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Feature Article

Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Starts Soon; Here's A Season 1 Story Recap

From the Federation-Klingon war to the Mirror Universe.

Star Trek: Discovery returns for a second season on CBS All Access on January 17. Before we jump into the new season, let’s recap the most important plot points of Season 1. Here is everything you need to know for Season 2.

Star Trek: Discovery made its series premiere back in September 2017, with a weekly release of 15 episodes in its first season. Season 1 takes place about a decade before Star Trek: The Original Series, and focuses on the crew of the USS Discovery during a war between the Federation and the Klingons.

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Michael Burnham

Season 1 follows Michael Burnham, who we first meet as First Officer of the USS Shenzhou. During an investigation of a damaged satellite, she finds an ancient vessel and is attacked by a Klingon, who she kills by accident. The Klingon soldier’s death motivates his group’s leader, T’Kuvma, to unite the Klingon houses against the Federation. Against her captain’s wishes, Burnham fires on the Klingons first in hopes of preventing a war. She fails--T’Kuvma kills Captain Georgiou, and Burnham then kills T’Kuvma. Burnham is arrested for mutiny and stripped of rank.

During a prison transfer after six months, Burnham’s shuttle has an emergency and is rescued by the USS Discovery. Captain Lorca, the ship's commander, asks Michael to work for him as a science specialist, helping Lt. Paul Stamets develop a new spore drive propulsion system that could help them win the war that she started. Burnham saves the tardigrade known as Ripper who is being tortured as a host for the spore drive. Burnham suggests a human host replacement, which ends up being Stamets, who injects himself with tardigrade DNA. It works, but takes a toll on him and isn’t a permanent solution.

By the end of Season 1, Michael undergoes a full redemption arc, from mutineer to getting pardoned by the president of the Federation after an act of diplomacy ends the war with the Klingons. She is reinstated as a Commander in Starfleet, and she becomes the Chief Science Officer of the Discovery.

Also, Michael is Spock’s foster sister, as Spock’s parents Sarek and Amanda took her in and raised her on planet Vulcan after she was orphaned at a young age. Her relationship with Spock will come into play in Season 2.

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Klingons

The Klingon species was redesigned and given more development in Season 1. We first meet the Klingon House of T’Kuvma, which possesses a ship with cloaking technology. T’Kuvma’s goal was to fulfill an ancient prophecy through uniting the 24 Klingon houses. This was once achieved by the first Klingon emperor, Kahless.

T’Kuvma is killed by Michael Burnham, which makes him a martyr and unites the Klingon Empire against the Federation. Voq, T’Kuvma’s torchbearer who was formerly an outcast, takes command of T’Kuvma’s ship, the Sarcophagus, with warrior L’Rell. After the ship is stranded for months without a working drive and is running out of food, Kol of House of Kor arrives with supplies. Voq and L’Rell go to retrieve components to repair the drive, but return to find that the crew have made Kol their new leader.

L’Rell pretends to submit to Kol but is secretly loyal to Voq, who is left to die on the wreck of the Shenzhou. She coordinates a way for him to get help from the House of Mo’ Kai. They put Voq through the worst surgery of all time so he can assume the identity of Lt. Ash Tyler, a captured human Starfleet officer. When the surgery is complete, Voq comes to believe he really is Ash Tyler. L’Rell places him on a prison ship with intentions to have him escape and return as a sleeper agent within Starfleet. He does, and becomes romantically involved with Michael Burnham. However his body can't handle both personalities, and L’Rell heals Ash by removing what was left of Voq’s memories.

Later, Emperor Georgiou from the Mirror Universe is brought back with Burnham posing as the presumed-dead Captain Georgiou--she plants a bomb deep within Qo’noS, the capital of the Klingon Empire. Michael Burnham gets the detonator and gives it to L’Rell, telling her to use it to coerce the Klingon High Council into ending the war with the Federation and making L’Rell the new leader of the Empire.

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Mirror Universe

In Episode 9, The Discovery makes one last spore drive jump to safety but arrives in the Mirror Universe. The jump renders Stamets unconscious and they are unable to jump again. This mirrorverse is ruled by the Terran Empire, led by Emperor Georgiou, the Mirror Universe version of Burnham's former commanding officer. They are a cutthroat, repressive government that rules by terror, quick to use torture as a form of discipline. They are opposed by a resistance made up of species including Vulcans and Klingons, with the mirror versions of Sarek and Voq among their leaders.

Burnham finds out that Captain Lorca of the Discovery is actually from the Mirror Universe, and has purposely been trying to get back to it. The mirror version of the Discovery has been hunting Lorca for the death of their captain: Michael Burnham. With his old crew, Lorca kills Georgiou’s men and takes over, but Georgiou returns and kills him.

In the mirrorverse, Michael Burnham was raised by Georgiou, but mirror Burnham was conspiring against her own adoptive mother with Lorca. Emperor Georgiou helps Burnham to return to her universe and offers to sacrifice herself, but Burnham saves her and they are transported back to the prime universe together.

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Where We Left Off

At the end of Season 1, the Federation-Klingon war ends and L’Rell becomes the new leader of the Klingon empire. The crew of the Discovery become heroes in the eyes of the Federation. Ash Tyler says goodbye to Burnham, and decides to join L’Rell on her journey. In the final moments of the first season, the Discovery sets course for Vulcan but receives a distress call from the USS Enterprise. From the trailer for season 2, we know that Captain Christopher Pike of the USS Enterprise will be taking command of the USS Discovery.

If you want to know what we thought about Season 1, go check out our spoiler review video above. And if you’re still confused about the mirrorverse, we explain the history of Star Trek’s Mirror Universe and the Terran Empire in this video. What are your hopes for Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery? Let us know in the comments below. Also, come back to GameSpot for our upcoming breakdowns of the first episodes of Star Trek: Discovery Season 2!

Disclosure: CBS is GameSpot's parent company.

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Chastity Vicencio

Senior Producer, Custom Content and Entertainment at GameSpot. Pop culture maven and karaoke MVP.
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