Star Trek: Discovery is slowly but surely making its way to boldly go where no Star Trek show has gone before. The CBS All-Access sci-fi action adventure will focus not on the captain of the Discovery, but on First Officer Michael Burnham (played by Sonequa Martin-Green). It will also be the first Star Trek show to feature a black woman in the leading role. Now, thanks to Entertainment Weekly, fans know the series will have another first: Burnham will be the first human to admitted to the Vulcan Science Academy as a student. This will give her character a unique footing in the world of Starfleet.
“Burnham [has] spent a lot of time on Vulcan, but she’s human,” Harberts says. “Sarek [Spock’s father, played by James Frain] plays an important role in her life, which has been completely planned until she makes a very difficult choice that sends her life on a very different path. When we meet her, she’s the First Officer on the Starship Shenzhou [captained by Philippa Georgiou, played by Michelle Yeoh]. And Burnham’s choice that we’re alluding to is most difficult choice you can make — it affects her, affects Starfleet, affects the Federation, it affects the entire universe. That choice leads her to a different ship, the Discovery [helmed by Captain Lorca, played by Jason Isaacs] and there we begin what Gretchen and I call our ‘second pilot.’”
This is, thus far, the most information we’ve gotten from showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretch J. Berg on what DIS will actually be about. One thing still being kept under wraps? Which timeline the series takes place in. Throughout the publicity rollout for Star Trek Discovery, one thing has been consciously absent: any mention of where the show takes place. We know it’s a prequel, as Burnham will interact with Spock’s father. But outside of that, CBS has been mum on which leg in the trousers of time we’re in.
My guess? It has to be NuTrek, a.k.a. the Kelvin Timelin, the alternate timeline begun with J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek film. The technology seen thus far, along with the fashion, is far too advanced to be the future-past inhabited by the cast of the original 1960s Star Trek. Why they haven’t just pulled the trigger and confirmed DIS takes place in the same universe where Chris Pine is Captain Kirk is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the fear is some Trekkies would be turned off by the concept of a NuTrek prequel? But if that’s the case, backlash will be even more severe if that subsection of the fandom tunes in only to feel they’ve been “tricked” into signing up for a premium streaming service in return for a NuTrek series.
Come on, CBS. Just admit it. Burnham isn’t just the first human to be accepted into the Vulcan Science Academy, but the only one in all of history, because Vulcan is about to be destroyed.