Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Saru Shines: Short Trek's The Brightest Star

After a leap forward of 1000 years for Calypso we turn the clocks back slightly for 15 minutes to highlight the early life of Discovery's science officer.

For the first time here we get a real insight into the Kelpien way of life and while the first season set them up as a "prey" species I have to disagree that this instalment makes them seem more as a race farmed for another.

There is no hunt, no fight for survival more a willingness to accept that they will be called away from their lives at some point by another, controlling force.

It is in some ways a classic story with Saru watching the events unfold on his homeworld but opening his mind to more than the closed existence of a Kelpien caught in a never ending cycle of servitude to an unseen force.

The Brightest Star takes us not just away from Discovery for the first time but also opens up a much larger cast with Kelpien background characters, Saru's immediate family and a rather special guest appearance all crammed into a quarter of an hour tale.

The homeworld appears idyllic during the day with expanses of wilderness but the night time is a different matter with the ominous monolithic element from the overseer race always in the background as if monitoring the Kelpiens. It's quite 1984 with its Big Brother suggestion and Saru using a piece of acquired technology to make contact outside of his closed circle.

It's a key scene-setting tale with a pivotal ending that I won't ruin but it nicely ties this story directly into the Discovery narrative and may well tweak how you view the first season of the show on subsequent rewatches. I'm really thrilled with the way that Doug Jones carries off this younger and more innocent version of his Star Trek character embodying a naivety that leads to, perhaps cliched, a self-discovery and awareness of a bigger picture.

Ultimately Saru makes a grand sacrifice that takes him away from his father and sister which unquestionably extends his life and offers a great adventure. Like Runaway and Calypso I will be a little gutted if some of the themes and story-points are never referenced again or built upon because the shorts have offered something unique and exciting to the Discovery lineup. 

These quirky, sharp tales have refined their narratives, removed anything unnecessary and laid their central characters more open than ever before and I can't wait to see how they tackle the Discovery version of Mudd just before the arrival of the second season in January.

How did The Brightest Star compare to Runaway and Calypso? Improvement?

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