Connections between Star Trek: Discovery and the original ‘60s show make sense. Because Discovery is set in the decade just before the classic Trek, there have been a ton of nods, easter eggs, and even come classic characters on the show. But what about The Next Generation? Could one specific crew member of Discovery survive well into the 24th century and beyond?
On November 3, a new fan theory made the rounds on Facebook, positing that Lt. Paul Stamets eventually becomes the enigmatic character known only as “the Traveler” from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s obviously a little out there, but the basic evidence for the theory makes a tiny bit of sense. In the TNG episode “Where No One Has Gone Before” the Traveler was a mysterious alien who basically through the power of his mind was able to transport the Enterprise across immense distances. Which, at a glance, isn’t all that dissimilar from Stamets plugging himself into the spore drive of the Discovery to allow that ship to do something similar. The idea here is that at least conceptually, Stamets is kind like a rudimentary version of the Traveler.
In episodes 7 and 8 of Star Trek: Discovery, Stamets has started to an experience some Kilgore Trout unstuck-in-time action. He existed outside fo the time loop created by Harry Mudd, and then began to have new memories that didn’t check with what was happening in the present. The history is Star Trek is replete with characters gaining interdimensional, or god-like abilities that exist out of time, and often, these characters have to ascend to another plane of existence in order to survive. It happened to Will Decker in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Captain Sisko in the final episodes of Deep Space Nine, and to Wesley Crusher when he decided to roam the entirety space-time with the Traveler in the TNG episode “Journey’s End.”
The point is, even if Stamets doesn’t literally become the Traveler from The Next Generation, his current state could change the way he experiences time, which could let him live for a lot longer than seems reasonable. The first appearance of the Traveler in TNG was in 2364. The current season of Discovery takes place 108 years before that, in 2256. But, Stamets being well over a hundred years old in the 24th century wouldn’t be a big deal if he was existing outside of the regular flow of time.
Hardcore fans will point out that there’s no way Stamets can be the Traveler because the Traveler is an alien from Tau Ceti. But then again, sometimes the Traveler said he was from Tau Alpha C. So, which was it? Also, the Traveler was able to change his appearance pretty easily, once masquerading as a Native American guy named Lakanta. So, him looking different from Stamets in the future could easily be explained away.
Many fans have worried that the technology of the USS Discovery to jump so quickly across space shouldn’t be possible in the 23rd century, based on what we know of the 24th. But, if this technology is reliant on one person — Lt. Stamets — then it stands to reason if something happens to him, then the spore drive project will probably be abandoned by Starfleet.
One thing is for sure, if Stamets does become a being existing outside of space and time, his partner, Dr. Hugh Culber is going to be really, really heartbroken.
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