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Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 - What We Know So Far

Star Trek: Discovery has been away from our screens far longer than intended. The season 2 finale, "Such Sweet Sorry, Part 2," bowed on April 18, 2019 with the intention of the third season airing sometime early 2020. But, as we all know by now, hardly anything in the entertainment industry and beyond went as planned in 2020 – the return of Discovery included.

Created by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman and set in the expansive universe established by Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek: Discovery centers on Michael Burnham (played by Sonequa Martin-Green), a science specialist aboard the USS Discovery, and the rest of the ship's crew. The events take place about a decade before Star Trek: The Original Series, and the plot finds the Klingons at war with the United Federation of Planets. With the arrival of season 2 came the end of the war ... but the start of an investigation into seven strange signals. At the end of Star Trek: Discovery season 2, the crew jump-jumps 900-plus years in the future, then begins to look into the seventh and final signal and a figure called the Red Angel.

That's quite the set-up for Star Trek: Discovery season 3, which CBS All Access has confirmed is on its way — and soon.

Let's run through everything we know about the show's upcoming season so far.

Star Trek: Discovery season 3's release date

On July 27, 2020, CBS All Access declared via an announcement video that Star Trek: Discovery season 3 will begin airing episodes on October 15, 2020. There's a reason for that launch date, and it links back to a specific intention the Star Trek production team at CBS had going into 2020 before a global pandemic put wrenches into everyone's gears. 

The hope had been that there would, at any given time during the year, always be a Star Trek show airing new episodes in some fashion. Star Trek: Picard's first season ran from January 23, 2020 to March 26, 2020. There will be a roughly four-month gap between the end of Picard and the beginning of the new animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks, set to premiere on August 6, 2020. Of course, it was probably the intention to have Discovery season 3 air between those two shows — but since that couldn't happen, CBS All Access has chosen a premiere date for the new season that plays off Lower Decks' season 1 end date. If you look at the content calendar, you'll see that Star Trek: Lower Decks wrap its first 10-episode season on October 8, 2020 — exactly one week before Star Trek: Discovery begins its third season.

On the topic of schedules and number of episodes, let's talk about the length of Star Trek: Discovery season 3. Once again, the show's season is shrinking slightly. Season 1 of Discovery was 15 episodes, season 2 was 14 episodes, and we now know that season 3 will be 13 episodes. Thus, beginning August 6, 2020 with the debut of Lower Decks, fans will have new Star Trek content to watch every single week (barring any weeks off) until January 5, 2021.

The cast of Star Trek: Discovery season 3

As you might expect, most of the team from Star Trek: Discovery season 2 is back for the third season. Sonequa Martin-Green (Commander Michael Burnham), Doug Jones (Commander Saru), Anthony Rapp (Lt. Commander Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Ensign Sylvia Tilly), Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber), and Michelle Yeoh (Philippa Georgiou) are all returning. 

Obviously, since Discovery ended its second season catapulting itself 930 years into the future, Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and Spock (Ethan Peck) won't be back for the new season — but they will have their own show, entitled Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

However, we will have a new member added to the crew on season 3: David Ajala as Cleveland "Book" Booker. Since Burnham will be starting the season away from her crew, Book will likely be the person she tethers herself to as she first adapts to life in what appears to be a post-Federation world. There will certainly be other characters (including some Trill whom you can spot in the season 3 teaser trailer), but that's what we know so far.

What's the plot of Star Trek: Discovery season 3?

We don't know too much about the plot of Star Trek: Discovery's third season just yet. We do know that it's set 930 years forward from where we last left the crew, and from the teaser trailer, we know that Starfleet and the Federation likely don't exist anymore. Likewise, we know there's probably a reason for that — and that Burnham and Book are trying to figure out exactly what happened.

In an interview with ComicBook.com in May 2020, Jonathan Frakes, who will direct several episodes of Discovery for this season, offered a few hints about what's ahead on season 3. "Michael Burnham has found a new core, not to mention a new partner in crime," he said. "Again, there's a big tonal shift on that show, less driven by the pain and guilt of her past and more about the magical reunification of the Discovery crew and wherever she went off to."

He further hinted, "God knows where she went as the Red Angel. So those two things coming back together is very much the theme, and how grateful everyone is, and what's next. It's got a lot of action-adventure and not so much pain."

As a refresher, the Red Angel is the suit Michael's mother and later Michael herself) used to travel in time and protect the Federation from an A.I. threat called Control. It's not confirmed, but it seems very possible that we'll find out what — or who — created Control during Discovery's third season.

Star Trek: Discovery season 3 will premiere on October 15, 2020 on CBS All Access.