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This Star Trek: Discovery season 3 mystery could hint at a major villain's return

Keyla Detmer in Star Trek Discovery season 3
(Image credit: CBS/Netflix)

Star Trek: Discovery season 3 already has one big underlying mystery, but it’s slowly introducing another (perhaps more immediate) head-scratcher to keep fans compelled week-to-week.

Warning: spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery season 3 follow…

Michael Burnham in Star Trek Discovery season 3

(Image credit: CBS)

The leap into the 32nd Century may be headline-grabbing news as Star Trek boldly goes where it’s never gone before but, inevitably, there must come a crash landing. Discovery’s dive into the icy depths of The Colony not only put the crew in peril, it seems to have adversely affected one of its most notable deck engineers, Lieutenant Detmer.

The part-cybernetic officer was perhaps hit hardest as the crew brushed themselves down and made their way back to active duty. But what happened? Is it PTSD? Or something that could, perhaps, tie Detmer into a returning Big Bad.

Whatever has happened to Detmer, it’s clear that something isn’t right. She ignores Culber in the sickbay and is generally framed as being not in complete control. Watch as she leaves the bridge for the first time; her movement is stilted and almost robotic. Has someone hacked into her cybernetic implant and started pulling some (robo) strings? Quite possibly…

Enter: Control. Section 31’s Control risk assessment system eventually went rogue through the course of season 2 and ended up attaching itself to Leland. The AI sought Sphere data and also went all HAL by murdering Section 31 crew members and also possessing Airiam. So, Star Trek: Discovery certainly has previous for AI hostile takeovers.

The first clue as to Detmer’s condition comes, handily, before the episode even starts. The “Previously On” segment makes pointed reference to Georgiou’s defeat of the Control-controlled Leland (that’s a mouthful, let’s just call it Control-Leland from hereon out).

While Control-Leland may have been stopped by Michelle Yeoh’s ass-kicking Mirror Emperor, there are scattered blue molecules that form a puddle around his shattered husk of a body. Even in death, there’s certainly scope for an infinitesimal amount of Control to be hanging around on the Starfleet ship, especially given as it was contained in the spore drive’s reaction cube.

Star Trek Discovery season 3

(Image credit: CBS/Netflix)

Fast forward several hundred years to the beginning of the second episode of Star Trek: Discovery season 3 and it’s lights out – both on the ship and for the unconscious crew. Once they come to, however, it’s the first sighting of Saru that could tip us off to something particularly interesting moving forward.

By his downed body are a series of blueish particles bouncing around. That could be nothing, but given that the show was making a big song and dance about Leyland’s death just minutes ago, it’s curious timing. The two images also look pretty similar with each figure lying on their left-hand side. Could zooming through the wormhole also have caused an inadvertent escape for Control?

Star Trek Discovery season 3

(Image credit: CBS/Netflix)

It’s also probably no coincidence that the big ticking-clock of the episode – nightfall and the ice that’s slowly crushing the grounded Discovery – mirrors what Detmer is likely going through.

The ice is described by bandit Zaher (Jake Weber) as “parasitic.” It’ll connect to its host and inevitably destroy it. That’s a none-too-subtle reflection of Detmer’s current situation.

By the episode’s end, she is, admittedly, happy to see Michael show up on-screen, presumably having wrestled back full control of whatever is affecting her. But this is something that is likely going to run across a chunk of the third season. 

While The Burn – the apocalyptic event that put a pause on galaxy-wide warp travel – and the surroundings of the 3100s may intrigue many, this feels like the start of a mystery that’s going to bubble away for a few weeks before potentially bringing back a Big Bad – and dramatically changing one of the show’s most beloved characters.

All caught up on Discovery? Here are 7 New Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple Plus, and HBO Max movies and shows to watch this weekend.

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.