 2 finale will rectify that plot thread somehow. The idea of Star Trek: Discovery beaming out of the self-imposed nostalgia prison it’s languished in for the past two seasons is too tantalizing and looks way too likely for Spock to get in the way. And let’s not forget, Alex Kurtzman promised up and down that the end of season 2 would reconcile Discovery with Star Trek canon and be a massive game-changer – this certainly fits that bill.
If Discovery slingshots far into the future with no chance of immediate return, the show will finally be able to explore a new frontier. That’s something Star Trek hasn’t embraced this fully since Star Trek: Voyager bounced its titular ship 75,000 light years from home. That series regrettably didn’t lean into the practical implications of a Starfleet ship that far from Federation support, but the premise a huge amount of promise. Not only were there new aliens and phenomena to encounter, the rules for how people on Star Trek behaved and interacted flew out the window in the face of telling a story about a ship in utterly unknown territory with nothing but their wits and values to guide them.
Star Trek: Discovery is poised to make the same kind of leap and if they do, it’ll be one of the ballsiest blind jumps this franchise has ever seen.