Michael Burnham is taking on her greatest mission ever in Star Trek: Discovery season 3, but her most important quest may be a journey inward.
Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Episode 1 - "That Hope Is You, Part 1."
In Star Trek: Discovery season 3, Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is not only living in a new millennium, but she also has a new mission that's bigger than any she's embarked upon before.
Michael's 930-year jump to the future allowed her to leave her controversial past and all of her mistakes behind for good. An orphan who was raised on Vulcan by Ambassador Sarek (James Frain) as the adopted sister of Spock (Ethan Peck), Burnham was the First Officer of the U.S.S. Shenzhou in Star Trek: Discovery season 1 when she inadvertently instigated the Klingon War of 2256-2257. Michael was disgraced and imprisoned as Starfleet's first mutineer, but when she was released, she redeemed herself by helping to end the Klingon War as a member of the U.S.S. Discovery's crew. Her rank as Commander restored, Michael was the key figure in unlocking the mystery of the Red Angel and stopping a rogue A.I. called Control from wiping out all organic life in the galaxy. But to stop Control, Michael and the Discovery, which possessed 100,000 years of Sphere data Control needed to achieve sentience, had to travel nine centuries into the future - a permanent one-way journey.
In Star Trek: Discovery's season 3 premiere, "That Hope Is You, Part 1," Michael arrives alone in the year 3188. She is fortunate enough to find an uneasy ally in a courier named Cleveland "Book" Booker (David Ajala) but Burnham soon learns that a catastrophe called the Burn destroyed the dilithium in every starship in the galaxy a century before she arrived, leading to the collapse of Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets. Yet even this heartbreaking new reality didn't break Michael's spirit. Instead, Commander Burnham is taking on a new mission in this radically different new future: Michael intends to find and unite the fractured pockets of the Federation and unite them. But before she can do that, she has to find her ship, the Discovery.
The U.S.S. Discovery and her crew were behind Michael in the time warp wormhole, but the starship didn't arrive with her in 3188. It's possible the Discovery arrived at a different point in space, or that it's still in the wormhole and may emerge at a later date. Obviously, the Discovery does make it to the 32nd century and will eventually reunite with Michael, but when and how remains to be seen. Further. the Discovery will soon find itself a target: not only does the 900-year-old starship have its spore displacement hub drive, it also has dilithium and a working warp core, which is technology highly sought after in the 32nd century.
The Discovery's spore drive will be crucial to Michael's main season 3 mission, which is finding the isolated fragments of the Federation and Starfleet in the galaxy and uniting them under one banner once again. Burnham is the ideal person to lead this crusade since, as a 23rd-century-era Starfleet Officer who remembers the Federation's heyday like it was (literally) yesterday, Michael is a true believer in its ideals. She has proven to be very good at delivering rousing and inspiring speeches that can light the fire in the hearts of those who want to restore the Federation to its past glory. What's more, Michael only recently (in her experience) lost and regained her faith in everything the Federation stands for, so she knows what it takes to motivate those who don't believe.
However, as Michael became aware when the Andorians and Orions sprayed her with gas on Hima that dropped her inhibitions, becoming distanced from her past by a thousand years means she can reinvent herself once more. Michael came to realize that her personality is "reflexively supportive" and "overcompensating" - but this can change now that she's separated from who she was in 2357 and unmoored from the baggage she left behind. Perhaps Michael's true and greatest mission in Star Trek: Discovery season 3 is to journey inward and make peace with herself. In the 32nd century's final frontier, Michael Burnham has the rare and enviable opportunity to use her self-discovery as a springboard to better herself in brand new ways.
Star Trek: Discovery streams Thursdays on CBS All-Access and Fridays internationally on Netflix.