The main character of Star Trek: Discovery — Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) — might have been raised by Vulcans. A few shots in the trailer strongly suggest she has childhood memories of being among the super-logical, pointy-eared Star Trek aliens.
On Wednesday, the first trailer for Star Trek: Discovery was released, and while Trekkies rejoiced at seeing so many familiar elements from the sprawling sci-fi franchise, one detail went by at warp speed. Is Burnham crying about Sarek of Vulcan shit-talking her? And was that supposed to be her as a little kid?
The shot in question comes toward the end of the trailer. Sarek (James Frain) is belittling someone about never being able to learn the Vulcan language because their “tongue is too human.” Cut to a little kid crying. The little kid has pointed sideburns, styled very much like a Vulcan. The shot then fades to the adult Burnham — played by Sonequa Martin-Green — clearly crying.
Sarek has a history of being a jerk to his actual offspring; he went through two periods of not speaking to Spock and basically disowned his other son Sybok, to the point that Spock never talked about him. But did Sarek have an adopted human kid at some point, too? It’s not insane when you think about it. Vulcans have really long lifespans relative to humans, meaning if Burnham was raised on the planet Vulcan as a child, it could have easily been during the time Spock had already left home to be in Starfleet.
Hardcore Trekkies will also point out that the pointed-sideburn thing isn’t just for Vulcans. Pretty much everyone in Starfleet has pointed sideburns, assuming they have hair. Still, this one scene in the Discovery trailer seems to call attention to itself. Previously in the footage, Sarek seems to be conversing with Burnham (or someone) through a holographic transmission. But this scene is flesh and blood, and he looks a little younger.
If Burnham was raised by Vulcans, but later chose to rebel and become more human by giving into her emotions, then her character could become deliciously complex. Star Trek has shown aliens embracing their “humanity” before. But what about a human who wants to be alien? Now that’s something new.
Star Trek: Discovery will debut on CBS All Access sometime in the fall of 2017. Watch the trailer again here.