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Background

There are quite a few things I struggle to accept about the Discovery season 2 finale, but the thing I don't understand at all is why it was necessary to pretend the discovery and its spore drive never existed. If we accept that the best way to get the sphere data out of the hands of control is to put it 950 years in the future I can see why no mention of time travel (or the time suit) is probably a good idea, I guess, to avoid putting ideas into control's head.

But what makes no sense is the need to pretend Discovery and its spore drive never existed. With Spock proposing "regulation 153 section 3"

... must be ordered never to speak of discovery, its spore drive, or her crew again, under penalty of treason

And Sarek and Grayson "swear never to speak Michael's name again in the presence of others" confirming that this isn't just a "where discovery went" but that it ever existed.

Ignoring the fact that pretending a star ship, a bunch of people and fairly widely known technology never existed is totally impractical I don't understand why they would want to do that even if they could. Why does continuing the clearly very useful spore drive technology help control. Or the general fact that discovery existed. Or that Michael Burnham existed.

Out of universe I see how it closes a bunch of plot holes, but in universe it just makes no sense

Question

Why was it necessary (in universe) in the Discovery season 2 finale for everyone to pretend that Discovery had never existed

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    it closes the in-universe plot hole of why none of the events, people, tech, etc...are ever referenced by Spock or Pike or anyone at all in "later" series (such as the original series produced in the 60s, Next Gen, DS9, movies, etc...). In other words, if we are to take all those shows as canon and in a single timeline - regardless of out of universe production dates, since they all operate as though Disco never existed (because out of universe, it of course didn't), it's easiest in Disco to make it so...as it were
    – NKCampbell
    May 27, 2021 at 19:37
  • @NKCampbell But that's all out of universe explanation, why the writers "had to do something". Because it closes a plot hole isn't an in-universe reason for someone to do something.
    – user20310
    May 27, 2021 at 19:52
  • but that's the reason...don't know what to tell you :D Not sure what you are looking for beyond what was actually stated in the final episode. Knowledge of the time suit and spore drive could lead to people deciding to violate the temporal prime directive, thus it is now entirely hush hush. It's literally explained in the second to last scene of the episode
    – NKCampbell
    May 27, 2021 at 20:09
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    By analogy there was an episode of the simpsons that implied Skinner had a different back story. But it was ordered to be never discussed and if an in universe character can see that maybe it just should not have been made at all. May 27, 2021 at 22:41
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    Season 3 shows Starfleet never tried to deny the ship (and by extension, the crew) never existed, only that some specific information regarding it was eliminated. May 28, 2021 at 3:38

1 Answer 1

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Spock isn't stating that everyone pretends Discovery and its crew doesn't exist (indeed, Michael was widely known beforehand, so that wouldn't work), but that people simply not talk about it while Starfleet quietly purged selected information from its files. In effect, what he's suggesting is that the people in the know don't bring it up, and if someone who doesn't know the truth brings it up they avoid answering or claim it's classified or they don't know or some other reason why they can't discuss it. Over time interest would fade, especially if the people who did have first-hand information avoided the topic, memories would get hazy. "Oh yeah, Discovery. Crossfield Class, helped build it 60 years back. Lost during the war or in some negative space wedge incident or something. Michael Burnham? Yeah, wasn't she killed in an accident or something?"

Given that this was within a short time frame of Starfleet losing a load of ships in the war with the Klingons, and that Starfleet was regularly losing ships to giant space amoebas or ancient planet-eaters or spatial rifts and insane computers, it wouldn't take long for the loss of the ship to be conflated with those types of events, and with less and less information being available, eventually no one would remember the thing existed, and with records quietly and selectively purged, no one would have reason to try and find out anything about the ship.

For a modern example, if the US Navy had, over the past several decades, quietly removed mention of the USS Kitkun Bay from the records, would you notice? After all, it participated in one of the most celebrated naval actions of World War 2, the Battle off Samar, but what everyone remembers about that battle are the destroyers and destroyer escorts that took on the Japanese fleet. Kitkun Bay generally gets lumped in with "the escort carriers", and no one one really remembers it except the people who were on it, but if they never talked about it, and records were quietly altered or deleted, why would anyone have reason to talk about it 70 years later?

So what's being suggested isn't unpersoning the ship and its crew, but simply allowing it to be forgotten. Indeed, in Season 3, one of the difficulties the crew initially have when they finally meet the remnants of Starfleet is that the records indicate the ship was destroyed. So the records still exist, but they make it sound like it was a perfectly mundane vessel that was lost.

As to why for in-universe reasons:

  1. Security through obscurity. One can question its practicality in the real world, but in a fictional world it works fine. By eliminating mention and eventually selected records of the ship, one avoids the possibility of someone somehow stumbling on to its secrets by cross-referencing assorted things. However, to completely cover their tracks, you have to eventually edit records of the crew as well. And the technology that was unique to the ship. "Spore drive? Sure, that was tested on the...um...huh. Well anyway, it was based on work by a scientist named...uh...can't say." Not having those answers would trigger people to dig. On the other hand, if they don't know to even ask the question, then that's better.

  2. Another reason: remember that in Season 1 the Spore Drive jumped the ship to the Mirror Universe. The only way Starfleet knows how to get there (and back) is the Spore Drive, and they, for assorted reasons, decided to classify the existence of the Mirror Universe (and indeed, provide some reasons as to why in the episode where this is discussed). So the removal of the ship removes some additional knowledge they'd want to keep buried, although later on they of course discover there are other methods using more mundane technology available.

  3. They also know, through the interactions with the inhabitants of the mycelial network and from information brought back about Mirror-Stamets that overuse and/or misuse of the technology could kill everything in the multiverse. This would tend to make them want to make sure the technology wasn't available, and hey, if we're making Discovery go down the memory hole...

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  • upvote for a good answer as good speculation as to what happens, but it doesn't really answer the question as to 'why'
    – NKCampbell
    May 28, 2021 at 2:48
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    Edited and tweaked slightly to show that Season 3 makes it clear Starfleet never tried to pretend the ship never existed. May 28, 2021 at 3:34
  • "later on they of course discover there are other methods using more mundane technology available." - later on? Mirror Lorca already switched over without a spore-anything before those events. May 30, 2021 at 16:49
  • They know that there's anomalies that can cause the crossover (they know the Defiant will go through a dimensional/temporal thingamabobber, and Mirror Lorca claimed his crossover was accidental) but the Spore Drive is the only way they know that an intentional trip can be made. It's not until later in TOS that they figure out how a transporter might do it in special circumstances, and another century (as seen in DS9) that they know it can be done on purpose using existing tech.. May 31, 2021 at 4:36

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