Where “Runaway” felt like an abandoned draft of a promising “Discovery” episode, “Calypso” feels like it could be the pilot for a whole new series of its own. Stretching the format of Short Treks, it tells what might be canon Trek’s most futuristic adventure, set some thousand years after the time of Discovery.
After waking up in an unfamiliar sickbay, Craft (Aldis Hodge) finds himself on board a deserted USS Discovery, with only the ship’s A.I. Zara (Annabelle Wallis) for companionship.
At first, you don’t really register that Discovery is deserted given that a skeleton crew was pretty much business as usual for season one but it soon becomes apparent that this isn’t quite the ship we know. The revelations unfurl slowly, as does the burgeoning relationship between the ship’s computer, who has named herself, and Craft, a lone survivor of an unspecified conflict which the ship discovered drifting in a damaged escape pod.
In and of itself, it’s a sweet tale of doomed romance and inevitable parting, riffing on Homer’s “Odyssey” in classic Trek style. But it’s in the episode’s wider implications that the real power of this near perfect slice of drama lies. Since it debuted with its impressive technology and abilities, one of the biggest nagging questions about “Star Trek: Discovery” is why has it never been mentioned before? Why are ships zipping around using spore drive technology in Kirk and Picard’s day? How come Spock never mentioned he had an adoptive sister (not that he was particularly forthcoming about his older half-brother either)? “Calypso” dares to suggest that something will eventually happen to Discovery, something that will leave it abandoned and drifting undiscovered for a thousand years. Now that’s the kind of consequences that I can well believe Starfleet would hush up and never mention again. Hell, if Discovery ever wants to abandon its prequel status and boldly go for some kind of plot MacGuffin-driven time jump into the far, far future for the rest of its run, on the strength of this, I’d be up for that. Mind you, I think Roddenberry already covered that, didn’t he – with “Andromeda”?