Cute Starfleet robots are ready to kick some ass. The final moments of the penultimate episode of Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 put the series on a collision course with a certain episode of Short Treks. Will the USS Discovery meet the fate foretold two years ago? Or, is there another wrinkle to this sideways canon connection?
There's some compelling evidence to suggest that this twist has been hiding in plain sight since 2018. Here's how Discovery's latest development could shape the Season 3 finale and beyond.
Spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 12, "There Is a Tide..."
After Michael Burnham waged a Die Hard-esque battle to retake the USS Discovery from the Emerald Chain, acting Captain Tilly, Ryn, Book, and the rest of the crew race toward the armory to grab as many phasers as they can carry. As the episode ends, they find themselves in a standoff against cute robots.
Owo says they're "Dot-23s," the 31st Century version of the Dot-bots first introduced in Discovery Season 2. They share the voice of actress Annabelle Wallis, who previously voiced Zora, a sentient version of the USS Discovery in the 2018 Short Treks episode, "Calypso." We also heard Zora's voice speak to Saru outright in the Season 3 episode "Forget Me Not."
Tilly and Owo realize that the advanced self-aware Sphere Data (from Season 2) has now stored itself inside of the Dot-23s. When Tilly says "You’re the Sphere Data, aren't you?" the bots say, "Indeed we are. Greetings. Hello...shall we retake the ship?"
The idea that the Sphere Data and the events of "Calypso" would become pivotal by the end of Discovery Season 3 shouldn't be super surprising. In Season 2, the entire reason the crew jumped ahead 930 years was to prevent the Sphere Data from being taken by a low-rent Borg, AI called "Control." Plus, the events of "Calypso," suggested that the Discovery would end-up in an unfamiliar far-flung future, meaning, friendly AI and time travel were always on the table for the DISCO gang. On top of all that, since the start of Season 3, Discovery has teased the larger importance of the Dot bots, by featuring them prominently in the imagery during the opening credits. This echoes a similar stunt in Season 2 when the opening credits featured innocuous crystals that everyone assumed were dilithium but actually turned out to be the pivotal Time Crystals that changed the entire direction of the series.
So, the Dot-bots are carrying the essence of the Sphere Data, which we know speaks with the voice of "Zora" from Short Treks. Is Discovery about to actually match-up with the events of "Calypso?" And if so, does that mean the crew is about to all evacuate the ship and leave it empty?
Is "Calypso" canon? Presumably, the Short Treks episode explicitly connects to Discovery Seasons 2 and 3. The Sphere Data from Season 2 began to explain how the Discovery could become sentient, and Season 3 has brought back Annabelle Wallis outright. Plus, a line cut from the finale version of "Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2," would have revealed that Starfleet replaced Control with an AI called "Zora."
Does that mean the events of "Calypso" will inevitably happen in Discovery? Maybe not.
At the start of Season 3, director Olatunde Osunsanmi said "It's not a one-for-one. What we see in 'Calypso' isn't going to necessarily happen throughout the rest of the season."
What's more, the USS Discovery has undergone cosmetic changes since "Calypso," including the addition of a new letter to its registry number. The version of the starship Discovery that we saw in "Calypso," is not the souped-up version of the ship from Season 3. Plus, in that episode, Zora says she had been alone for 1,000 years. If "Calypso" is in the future of Discovery Season 3, then that means it takes place in something close to the 43rd Century, or nearly double the amount of time the crew has already traveled.
This may mean we should consider "Calypso" as an Elseworlds-style Trek tale — something that foreshadows canon, but perhaps isn't really a part of it.
How Discovery can create a bridge to Short Treks – By the end of "There Is a Tide..." the stage is set for the USS Discovery and its sentient computer to end-up exactly in the same place (and time?) we find it in "Calypso." As of Episode 11, Saru, Culber, and Adira are trapped in the Verubin Nebula, which has a similar "lightning storm" feeling as the area of space where Discovery was "holding position" in "Calypso."
In Short Treks, Zora said that the Captain told her to maintain position, but Zora didn't reveal who the Captain was at that point. It's possible she could have been talking about Tilly. If we overlook the slight cosmetic differences between the Short Treks version of the ship and the Season 3 Discovery version, other things start to match up.
If Tilly does order the entire ship to be evacuated, and somehow gets the Discovery in a place where it could be hidden, then it stands to reason the crew had a good reason to evacuate right now. Osyraa and the Emerald Chain will stop at nothing to replicate the Spore Drive on the ship, so actually being on the ship is something of a liability. If Tilly gives complete control to run Discovery (like we see in "Calypso") then the ship, could, in theory, go anywhere it wants, by itself. As far as Zora telling Craft that she's been alone for 1,000 years, it's possible she was just lying to cover for the crew. 930 years is the jump between Discovery Season 2 and Season 3, so perhaps Zora was using that figure and exaggerating?
In any case, by Season 4 of Star Trek: Discovery may have established its most important reoccurring character yet — the ship itself!
The Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 finale airs on CBS All Access January 7.