It’s been a little over a month since Star Trek: Discovery’s series finale, “Life, Itself,” was released for streaming on Paramount+. If you still haven’t had a chance to watch it, you’ll want to go to Black Alert and spore drive off this page right now, because it contains spoilers for the show’s conclusive episode.

That’s because for this week’s Trek Tuesday, we’ve examined the connection between the Star Trek: Short Treks episode “Calypso” and the Discovery series finale. Let’s fly!

Burnham in the center seat in the Star Trek Discovery series epilogue.

Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/Paramount+.

“Calypso” 

First of all, what is “Calypso”? It’s the second episode of Short Treks, which was originally released in November 2018. It is based on a story by Sean Cochran and Michael Chabon, with a teleplay by Chabon. It was directed by Olatunde Osunanmi, who also directed the Discovery series finale. Further, he directed 13 additional episodes of Discovery and 1 other episode of Short Treks.

Before we discuss the content of “Calypso,” let’s consider the title. In Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton, Calypso is first mentioned when Zeus promises Athena he’ll send Hermes to compel Calypso to send Odysseus on his way. Odysseus had been trapped on Calypso’s island since his ship had wrecked nearby. When Hermes arrived, he found a “lovely island which had become for Odysseus a hateful prison.” Hermes delivered Zeus’ message to Calypso, who was disappointed but nevertheless compelled to yield to Zeus.

RELATED: Star Trek: Picard – How Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends Influenced the Series

Calypso did not have a ship or crew, so she assisted Odysseus in constructing a raft. Furthermore, she ensured this raft was stocked with the supplies Odysseus would need for his journey. Eventually, she sent him on his way; later still, Odysseus reached his ultimate destination by successfully returning home.

Craft on Short Treks. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS © 2018 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.

Craft.

The story of the episode “Calypso” loosely follows this same plot. Craft (Aldis Hodge) is drifting in a suspended animation pod. This pod drifts by and is picked up by the USS Discovery. Once aboard, Craft meets the ship’s sentient computer, Zora (Annabelle Wallis). Over an indeterminate period of time, Craft and Zora grow close. Eventually, Zora provides Craft with a shuttlecraft and sends him along on his journey home to his homeworld, wife and child.

“Calypso” Context

Originally, “Calypso” was released between Discovery seasons 1 and 2. For many years, Trekkies wondered how it fit into the Disco timeline. Attempting to decipher chronological clues in the episode grew more complicated over time. For example, Craft states that Zora’s orders to remain in location were issued by a captain who had “been dead for a thousand years.” This seemed to imply something different that it does today back when the show was set in the 22nd century.

But in the epilogue of the Discovery series finale, context was finally delivered. It is revealed that this epilogue is when Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) issues the orders alluded to by Zora above. This places the timeframe of the episode in the 42nd century. This is even further into the future than Star Trek: Voyager’s “Living Witness,” previously the furthest into the future of Star Trek’s timeline we’d glimpsed.

RELATED: Star Trek: Prodigy Season 2: 8 Legacy Connections

According to an interview with Variety, showrunner (and series finale co-writer) Michelle Paradise says that “Calypso” was planned as “the central narrative engine for [Discovery] season 6.” 

The show crew didn’t learn that Discovery Season 5 would be the conclusive season until after production had been completed. However, they were afforded the opportunity to return to create the 15-minute epilogue that closes out “Life, Itself.” Determined not to leave “Calypso” without context, Paradise says they “knew that we wanted to somehow tie that back up.” Thus, the epilogue of “Life, Itself” not only shows Burnham issuing the orders to Zora. The epilogue also briefly explains why the ship has been restored to its 22nd century appearance in “Calypso” after being refurbished upon arrival in the 32nd.

Disco Analysis

Agent Daniels AKA Kovich on Star Trek: Discovery. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Kovich.

Given these pieces, and the ones given to us in “Life, Itself,” one can begin hypothesizing about some of the elements we would have seen in Discovery Season 6. For one thing, “Life, Itself” reintroduced the legacy time-traveling character Agent Daniels. Actually, Daniels has been in front of our eyes on Discovery for several seasons. In the 32nd century, he goes by the name Kovich (David Cronenberg). After revealing his identity as the Temporal Wars-entrenched agent first introduced in Star Trek: Enterprise, Kovich recruits Burnham and Cleveland “Booker” Book (David Ajala) to the team in the episode’s final pre-epilogue moments.

Remember, everything before the epilogue was filmed when the show crew thought they’d be returning for Discovery Season 6. Therefore, this was the groundwork for the next season, which would see our heroes traversing time instead of space. This may help explain why the spore drive was retired in Discovery Season 5: perhaps the next season would have seen Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) coming up with a form of temporal travel instead.

RELATED: 8 Star Trek: Discovery Episodes That Prove DISCO Will Never Die

Burnham and the Discovery crew working on temporal missions? It’s easy to imagine that they might have to convert the ship back to its 22nd century design in order to complete one. This could have meant there was an episode or even a season-long subplot that would have explained why Discovery had to be returned to its original state.

Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Short Treks

What if “Calypso” had been part of the Discovery Season 6 subplot? Then maybe it wouldn’t have such a chilling implication. That implication is Zora’s ultimate fate. She’s meant to spend a millennium in a cloud, and then… what? 

While Burnham suggests a return to whatever Starfleet HQ has become after the mission is complete in the Discovery series finale, “Calypso” ends with Discovery still sitting alone in the nebula. Furthermore, dialogue suggests her equipment may be so badly damaged so as to make her return an impossible proposition, anyway. Perhaps if the “Calypso” storyline had been part of a full Discovery Season 6, less mortifying conclusions could have been achieved.

RELATED: Read all of our Star Trek: Discovery recaps here.

Discovery’s finale isn’t the only Star Trek episode to be released lately that connected to Short Treks. In Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 4’s penultimate episode, “The Inner Fight,” Captain Carol Freeman (Dawnn Lewis) visits a bar called “Mudd’s.” This leads to allusions to the Short Trek episode “The Escape Artist,” also written by Lower Decks creator Mike McMahan. And what about the final episode of Star Trek: Prodigy Season 2, “Ouruboros, Part II”? There, we see the cadets’ perspective during Starfleet Academy events that were originally depicted in Short Treks’ “Children of Mars.”

What did you think of the connection between Short Treks’ “Calypso” and Discovery’s “Life, Itself”? Do you hope we get another season of Short Treks in the future? Be sure and let Geek Girl Authority know in the comment section.

All 5 seasons of Star Trek: Discovery and both seasons of Star Trek: Short Treks are currently available for streaming on Paramount+.

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Avery Kaplan