Is Star Trek: Discovery’s central character from Vulcan?

All the evidence points to First Officer Michael Burnham having been brought up on Vulcan - but the lack of points point to her being human...

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So, we have a first trailer and a new poster for Star Trek: Discovery and there’s undoubtedly a lot to be gleaned from both of them. One thing that immediately strikes me, though, are the strong suggestions that our main protagonist – the USS Shenzhou’s apparently human First Officer Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green – has links to Vulcan.

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Exhibit A: this scene featuring Spock’s father, Vulcan Ambassador Sarek, addressing a young child.

“You will never learn Vulcan,” he tells her. “Your tongue is too human.”

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Cut to this fade, from the child to the adult Burnham, which is clearly telling us they are one and the same person.

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Clearly, Burnham has spent some time on Vulcan, or at least in the company of Vulcans, while growing up.

In the first production shot from the show, we saw Burnham and her commanding officer, Michelle Yeoh’s Captain Philippa Georgiou, visiting a desert planet just like Vulcan. Could she be returning to the world she grew up on?

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Back to the trailer, and Burnham sounds spine-tinglingly Spock-like when she tells Georgiou “We’ve come all this way, Captain. It would be… irresponsible to leave whatever that is unknown.” Is this a Vulcan upbringing (specifically from Spock’s father) showing itself? 

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Burnham is clearly not Vulcan, though – or at least, not fully. There’s human passion (and disregard for protocol) in evidence in a later scene when she says “We target its neck, cut off its head!” before responding to Captain Georgiou’s insistence that “Star Fleet doesn’t fire first” with “We have to!”

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Beyond that, both the name – could Michael Burnham be any less Vulcan? – and the ears are a bit of a giveaway. The only example of a Vulcan-human hybrid I know of is Spock, and he had pointed ears. Of course, we don’t know for sure that the pointy gene is always dominant but we can assume that someone without points is at least not fully Vulcan (plus, I’ll refer you back to Sarek’s words about her having too human a tongue).

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There are a few hints that Burnham is going to act as some kind of bridge between humans and Vulcans, perhaps bringing them closer together as with Spock and Kirk later in the Star Trek story.

“Great unifiers are few and far between,” Sarek tells her. “Often such leaders will need a profound cause.”

What that cause might be (and whether he’s actually talking about her) we don’t yet know but if the new poster, with Burnham’s eye peering through a Vulcan salute, doesn’t say unification-of-humans-and-Vulcans, I don’t know what does.

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In conclusion, it looks very much as if Burnham is a human brought up on Vulcan and, possibly, that she’s been tasked in the long-run with bringing together the two species before Discovery catches up with the events of the Star Trek original series.

No pressure then.

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Star Trek: Discovery will air on CBS All Access in the US and is expected on Netflix in the UK, and globally, later this year