The trailer for the upcoming prequel/reboot/whatever Star Trek: Discovery has finally been released, we have some actual footage to overanalyze until the show debuts on CBS All Access in a few months. With only very vague hints about characters and plot points, it’s really difficult to speculate on too much in the way of details. But just in case we all forgot this was really Star Trek, the producers included a familiar character with sufficient name recognition for even the casual fan- Sarek, eventual Vulcan Ambassador to the Federation and perhaps more notably, the father of Spock, the most iconic Trek character of all-time.

Because Vulcans live to be over two hundred years old, and Discovery is set ten years before the time of Kirk and Spock, the inclusion of Sarek works in terms of believability. After all, one doesn’t just wake up one day as the top diplomat for the entire planet, so it makes sense to see Sarek kicking around in this time period. But the few glimpses we got in the trailer, coupled with some fan speculation, reveal a pretty disturbing trend nobody seems ready to talk about. Here’s the trailer, with the Sarek-centric reveal at the 1:30 mark:

Unless the showrunners are playing head games with us, it appears that Sarek knew lead character Lt. Commander Michael (it’s a woman, and yes, that’s how it’s spelled) Burnham back when she was a child. Here is a picture of a child who we are led to believe is Burnham, as evidenced by the immediate fade into a clip of her as an adult.



Sarek tells the child, “You will never learn Vulcan. Your tongue is too human.” Setting aside the glaring impropriety of a grown man describing any details about a little girl’s tongue, the flashback raises all sorts of questions. And then we get this shot, which certainly doesn’t help us understand what the hell is going on:



It took about four minutes for fans to surmise Burnham may somehow be Sarek’s child, which sounds crazy until you realize Sarek had another kid nobody knew about (and Spock never mentioned) named Sybok, who showed up as the pseudo-antagonist in Star Trek V: The One That Shatner Directed.


What’s the Vulcan word for “cringe”?


So let’s go with this theory for a bit. Is it possible that Sarek had three kids with three different women? Sure, even for a species who only goes into heat once every seven years, it’s not implausible for a dashing young diplomat on the rise to score a hat trick. But if it’s true, we need to look at Sarek in a very different light. Instead of an intergalactic hero and all-around good guy, we have to acknowledge that Sarek is really kind of a selfish prick and probably the worst father in the galaxy. Don’t believe me? Think about it:

  • Sarek is estranged from all three of his kids. At some point, if you don’t get along with anyone, maybe you’re the problem, Mr. Ambassador?
  • None of his kids apparently grew up together, which may explain why they had so many issues. Sybok got into whatever touchy-feely mumbo-jumbo he did, and Spock was practically tortured by the full-blooded Vulcan kids for being half human. We don’t know what Michael Burnham’s deal is, but she’s the protagonist for the new show, so you know she’s gonna have to go on some emotional journey (plus she has a boy’s name). You call it a “character arc”; I call it “shitty parenting”.
  • When Spock was born, all Sarek could do was complain about how human his new son looked and do his best not to throw an outright tantrum because the moment is clearly all about him. Would it have killed him to at least ask his poor wife how she was doing after giving birth to a half-alien child in a cave in the desert?
  • Sarek was a dick to his kids. Look at Spock, who did everything he could to be the perfect Vulcan; not only did his father refuse to talk to him, but think about what it finally took for Sarek to grudgingly tell Spock his entire life wasn’t a massive waste of time. That’s right- Spock literally had to die and come back from the dead to get even the smallest approval from his father. Where I come from, that’s a dick move.


“So, Spock… I’m assuming you got me a Father’s Day gift for every year you rapidly aged on the Genesis Planet?”


And yet despite all of this, Sarek somehow comes off as a beloved and wise character who can do no wrong, even though he pretty much treats the people around him like hot garbage. Everyone just chalks it up to his “logic”, but that’s a cop-out. Wouldn’t it be logical for a diplomat to be like, you know, diplomatic every now and again? In real life, with an attitude like that he’d still be working in the mailroom at the Vulcan Embassy, complaining about how undervalued he is and checking to see who viewed him on LinkedIn every ten minutes.

Because we don’t yet know how Discovery plans on handling Sarek and his relationship with this young girl with the creepily describable tongue, there is still a chance for redemption. But if Michael Burnham ends up being Sarek’s kid, it’s time to reexamine his previously unblemished role in Star Trek lore and acknowledge he’s just another deadbeat dad who didn’t take care of his kids.

Forget Live Long and Prosper, Sarek. How about you Live Long and Pay Some Damn Child Support for a change?


A passionate communicator, advocate, and opinion maker with executive-level experience in law, public policy, and government. (Don't let the boyish good looks fool you.) President of Perpetual Fortitude, a Pennsylvania-based political consulting and social media management firm. (www.perpetualfortitude.com)

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