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Star Trek Dis - Season 2 - Episode 0.3

Star Trek Dis - 2x0.3 - The Brightest Star

Originally Aired: 2018-12-6

Synopsis:
Before he was the first Kelpien to join Starfleet, Saru lived a simple life on his home planet of Kaminar with his father and sister. Young Saru, full of ingenuity and a level of curiosity uncommon among his people, yearns to find out what lies beyond his village, leading him on an unexpected path.

My Rating - 5

Fan Rating Average - 3.44

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Problems
None

Factoids
- The writers of this episode have stated that it takes place approximately ten years before the events of the pilot.

Remarkable Scenes
- Kelpiens farming kelp. Cute.
- The alien technology taking a group of Kelpiens.
- Saru's sister: "Look down every now and then. There's beauty there as well."
- Saru's first meeting with Georgiou. The need for a more active use of the universal translator similar to Enterprise was a nice touch.

My Review
This charming story that embarks on the worthy of endeavor of unpacking Saru's backstory could've been even better were it not confined to this asinine "Short Trek" format. Similar to how we got a lot of exposition about Burnham's backstory early in the series, this exposition about Saru's formative experiences and how he met Georgiou is content that should've aired much earlier in the series. There's no good excuse to have waited this long to give us this exposition and it's even more inexcusable to air it irrelevantly between season 1's finale cliffhanger and season 2's pickup.

And it certainly deserved more screen time than this. Who are the Ba'ul? Why do they take Kelpiens? How did it come to be that the Kelpiens know the Ba'ul are a civilization of people but have internalized a permanent inferior status to them and a lack of intellectual curiosity about them? Why does the Federation allow a more advanced civilization to exploit a pre-warp civilization in this manner? These are all questions the story could've gotten into if it had been longer than a TAS episode.

Plus while it turns out Saru's backstory is considerably more intriguing than he let on during season 1, it also verges on a retcon. The previous description of Kelpiens as a hunted species with the absurd beyond all reason concept of "threat ganglia" to help them avoid predation is now bent to near the breaking point in this revised portrayal of Kaminar as a society confined to a terrifying status quo of sleepwalking to presumed death TOS: Return of the Archons-style. If Kelpiens are required to submit to sacrifice blindly, it's not at all clear what purpose if any the threat ganglia serve anymore.

This episode does offer a lot of nice stuff though. The story is compellingly presented, Saru's family is endearing and sympathetic, and the subjugation of Kaminar explains why we've never seen a Kelpien before on another series, resolving a minor continuity nitpick common to Star Trek prequel episodes. Most importantly it was nice to see exactly how Saru and Georgiou became so close and it's nice to see that the bond between them is truer to the spirit of Star Trek than perhaps most on-screen friendships on Star Trek. This story despite its bad timing and inadequate length is a great concept and it would be nice to see it unpacked more in future episodes.

While it would perhaps be best if the previous two Short Treks are quickly forgotten, this is the first one to be well worthy of a sequel.

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