Star Trek Discovery has officially landed on CBS in the US and Netflix in the UK and now we’ve recovered from the explosive premiere it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. There’s A LOT of info to take in from the first two episodes, including new characters, new races, and new enemies, and it’s left us with more than a few questions about what’s going to happen next. How will Burnham join the U.S.S Discovery? Why was she adopted by Sarek after her parents died? And what was that prophecy of the Light of Kahless all about? I attempt to answer all this and more below, and if you haven’t seen the premiere yet, go away now because there are major spoilers to follow.
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1. Why did that Klingon noble NOT want to be the torchbearer?
After Burnham ‘accidentally’ killed Klingon warrior Rejac, T'Kuvma called for his brother to become the new torchbearer and light the beacon. The only problem was, his brother really didn’t want that responsibility. How come? Voq - who ultimately became torchbearer - didn’t burst into flames as soon as he lit the beacon, he wasn’t killed by the Klingons who responded to the call... in fact, nothing terrible happened to him at all. It was actually a great honour to be torchbearer so I’m not really sure why the other Klingon noble didn’t want the job. Maybe he just didn’t want to be that involved in T'Kuvma’s mission. Perhaps he just tagged along with his bro and didn’t really believe in the cause and was hoping no one would notice him. Oh well.
2. What is the prophecy of the Light of Kahless?
In the same scene, Rejac’s brother questions why the 24 great houses would respond to the beacon and T’Kuvma tells him they will come because of the “prophecy of the Light of Kahless” - cue big flashing neon ‘IMPORTANT PLOT POINT’ sign. Hopefully this won’t just be forgotten or glossed over in the following episodes, but if you’re looking for some sort of clue as to what the prophecy is about, there’s not much to go on.
Kahless is sort of like the Klingon’s version of a mythic, semi-godlike King Arthur who was the first Warrior King and ruler of the Klingon Empire, but there’s no information about a prophecy to do with him. There is, however, The Story of the Promise and it goes like this:
When Kahless united the people and gave them the laws of honor, he saw that his work was done. So one night he gathered his belongings and went to the edge of the city to say good-bye. The people wept, they did not want him to go. And Kahless said, "You are Klingons. You need no one but yourselves. I will go now, to Sto-Vo-Kor. But I promise one day I will return." Then Kahless pointed to a star in the sky and said, "Look for me there, on that point of light."
It seems likely that this is what T’Kuvma was referring too, especially considering that by the end of the premiere he declares himself Kahless reincarnated and hails the return of the Klingon Messiah.
3. Why didn't Burnham just ask Sarek to explain ‘the Vulcan hello’ to Captain Georgiou?
Burnham had sense enough to ask her adopted father Sarek how the Vulcans made peace with the Klingons, so why didn’t she realise that the best way to convince Captain Georgiou of her plan of action was to have Sarek explain it himself? I think the answer is threefold; she didn’t want to reveal that she’d gone running to her dad for help, she knew that Sarek wouldn’t necessarily agree to try and convince the Captain (he even says it wouldn’t necessarily work on a ship commanded by humans), and finally, it ultimately wouldn’t have made a difference because Georgiou didn’t agree - not because it wouldn’t work, but because it violated the principles of Starfleet to attack first.
4. What happened to Burnham’s parents and why was she adopted by Sarek?
We already knew that Burnham was adopted by Spock’s parents, Sarek and Amanda, and from that, it’s easy to work out that her human parents are dead (which is exactly what was confirmed in the premiere). But how did they die, exactly, and why was she adopted and raised on Vulcan? It’s revealed in the premiere that Klingons are responsible for her parents’ death, but given that the Federation has had little to no contact with the Klingons in nearly a century, how can this be? The answer might come during a flashback in the first episode, which shows a young Burnham at the Vulcan Learning Center. When asked about the location of the most recent Klingon terror raid, she freezes. As the computer continues to quiz her about the raid at the human-Vulcan science outpost on Doctari Alpha she starts to breakdown, but is this because it reminds her of what happened to her parents, or because they actually died in that same raid? If so, that’s one insensitive computer, but it might explain why Sarek adopted her - perhaps he knew her parents at the human-Vulcan science outpost and felt responsible for their daughter when they died.
5. Why is the Klingon Empire dead?
It’s revealed in the Star Trek Discovery premiere that the Klingon Empire is no more. In fact, that’s exactly what T’Kuvma is trying to bring back believing it’s the only way the Klingon way of life will survive the Federation and its desire to mix with different races. We know from later Star Trek series that the Empire will eventually be reformed, but why did it collapse in the first place and why has no-one seen the Klingons in so long? Hopefully, we’ll find out more in the following episodes, but it’s likely that a civil war was the cause of the breakdown of the Empire. Power struggles are a common theme in the Klingon world.
6. What did Captain Georgiou lose?
When Burnham and Georgiou are reunited after the battle between the Federation and the Klingons in episode 2, Georgiou reveals that she’s suffered a life of loss. “Do you know why Sarek asked me to take you on?” She asks Burnham. “I was a human who had seen a life of loss but still choose hope.” Which begs the question… what did Georgiou lose? Unfortunately, there’s not much we can glean from the premiere - there wasn’t really time for an emotional sit down in between all the action - and it’s unlikely we’ll find out more given what happened to the character at the end of the episode (*sob*). Perhaps we’ll get some kind of clarification by the end of the season though. It would be good to understand Georgiou’s motivations given her close relationship with Burnham.
7. Why didn’t Burnham join the Vulcan Expeditionary Group?
In another flashback in episode 2, we see Burnham joining the crew of the U.S.S Shenzhou for the first time where she reveals it wasn’t her first choice of career. “It was always my intention to join the Vulcan Expeditionary Group,” she tells Captain Georgiou - so why didn’t she? I get the impression that it was Sarek who insisted she join the Federation although we don’t know why at this point. Even more interesting is that it appears Burnham didn’t complete her Starfleet training at the Academy before joining the crew, which makes me wonder how she became First Officer. The most likely explanation is that she joined the Shenzhou on a trial basis at the request of her adopted father, and then realising this was the life for her, went to the academy to train as a Starfleet officer before returning to the Shenzhou.
8. Why didn't we see the faces of the Starfleet commanders who sentenced Burnham?
That was suspicious, right? Yeah, super suspicious. Ok, so it gave them a sense of authority as they passed sentence on Burnham, but it seems likely that the shadows which hid their faces were concealing more than just their angry expressions. The identity of these three senior Starfleet officials could prove important later in the season, or they could just be keeping the characters as nameless, faceless individuals so they can shoehorn a cameo in later down the line. I can see it now.... ‘I remember when I was sentencing Lieutenant Commander Michael Burnham back in such and such…’
9. How will Burnham join the U.S.S Discovery?
This is the biggie. How the hell is Burham going to join the U.S.S Discovery? Because I don’t know if you noticed, but by the end of the premiere, she was cast out of Starfleet and sentenced to life imprisonment, which makes it rather difficult to join another starship. As it’s unlikely she’ll be spending the rest of the season FaceTiming Discovery’s Captain Gabriel Lorca from prison, I think we’ll see a deal get made in episode 3 which will result in her coming aboard the Discovery for an all important mission. Kind of like what happened to Tom Paris in Voyager (yeah, that’s right, I’m using Voyager as an example!). This means Burnham has to have some important knowledge or expertise which Starfleet can’t get elsewhere - it has to be related to the Klingons surely, but what could it be? Get ready for some serious stink eye from the rest of Discovery’s crew because I’m guessing she won’t be the most popular person aboard, what with the attempted mutiny and all.