Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending explained - recap what happened before the season 2 premiere

With Star Trek Discovery season 2 very nearly here (it premieres in the US on CBS All Access today, before hitting Netflix in the UK tomorrow), it's time to look back at the incredible Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending and recap where we left things before the series returns.

It's been a while since Star Trek Discovery season 1 aired and you'd be forgiven for not quite remember exactly everything that happened over its 15 episode run (there was A LOT). But never fear, because our Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending explainer will cover all the big events from the finale, as well as the season as a whole, including the big questions we had right after watching the Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending.

Some of them, like what Emperor Georgiou is up to, we already know the answer to now thanks to some season 2 news, while others, like whether Lorca will be back, remain mysteriously unknown. In either case, the below Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending breakdown (and the above discussion video) will get you ready for the return of the USS Discovery as it warps back onto our screens this week. And if you want to know how to watch Star Trek Discovery online wherever you are in the world, we've got you covered there too. 

Note: The below feature was originally published on February 12, 2018.

1. Wait… why is the Federation/Klingon war over now?

An image from the Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending

This makes very little sense in the show, but apparently the war is now over between the Klingons and the Federation. Let me try and explain why, although I’m not super-convinced myself. Firstly, I think the problem lies with the term ‘war’. It’s probably more accurate to say that the Federation was subject to repeated acts of terrorism by different Klingon Houses. Because the Klingons were never united as a race against the Federation, it doesn’t seem accurate to refer to this as ‘war’. This seems trivial, but it may explain how L’Rell’s unification of the Klingons somehow ends the conflict with the Federation. 

Each act of aggression against their enemies was an attempt by the Klingon Houses to show strength, as each one tries to ‘look tougher and more dominant’ than the others. There was never a concerted campaign of war against the Federation. Logically speaking, the unification of the Klingons under L’Rell, T’Kuvma, and a massive bomb buried somewhere on Qo’nos, should put an end to the military action because there is no longer any need for the individual Klingon Houses to show strength. Everyone got their cocks out, and it turns out none were as massive as L’Rell’s (figuratively speaking). But surely the Klingons would just unite and THEN crush the Federation, which is pretty broken at this point? Well, yeah, that’s what I thought too. 

Perhaps L’Rell is somehow beholden to Admiral Cornwell, and is discouraging the Houses from properly going to war. Or maybe they will go to proper war in season 2, but the Federation will have more chance of winning because they now have the ability to decloak Klingon vessels AND they can roll out the DASH drive to all their ships. If it goes down that route… surely this is set in an alternative universe, because it seems very unlikely Discovery would be able to hit the reset button to get things in-line with the original series. 

2. Who is going to be the next Captain of Discovery?

An image from the Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending

That’s the big question, isn’t it? There are a few possibilities here. The first is that we’ll get a completely new Captain, who is just waiting for the crew to arrive on Vulcan. This person could be… anyone. Literally anyone. Place your bets now. The second possibility is that Discovery will get constantly side-tracked on its way to Vulcan, giving either Burnham or Saru time to step-up and claim permanent captaincy of the ship. It’s a neat idea, but seems unlikely, as the show has felt rudderless ever since Lorca died. 

Speaking of which… fans loved Lorca. And with all the dimension-hopping, time-travelling, reality bending possibilities of the show, it’s possible that the showrunners will simply invent an excuse to get Lorca back. Only it could be the real Lorca, who we assume died on board the USS Buran. That’d be a serious treat. The final, outside possibility, is that we’re in an alternative timeline to the Original Series, and someone like Pike will assume command of Discovery. Vastly unlikely, but Discovery does like to overtly display its references to other Star Trek shows, often with a staggering lack of subtlety.

3. What’s up with the Enterprise?

An image from the Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending

The USS Enterprise is in distress, as we learn during the Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending. When is the Enterprise NOT in some kind of distress, eh? EH? Anyway, it looks to be in pretty good shape, so the big question is: why send the distress call at all? Maybe the ship’s warp drive really couldn’t take any more before Scotty was around to fix it. Maybe they heard a young, alien-loving Kirk was coming aboard and the medical staff was worried they didn't have enough anti-STD meds. 

Jokes aside, it seems to be an internal problem rather than an external one, so we should expect to see Burnham and a few others beaming aboard the famed starship for a quick poke around. My best guess is that it’ll form the first (two-parter) episode of season 2, before the Discovery zooms off to Vulcan to receive its proper new Captain. Of course, it's possible the Enterprise is on the run, and we haven't see what it's fleeing from/to yet. Either way, it should form a significant part of the first few hours of season 2.

4. Will Discovery be using DASH drive tech in season 2?

An image from the Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending

All we really know about the spore drive on Discovery (aside from the fact it works like a dream now, and the crew has plenty of spores to fuel it) is that Starfleet is looking into a mechanised navigation system. In other words, they don’t seem keen to let Stamets continue to plug himself in. Fair enough, but it’s vastly unlikely that we’ve seen the last of it, and I predict it’ll take roughly, oooh, five minutes until the crew are forced to bust out the DASH drive in season 2. 

The problem here is that the more it’s used, the harder it’ll be to explain why the technology isn’t used - or even referenced - in any of the following Star Trek shows. It would simply be easier for the showrunners to say that Discovery is set in an alternate universe, which very much takes the fun out of all the Easter eggs crammed into the show.

5. Where has Emperor Georgiou gone now?

An image from the Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending

In one of the most laughable moments of the season finale, Burnham tells Emperor Georgiou that she’s free to leave, and tells her ‘not to cause any trouble, or she’ll be in bother’. With the weakest threat known to man ringing in her ears, the most dangerous figure in the most dangerous dimension of the Star Trek universe simply walks off, free as a bird. Ignoring the fact that both the Federation and Burnham have acted with the kind of naivety you’d question in a newborn puppy, the question is: what is Georgiou up to next? 

The answer, which is obvious to everyone except Burnham, it seems, is this: no good. Villainy. Being a space-bastard. Georgiou wants power, and she’s going to do literally anything to get it. It’s inevitable that she’ll turn up as an antagonist in season 2 now, and we can already see Burnham wringing her hands with indecision as she’s forced to face-off with her not-really-mentor once again. 

6. What role does Ash Tyler/Voq have now?

An image from the Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending

Again, we’ve not seen the last of Ash Tyler. He’s uniquely positioned to fill some kind of Klingon/Starfleet ambassador role, given that he’s kinda both races all at once. To give Discovery the benefit of the doubt, it could be that his presence is the reason why the Klingons haven’t relaunched full-scale war against the Federation, but that’s never explicitly mentioned in the show. 

I’m surprised he was allowed to leave at all, given how valuable an asset he has proven to be. Someone with insider knowledge of the Klingons is surely super useful to the Federation, and someone with intimate experience of the most advanced ship in Starfleet is also a bit of a boon for the Klingons. The more I think about it, the more Tyler’s freedom to leave makes absolutely zero sense. Oh well, he’ll probably be back for season 2, in an attempt to further torture Burnham and add some emotional frisson to the show.

7. How long will it take to rebuild the Federation?

An image from the Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending

Let’s face it, the Federation is knackered. Most of the Starbases are gone, the fleet has been largely destroyed, and many of the leaders were lost when the Klingons overran Starbase 1. It all seems very desperate, and there isn’t a whole lot of time in between Discovery and the Original Series to go from ‘totally ruined Federation’ to ‘really quite healthy Federation’. 

The DASH drive might help, and could be a key factor in rebuilding quicker. Discovery does have a tendency to rush its plots too, so perhaps the speed of the Federation’s recovery will simply never be explained. Or, maybe, we’re looking at the alternate timeline again. Seems to be a lot of questions about that after the Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending.

8. What happened to the Terran ISS Discovery, then?

An image from the Star Trek Discovery season 1 ending

Remember how the Terran version of Discovery essentially swapped places with the regular version when it jumped to the Mirror Universe? Er, what happened to it? We hear from Admiral Cornwell that she saw it destroyed with her own eyes, but there's no other information on what it did, where it went, or how it messed up the Federation timeline. And did anyone escape? Is Captain 'Killy' still at large, ready for an Emperor Georgiou/Killy team-up in season 2? This whole mirror Discovery plot feels like a wasted opportunity if it truly is finished.

For more juicy Trek goodness, check out every Star Trek Discovery Easter egg hidden in season 1.

Andy Hartup