WARNING: THISS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE DISCOVERY EPISODE “SCAVENGERS”
Since the start of the Third Season of Star Trek: Discovery, the ship’s helmsman, Keyla Detmer (played by Emily Coutts) has been plagued by a head injury. While some speculate that she might be suffering from more than a simple concussion and that the Control AI is slowing taking over her brain (like it did in Season 2 with Airiam), we have another question to ask.
Why doesn’t the Discovery have seat belts? You’d think that would be standard issue on all starships, for a variety of reasons, including:
- If the ship is struck by a meteor or energy blast in battle
- If the artificial gravity fails
- If the inertial dampners fail
- Or any number of other reasons
We’ve seen seat belts in Trek before, most notably in the Kelvin Trilogy, where the producers of the series animated a three-point harness for everyone on the bridge during battle.
In Star Trek: Beyond, the crew of the Enterprise must pilot the old Franklin (NX-326) into space in order to save the day. The Franklin was launched in 2255, after the launch of the Enterprise (NX-01). Both the Enterprise (as seen in Season 4) and the Franklin (as seen in Beyond) had seatbelts.
It would make sense then, that if two ships constructed before the Discovery had seatbelts, then the Discovery should too.
While the TOS and TNG versions of the Enterprise did not sport seatbelts, a deleted scene from Star Trek: Nemesis showed Picard trying out a new captain’s chair, which came with an automatic seatbelt.
“About damn time,” said Picard when he was strapped in.
So during the DISCO episode “Scavengers,” the ship was updated to the Discovery-A, and got all kinds of new tech, including the floating nacelles, programmable matter controls, and Stamets can control the spore drive without those nasty implants.
All of that is great, but what would come in handy is seatbelts for those on the bridge. This might be something that the Federation might see as antiquated technology in the 32rd Century. But for Keyla Detmer’s sake — she’s the one who often flies around the bridge when the ship hits something — hopefully we’ll see some harnesses or something. Admiral Vance pointed out in “Die Trying” that she was a bit off.
The Probable Real Reason
What is the most likely case against seatbelts is that The Original Series did not have the budget to include such things in their ship designs, and they were never included. By the time of The Next Generation, to add seatbelts of any kind would make the Enterprise-D look less advanced than the original Enterprise.
While all of this is speculation, each version of Trek might have different reasons. In Star Trek III, the crew of the U.S.S. Excelsior clamped their seats on their laps, much like what a toaster does to a piece of bread. It was a cool effect, but I’m not sure how much the crew would have saved them from any impact.
Star Trek: Discovery – Season 3 is available to stream on CBS All Access.