Star Trek: Discovery could use a new captain in season 3, and Sonequa Martin-Green's Michael Burnham should be the one to take it. Star Trek: Discovery has set itself apart from the traditional format of a Star Trek series in many ways, one of the most immediately obvious being that the lead character is not the captain of the main ship. Unlike Kirk, Picard, Janeway, et al., Michael Burnham begins at a lower rank and gradually works her way up the hierarchy throughout the series; an ascent hindered more by her moral choices and upbringing than her scientific or leadership abilities.

In truth, Star Trek: Discovery's position of captain has been a key story point from the very beginning. Michelle Yeoh's Philippa Georgiou begins Star Trek: Discovery as the captain of the Shenzhou, then Burnham joins Jason Isaacs' Lorca aboard the Discovery. After Lorca is outed as a villain, the evil, mirror version of Georgiou briefly assumes command and then just as the Discovery is heading to meet its brand new official captain, the ship is commandeered by Captain Christopher Pike for season 2. In between those stints, the ever-reliable Saru has taken the command by default, and this is how things stand heading into Star Trek: Discovery season 3.

A fantastic character Saru may be, but his status as reserve captain for almost the entirety of Star Trek: Discovery suggests that he isn't destined to be propping up the big chair of the bridge in the long term. Part of what made Spock and Riker so popular was their willingness to step up to the plate when needed, not the possibility of their promotion. As Star Trek: Discovery's lead protagonist, however, Burnham is on an upwards trajectory and season 3 presents the perfect opportunity for her to reach the top of the mountain.

In the present-day timeline, Burnham may have possessed the skills to captain the Discovery, but her past as a mutineer sullied the Commander's reputation. Although her crimes have been absolved now, Burnham's name still carries somewhat of a stigma that would likely exclude her from the captaincy under normal circumstances and with less controversial candidates available. Fortunately for Martin-Green's character, the Discovery does not find itself in normal circumstances.

Star Trek: Discovery's third season will take place centuries into the future when Starfleet and the Federation have been significantly diminished. In this scenario, the Discovery's captaincy should go to whoever is best suited for the job, and Burnham's troubled past would not only have be forgotten by this point, but it would also be irrelevant to the Starfleet leaders of the future. Judged entirely on merit, it's quite clear that Burnham is the best choice for Discovery's top rank. This was made perfectly clear in the season 2 finale when the ship's entire crew followed Burnham through a wormhole into the future knowing they'd likely never come back. This kind of leadership by example is a hallmark of Star Trek's best captains throughout the franchise's history.

From the footage revealed in the trailer for Star Trek: Discovery season 3, it can be surmised that Burnham is taking point once again and finds herself in the middle of a mission of great importance. Burnham is rapidly becoming the de facto leader of the Discovery, if not the official captain, so it would make sense for that character development to be recognized and made official by the end of season 3. Saru deserves his time to shine, and will likely remain in charge for the bulk of season 3. But events in the episodes to come should cement Burnham's suitability to lead, and the upcoming season should end with its protagonist finally attaining the position of captain. Not only would this be a logical progression in the character's arc, but it would also provide Star Trek: Discovery season 4 with a brand new angle.

Star Trek: Discovery season 3 premieres in 2020 on CBS All Access and Netflix internationally.