Three of CBS’s four planned ‘Short Treks’ – fifteen minute shorts leading up to the return of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ – have now aired, and the latest, dubbed ‘The Brightest Star’, may well be the most intriguing to date. The short offers us our first look at Saru’s homeworld of Kaminar and his life before Starfleet, providing our first real sense of what life is like for his people (beyond the broader early description of Kelpiens as a “prey species” and the events of ‘Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum’).
As might be expected, it also raised a number of questions. At least some of those seem likely to be addressed during the second season of ‘Discovery’, with both the trailers and Doug Jones himself having suggesting as much. But if, like me, you’re a continuity-obsessed fanboy whore, you were probably trying to figure out things like the show’s place in the ‘Trek’ timeline before it had even finished airing, a task made all the more difficult by the fact that there’s still a lot we don’t know about Saru. Like, for example, how old he is. We can make some vague estimates based on Starfleet Academy having a four year program and the amount of time he might have spent working up the ranks based on scattered details in the first season, and the presence of a young Philippa Georgiou (then a lieutenant) narrows it down a bit, but not by much.
The bottom line is that there’s not much to go on. But because we live in the Age of the Internet, answers to these sorts of questions are seldom more than a click away! Speaking with Syfy Wire, the short’s co-writer Erika Lippoldt addressed this exact matter:
“Burnham is brought aboard the Shenzhou for the first time in a flashback in ‘Battle at the Binary Stars’, and the events of this short took place about a decade before that. Saru would have needed time to acclimate to this new worldview outside of his home planet; he’s only just learned that humans exist, after all! So he wouldn’t have entered the academy right away.”
That flashback (in which then-Lieutenant Saru is briefly glimpsed on the bridge of the Shenzhou) takes place seven years prior to the main action of the episode (which itself is set in 2256). That places the flashback in 2249, and the events of ‘The Brightest Star’ “about a decade” before that, meaning that the short takes place sometime in the late 2230s. In terms of ‘Star Trek’ history, James Kirk was born (and the Prime and Kelvin timelines diverged) in 2233. Looked at another way, it means that Saru acclimated to a new society, graduated from Starfleet Academy, rose to the rank of lieutenant, and possibly became fluent in a new language (we don’t know, but we can speculate), all in the space of a decade. Not half bad!
Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more ‘Star Trek’ news – including the latest on the second season of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ and other upcoming shows and movies – as it becomes available!