After Michael Burnham’s romance with Ash Tyler, Star Trek: Discovery season 3 will introduce a new love interest – and it’s already an improvement.
It’s early days, but Michael Burnham’s romance with Booker in Star Trek: Discovery season 3 already looks to be an improvement upon her storyline with Ash Tyler. Played by Sonequa Martin-Green, Burnham has ably led the Star Trek: Discovery cast for 2 seasons of science fiction drama, but while Spock’s adopted sister has made the Discovery crew her family, she got to know one character more intimately than the rest. Ash Tyler was a member of Starfleet rescued from the Klingons in Star Trek: Discovery season 1. Despite appearing outwardly loyal, Tyler was actually the Klingon Voq, genetically altered to appear human and spliced with the personality and memories of the very real (and very dead) Ash Tyler.
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Burnham’s life rarely goes to plan, so it’s only natural that of all the potential romantic partners aboard the Discovery, she would pick the Klingon sleeper agent. Burnham and Tyler bonded over their shared pain – two outcasts among their own crew. Due to her mutiny and subsequent court martial, Burnham struggled to make friends initially, so the kindness of Ash Tyler was a welcome reprieve. Burnham and Tyler are both fascinating and compelling characters individually, but their romance was a weaker element in Star Trek: Discovery‘s first two seasons. While the relationship’s failure can be partially blamed on a lack of chemistry, Star Trek: Discovery‘s narrative did the couple no favors, constantly taking Burnham and Tyler in different directions.
Since Burnham has now been sent 900 years into the future, it seems Star Trek: Discovery is wisely dropping her romance angle with Ash Tyler, but season 3 is already making efforts to tell a vastly improved love story. Star Trek: Discovery‘s third season will introduce David Ajala as Cleveland Booker, a resident of the 32nd century who Burnham meets upon her arrival. Little is currently known about Booker’s role in the story, but the spark between he and Burnham is abundantly clear in the latest trailer for Star Trek: Discovery season 3. The pair are seen exchanging stories, flirting, finishing each other’s sentences and, ultimately, sharing a kiss. In the recent Star Trek Day panel, Ajala played up the romantic connection between his character and Michael Burnham, although he did also reveal their first date to be a fist fight.
Although Star Trek fans have only seen glimpses of the Burnham-Booker pairing so far, there’s already a huge step-up from the Ash Tyler romance. Burnham’s arc in Star Trek: Discovery has been defined by difficult relationships – her strained sibling connection with Spock, the initial distrust from the Discovery crew, being manipulated by Lorca, etc. Although Ash wasn’t intentionally deceiving Burnham, his deadly Klingon secret made for yet another dysfunctional relationship in Burnham’s life, meaning the romance failed to stand out as a storyline. Burnham is so often a victim of misfortune, the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time, and falling for Tyler was just one more incident on an ever-growing list. More importantly, romantic scenes between Burnham and Tyler always felt “off,” heavily signalling the couple were doomed from the start.
Based on the footage seen so far, Burnham’s relationship with Booker couldn’t be more different. Both characters are burdened with their fair share of demons, but this time, pain and trauma aren’t single-handedly holding the romance together. Burnham and Booker clearly share the same ideals, they’re immediately comfortable in each other’s presence, and where Tyler only complicated Burnham’s life on the Discovery, Booker is helping to lift Sonequa Martin-Green’s character.
The key improvement is getting the audience to emotionally invest. Because the love story between Burnham and Tyler never felt convincing, few were upset when the couple were forced to part ways. The fact that these two characters will never see each other again is barely even an afterthought in season 2. The pairing of Burnham and Booker already possesses more chemistry and more levity, inviting the audience to root for this budding romance. This important change should ensure maximum emotional impact when disaster inevitably strikes and Burnham is dramatically torn apart from her new lover.
More: Star Trek Discovery Season 3 Trailer Breakdown: 15 Story Reveals & Secrets
Star Trek: Discovery season 3 premieres October 15th on CBS All Access.
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