The Big Unanswered Questions of Star Trek: Discovery Season 4

The Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 mid-season finale was a cliffhanger on multiple levels. Here are the biggest problems still facing Captain Burnham and the crew when the show returns.

The crew of the Discovery walk down the hall in Star Trek
Photo: Paramount

This Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 article contains MAJOR spoilers through Episode 7.

The biggest question facing Captain Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) for the latter half of Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 is clearly whether or not she’ll end up being a good cat-sitter for Book’s cat Grudge. Seriously, that cat hates her! Remember when Spot scratched Riker in “Timescape” and then time was frozen? Nobody wants a repeat of that! All kidding aside, in addition to Book leaving his cat Maine Coon Cat, Grudge, in Michael’s care, DISCO’s resident space badass has also skipped out on the crew, stolen an experimental portable version of the Spore Drive, and now intends to deliver a highly illegal weapon into the heart of the Dark Matter Anomaly with the help of a questionable scientist who may or may not be from an alternate universe. 

But that’s not all! There are actually several big questions left for the rest of Discovery Season 4. Here are eight major questions DISCO has to answer in the second half of this season. But first…

Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Episode 8 Return Date

Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 will be back on Paramount+ with new episodes on Thursday, February 10. The show has gone on a brief hiatus, and will return with… a number of episodes. The full season order has yet to be announced, but 13 seems like a good guess. (Seasons 1-3 have included 15, 14, and 13 episodes respectively.) That would mean there are six episodes left in Season 4 to answer the following questions…

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What’s up with Tilly? 

In the fourth episode of the season, “All Is Possible,” Lt. Sylvia Tilly heroically saved the lives of several Starfleet cadets, as well as Ensign Adira Tal, after their shuttle crashed on an ice planet. This experience, combined with trauma from the first episode led Tilly to leave the USS Discovery and accept a post at the newly reformed Starfleet Academy. Mary Wiseman has assured fans that they “will see Tilly again before the end of the season.” But what does that mean exactly? Will Tilly stay at Starfleet Academy forever? Is she getting her own Starfleet Academy show with Kovich (David Cronenberg)? And, when she does return, how will she assist the crew? In the trailer for the rest of Discovery Season 4, we briefly see Tilly and Admiral Vance at Federation HQ…and then there’s an explosion. Is Tilly okay!? 

Will Gray remain on Trill?

In the mid-season finale, “…But to Connect,” Gray — now fully incorporated in a new Synth body — decides to return to Trill to become a guardian. This means he’ll be watching over the pools where the symbionts live, and generally doing Trill stuff. Adira and Gray are not breaking up to be clear, and Adira made it clear they are fine with having a long-distance relationship. Still, considering that Gray was the one who helped the crew realize what was wrong with Zora (the ship’s sentient computer) it feels like the ship is lacking the crewmember with the most emotional intelligence. 

Will Culber quit as ship’s counselor? 

In the 23rd Century where Discovery came from, Starfleet didn’t have ships’ counselors on the regular. But, starting with Season 4, Culber has retroactively become both a physician and the counselor for everyone in the DISCO crew. This has to lead to a great deal of strain for Culber, and in the episode “The Examples,” Dr. Kovich tells him that it’s pretty obvious that Culber still hasn’t dealt with his survivors’ guilt. So, will Culber stay on the ship, or not?

What’s going on with Nhan?

Yeah, you forgot about how the crew left poor Nhan on that seed vault ship in Season 3, didn’t you? Well, Nhan didn’t forget! The former USS Enterprise security officer, who hitched a ride with DISCO into the future will be back in the second half of Discovery Season 4. The mid-season trailer clearly shows Rachael Ancheril back as Nhan. So, why is she back? Is the seed vault ship still a thing?

What’s the deal with Tarka’s “other” universe?

In “…But to Connect” Tarka tells Book about a different parallel universe separate from any universe we’ve heard about before. He claims that in this universe the Burn never happened and there’s no war. Is this real? Is Tarka lying? 

Is Presiden Rillak hiding something? 

Since the start of Discovery Season 4, the new President of the United Federation of Planets has seemed hyper-focused on what the crew of DISCO does, and with Michael Burnham in specific. Laira Rillak has also talked a lot about alternatives to warp drive, which is interesting because the Dark Matter Anomaly itself seems to travel through space in an instantaneous and unexpected way. Is Rillak somehow more aware of the origins of the anomaly than she’s let on? 

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Will Zora’s new sentience lead us to the events of  “Calypso”? 

Although the DMA crisis takes up the lion’s share of the attention in Discovery Season 4, perhaps the most classic Star Trek-y plot has been the emergence of Zora as the sentient computer of the ship. The journey of Zora’s sentience began in Season 2 when Discovery itself merged with an ancient alien sphere in the episode, “An Obol for Charon.” By the end of that season, Discovery started raising its own shields and fighting for its self-preservation. 

In theory, all of this leads to the Short Treks episode, “Calypso,” in which Discovery is adrift somewhere in the far-future (beyond the events of the 32nd Century.) At that point, Zora has been sentient and aware for a very, very long time. Previously, showrunner Michelle Paradise has noted that this future event is still canon and that eventually, “we’ll have to find our way there.” Now that Zora has fully emerged and joined Starfleet, it feels possible that this event could happen sooner, rather than later.

Who is species 10C?

The biggest question for the end of Discovery Season 4 is easily centered on who created the DMA. As of now, everyone is reasonably certain it’s a species from outside the known galaxy. For shorthand, everyone has been calling this “Species 10C,” but really, we have no idea who this species is. In “The Examples,” Vance dropped a bunch of suggestions about all-powerful alien species like the Q and the Metrons, be we all know it won’t be any of those folks.

In the mid-season trailer, Kovich says, “Whatever we think we know about species 10C, we’re wrong.” Clearly, the back-end of Discovery Season 4 will reveal Species 10C, but right now, the question of who they even are, and what their motivations are is possibly the biggest mystery the show has ever created. This generates another question: When it’s all over, will Discovery Season 4 end on a cliffhanger like Season 2, or conclude happily like Season 3? With so many plot points still unresolved, it feels very possible that not everything will get wrapped up this time…

Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 returns with new episodes on February 10, 2022.