July 14 2024


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Star Trek: Discovery: What Next For Burnham?

3 min read

For fans curious about where Star Trek: Discovery will go next with Michael Burnham, an interview by Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts will be of interest.

The duo explained the premiere and what to expect going forward for the character.

“The first two episodes is where we get to see her backstory,” said Berg. “We get to see what launches her into the rest of the series and a lot of times, certainly on more traditional television series, you’d see that through flashback or hear about that through conversation. But we showed it.”

“It enables the audience to see in two episodes who she was, who she is in that moment and who she thinks she’s going to be,” said Harberts. “She’s convinced she’s going to be a captain; her captain tells her as much. To be able to show the audience who Michael Burnham is and how she’s functioning in walking down a path she’s convinced she knows where it leads, what it allows us to do in episode three is show you everything she’s lost.

“When we talk about Discovery, it’s not only discovery in terms of the cosmos and what Star Trek means, voyages of discovery externally. But it’s also so much a story about Michael Burnham discovering who she is as a human being. To watch her fall allows us to then have the audience invest in how she’s going to rebuild herself. And does she really want to rebuild herself in the same image as the person who came before?”

Things are now difficult for Burnham after the events of the first two episodes. “There’s this character who’s so sure of herself,” said Berg. “Every choice in her life was made with a goal in mind and it’s all been ripped away from her. Now she’s starting from nothing. She thought she knew who she was and where she was going and the people around her were going to be constants. That’s all different now, it’s all gone. It’s literally discovery, somebody figuring out who they are and how they fit in with everybody else on the ship or around them. It’s a big part of the storytelling for us the first season.”

“The other thing that happens with Michael Burnham when you pick up in chapter three, this is a human raised on Vulcan,” said Harberts. “Logic was a cornerstone of her education and then her seven years under Georgiou provided her with a certain amount of teaching about what it means to be a human leader and to use emotion when you lead. What happens in episodes one and two is Burnham makes a decision using logic based on advice from Sarek and it backfires. Then she makes an emotional choice, a very rash choice — one that’s made in microseconds and fueled by the heart due to the grief over her dying captain — to kill T’Kuvma, the very thing she said would make a Klingon a martyr and further the war.

“She’s made decisions based on logic; she’s acted on emotion. Neither has worked, so where does she stand? Her entire worldview has crumbled and she’s got nothing to hold on to. That was interesting for all of the writers because everybody on Trek, in all the other iterations, one thing they do share is they’re super competent. They know what they’re there to do. They know how to solve problems. They’re brave and intelligent and capable. This is a character who was all of those things and now feels like everything she believed in or knew of or tried has been called into question. So we find a very shattered individual at the top of [episode] three.”

Fans will also see more of Sarek in the episodes to come. “We’ll definitely be exploring the parental relationship between Burnham and Sarek further on in the series in flashbacks,” said Harberts. “Georgiou will always be present in Burnham’s life, in her consciousness. We won’t be doing as many flashbacks with Georgiou but we do definitely explain and explore what happened to young Burnham at the Vulcan learning center in that horrific bombing, when Sarek brings her back to life. We explore how that event really cemented the relationship between this little human child and this Vulcan ambassador.”

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