As Star Trek: Discovery season 2's story unfolds, it’s looking more and more like the Short Treks released late last year were predicting a lot more than anybody realized. Alex Kurtzman introduced the idea for Short Treks as supplementary content after he signed a deal with CBS to expand the Star Trek franchise on television. Early descriptions categorized the standalone episodes as content that would offer closer looks at certain characters and allow the new Star Trek universe to expand in a more unique, focused way.
One of the many criticisms of Discovery levied by old school Star Trek fans was the series apparent abandonment of the ensemble nature of previous Star Trek shows. All five older series boasted large casts of characters each working in a position of prominence aboard a ship or station. Those large casts provided the series with multiple narrative perspectives, ultimately making it possible for the less serialized shows to fill large network orders. And considering one of Star Trek’s central themes is cooperation, it was satisfying watching a solid teamwork in concert to overcome obstacles.
The bridge crew of the Enterprise D was as well known a squad to audiences as they were to each other, but Star Trek: Discovery’s first season was notably absent of that kind of camaraderie. While the Short Treks didn’t give any more insight into characters like Dr. Pollard or pilot Kayla Detmer, they did represent Discovery’s commitment to fleshing out its own universe more, little by little.
However, it now looks like the short films weren’t designed solely to give a little extra insight into Saru’s heritage or Tilly’s relationship with her mother; now that we’re deep into Star Trek: Discovery season 2, it’s hard to ignore the connections between the shorts and some of the season’s major storylines.
- This Page: Tilly & Saru's Star Trek: Discovery Shorts
- Page 2: Time Travel & Harry Mudd In Star Trek Discovery Season 2?
Runaway: Tilly Makes Another Friend No One Else Can See
The first Short Trek premiered in October of 2018 and followed a day in the life of Ensign Tilly. She has a frustrating conversation with her very overbearing mother that stokes her own self-doubt about joining the command program. Then, while eating alone in the mess hall, she discovers a young alien woman who’s used her ability to become invisible to stow away aboard the Star Trek: Discovery. After Tilly convinces Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po she means her no harm, the young alien woman reveals she’s from a planet that’s about to achieve warp capability and is poised to join the greater space-faring community. Terrified by the changes her world is about to undergo and frightened of her own ability to lead through them, Po ran away to Discovery. Tilly’s self-doubt is paralleled in Po’s, and the ensign proves she has everything it takes to make it through the command program when she kindly reassures Po that the princess is more than prepared to ascend the throne.
While Po hasn’t shown up in Star Trek: Discovery season 2, Tilly did get another invisible friend to help in . “May” was a spore that latched onto Tilly from the mycelial network in the hopes that the idealistic ensign would be able to defeat the “monster” that was terrorizing her race. The monster turned out to be Dr. Culber, who’d been reconstituted in the network after his death, and unknowingly did damage to May’s species. Initially, May appears to Tilly as a vision of one of Tilly’s childhood friends, and the inexplicable hallucinations drastically shook Tilly’s confidence in her abilities to complete the Command Training Programs. But after getting dragged into the mycelial network and forced to deal with the situation by herself, Tilly rose to the occasion and not only helped May get rid of her monster, but manages the situation with impressive diplomacy.
“Runaway” and the May subplot both feature Tilly confronted with an invisible young woman in need of her help, as well as her growing confidence in her abilities. The two stories share far too much in common not to be intentionally related in some way.
"The Brightest Star" - A Crash Course in Kaminar and Saru’s Family
In his position as one of the only alien series regulars on Discovery — and a new-to-Star-Trek species to boot — Saru’s background was enigmatic and compelling. Curiosity swirled around his identity as a prey species and what that meant for life on Kaminar. Did his people live in hiding and constant fear of being picked off by the predator species that also occupied the planet? Why was he the only Kelpian to join Starfleet and how did he do it? And what was the root of his devotion to the late Philippa Georgiou?
All of these questions are answered in “The Brightest Star,” Saru’s Short Trek that covers his initial departure from Kaminar and the life he led before doing so. The story takes place about two decades before the events of Star Trek: Discovery and provides a wealth of insight into the “Great Balance” between the Kelpians and their prey species the Ba’ul as Saru dreams of a different life besides the calm march toward certain death the rest of his race seems content with.
While we had no way of knowing this at the time, “The Brightest Star” is essentially a prequel to Saru’s storyline in Star Trek: Discovery season 2. Audiences met his father and his sister during the Short Trek, as well as seeing an actual Kelpian give themselves up to the Ba’ul when called. Those were the building blocks upon which episodes like “An Obol for Charon” and “The Sounds of Thunder” were built, and that ultimately foreshadowed much of Saru’s journey this year.