(written from a Production point of view)
On the planet Kaminar, the young Kelpien Saru lives a simple and restricted life with his family but is eager to explore the universe far beyond. His ingenuity and his desire to learn more lead him to a future he never expected.
A young Saru and others in his village on his homeworld of Kaminar farm seaweed. He begins his monologue by explaining that all his life when he looked up at the stars, he saw hope. But this was not how he was raised. When Kelpiens look up at the stars, they see only death. There’s a flashback to a time when several members of his village were going through the biological process known as Vahar'ai and one night the Ba'ul (a sentient species that shares the planet with them) called them to the village center where a pylon sits. This pylon transports them elsewhere and they are never seen or heard from again. It is the “culling.” Saru explains that his people walk toward the harvest willingly because they welcome death. They do not question it. They are told by their village priest that when the Ba’ul take you, the pain of Vahar’ai stops and this preserves their planet’s “Great Balance." Predator and prey. Yin and yang. It is a balance and this is the life of a Kelpian. Saru’s father, Aradar, is his village priest. He guides the villagers through Vahar’ai to their culling and is the peacekeeper between the Ba’ul and the Kelpians.
Later, Aradar returns home with a small piece of technology. He explains that it fell off the Ba’ul ship as they sometimes do. Saru, his sister Siranna and his father Aradar all sit down for a meal. They pray before eating by holding their hands up right and criss crossed with the back of the hands touching. As they begin to eat, Aradar tells Saru to dispose of the Ba’ul technology by tonight since keeping it is forbidden. Saru says he will as soon as his work is done. But he is apprehensive and since his father had just made contact with Ba’ul ship, Saru decides to ask him what’s out there beyond the skies. His father gives a priestly answer as always “The Watchful Eye rules the skies.” Saru wonders if their people could ever reach the stars like the Ba’ul have done and whether or not there are others out there besides the Ba’ul. Aradar gives another priestly answer by saying “If the great balance meant for us to fly, we would have wings.” Saru is not satisfied and asks if the Ba’ul have wings. He finds it strange and unsettling that they sacrifice themselves to the Ba’ul instead of asking to be like them. This angers his father and he indignantly says that under no circumstances should the great balance ever be upset. Those who give their lives do so to feed the Ba’ul which makes life for all other Kelpians peaceful and comfortable. Aradar ends the discussion by saying that the time will come for each of them to be culled because that is how it has always been and he won’t tolerate questioning the great balance anymore. Saru reluctantly agrees in order to appease his father and to end the argument. Aradar says that they all have a place in this world and soon Saru will come to understand it like he has.
But Saru did not understand why balance meant not asking questions and he needed answers to those questions. So later that night Saru takes the piece of Ba’ul technology that he’s supposed to dispose of and instead reverse engineers it to understand its design and purpose. He was determined to get those answers and sent out a message hoping there was someone out there to hear it. He waited and waited, checking each night to see if someone had answered. He thought he might have to wait forever. Until one night when someone finally answered his call. It’s a simple “hello,” but it’s priceless to Saru. He converses with this person for some time and begins thinking about leaving Kaminar. So he tries to see if there’s anything keeping here by asking his father what would happen if he reached Vahar’ai before next Harvest. Aradar just says that it would be his time and they should be honored that the Watchful Eye chose him to maintain the balance. Saru is at a loss for words and wonders how this life could be enough for them; to just simply wait to be taken.
That’s it. He decides to leave and the person on the other end of this call says that they will come get him today. He walks outside with his sister that night and he tells her to head back home while there’s still light out. He wants to watch the stars for a while. She smiles and hands him a knife that is used to prune flowers. She tells him to prune some night blooming flowers and look down every now and then because there’s beauty there as well. He says goodbye to her in a way that feels final though she’s not sure why. Siranna goes home and Saru moves to a remote location. A Federation shuttle lands near his position and he is greeted by a much younger Philippa Georgiou. She’s a Lieutenant at this time and serving aboard the USS Archimedes. She says that it’s nice to finally put a face to the name after conversing with him for so long. She tells him that she has surmised that he contacted her with technology that wasn’t his. He is scared that she will reprimand him but instead she congratulates him on being the first and only Kelpian with ingenuity to manipulate technology that advanced. She calls him extraordinary and he thanks her for the compliment. Georgiou tells Saru to not thank her just yet because if he comes with her everything he knows will change and he will not be able to ever return home due the Prime Directive. She adds that it was already incredibly difficult for her to convince Starfleet to make an exception for him. Saru takes a moment to look at his village and then tells her that his place is no longer here. He gets in her shuttle and they leave. Siranna looks up at the stars before heading inside for the night and sees a light in the sky. It’s their shuttle going to warp. In Saru’s ending monologue he says that he saw hope in the stars, hope was stronger than fear, and he dared to walk toward it.
"Look down every now and then. There's beauty there as well."
- - Siranna, to Saru
"My place is no longer here"
- - Saru, to Georgiou accepting her proposal to leave
"I saw hope in the stars. It was stronger than fear, and I went towards it."
- - Saru, final monologue
- The episode's title, synopsis, and airdate were announced on 20 September 2018. 
- On the topic of the Kelpien's prey nature, Doug Jones said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter: "When talking about it in season one, I pictured it more like cattle being herded, more of a farming situation that my people went along with... I looked at the ["Brightest Star"] script and saw it was more ritualistic. That was a bit of a surprise, but a good one that makes more sense. We're sentient beings; we're smart, we're imaginative and emotional beings that can connect and have families. So it wouldn't make sense that we would act like cattle. We accept the ritualistic religious aspect that there’s a great balance to be had, and we're a part of that." 
- The Kelpien language heard in this episode was created by Marc Okrand, who previously crafted the Vulcan language and Klingonese.
- This short was produced simultaneously with the Star Trek: Discovery episode "The Sound of Thunder", utilizing Scarborough Bluffs Park in Toronto as the Kelpien village. (TRR: "The Sound of Thunder").
- Lieutenant Georgiou's shuttle is marked "SHN 03", implying it belongs to the USS Shenzhou. In the flashback sequences to this episode in the Star Trek: Discovery episode "The Sound of Thunder", the shuttle’s designation was changed to only read “03”, removing the “SHN”, and Georgiou is stated to have been assigned to the USS Archimedes at the time this episode of Short Treks is set.
- Dialogue in "The Sound of Thunder" places Saru's departure from Kaminar eighteen years prior to that episode, and reveals that his attempt to reach out led Starfleet to make first contact with the Ba'ul, who had achieved warp drive two years earlier.
Home video releases
- As part of the Star Trek: Discovery season 2 DVD and Blu-ray releases. Only this episode and "Runaway" were included from season 1 of Star Trek: Short Treks.
Links and references
- Lisa Auguste as Female Villager #5
- Krista Deady as Female Villager #4
- Clayton Scott as Male Villager #3
- David Benjamin Tomlinson as Male Villager #1
- Adam Winlove-Smith as Male Villager #2
Archimedes, USS; Ba'ul; Ba'ul ship; beacon; birds; Class C shuttlecraft; death; fredalia; Great Balance; harvest; hope; Kaminar; kelp; Kelpien; Kelpien language; lieutenant; night-blooming flower; pre-warp civilization; pack; priest; ritual sacrifice; SHN 03; Starfleet; stars; vahar'ai; Watchful Eye; wing
- "The Brightest Star" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The Brightest Star" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The One with the Trek Geeks" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
|Star Trek: Short Treks
"The Escape Artist"