Star Trek: Short Treks, Season 2

Dept. of Boldly Going


When Star Trek’s Short Treks were announced in 2018, hot on the heels of Star Trek: Discovery’s first season, it wasn’t clear if these short stories would be worthy additions to Gene Roddenberry’s Utopian Federation future or merely an attempt for Trek producer Alex Kurtzman to put his stamp on the universe.

Thankfully the first four “minisodes” proved to be anything but, telling interesting vignettes (mostly) featuring the cast and crew of Discovery. They became so much more, however, when it became clear that some of the episodes directly tied into future Discovery plot lines. The very first episode “Runaway” introduced a Xahean stowaway named Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po who ended up being pivotal to Star Trek: Discovery’s season 2 climax.

So what does the second set of Short Treks have to tell us between Discovery season 2 and Star Trek: Picard?

With an episode order extended from 4 to 6 for season 2, we get to have a more expansive look at the Star Trek Universe, but those looking for hints to upcoming seasons may be disappointed.

The first three episodes provide one last (?) look at life aboard the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701, as envisioned by the makers of Discovery, 10 years before Kirk captained Starfleet’s most famous starship.

“Q&A” offers an enjoyable glimpse into Ensign Spock’s first day aboard Enterprise as he gets trapped in a turbolift with Rebecca Romijn’s Number One. Apart from continuing the baffling design decision to portray the interior of Federation starships as mostly empty space (why would you build it like this?) it’s a fun look into the early life of Spock and into the rigours of choosing a life of command. Oddly the next two episodes focus on the lesser known HR aspects of Starfleet.

“The Trouble with Edward” follows science officer Rosa Salazar (Alita: Battle Angel) as she’s promoted to Captain of her own science vessel and has to deal with the troublesome Edward of the title, as played by H. Jon Benjamin (Archer). This episode been unfairly castigated online for showing how badly Salazar’s rookie Captain deals with H. Jon Benjamin’s problem team member as compared to how Picard encouraged his senior officers to deal with equally troubling Reginald Barclay in TNG but this misses the point by a light year. TNG played this scenario seriously. You don’t cast Archer to do the same. It’s clearly intended to be a comedy episode that has some nice ties to Star Trek continuity in the form of the tribbles, but it’s a relatively throwaway story that highlights one of the strengths of the Short Treks. The short format allows the current Star Trek torch bearers to try something new, without inciting an angry Internet hate mob, or at least not one as big as a disliked TV show or movie might inspire. It something I think Star Wars desperately needs but that’s a subject for another day.

You can disagree on the effectiveness of the humour but it is clearly intended to be a comedy episode and one that sets us up for more format breaking episodes further down the line.

The less said about “Ask Not” before watching it the better. I will say that it is focused on how one crew member made their way on to the Enterprise.  It might have been a side effect of watching so much ‘Trek in too short a time but, but the episodes conclusion almost brought a tear to the ocular organs of this old Trekkie. Between Anson Mount’s repeat performance as Captain Pike and the conceit of the episode, it just felt “so Star Trek” to me.

The next pair of animated episodes really push the boundaries of what Trek can be. “Ephraim and Dot” portrays the cel shaded 3D adventures of a cutesy tardigrade (from Discovery’s first season) as they repeatedly try to get back on board the Enterprise after being unceremoniously dumped overboard by some kind of a maintenance robot. Essentially a Star Trek version of Tom & Jerry, the episode is enlivened by some of the Enterprises finer moments from The Original Series and movies playing out in the background, including animated Kirk, Bones, and Khan. Almost as surprising as the show’s concept is that it was directed by Michael Giacchino, yes that Michael Giacchino.

Taking another completely different approach, “The Girl Who Made the Stars” uses a bedtime story for a young Michael Burnham as a jumping off point for a fairy tale of first contact, myths, and legends and learning to deal with fear.

The two animated episodes are very different in style from each other, and apparently from that of the upcoming Lower Decks TV show. They really highlight the strength of the series format though, showing off utterly new visions of the Federation.

The final Short Trek, “Children of Mars”, is more of a tone poem that sets up some of the backstory for Star Trek: Picard. Initially the use of Peter Gabriel’s cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” had me rolling my eyes, as it’s become a bit of a lazy emotional shortcut after being used in Stranger Things. But you know what? It still works. In this tale of two children dealing with their worst day imaginable.

Overall Short Treks works. It gives Star Trek time to breathe. Space to try out new things, and sometimes set things up for future seasons.

We’ve still not seen the follow up to “Calypso” from the first season of Short Treks, which focused on an empty Starship Discovery, waiting a thousand years for her crew to return for some reason, with the ships computer having become self aware in the meantime. With the time travel shenanigans of the second season of Discovery, there’s every chance that the show will return to that even further flung future, and ship’s AI, in the upcoming 3rd season. Unfortunately this season doesn’t seem to feature any tantalising glimpses into the future of Discovery or Picard.

Much more than a simple promotional tool, the second season of Short Treks provides a welcome dose of Star Trek to keep you going in between episodes of the main series and is well worth seeking out.

Short Treks Season 1 & 2 are available in the US on CBS All Access. Internationally, Season 1 is available on Netflix under “Trailers and More” on the Star Trek Discovery section. Season 2 is currently only available on CBS All Access.

Star Trek Short Treks
CBS All Access, Season 2, 6 Episodes
Directors : Mark Pellington, Daniel Gray Longino, Sanji Senaka, Michael Giacchino, Olatunde Osunsanmi, and Mark Pellington                        
Writers : Michael Chabon, Graham Wagner, Kalinda Vazquez, Chris Silvestri, Anthony Maranville, Brandon Schultz, Kirsten Beyer,  Jenny Lumet, and Alex Kurtzman.
Cast: Rebecca Romijn, Ethan Peck, Anson Mount , Rosa Salazar, H. Jon Benjamin, Amrit Kaur, Kirk Thatcher, Kenric Green, Kyrie Mcalpin, Ilamaria Ebrahim, and Sadie Munroe

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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