Lt. Saru is one of Star Trek: Discovery’s most fascinating characters—not just as a previously unseen species within the canon, but because he brings with him the question of how a member of his seemingly ever-fearful race ever got into boldly going. The latest Short Treks episode masterfully delivers on exploring both of those fascinations. Star Trek: Discovery has spent so little time fleshing out characters beyond its main hub of Burnham, Lorca, and Georgiou (in both mirror and prime forms) that if “The Brightest Star” had simply been a basic origin story for Saru, played by the impeccable Doug Jones, it would’ve been more than enough opportunity to understand and appreciate his character more. But instead, it mixes an examination of Kelpian society with classically Trek themes while also strongly reframing everything we assumed about Saru as a character. Saru, as we meet him in Discovery, is kind of a paradox. We’re constantly told that his race are fearful prey, biologically evolved to sense “the coming of death” and treat every threat as a potentially do or die situation. Saru is uneasy around conflict, both in Discovery’s wartime setting and in terms of interpersonal relationships, and any moment of defiance is usually presented as him being a stalwart upholder of rules and protocol more so than it is standing up for himself. It makes the idea that he’s the only of his kind in Starfleet understandable because, in a way, it almost seems like even Saru shouldn’t be there. If… [Read full story]
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