Short Treks has its first misfire, as “The Brightest Star” fails as a short piece, fails as a story providing Saru’s backstory, and just generally fails. Doug Jones and Michelle Yeoh are awesome, at least…….
This is the first of the Short Treks that fails in my opinion, and it does so on two levels. The first is that this is very much not a story that should be told in 10-15 minutes. Both “Runaway” and “Calypso” were perfectly designed for the short format. But “The Brightest Star” feels like the outline of a longer story, not a story in itself. We get no context for the Kelpiens’ life. We know nothing of the Ba’ul, nor of what actually happens to the sacrifices. There’s so much story left on the floor here because of the limitations of the timeframe. What else to the Kelpiens do besides farm? What form of government do they have? Are all of them doing what Saru’s village is doing? More to the point, how does the rest of the galaxy view what’s happening there? Georgiou knows that Saru manipulated Ba’ul technology, and she also mentions that her contacting Saru was a controversial and fraught decision in Starfleet. Why didn’t we see those arguments? Why isn’t Starfleet doing something about the Ba’ul’s enslavement of the Kelpiens? (Assuming it is enslavement—even that is not clear.)
The story of Saru’s background is one that requires a full one-hour episode at least. What we get here is maddeningly abbreviated.