Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Finale Ending Explained

Star Trek: Discovery just made its most overt connection to Star Trek canon yet in the final moments of Season 1.

In the final moments of Star Trek: Discovery Season 1, the Discovery drops out of warp to respond to a distress signal from another Starfleet ship. That ship? The USS Enterprise. It’s a hell of a cliffhanger to end the season on, and one that leaves a lot of questions about what the beginning of Season 2 might look like. Let’s break this down…

This may be the Enterprise we all know and love, but it is not from a time period we know well. Remember, this is still roughly a decade before the events of The Original Series. As we know, both from the Discovery cliffhanger and Star Trek canon, the Enterprise is currently captained by Captain Christopher Pike. Pike was played by Jeffrey Hunter and Sean Kenney in The Original Series, and Bruce Greenwood in the Star Trek reboot films. 

Captain Christopher Pike and Spock in The Original Series' original pilot "The Cage"

As we know from The Original Series‘ original pilot “The Cage,” Spock is a science officer on the Enterprise at this time, serving under Pike. Presumably, this is why Sarek and Michael share a look when they identify that the ship in distress is the Enterprise—they know that Spock, their son/brother is on it.

Does this mean Spock will appear in Discovery Season 2? It seems unavoidable. Discovery would have to go well out of its way to have the Discovery and Enterprise interact and not either see Spock or have Michael or Sarek inquire after him.

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Why is the Enterprise in distress? Well, there’s a chance that we are seeing the Enterprise during the events of “The Cage” (or, perhaps shortly after?), which saw Captain Pike being kidnapped and tested on by aliens with the capability of projecting convincing illusions. The events of “The Cage” took place in 2254, 11 years before the events of The Original Series.

Another cool connection between “The Cage” and Discovery? The Number One character, played by Majel Roddenberry, partially inspired the character of Michael Burnham. It would be very cool to see these two interact.

Narratively, this is an interesting place for the show to end its first season at. Has this been their plan from the beginning? Is this moment the reason why Discovery wanted to be a prequel series?

The answers to these questions will clarify not only just how invested Discovery is at making connections to Star Trek canon (seemingly, for better or worse, very), but how long the show will invest in resolving this cliffhanger in Season 2. Is this a cool reference that will be quickly resolved in the opening minutes of next season or is it a major hint at where the Season 2 story will be going?

What do the Discovery producers have to say about all of this? Talking to Variety, Alex Kurtzman

The show is called Discovery. It’s not Enterprise. So yes, the Enterprise will play a part  of Season 2 but it will absolutely not overshadow Discovery. And I think with Enterprise’s arrival in the finale we recognize that the audience has a lot of questions about our synchronicity with the original series, which really means or synchronicity with canon. So the promise of the Enterprise holds the answers to a lot of those questions, including Spock’s relationship with his half-sister who he’s never mentioned. Which does not necessarily mean you’re going to see Spock, just that we owe an answer to that question.

Speaking to THR about the possibility of seeing Spock in Season 2, showrunner Aaron Harberts said: “We certainly aren’t confirming that we’re even going to introduce Spock and we certainly are not casting that role, either. We live a lot in memory and flashback. The center of our show is always Michael Burnham.” Harberts and co-showrunner Gretchen J. Berg also, however, did not rule out the idea of bringing Spock onto the show in some way.

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