Star Trek: Discovery season 2 – Release date, cast, timeline and everything you need to know

Warning: This article contains spoilers for the first season of Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery is definitely coming back for season two, which is exciting news – season one went from strength to strength, with twists and mini-reboots keeping the series fresh.

Season one came to a close after a second half filled with twists, big deaths and adventures in the Mirror Universe, with the show delivering a thrilling final reveal before the credits rolled.

But what else awaits us in the second season? Here’s everything we know so far.

Star Trek Discovery season 2 release date: When do we next get more Trek?

Co-creator Alex Kurtzman explained back in late 2017 that season two wouldn’t land until 2019 at the earliest. “Breaking story is, in some ways, the easier and faster thing; it’s the ability to execute on it that’s much harder. We want to take the right amount of time and don’t want to rush,” he outlined.

Where’s a warp drive (or even a spore drive) when you need one?

Production officially got underway in late April 2018, with Kurtzman in the director’s chair on the season premiere. The second season is expected to run for 13 episodes, though that could always be extended – the first season had its initial order increased by two, taking it to 15 episodes.

A rough launch date of January 2019 was confirmed in October, with the official date soon after being announced as January 17 (or January 18 on Netflix in the UK).

To bridge the gap before season two’s premiere, we’re being treated to a series of Star Trek shorts – known, appropriately enough, as Short Treks. These mini-episodes won’t be available to UK fans watching via Netflix, but you can read Digital Spy‘s recaps of what happens right here.

Star Trek Discovery season 2 cast: Who’s in it?

Despite being partly inspired by Game of Thrones, Discovery didn’t end up killing off that many major characters in the second half of the first season.

One big exit though was Jason Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca after it was revealed that he was actually from the Mirror Universe and after he attempted a coup, he was stabbed and thrown into a ship’s reactor by the Mirror Universe’s Emperor, Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh).

Isaacs is up for a return though and Kurtzman confirmed to EW following the finale that Lorca could return (somehow) to the show, so we might be seeing him again. (Maybe we’ll meet the Lorca from the Prime Universe?)

Same goes for Yeoh, since Georgiou was allowed to roam free after Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) brought her over from the Mirror Universe – and we haven’t seen the last of Wilson Cruz’s Hugh Culber either, despite the character’s controversial death.

All we can say for sure about season two is that we’ll see all of the USS Discovery’s crew return so alongside Martin-Green, that includes Doug Jones (Saru), Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets) and Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly).

And while the show didn’t kill off Shazad Latif’s Ash Tyler after the expected reveal that he was the Klingon Voq, he is no longer on board the USS Discovery as he chose to join L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) as she united the Klingons.

“For Tyler, he’s trying to find his place in the universe,” Latif has said. “He’s an outsider. He’s not with the Klingons, he’s not with Starfleet, but he’s sort of with both of them so he’s just in limbo. He’s just trying to find his place. I don’t think somebody who’s been torn apart – literally – can ever do that. So it’s quite a difficult place to be, and emotional for him. But he’ll do his best, because he’s a soldier.”

Kurtzman has confirmed that they have “great plans for [Tyler] in season two”, so Latif will be back, even though the Federation-Klingon War has ended. (The Klingons will in fact be back in force, and with “a completely new look”, in season two.)

As for new additions, the most notable has to be Ethan Peck, who’s stepping into Leonard Nimoy’s shoes (and donning his prosthetic ears) to play iconic Star Trek character Spock.

“The great Leonard Nimoy, then the brilliant Zachary Quinto, brought incomparable humanity to a character forever torn between logic and emotion,” said Alex Kurtzman. “We searched for months for an actor who would, like them, bring his own interpretation to the role. An actor who would, like them, effortlessly embody Spock’s greatest qualities, beyond obvious logic: empathy, intuition, compassion, confusion, and yearning.”

Stand-up comic and actress Tig Notaro will be guesting in the new episodes as Chief Engineer Denise Reno of the USS Hiawatha (a ship that has so far only been seen in the video game Starfleet Command).

Javier Botet, a Spanish actor who played the terrifying Niña Medeiros in the REC films and Slender Man in the 2018 movie of the same name, is also joining Discovery in an unknown role – though he’ll almost certainly be covered in prosthetics to play an alien.

Perhaps the most notable changes for season two will happen behind, rather than in front of, the camera: in June 2018, it was announced Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts would be stepping down as showrunners, with Alex Kurtzman stepping in Discovery‘s sole showrunner.

Though this sudden change occurring midway through production provoked concern amongst fandom, CBS said in a statement, “Discovery remains on course for season two in 2019 with new and continuing stories that build on its successful premiere season.”

Star Trek Discovery season 2 timeline: Where does the show fit?

One element that’s confused fans throughout season one is the timeline.

We’ve seen major differences between what’s happening in Discovery and how it’ll eventually line up with the original series (which starts 10 years after the events in Discovery) – but we shouldn’t worry too much as Kurtzman clearly has a plan.

“We are wildly aware of everything that appears to be a deviation from canon. We will close out each of those issues when we close out our ten-year period and hit TOS,” he said.

Part of that plan was the big reveal at the end of the first season that saw the USS Discovery answer a distress call from none other than the USS Enterprise and Captain Pike.

“I think with Enterprise’s arrival in the finale we recognise that the audience has a lot of questions about our synchronicity with the original series, which really means our synchronicity with canon,” he outlined.

“So the promise of the Enterprise holds the answers to a lot of those questions, including Spock’s relationship with his half-sister who he’s never mentioned.”

“The relationship between Spock and Burnham is very complicated,” Sonequa Martin-Green has said. “It’s going to require a lot of work. I appreciate how they’ve laid it out because it is not easy. It’s very raw. We really delve into it as deep as we possibly can, so I’m really looking forward to people seeing it.”

Trek veteran Jonathan Frakes – known for playing Riker on TNG and for directing multiple episodes and movie spin-offs- has since let slip that, along with the recast adult version, a young Spock will also feature in season two, appearing opposite a young Burnham in flashbacks.

As for Pike, will he be a ‘fully fledged character’ next season? According to Aaron Harberts, If there ever were to be a captain from canon that one could explore… Christopher Pike would certainly be that one.”

Inhumans star Anson Mount was confirmed to be playing Discovery‘s version of Pike in April 2018 (replacing Jeffrey Hunter, who of course played the part in Star Trek‘s original unaired pilot).

Rebecca Romijn is also joining the cast, taking over the role of Pike’s second-in-command Number One from original actress. Majel Barrett-Roddeberry.

As for who else is aboard the Enterprise, Kurtzman has teased that there’ll be “some surprises there” for fans – but again, don’t expect Discovery to defy established canon.

In May 2018, executive producer Gretchen J Berg reiterated that “a lot of consideration has been put into” making sure the show will fit into the timeline, with “no loose ends”, with Kurtzman confirming in July that season two of Discovery would settle any continuity quibbles.

“We know we owe you a lot of answers about how this connects to canon, and you will get those answers this season,” he said. “You’re just not going to get them the way you expect them.”

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Star Trek: Discovery season 2 plot: What can we expect?

The Enterprise will play a significant role in season two though, but Kurtzman has promised that it will not “overshadow” the USS Discovery.

Away from the Enterprise, Harberts has promised that season two will feel more like traditional Trek: “We have time to do things like more away missions, newer planets. These are stories that might fall a little bit more into a framework of allegory that people love to get from Trek.”

Section 31 – a clandestine organisation which claims to protect the security interests of the United Federation of Planets – is expected to play a major role in Discovery‘s second season.

First introduced in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Section 31 features in a deleted scene cut from Discovery‘s first scene finale, as Mirror Georgiou is approached by the mysterious Leland (Alan Van Sprang), who is looking to recruit her.

“It was the cliffhanger from season 1, and they pulled it and made it the season 2 teaser trailer,” Van Sprang later revealed, adding that Section 31 and his character, the organisation’s chief, will be “a massive part” of the new episodes.

But there are currently no plans to revisit the Mirror Universe, with Gretchen J Berg explaining, “The Mirror Universe was perfect for season one, because one of the themes of the season was literally self-discovery for Michael Burnham, figuring out who she was.

“In order to return to Mirror, we would have to have a really good reason to go, better than the reason that we went this year.”

In terms of structure, we can expect the new run of episodes to continue with the first season’s structure of having standalone stories that fit within a larger plot. “It will be serialised, yes, always, but we do love the idea of getting to do individual episodes in the context of a serialised storyline, and you can look forward to more of that,” Harberts told EW.

“What was great about watching fan reaction last year was still realising how much people love the standalone episode,” executive producer Heather Kadin echoed. “So we made sure this year to still have our cake and eat it too.”

Discovery season two will also have “a very different tone” to the first run of episodes, with “a lot more levity” according to the cast and creative team.

“Obviously we were at war last season, so there was a really specific pace to it, [and] things were very serious,” Kurtzman has said. “There are certain things that we now have a lot more time for. I think some of the best Trek episodes are philosophical exploration of ideas and situations and we have more time for that this season.

“There’s more humour. Also, the characters were getting to know each other last year in a way that they already have firmer relationships with each other now. So we can build on that. It’s now a bridge crew family and a lot of the things that are going to happen this season are going to test them as a family.”

“There’s a lot more levity this season, because the war is over,” agreed Sonequa Martin-Green. “So there’s time to joke and laugh and smile and have fun. So while [this season[ is deeply emotional, it also has a lot more light-heartedness to it as well, which I think people will enjoy.”

Star Trek: Discovery season 2 trailer: When will it land?

CBS All Access offered a sneak peek at the new episodes during its Comic-Con Internationalpanel on July 20, 2018.

The trailer sees Pike assume command of the Discovery, taking control because little red bursts of energy have been popping up across 30,000 light years of space, and Starfleet isn’t sure if they’re “a greeting or a declaration”.

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While the crew investigate those strange energy bursts, Burnham learns from Pike that her half-brother Spock had disappeared from Starfleet, supposedly because he’d “run into a question he couldn’t answer“.

“Spock is linked to these signals, and he needs help,” Burnham concludes.

A second trailer dropped in October, giving us our first official look at Ethan Peck as the new Spock.

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