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One of the overarching key elements of ST: Discovery's second season is the hunt for a couple of so-called "red bursts", powerful light (?) signals that were/are registered throughout the galaxy (?) and that appear to be meaningful in some way. Now, while they are supposed to be a guiding plot device that directs the journeys of the Discovery and thus provides some kind of a structure to the season, I seem to be losing track of how many there are altogether.

Let's look at some quotes from the episodes so far (I am relying on the accuracy of springfieldspringfield.com's transcripts here):

2x01: Brother

Over the past 24 hours, Federation sensors picked up seven red bursts spread out across more than 30,000 light-years. They appeared in perfect synchronization just long enough for us to get a reading and then, just as suddenly, disappeared. Except for one.

So, at this point, seven signals had appeared, six of them had disappeared again, and

the Discovery has travelled to the location of one of the signals.

2x02: New Eden

Another signal has just appeared.

This sounds like there is an eighth signal.

At that point, Burnham also remark the following:

The transmission is too faint to determine the exact coordinates.

This limitation is overcome soon after by some witty sensor modifications.

2x06: The Sound of Thunder

We have detected a new signal.
Where is it this time?
Outside of Federation space.

This sounds like another entirely new signal, i.e. the ninth one in total.

2x10: The Red Angel

Burnham comments on "the seven signals" by stating:

But the first three signals appeared on the asteroid, Terralysium, and Kaminar, with four left to reveal themselves.

Now, it suddenly sounds as if signals #8 and #9 had been #2 and #3 out of a total seven signals that gradually "reveal" themselves.

2x11: Perpetual Infinity

This new signal is the fourth of seven

At that point, they completely lost me. How can be both "new" and the "fourth" in a (known, thus not new!) set of seven?

2x12: Through the Valley of Shadows

This episode contains various mentions that seem to confirm we are only dealing with seven signals in all, among them:

The three last signals have yet to reveal themselves.


So, what is going on here? Was there a mid-season change in premise, or am I missing something that would explain this confusing topic? At how many different locations did Starfleet pick up the "red bursts"?

  • One way to doubletalk this is that the initial detection was of a subspace phenomenon that was short-lived, and the later searches were for the event horizon of a photon or other particle (lightspeed) emission that had originated at the same time. – nebogipfel Apr 8 at 2:51
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    I, Gul Madred, assure you that there are only seven signals. Just say you see seven signals and we can all go home. – jeffronicus Apr 8 at 20:46
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There were/is only seven burst of red signals.

red burst

  • Wow! This image contains it all.. There's even Red Angel in it. – I Love You 3000 Apr 8 at 0:57
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There are seven and were never any more.

We have detected a new signal. Where is it this time? Outside of Federation space.

This sounds like another entirely new signal, i.e. the ninth one in total.

You misunderstand. It's not an entirely new signal, just one of the original seven that has reappeared. They would have no way to determine if it was a brand new signal. Remember, the signals appeared and disappeared very quickly:

They appeared in perfect synchronization just long enough for us to get a reading and then, just as suddenly, disappeared.

They have no ability to distinguish one from the other without precise coordinates.

  • The approximate coordinates of the original seven signals were well known. It should be easy to determine whether a newly appeared signal is at the approximate location of one that had appeared before. – O. R. Mapper Apr 9 at 5:17
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    Moreover: "They have no ability to distinguish one from the other without precise coordinates." - that can't be quite true, or else, they wouldn't have been able to count the signals in the first place. And if their initial reading had been that imprecise, there would be little reason to be certain that the "new signals" belong to the original seven and have reappeared, rather than being entirely new. – O. R. Mapper Apr 9 at 6:54
  • @O.R.Mapper You're right it's an assumption but a logical one. – Brian Ortiz Apr 10 at 18:43

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