Details in the Star Trek: Discovery behind-the-scenes video could hint that old prime Trek timeline will be split off into a new one — and it’s all about paying attention to what the iconic Starfleet symbol looks like.
On January 31, an official CBS promotional video gave one glimpse of the new Starfleet uniforms on Star Trek: Discovery. Because the show takes place a decade before the original series, these new uniforms are also “old” since, in theory, they existed before the time of Captain Kirk and company. The uniform is all blue with some silver shoulder pipping, and that iconic “arrowhead” Starfleet insignia is affixed to the left side of the chest. The Starfleet insignia in the video belongs to the engineering division because of the little squiggle inside of the arrowhead. This is how the departments were divided up in the original series: a starburst for command, a sphere for sciences, and the squiggle for engineering.
Many fans have pointed out that both the logo for Discovery and this Starfleet insignia have a vertical line running down one side, making the arrowhead a little different than previous iterations. But why? Shouldn’t the insignia be pretty much the same since this is only a decade before Captain Kirk? Well, not necessarily. For some reason, Starfleet command radically changes the style of its uniforms every ten years or so. Does that sound crazy? Why would a spacefaring pseudo-military organization make its members totally alter their uniforms so frequently? It seems bonkers, but during the roughly 30 years we see of Jean-Luc Picard’s Starfleet career, his standard uniform changed at least five times. And that’s just Picard!
There’s never been an explanation for why Starfleet changes styles of its uniforms so often. But some fans on Reddit have an interesting theory: maybe the styles change routinely because Starfleet is aware of frequent time travel. If the uniforms are different every decade or so, a time traveler will be instantly easy to spot. Deep Space Nine established the existence of the Department of Temporal Investigations, an organization that keeps track of the various changes in the space-time continuum. But then there’s also Section 31, a secret spy organization that goes all the way back to the 21st century. It was fully aware of the Temporal Cold War and was hip to the possibility of the timeline being changed at that point, too. Section 31 has been rumored to be involved with Discovery, mostly because having such a prominent starship involved in possibly historic events might require everything these characters do to be considered “classified.” Plus, the registry number on the hull of the USS Discovery is NCC-1031.
The new logo seen in the Discovery video is tricky for one other reason. In the original series the “arrowhead” insignia was not the universal symbol for all of Starfleet. In fact, at that time, it was only the symbol for the crew of the Enterprise and other crews of other ships had different symbols.
At some point in Star Trek history, the arrowhead from the Enterprise was adopted for all of Starfleet. But Discovery takes place before that. So, why do the uniforms have the classic design? Right now, there seem to be two answers. One: It’s not the same design and that little vertical split down the side makes it different. Two: Some members of the crew of the Discovery are time travelers from the future, or at the very least working for Section 31 in cooperation with the Department of Temporal Investigations. And if there are time travelers in Discovery, then it stands to reason the show will, in fact, establish a slightly new canon.
Outside of this speculation, here’s everything we know about Star Trek: Discovery.