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Star Trek: Discovery season 2: How to watch, release date, cast, trailers and more

Everything we know about the ongoing CBS All Access series.

Jan Thijs/CBS

Star Trek: Discovery brought the Trek franchise back to television, or at least smaller screens, after years off air. The series was announced as a prequel to the original Star Trek, and it takes place about 10 years before that series. The first season also gave the classic character Spock a half-sibling, a move many decried as rewriting established canon.

The thing about canon, though, is that it can always evolve -- and Discovery continues to do just that. The first season gave us nearly unrecognizable Klingons, a revolutionary new mode of transportation thanks to mycelium spores, and Trek's first gay kiss. It also gave us a brand new show for fodder and growth about the massive Trek universes, be it Prime, Kelvin or other. In the beginning of October, ahead of season two, Star Trek: Short Treks premiered. Episode one is called "Runaway" and focuses on Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman); subsequent episodes will premiere through December.

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When will season 2 premiere?

Ahead of New York Comic-Con last weekend, CBS announced that season two will premiere in January 2019 and released a new poster with some cryptic symbolism. (Disclosure: CBS is CNET's parent company.) With the release of the latest season two trailer (above) and during the panel, we learned these red lights or bursts are actually some sort of euphoric alien entity which our protagonist is searching for.

How to watch Discovery

Season one is currently available to stream on CBS All Access if you're in the US, CraveTV in Canada and on Netflix in other countries. You'll also be able to purchase the Blu-ray and DVD beginning November (exact dates depend on where you are and what version you want to own).

When season two premieres, it will be exclusively on the above platforms, and we've confirmed that just like season one, just one episode will be available each week.

Star Trek: Discovery

Click here to watch Discovery on All Access.

Cast and crew: Who's returning?

Executive producer Alex Kurtzman also returns, this time with the added title of showrunner. We also know that Jonathan Frakes (who played Commander William Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation) will direct multiple episodes this season.

New cast members

That's right, the Enterprise will make her appearance on Discovery -- keep in mind this series is set 10 years before the original Star Trek, which means a look at a younger Pike and Number One.

Plot news, rumors and theories

While not a lot is known about season two, we have the first trailer to speculate about, plus a series of appearances since then that have illuminated a bit more about some potential storylines.

The return of an icon: Hello, Spock

Spock's only arriving for the second season, but he loomed large over half-sister Burnham throughout most of the first season. Over the summer, Martin-Green expressed her excitement about the casting addition. 

"It's incredible," she said during a panel at Fan Expo Canada. "I just think it's genius to have us be set where we are, 10 years before [The Original Series] and to have Burnham be connected to that institution that is the family of Sarek and Amanda and Spock. I just am so appreciative of it. It's so full. It's so full, it's wrought with everything. And then I end up being two degrees separated from Captain Pike and that's really interesting too, to be able to have that sort of connection to the canon. I really loved that because one of the things we are doing in our iteration, on Star Trek: Discovery, is being our own thing, but also keeping that connection with us in the canon and having that connective tissue. So, I really appreciate it, and it is juicy!"

Given the pre-TOS timeline of Discovery, it's unclear just how Spock-like this version of Spock will be. The San Diego Comic-Con trailer insinuated that the classic character's appearance would be connected to the "mysterious red bursts" seen in the trailer and now on the official poster.

At New York Comic Con in October, we learned even more about the "new" Spock, as Peck told CNET's Roger Cheng that we're seeing how Spock becomes that classic logical Vulcan: "The ultimate destination for this Spock is Nimoy's Spock, but we have to come from somewhere. Over the course of the season, you see him become the Spock that we love and know."

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

Pike is an influential figure in Trek lore, so it will be especially interesting to see how Mount's interpretation syncs up with (and differs from) the original canon.

Jan Thijs/CBS

Glowing red beings

Lights, bursts, whatever you call them we know they'll be at the heart of the mystery of season two. ComicBook.com speculated that they could be connected to the Kelvin Timeline, citing Burnham's quotes from the first trailer: "A secret made of space and time, visible only to those open enough to receive it." Pike also seems to hint that they drew Spock in and captivated him, "It's as if he'd run into a question he couldn't answer," he says in the trailer.

In the most recent trailer Spock says: "As a child, I had the same vision, again and again. Now I understand where it must lead."

The Kelvin timeline refers to the events of the film trilogy that began with Star Trek (2009), and stars Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Commander Spock, Zoe Saldana as Lt. Nyota Uhura and John Cho as Hikaru Sulu. In that series, Prime Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy once more) accidentally travels backward in time when he attempts to use red matter in his own timeline. The red matter may be an explanation for the beings in the trailer and on the latest poster.

I know this is going to sound crazy, but for me the first thing the "angelic symbol" on the latest poster called to mind was Romulans. Yes, Discovery takes place a century after the Earth-Romulan War, and that former co-showrunner Aaron Harberts insinuated long ago that the R-word was more or less banned from the writers room but (a) again, where tf did the Klingons get the cloaking tech from? And (b) Harberts is no longer a part of the show. And after seeing the Easter egg in the season one finale, I'd say all bets are off.

Aiming for the classics

At NYCC, the consensus seemed to be that season two is steering Discovery toward classic Trek. "[The different pace] allows us to explore some of the philosophical questions that great Trek has explored, that you don't have time to explore when you're at war," Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman said in an interview with CNET's Roger Cheng

In the peacetime of the new season, all signs point to a lighter Trek, with some funny moments already seen in the two trailers -- a sentiment echoed by the cast and crew in New York. "The humor comes from the characters knowing each other better now," Kurtzman said in the same interview. "So much of what we love about Trek is funny."

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Killy Tilly grows up

In a fresh roundup interviews promoting the Short Treks minisodes, Wiseman got into a bit more about her character, teasing the newly promoted officer's future. "Now that (Tilly is) in the command training program I'm trying to live up to that and kind of do a good job and succeed and that will also be a big part of season two," she told ComicBook.com.

Stepping into Killy Tilly's shoes last season was one of Wiseman's favorite moments, she told CNET this week. "People see something in her, her potential to be in command," Wiseman said, adding that Tilly is "completely herself, doesn't put on a front, and that's a quality people will follow." (While I think it's unlikely we'll see her again, I would not be mad about more Killy Tilly.) 

Remaining questions season two needs to answer

  • *How* is Dr. Culber back? Cruz has been cagey about the details of his return to the screen, and while I'm excited he'll appear in the season, the how will be important.
  • What really happened to the Spore Drive research? Sorry, but I do not believe a war-torn Federation just "let it go." 
  • Will we see more of Section 31? We know there was a deleted scene from the finale of season one which would've given us bit more about the secretive group, it definitely doesn't sound like it's the last we've seen of those striking half-black, half-silver badges. At WonderCon this year, Van Sprang said he knows Section 31 is a "massive part" of season two, but didn't provide any other details. During the most recent trailer though, we learned we will see both those black badges and Mirror Universe Georgiou's role within the group.
  • Do the Star Trek: Short Treks play into the continuity? I don't think so, but there's no way to know for sure until we see the Short Treks and season two. I'm never against in-canon shorts but it feels a bit like these are like mini-feelers or pilots for the announced Star Trek universe shows in development -- but I may be biased since I feel Aldis Hodge deserves more than just a short. 

This piece was originally published Oct. 2 and is updated we get more info or as we think of new questions that need answers.

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