Will Solving “The Burn” Mean Discovery Burns Out?

Season Three of Star Trek Discovery has focused heavily on "The Burn". For instance, last week's episode, "Su' Kal". The most recent. Saru
The Burn

Season Three of Star Trek Discovery has focused heavily on “The Burn”. For instance, last week’s episode, “Su’ Kal“. The most recent. Saru (Doug Jones) was on hand to find out about the cause of “The Burn”. Whilst we were excited to get answers, it seems that it may be solved. And quite soon, too. Perhaps by the end of Season Three. Consequently, that might not be a good thing for Discovery. Much will depend on what replaces it and how things pan out. Read on for our assessments and predictions for what could play out.

Problem and Implications

Since we first saw the trailer for the third season SciFiPulse has been talking about “The Burn”. Writing features on it. Our first, The Burn: The Burning Question discussed possible links to a Star Trek: Voyager episode. That’s looking very unlikely now. Regardless, as a plot device it worked. An effective way to show a bleak future. This was the topic of our later feature, Discovery: Finding Its feet in The Future. We spoke in more depth about ways we felt the show had now changed for the better in our November podcast episode.

We wondered what the crew would do. And if they’d find The Federation. If so, what it would look and feel like. This seemed to be a great way to start to really focus on Discovery as a character driven show. We felt it had lacked that status in its first two seasons.

In Practise

Early in Season Three, we saw a very different Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). That’s something we covered in Burnham and The Burn. Unfortunately, it didn’t bring development for other characters. certainly not in the way we would have liked to have seen. For example Detmer (Emily Coutts). We had ideas how the season’s chief story might have meant that the lesser known characters came into their own more. Writing in Developing Detmer we suggested ways that the character could contribute more.

To give praise where it’s due, Discovery has had some character development. Though not anywhere enough. We’d like to have seen  more of Saru (Doug Jones). Given he’s the first non-human Captain to head up a show, he’s played a lesser role than we thought he would. That was the topic of Saru: Alien Territory. A feature that outlined the character’s significance. But now to a certain “Ensign”. . .

Tilly (Mary Wiseman). A good idea to develop her. No argument from us there. We saw it coming, and so wrote Tilly: Time For Promotion? It could be argued that Tilly’s promotion was a consequence of “The Burn”. But it didn’t feel that way. Not really. It seemed like a bit of a token gesture. That was the crux of First Officer Tilly: Too Much Too Soon? But what was done was done, now.

Generally, we were pleased with how the show had gone. A definite improvement from the first two seasons. That was great to see. The dynamic of “The Burn” complicated things. And changed it from a future Utopia to more of a dystopia. It allowed for more of an episode of the week format. Not entirely, but that was certainly apparent. The atmosphere of the story-world felt dark and desolate, as a result of the mysterious “Burn”. The primary functions of Starfleet and The Federation weren’t possible, for the first time ever.


There’s no guarantee, but events of last week’s episode seemingly implied that “The Burn” may be about to be solved. The cause is now known. Revealing even that much suggests that as a plot device, it’s coming to an end. Well, the start of the end, anyway. If so, it could be the wrong choice. Discovery really has upped its game this season. Yes, there’s still room for further improvements. But as we talked about in Season Three: Story So Far, something big was needed. That something did indeed turn out to be “The Burn”.

As “Carl” wasn’t a Q (see Q Continuum Continued) there was no simple fix. That said, Carl’s identity paved the way for possibly seeing more of Star Trek’s Past in the Future. There could be more, too. And from a Trek show that’s yet to air . . . Yes, really! This is where the set up from the first two seasons of Discovery might really pay off, even though they weren’t up to scratch as Star Trek, for us.

Future And Past Combined?

Potentially, events in the upcoming show, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds might impact Discovery. Just because they haven’t, doesn’t mean they can’t yet. We’re excited and intrigued about Strange New Worlds. We’ve already written about What We’d Like To See in Strange New Worlds. Furthermore, once we found out more, we wrote of some potential Concerns About Casting and Characters, in the upcoming show. What we are now realising is that the shows may remain linked. Quite how that would work is for another feature. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that closer to the time. What’s worth remembering is Strange New Worlds sprang from Discovery. 

Let’s say that’s it for “The Burn”. That Season Three of Discovery wraps it up. The Federation starts to recover. Should that be the case, something else will be needed. There could have been much more mileage from that arc. Again, if it is fully resolved. We’re leaning towards thinking it will be. Mostly, because they now know the cause. As already mentioned. So, an end to the mystery of it, then.

Looking beyond Season Three, Star Trek may need a new plot device. Time-travel? Maybe the Temporal Cold War). That has already been hinted at. Further chances for past events in Strange New Worlds to feature. Additionally, we could also see the return of Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou, who’ll be heading up Star Trek: Section 31. We sense an epic future crossover event that would tie all current Trek shows together. Maybe, just maybe, Star Trek: Picard could also be a part of the plan. Now, that would be super cool

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