Starfleet Officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) lived on the planet Vulcan for a huge portion of her life, and was in fact, the first human to attend the Vulcan Science Academy as a young woman. A new interview with actress Sonequa Martin-Green reveals some startling similarities — and key differences — between her new Star Trek: Discovery character and the beloved Mr. Spock.
On Tuesday, Entertainment Weekly published an exclusive interview with Martin-Green in which her connection to Sarek and the planet Vulcan was clarified. She’s fully human, but has some Vulcan ties that run deep. “I have the Vulcan conflict in my life from Sarek and Amanda so there’s always going to be that inner conflict with me.”
This news confirms the idea that Burnham has a very personal connection with Sarek, Spock’s father on the planet Vulcan. This is the first reference anyone from Discovery has made to Spock’s human mother. Will Amanda Grayson make an appearance on the show, too? Either way, Burnham’s inner struggle seems to parallel that of Spock’s turmoil over his own cultural identity. “I have an inner war and it’s a journey of self discovery and finding out what it means to be alive, to be human, to be a Starfleet officer, what it means to be a hero,” Martin-Green explained.
Famously, in both the prime universe and the reboot movies, Spock refuses to attend the Vulcan Science Academy, and instead joins Starfleet. And though Burnham seemingly ends up in Starfleet, too, she achieves the one thing Sarek’s own son failed to do: get a solid Vulcan education.
In Star Trek: Discovery, Sarek is played by James Frain. Because Discovery takes place only ten years before the original series, it’s possible Spock has been away from home for a long time. For this reason, it’s feasible that Burnham never ran into him when she lived on Vulcan. Did Burnham briefly offer Sarek the satisfaction of having a de facto child follow in his logical footsteps? And what does it mean that she — just like his sons Sybok and Spock — disappointed him?
The theme of humans raising aliens is huge in all of Star Trek. In The Next Generation, the Klingon orphan Worf was raised by humans. In Enterprise, Trip and T’Pol briefly have a human/Vulcan daughter. Data, a robot/android, is exclusively educated by humans and so on. But now, with Burnham’s Vulcan schooling, Star Trek is flipping the script. Basically, she’s the new Spock. Only reversed.
Star Trek: Discovery debuts on CBS on September 24.