As part of the review of the first nine episodes of Season One I thought I would be great to create a timeline listing the major and minor events that have shaped the story of Discovery thus far. Also, we highlight those events we think will have an impact going forward. The dates of each event were either mentioned in an episode or are approximately indicated based on character statements and plausibility. Enjoy.
ca. 2156 – The last official encounter between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.
2226 – Michael Burnham is born on Earth.
Unknown Date – Michael’s parents are killed during a Klingon attack on Doctari Alpha. She is raised on Vulcan by Sarek and his human wife, Amanda Grayson.
Unknown Date – Burnham becomes the first Human to attend the Vulcan Learning Center.
2245 – Burnham enters the Vulcan Science Academy. She studies for four years and graduates at the top of her class.
2249 – Burnham applies to join the Vulcan Expeditionary Group. She is rejected on the basis of being a Human. At the advice of Sarek, Michael Burnham joins Starfleet and is assigned to the USS Shenzhou. She is mentored by Captain Philippa Georgiou.
Unknown Date – Gabriel Lorca is assigned as captain of the USS Buran.
May 11, 2256 – The Vulcan Hello: Investigating a damaged satellite near a binary star system on the edge of Federation space, the crew members of the USS Shenzhou discover an object obscured from their sensors. After First Officer Michael Burnham volunteers to investigate the object, she finds an ancient, carved vessel. She is attacked by a Klingon, and when trying to escape, she accidentally kills him. A group of Klingons mourn the death of their soldier, dubbed the “Torchbearer”, before the outcast Voq volunteers to take his place. The Klingons, led by T’Kuvma, reveal themselves in a cloaked ship. T’Kuvma preaches to his followers of the Federation’s attempts to usurp the individuality of the Klingons and their culture and plans to fulfill an ancient prophecy by uniting the 24 great Klingon houses as was once done by Kahless. Voq activates a beacon that summons the Klingon leaders. Burnham, desperate to prevent a war, attempts to fire on the Klingons first, against the wishes of Captain Philippa Georgiou. Burnham is arrested for mutiny.
Battle at the Binary Stars: T’Kuvma convinces the majority of the Klingon leaders that he can lead them to victory over the Federation, as reinforcements for the Shenzhou arrive. Georgiou offers to resolve the situation peacefully, but the Klingons immediately open fire. Starfleet Admiral Anderson arrives and again offers peace to the Klingons, but his ship is rammed by another cloaked Klingon vessel. Anderson has his ship self-destruct, destroying the Klingon ship as well. Starfleet retreats, leaving the Klingons to collect their dead. In the remains of the Shenzhou, Burnham escapes her cell after encouragement from her guardian Sarek via a telepathic connection. She convinces Georgiou to try to take T’Kuvma prisoner, and they create a distraction by sending an explosive into his ship with a Klingon corpse. Boarding the vessel, Burnham overpowers Voq. Georgiou attempts to capture T’Kuvma but is killed. T’Kuvma is fatally shot by Burnham, who is transported to safety. Voq promises that T’Kuvma’s legacy will live on. Burnham is later sentenced to life in prison for her mutiny.
Lt. Ash Tyler of the USS Yeager is captured by the Klingons during the battle. Although, there is no evidence that the Klingons captured anyone during the battle.
Unknown Date – Early in the war Lorca escapes and destroys the Buran and its entire crew rather than see them captured by the Klingons. He is the sole survivor. During the ship’s destruction, Lorca’s eyes are injured, making him sensitive to light.
Unknown Date – Lorca is given command of the USS Discovery, a science ship, with “broad discretionary powers” to execute his war strategies.
6 months later – Context is for Kings: Six months into her sentence, Burnham is on an unexpected prison transfer. The Discovery rescues Michael Burnham and other prisoners after their shuttle is nearly destroyed by a species that feeds on electricity. Spending several days on the ship, Burnham is ordered by its captain, the mysterious Gabriel Lorca, to assist with a scientific assignment. Burnham overhears Lieutenant Paul Stamets, an astromycologist who is leading the assignment, discuss an upcoming experiment with a colleague serving on another starship; Lorca is soon informed of an incident on the Discovery’s sister ship, the USS Glenn, that has killed the entire crew. Stamets leads a boarding party to investigate and finds the dead crew hideously twisted and malformed, as well as a group of Klingons that have been killed by an unknown creature. Lorca later asks Burnham to work for him, despite her sentence. He admits later on that the rescue was not by chance. Lorca planned to recruit Burnham. He also secretly has the creature transported aboard the Discovery.
Unknown Date – The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry: Lorca assigns Burnham to study the creature from the Glenn, dubbed a Tardigrade, to find a way to use its biology as a weapon. Starfleet orders Discovery to the dilithium mining colony Corvan II, which is under Klingon attack. Stamets is reluctant to make such a long jump using the spores, and when the drive is activated the ship nearly collides with a star. Lorca sends Commander Landry to keep Burnham’s research on track, and she attempts to sedate the Tardigrade (that she names Ripper) to cut off its claw; it kills her. Burnham believes that Ripper was acting in self-defense, and is drawn to the spores. Stamets and Burnham transport it to Engineering, where it connects to the spore drive and interfaces with the navigation system. The ship successfully makes the jump to Corvan II and saves the colony. On T’Kuvma’s stranded ship, Klingon leader Kol earns the loyalty of T’Kuvma’s desperate followers and leaves Voq to die in the wreckage of the Shenzhou. L’Rell, secretly loyal to Voq, promises a way for them to win the war for the house of T’Kuvma.
7 months later – Choose Your Pain: After participating in a strategy session with Starfleet Command, Captain Lorca is captured by the Klingons as he shuttles back to Discovery. Thrown into a cell he meets Harry Mudd, a not-so-honest Terran and a young Starfleet lieutenant Ash Tyler, the lone survivor of the U.S.S. Yeager, one of the Federation starships destroyed during the Battle at the Binary Stars. We discover the prison ship is under the command by L’Rell who tortures Lorca to force him to divulge how Discovery is able to appear instantaneously anywhere in the known universe. On the Discovery, Burnham, Stamets, and Tilly attempt to find an alternative to the Tardigrade. With each jump, the creature displays greater evidence of an adverse response, suffering more trauma and degrading of its physical condition. A sentient being must be found to replace it or the spore drive is useless.
Stamets becomes the alternative spore drive component to the Tardigrade. After brushing his teeth before going to bed, we see that his reflection does not walk away from a mirror when he does. This signals something has changed about Stamets.
Unknown Date – Lethe: Sarek and a Vulcan assistant embark on a secret mission to meet with Klingons representing two Houses that have recently broken away from Kol. The effort is intended to initiate a peace settlement with the Federation. However, Sarek is injured when the assistant is revealed to be a “logic extremist” and he attempts to assassinate him. A force field saves his life but he is severely wounded and rendered unconscious. On the Discovery Michael feels Sarek’s distress through the Katra-connection they share. Lorca gives her permission to try to save him with the assistance of Cadet Sylvia Tilly and Lt. Ash Tyler. Admiral Katrina Cornwell questions this decision and others that Lorca has made recently. Burnham attempts to connect with Sarek’s mind and finds him remembering the time that her application for the Vulcan Expeditionary Group (VEG) was rejected. She learns that the VEG would only admit one of Sarek’s children, and he chose Spock, his half-human son. Spock ultimately chose to join Starfleet, rendering Sarek’s decision futile. Burnham helps him regain consciousness and activate a locator beacon. Lorca and Cornwell sleep together, but she is concerned by his paranoid behavior and plans to take his command off him. With Sarek unable to meet the Klingons, Cornwell takes his place; however, the peace talks are actually a trap, and she is taken captive by Kol.
Lorca is seen doing some charting and mapping in his ready room.
Unknown Date – Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad: While attending a crew party, Burnham and Tyler are called to the bridge to deal with an endangered space creature that the Discovery has come across. When the creature is brought on board, it is revealed to be carrying a person: Harry Mudd. He plans to kill Lorca and sell the ship to the Klingons, but when he is caught he blows up the ship instead. Time returns to the party earlier, with Burnham and Tyler called to the bridge again. They are intercepted by Stamets, who is aware that they are in a time loop due to his interactions with Ripper. Over several time loops, Stamets works with Burnham and Tyler to find a solution to the problem while Mudd gets further in his plan each time. They eventually convince Mudd that he has won, and he ends the time loop. Preparing to receive a boarding party of Klingons, Mudd is instead confronted by his “beloved” Stella and her father, from whom he had stolen her dowry. They take Mudd away. Stamets reveals to Burnham and Tyler that in one of the time loops they had danced together and kissed.
Unknown Date – Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum: Coming to the aid of the USS Gargarin, the Discovery is unable to prevent its destruction from a Klingon ship with their cloaking technology. Desperate for a way to detect these ships even when they are cloaked, First Officer Saru, Michael Burnham, and Lt. Ash Tyler are sent to the planet Pahvo, a seemingly uninhabited planet with a naturally occurring crystalline transmitter that broadcasts the planet’s vibrational frequency into space. They hope to use the transmitter as an antenna broadcasting a sonar-like frequency to disrupt cloaked Klingon ships. They discover that Pahvo is inhabited by an indigenous, sentient noncorporeal lifeform that lives in harmony with the entire planet. Saru initiates First Contact with them in an attempt to communicate their mission objectives. However, he becomes entranced by their higher understanding of peace. Saru attempts to force Burnham and Tyler to remain with him on the planet forever. Burnham is able to fight off Saru and contact Discovery. She attempts to explain to them they are intent on ending a brutal war and need the transmitter to do so. The Pahvans initially appear to accommodate Michael’s request to aid the Federation. However, back on the Discovery, Lorca later learns the Pahvans adjusted the signal to contact the Klingons as well, hoping to end the war. On the Ship of the Dead, Kol receives the signal, after sentencing L’Rell to death: she had tried to help Cornwell escape in exchange for protection from Kol, leading to L’Rell apparently killing Cornwell trying to save face with Kol.
Tyler expresses his growing romantic feelings for Michael. She admits she feels the same. They share a kiss.
Lorca is seen, once again, doing charting and mapping in his ready room.
Unknown Date – Into the Forest I Go: Kol is in route to the planet Pahvo intent on killing anyone he finds. Admiral Terral orders the Discovery to retreat to the nearest starbase. Captain Lorca seems to comply with the order while attempting to figure out another way to identify the cloaked ship. The crew of the Discovery devises a plan to place two sensors on the Sarcophagus that will allow them to map the cloaking grid. Tyler and Burnham serve as the away team to set the sensors at the helm and stern of the Sarcophagus. Using the spore drive, Stamets must initiate 133 jumps in rapid succession to allow the data collection necessary for this task. The mission is successful: The Pahvans are saved; Admiral Cornwell rescued; L’Rell is thrown in the brig, and the Sarcophagus destroyed. Collected data provides the Federation the information needed for them to detect cloaked ships and turn the tide of the war with the Klingon. Lorca learns he will be awarded the Legion of Honor.
Lorca reveals to Stamets the map he has been charting with information from the last few missions. He explains that it is a map of the spore drive jumps Stamets has executed revealing evidence of potential gateways to other dimensions. Lorca promises this will be their next scientific exploration after the war is over. Stamets informs Lorca he’s done. He agrees to initiate one last jump to get Discovery safely to a starport. As they initiate the spore drive, Lorca is seen inputting an override code which has a destination that reads “unknown.” The jump goes terribly wrong and the crew finds they are unable to identify where they have landed.