The latest episode of Star Trek: Short Treks reveals the origin story of Saru and it featured a surprise appearance by another Star Trek: Discovery character. Now the writers of the episode have explained how all of it fits together into Star Trek canon.
SPOILERS for Star Trek: Short Treks, “The Brightest Star,” follow.
In “The Brightest Star,” audiences get to see Saru as a teenager on the Kelpien homeworld of Kaminar. Saru is curious about what awaits beyond the stars, an unusual trait for a Kelpien. While the others in Saru’s community are content to perform rituals of self-sacrifice to maintain a balance with the Ba’ul, another alien species living on Kaminar, Saru uses a fallen piece of Ba’ul ship technology to send a message out into the universe.
That message was received by Starfleet. A return message is sent to Saru with instructions for a meet-up between him and a Starfleet representative. That representative turns out to be Lt. Phillipa Georgiou of the Starship Shenzhou.
Star Trek: Discovery fans met Georgiou when she was the captain of the Shenzhou during the Battle at the Binary Stars in the year 2256. At that time, Lt. Saru had become the first Kelpien to serve in Starfleet and the Shenzhou’s science officer. Commander Michael Burnham was the Shenzhou’s First Officer at the time and a flashback in the episode “Battle at the Binary Stars” revealed the first time she came aboard the Shenzhou, about 8 years prior.
The writers of “The Brightest Star” place the episode in the Star Trek: Discovery timeline at about 10 years before that flashback took place.
“Burnham is brought aboard the Shenzhou for the first time in a flashback in 'The Battle of the Binary Stars,' and the events of this short took place about a decade before that,” Erika Lippoldt tells SYFY WIRE. “Saru would have needed time to acclimate to this new worldview outside of his home planet; he's only just learned that humans exist, after all! So he wouldn't have entered [Starfleet] academy right away.”
Since the flashback to Burnham takes place in 2248, that means “The Brightest Star” most likely takes place in the late 2230s, when James T. Kirk and Spock would have been children. This actually fits well with the expanded Star Trek: Discovery chronology established by the Discovery tie-in novels. The novel Drastic Measures takes place in 2246 and actually shows Georgiou, having by then achieved the rank of Commander, meeting young James Kirk during the aftermath of the Tarsus IV Massacre. The novel Fear Itself takes place in 2252 after Saru has become a member of the Shenzhou’s crew, with both he and Burnham in competition for the role of Captain Georgiou’s new first officer.
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The first season of Star Trek: Discovery is available to stream in its entirety on CBS All Access in the U.S., through CraveTV in Canada and through Netflix in other international markets.
Star Trek: Discovery Season Two is now filming in Toronto and will premiere on CBS