The latest Short Trek takes Star Trek back into the animated realm for a story set during Michael Burnham’s childhood, before the events depicted in the flashbacks of Discovery’s second season episode “Perpetual Infinity.” If you were curious about Michael Burnham’s relationship with her birth-father (and namesake),”The Girl Who Made the Stars” shows that he was just as big of a part of Michael’s early life as her mother, Gabrielle “Red Angel” Burnham.
But wait a minute. Why is there sudden effort spent on developing the backstory of Michael Burnham’s dad? Is it possible that he too survived the Klingon attack on Doctari Alpha? And if so, could Mike Burnham be making a comeback in season three of Discovery? Let’s discuss!
Light spoilers ahead for Short Treks “The Girl Who Made the Stars.”
“The Girl Who Made the Stars” is probably exactly what it looks like: a great way to explore the backstory of Michael Burnham and flesh-out her relationship with her father. The episode is written by Brandon Schultz, who also co-wrote”Perpetual Infinity,” and when I interviewed him for SyFy Wire, he told me his motivations in doing this Short Trek were connected to getting to know Burnham’s father as much as we got to know her mother. This seems legit, and we could totally just leave it there.
Though some installments of Short Treks have truly been standalone episodes (like “The Escape Artist”) others have very directly predicted or set-up huge events in later seasons of Discovery. In fact, both “Runaway” and “The Brightest Star” — which aired between seasons one and two — were directly referenced and drove the plot of several episodes in season two. Plus, the Short Treks “Calypso” seemed to predict the ending of season two of Discovery way before we even knew about the Red Angel.
So, sure, the idea behind Short Treks is that they can do interesting and experimental things with the Star Trek canon. And, I think that is genuinely what “The Girl Who Made the Stars” is; a cool exploration of the African myth that inspired Michael Burnham as a young girl, and the story of her father telling her his version of that myth as a bedtime story. And yet, “The Girl Who Made the Stars” is also getting us to care about Mike Burnham again in a big way. Michael always assumed the Klingons killed both her parents, but now we know Gabrielle survived. So maybe Mike did, too?
If Gabrielle Burnham was able to travel through time and space in the Red Angel suit, it stands to reason we will see her again in Discovery season three, or even later. But what about Mike? Were there any extra time crystals lying around for him to use? If Section 31 has been aware of time travel for all this time, who’s to say there won’t be a lot of time travel action in season three of Discovery? And if there is more time travel next season, then that certainly means there’s a chance to see Burnham’s dad again at some point in the timeline.
Short Treks reminded us that we love Burnham’s family. Now, here’s hoping we get to see more of them in the future. And if the future isn’t possible, then I guess we’ll settle for some time travel to the past.
Ryan Britt is a longtime contributor to Tor.com and the author of the book Luke Skywalker Can’t Read and Other Geeky Truths (Plume 2015.) His other writing and criticism have been published in Inverse, SyFy Wire, Vulture, Den of Geek!, the New York Times, and StarTrek.com. He is an editor at Fatherly. Ryan lives with his wife and daughter in Portland, Maine.