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'Star Trek: Discovery' Returns for Season 2! Here's Everything You Need to Know

Spoiler ganglia are tingling! 

The second season of "Star Trek: Discovery" will be back on your screens via CBS All Access this Thursday evening at 8:30 p.m. EST.

After almost a year, "Star Trek: Discovery" will boldly re-enter our lives for a sensational new season of cosmological capers and intergalactic adventure. But before we look ahead to Season 2, let's look back at some of the significant events of Season 1. Are you sitting comfortably? ... Then we shall begin. [A Closer Look at the New 'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 2 Trailer]

Cmdr. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) goes on a scientifically implausible spacewalk in Star Trek: Discovery.
(Image credit: CBS)

It all starts in 2256, when the USS Shenzhou, under the command of Capt. Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) is called to a binary star system to investigate a damaged interstellar relay — damaged, we later learn, by the Klingons. Unfortunately, First Officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is forced to kill a Klingon while on a spacewalk at the site. When a Klingon ship decloaks, Georgiou disregards her first officer's advice to engage them immediately. Burnham's logic is that Vulcans have used preemptive strikes in the past to meet threats from the Klingons. Apparently, this has had more success than just trying to do the whole talk-talk-talk thing. In desperation, Burnham tries to mutiny aboard the USS Shenzhou.

Nonetheless, Georgiou attempts peace talks and they are invariably ignored. More Klingon ships arrive, and from his flagship, the Klingon T'Kuvma persuades the leaders of all the Houses of the Klingon Empire that he can lead them to victory over the Federation. Thus, the Battle of the Binary Star begins, and so does the Klingon-Federation War. The USS Shenzhou is destroyed and Capt. Georgiou is killed. However, Burnham survives, and she's court-martialed by Starfleet for her attempted mutiny, which is justified — and also for starting the war, which is a bit unfair. 

The prison shuttle transporting Burnham is intercepted by the USS Discovery, which is under the command of Capt. Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs). And so begins a gradual, gripping series of events that unfold over 13 more episodes. Lorca is not what he seems to be, and the Discovery is using a brand-new technology called the "displacement activated spore hub drive," or DASHD, which enables it to travel basically anywhere in the universe nearly instantaneously … and, as we discover later on, interdimensionally. 

Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) sits in the captain's chair, with Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) to the right on "Star Trek: Discovery."
(Image credit: Jan Thijs/CBS)

We gradually get to know a whole host of great characters who inhabit Discovery, from Lt. Saru (Doug Jones) and Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) to Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) and Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp).

We see Stamets learn to control the spore drive by physically interacting with it. We meet a Starfleet officer held aboard a Klingon prison ship by the name of Lt. Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif), who may or may not harbor a dark secret. And we also meet the enigmatic, the charismatic, the mesmerizing and memorable, the one and only Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Rainn Wilson).

Despite a blossoming relationship with Burnham, it turns out that Tyler does indeed harbor a dark secret. Though he’s not consciously aware, he's actually a Klingon called Voq who underwent an agonizing surgical procedure called choH'a', making him look human. Working with another Klingon, L'Rell (Mary Chieffo) Tyler assumes the identity of a captured Starfleet officer and a sleeper agent intent on infiltrating the Federation.

Ash Tyler (played by Shazad Latif) in "Star Trek: Discovery" Episode 9, "Into the Forest I Go."
(Image credit: Jan Thijs/CBS)

And that isn't the only twist. Those niggling little doubts we had regarding Lorca's real intentions are fully justified when he uses the spore drive to take the unwitting crew of the USS Discovery into the Mirror Universe.

The "Mirror Universe" is another name for a parallel universe first visited by Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) and several officers from the USS Enterprise in 2267, during "Star Trek: The Original Series." This alternate reality coexists with the prime universe but lies on another dimensional plane. It was so named because people and places seemed to be opposites, with numerous good aspects now evil and vice versa — and thus, it's "mirror"-like. 

It is here that we are introduced to her most Imperial Majesty, Mother of the Fatherland, Overlord of Vulcan, Dominus of Qo'noS, Regina Andor, Emperor Philippa Georgiou Augustus Iaponius Centarius. To give her her full title. 

Yup, it's Georgiou. She's back. And in this reality, Burnham is her adopted daughter. She tells Burnham what we've come to suspect … Lorca is indeed from the MU. He fled to the prime reality to avoid the death penalty for an attempted coup d'état. And then, like that scene in "The Usual Suspects," the clues fall into place. Burnham becomes more and more horrified as she puts the pieces together.

Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) is escorted through the Terran Emperor's ship in Episode 12 of "Star Trek: Discovery."
(Image credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/CBS)

Lorca escapes imperial custody aboard Emperor Georgiou's powerful ship and releases his imprisoned crew, who are loyal to his cause. He tries again to overthrow the Imperial Emperor, and everything goes haywire. Georgiou and Burnham team up to fight Lorca, and after a little megalomaniacal monologue, Lorca is first impaled by the full length of the Emperor's sword and is then cast unceremoniously into space, falling into the spore drive reactor and disintegrating into subatomic particles. [6 'Star Trek' Captains, Ranked from Worst to Best]

With MU Georgiou in tow, Burnham makes it back to the USS Discovery; they engage the spore drive and re-emerge in the Prime Universe … only things aren't exactly how they left them. While everyone was away, the Klingon-Federation War has taken a turn for the worse — well, if you're not Klingon, anyway. Without Starfleet's "secret weapon" (the now depleted spore drive and the USS Discovery), the Federation has been unable to stem the Klingons' advance. 

In desperation, senior Federation officials, including Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) and Sarek (James Frain), take Georgiou's advice.

"The Klingons are like cancer cells, constantly dividing. To root them out, you must destroy the tumor at its source. How much do you know about Qo'noS?" Georgiou says.

So a plan is hatched to attack the Klingon homeworld by planting a powerful bomb in an active volcano system, which will render the planet uninhabitable. However, within the away team only Georgiou knows of the real plan when they set out. Once on the planet's surface, when Burnham learns of the real plan, she manages to convince Georgiou to not deliver the device. 

The detonation codes are given to L'Rell instead, who in turn addresses the Klingon council and says the Empire must unite to avoid total destruction. All the while, she's waving the detonator about — which she could actually set off.

Georgiou is given her freedom and slips away into the shadows. Tyler says goodbye to Burnham and goes off to help L'Rell. Finally, Sarek hops on board the Discovery as they go to drop him off on Vulcan and simultaneously pick up the new captain of the USS Discovery. Poor Saru never gets a break.

But along the way, they pick up a distress signal … from … from …

… the USS Enterprise. Oh, yes. The Enterprise is under the command of Capt. Christopher Pike (Anson Mount). We see the two ships rendezvous and then … Season 1 ends. [USS Enterprise Evolution in Photos: The Many Faces of Star Trek's Starship]

Philippa Georgiou joins Section 31.
(Image credit: Russ Martin/CBS)

What's next

So, what can we look forward to? For starters, we get to see the legendary Constitution Class starship in action, and we get to see the character of Capt. Pike fleshed out.

Christopher Pike (originally played by Jeffrey Hunter) was captain of the USS Enterprise before Kirk, and his science officer was Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy). "Star Trek: Discovery" is set in 2256. Two years prior, in 2254, the USS Enterprise (under Pike's command) was tricked into traveling to Talos IV, supposedly because it was on a rescue mission. This story formed the very first pilot of "Star Trek: The Original Series" in 1966 and was called "The Cage."

The footage from this pilot was later — and very cleverly — reused for a new, two-part story called "The Menagerie," where we learn that Pike has been crippled by a very serious accident aboard a starship some 10 years after the events of "The Cage." Spock hijacks the Enterprise in order to fulfil Pike's last request that he be taken back to Talos IV, so he may live out the rest of his years as happily as he possibly can, in a Matrix-like state of mind without the burden of his damaged body.

Speaking to Space.com at New York Comic Con last year, Mount said, "Well, it's a new thing to have a beginning and an end and no middle to a character. And if we ever get to explore that, I think that the fun part would be, How do you get the character to that point in a way that's not a tragedy, but a triumph?"

All of this also means that we meet Mr. Spock (Ethan Peck), and he's got a boss beard. 

From what we know of the trailers, a strange phenomenon called "red angel" first wants to destroy all sentient life in the galaxy — and somehow, Spock is involved.

In addition to all these already amazing things to look forward to, we also get to see Georgiou, because she's been recruited by Section 31, a highly classified, clandestine branch of Starfleet. Plus, we get to see Pike's first officer, known as Number One and played by Rebecca Romijn. The role was originally played by Majel Barrett in the pilot, and sadly, the character never reappeared after that. 

Phew. That's a lot to get excited about.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham in "Star Trek: Discovery" Season 2.
(Image credit: Jan Thijs/CBS)

The first season of "Star Trek: Discovery" is available to stream in its entirety on CBS All Access in the U.S. and Netflix in the U.K. "Star Trek: Discovery" Season 1 is now available on Blu-ray.

The second season of "Star Trek: Discovery" will consist of 14 episodes with no midseason break. It will premiere on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, in the U.S. and Canada, and it will be released in the rest of the world on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019.

Follow Scott Snowden on Twitter. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on Space.com.

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