"Star Trek: Discovery/Doctor Who Crossover Christmas Special": The Gift That Keeps on Giving [OPINION]
As a devout fan of both BBC's Doctor Who and CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery, I am facing at least another seven months without new episodes of either show…
Woe is me.
Adding insult to injury? For a second year in a row, Christmas Day will come and go without a Doctor Who special. To console myself and lovers of female-led science fiction television everywhere (and who isn't, am I right?), I have crafted the Star Trek: Discovery/Doctor Who Crossover Christmas Special we all deserve.
So crank up the AC, light a fire in the fireplace, pour yourself some eggnog, and join me for "A Doctor, A Time, and A Place."
Part 1: When Michael Burnham Met the Thirteenth Doctor
The episode opens with a silent visual of Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) in the Red Angel suit seconds after she was sucked into the temporal distortion – the flashing lights of time and space flying soundlessly by. Suddenly, we hear the TARDIS. The blue box materializes around Burnham. As the view switches to the inside of the TARDIS, the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) uses her sonic screwdriver to pause the time crystal on Burnham's Red Angel suit. Michael steps out of her suit and yells at the Doctor for getting in the way and screwing up the Discovery's trip through time.
The Doctor hands Burnham a cup of tea and a biscuit and explains that through the "wibbly wobbly" of time, the Discovery is still following Burnham. The whole journey is just momentarily paused, frozen in time. The two women find common ground in having a crew of people they love, and the responsibility of leading that crew into danger. Both carry the weight of the world (or universe) on their shoulders – even if they deal with it differently.
Burnham is distracted by thoughts of her mother, Dr. Gabrielle Burnham. Michael wonders if she has what it takes to make the hard choices when it comes to saving the universe. The Doctor suggests a test, she will use the TARDIS to assist Burnham in investigating her past, present, and future decisions. Right before they fire up the TARDIS, the Doctor explains that the trip will take them to three fixed points in time along Burnham's timeline, points in which the outcome cannot be altered.
Part 2: Michael Burnham Past
The first stop is the night on Doctari Alpha when Michael's parents, Gabrielle and Mike Burnham (Kenric Green), were supposedly killed in a Klingon attack. A child when the attack happened, Michael hid in a closet and survived. Last season, Leland (Alan Van Sprang) didn't believe that the Red Angel could be Gabrielle Burnham because he saw her body on Doctari Alpha after the attack. In the Doctor and Michael's trip back, we finally see why.
During the attack, Dr. Burnham arrives in her Red Angel suit outside the closet where young Michael is hiding. Gabrielle is killed still wearing her Red Angel suit. Michael realizes that for all of the seemingly cold decisions Dr. Burnham made for the greater good, she sacrificed her life for Michael in the end. You can see it on Michael's face, the moment she realizes that her mother will someday travel to the past and never return.
Part 3: Michael Burnham Present
From Doctari Alpha, the Doctor and Burnham travel to the Michael's present. However, instead of being within the time anomaly or even on the Discovery, Michael and the Doctor find themselves in a secret Section 31 facility on Earth. The Doctor uses her sonic screwdriver to pull up the debrief statements from everyone that was at that final battle between Discovery, the Enterprise, and the Section 31. Michael listens as her friends, colleagues, brother, foster parents, former Captain, and former boyfriend all discuss her heroic death. Then, Burnham discovers that Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif) is collecting all possible data on Red Angel or Discovery sightings. He is still looking her her.
In that moment, Burnham realizes that despite her mistakes, including at the Battle of the Binary Stars, her recent actions prove she is a mature, level-headed officer capable of making the hard decisions when it counts. She is not her mother, or her adopted father, or her commanding officers, she is Commander Michael Burnham.
Part 4: Michael Burnham Future
Finally, the Doctor sets the TARDIS for the 32nd century, Burnham's expected destination once she exits the temporal distortion. The TARDIS lands in the cargo bay of a very different Discovery. Disguised in uniforms, the Doctor and Burnham see old friends and new species of aliens. Most shocking of all, there are Klingons now serving on the Discovery. And they look like regular, The Next Generation/Deep Space Nine Klingons! Then in a fitting twist, the ship's computer has merged with the Sphere data and is a fully sentient artificial intelligence.
By the time the Doctor and Burnham are filing back into the TARDIS, Burnham is once again feeling hopeful for the future. She no longer fears that she has led her friends and crew members into certain doom. We never learn who is in command of the Discovery, or what has become of Burnham herself in the 32nd century, but the Doctor will not show Michael anything else. Spoilers and all that.
Part 5: Michael Burnham Confronts Her Future
In a rare moment of precision, the Doctor maneuvers the TARDIS back to the exact time and location where it first picked up Michael. Burnham dons the suit, the Doctor reactivates it, and Michael is thrown out of the TARDIS doors and back into the silent, colorful temporal distortion. The TARDIS and the Doctor disappear, having secured Earth's future once again.
Seconds later, the Red Angel suit, with Michael inside, is thrown into the stillness and darkness of space. Stars appear all around. We see Michael jolt and open her eyes within the suit as the Discovery appears behind her.
Was it a dream?
Did she really meet the Doctor and see the future?
Watch the Season 3 premier of Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access to find out…if only in our dreams.
Meanwhile, Back in 2019…
I hope you enjoyed my "ultimate Christmas Special" episode. In reality, Doctor Who and Star Trek: Discovery face very different situations when they premier new episodes in 2020.
Discovery is coming off of a highly-regarded second season that delved into nostalgia and turned canon on its ear. With the show's third season, writers and producers have an opportunity to explore the 32nd century. Now set in a timeline no previous Star Trek series has explored, Discovery will hopefully find renewed creative freedom.
Doctor Who returns in 2020 after an entire year without new episodes. After an excellent – though some would say divisive – first season with the Thirteenth Doctor, showrunner Chris Chibnall is facing renewed criticism from several sides. Fans of Whittaker's Doctor are upset with Chibnall's slow production speed and shortened seasons. Critics of last season blame Chibnall for… well… everything. Viewers are hoping for a more balanced, action-packed, and consistent Series 12.
CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery and BBC's Doctor Who are set to return in 2020.