Star Trek #1489: The Girl Who Made the Stars

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Little Michael Burnham is told an African myth.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Links the far past to Trek's future as one big continuum of exploration.

WHY WE DON'T: Did it need an alien though?

REVIEW: I thought that the December 12th 2019 dual Short Treks would actually be previews for the announced Nickelodeon animated series, but no, they are Discovery-adjacent stories in different animated styles. Not related to the new series, but simply, showing what all-ages animation could do for Trek. The Girl Who Made the Stars, takes the modern 3D CG approach, with video game mannequins surrounding a big-eyed cartoon child in textured environments. That sounded negative, but didn't mean to be. There a things in this short that aren't quite movie-quality (body and mouth movements, mostly), but camera moves, lighting, depth of field, and editing are all top notch.

The story is one we heard before, sort of. The first episode of Discovery's second season, "Brother", started with a voice-over in which Michael Burnham talks about the girl who made the stars, an old African myth that obviously informed her interest in science and exploration. The short offers to look at the first time she heard it, but there are differences. In Brother, the Girl throws ash into the sky and they become the stars; no so here. And in Brother, Michael says she didn't understand the story then, but her conclusions in the short are pretty on-point. But the memory cheats and her father adapts the story to the circumstances and is probably different from the original myth, which Michael would have subsequently read; it's not necessarily a problem.

Even though there's an alien in it (and it may be Michael's interpretation, I just think it's pushing it), it's still an ancient African myth, and especially with that art style, it gives off an aura similar to Disney's Moana. By which I mean, these are stories Western audiences have never heard or seen, so it's lovely and fresh to behold. More importantly, ancient tale it may be, but it carries the spirit of Trek. It's about a darkness that is really ignorance, and that we are made stronger through curiosity and cooperation with people different from ourselves. The Girl doesn't make the stars so much as the opportunities they represent. She is the first to look up, the first to dream of traveling to those points of light, to begin the trek. She's who inspired Michael.

Bonus points for the tardigrade teddy bear. Cute link to the next story.

LESSON: Fear is the mindkiller.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: It's pretty and unusual, but it's still a bit of a retread. It still works if you've never watched Discovery though.

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