Star Trek: Discovery takes place 10 years before the events of The Original Series, but there are a few grey areas regarding continuity between the two series.
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for everything that has happened in Discovery leading up to the fifth episode.]
Discovery focuses on Michael Burnham, a mutinous former commander aboard the U.S.S Shenzhou who is being forced to work in the engineering bay of the U.S.S. Discovery following an attack on her late captain, Georgiou. While Burnham has nothing to do with the U.S.S. Enterprise, her adoptive father, Sarek, is also the father of a famous Vulcan, Spock. We know that Spock exists in the same timeline as Burnham, but Discovery producer Akiva Goldsman confirmed that Discovery viewers will never see Spock.
The producer did, however, address continuity concerns people have about Discovery. Goldsman said he was aware that Discovery could potentially catch up with The Original Series and, if that were to happen, the show would acknowledge The Original Series’ timeline in some fashion. Until that point, Goldsman said Discovery will exist within its own universe.
“We are the original timeline with the TV shows and movies that fit into that,” Goldsman said during a press conference at New York Comic Con. “We are wildly aware of everything that appears to be a deviation from canon and we will close out all of those issues before they arrive at the 10-year period and hit The Original Series.”
Rather than focus on the continuity and timeline that Discovery operates within, Goldsman said the heart of the series is the characters that exist within it. As one of the only Star Trek shows to be considered a “wholly serialized narrative,” instead of a serialized series with episodic fillers, Discovery’s producers can focus on telling stories in-depth in ways that former series couldn’t.
“We get to focus on character story over plot,” Goldsman said. “If Kirk had to deal with Edith [Keeler]’s death as if it were real, it would take a season or a series. It wouldn’t take a week. The gift we have with contemporary story is that we can stretch those feelings out over a season. It is how these people discover who they are and as a representation of the Federation reaffirming who it is. You get the gift of getting to start somewhere which is different from where you end.”
Star Trek: Discovery is one of CBS’ most popular series on its streaming platform, All Access, and reaction from fans has been relatively positive. Polygon asked showrunner Alex Kurtzman if negotiations for a second season were going well, and Kurtzman confirmed we should be hearing more about a renewal very soon. If the show continues to find success, there’s no reason it couldn’t go for another five or more years, making the chance of the Enterprise coming up in conversation more likely than not.
Star Trek: Discovery airs Sundays at 8:30 p.m. ET on All Access.
Update: An earlier version of this story misquoted Goldsman. The story has been updated to reflect these changes.