In the fifth episode of the second season of Short Treks, Michael is told a story. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
OH MY GOD, THIS WAS SO WONDERFUL!!!! I certainly didn’t expect a second animated episode, I didn’t expect a story about Michael Burnham AS A CHILD, and I didn’t expect a framing device for a second story about the origin of stars on Earth. It doesn’t matter this was such a short episode because it ended up being layered with meaning. We hadn’t seen Mike Burnham since “Perpetual Infinity,” and knowing his fate, this episode had an air of wistfulness to it. That whole line in the beginning where Michael said she was afraid of being out in the middle of nowhere? YEAH, HOW DARE YOU, SHORT TREKS. Drive that knife in deeper, won’t you?
But this episode is all joy. Framed as the story that Mike tells his daughter to help her conquer her fear of the dark, “The Girl Who Made the Stars” unfolds like a fairy tale in a lush, fluid animation style. I remarked on video that there’s a bit of the Princess Bride in the way that Michael interrupts her father to make commentary on the story, but that’s most likely unintentional and more just me relating this format to something I recognize. The story itself is all Michael’s imagination, since she pictures herself in the role of the unnamed child who risked her life to seek out a new place to farm for her village. So, while Mike Burnham shares this story, it helps Michael to be able to visualize bravery. Which doesn’t mean that there’s no fear! Bravery is about what happens after fear strikes, and like the case in this story, the young girl pushed past her fear of the Night Beast and made an incredible discovery.
“The Girl Who Made the Stars” isn’t just about bravery, though. It was a portrait of intimacy, too, a chance for us to get another glimpse of Michael’s life with her father before he would later be murdered. I loved this subtle character building because it helped me get a better sense of what Michael’s past was like. She was always an inquisitive, imaginative child, and this episode is just an extension of that. It makes her actions in the present feel grounded. Yes, Spock is right that she’s got a propensity for hoisting the weight of the world onto her shoulders, but this episode of Short Treks reminded us that she’s long been a brave person, willing to do absurd things to better the lives of those around her.
Ah, I can’t get enough of it! Again, the animation was fantastic, the whole episode was surprising and unexpected, and each new episode of Short Treks proves why it needed to exist. I’m glad this specific story got to be told all on its own, and that’s really why these tales have worked so well. The writers were granted space to explore things that might never have made it to the screen.
Okay, up next: I start season 3 of Discovery! Oh, I can’t wait for this. I don’t understand how it even exists!!!
The video for “The Girl Who Made the Stars” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– My third novel (and middle grade debut) THE INSIDERS has been announced! Check out the cover reveal and pre-order links here.
– If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all announcements regarding my books, sign up for my newsletter! DO IT.