Star Trek: Discovery's Time Jump Let the Show "Totally Rewrite the Rules," Says Showrunner

Star Trek: Discovery Season Three's time jump allowed the show's writers to change the game for the Paramount+ streaming series. Star Trek: Discovery began its journey as a prequel set a decade before Star Trek: The Original Series. The show found ways to tell exciting new stories within the confines of established Star Trek continuity for two seasons. Still, as the show's characters and concepts developed, the writers desired more freedom to take the series in whatever direction they wanted with less worry about possibly disrupting the established Star Trek timeline. The simplest way to do that was the take Discovery where Star Trek had never gone before, well beyond the previous timeline endpoint of Star Trek: Nemesis, 930 years into the future of the 32nd century.

“The idea that the crew had to jump to the furthest timeline that had ever existed in anything Star Trek would allow us to totally rewrite the rules and create a whole new set of variables that the team would suddenly have to deal with, that they were both prepared for and totally ill-prepared for,” Star Trek: Discovery co-showrunner Alex Kurtzman explained during a post-screening Q&A segment with Variety.

Star Trek: Discovery is, of course, still a Star Trek show, which meant having to make sure this new era was recognizably Star Trek. The show's third season saw Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) first searching for Discovery, then for Starfleet, and finally for an answer to the mystery of "The Burn," the cataclysmic event that altered the galaxy and all but destroyed the Federation. In its fourth season -- which wrapped writing recently and continues filming in Toronto -- newly-promoted Captain Burnham will lead the efforts to reforge the Federation's broken bonds. Speaking previously to, Kurtzman's fellow showrunner Michelle Paradise explained what it means to have Burnham in Discovery's captain's chair.

"Burnham, it feels like when you cast someone like Sonequa [Martin-Green] in the Number One role, you're just waiting for the day when she's going to take the captain seat. And we knew going into season three that that's where we wanted to take her at the very end of the season. But I think being captain, in some ways you don't answer to people in the same way, but in some ways, you still have to answer to people… "And then the question of, 'Now, what?' She's grown in many ways over the course of these three seasons and in new ways over the course of season three, and what does that mean for her now? And how can she continue to grow moving forward, even as she's a captain? Those are the things that we get to explore now moving forward that I'm super excited about."

Star Trek: Discovery's first three seasons are streaming now on Paramount+.