Short Treks Recap: “Children of Mars”

Two girls in futuristic school uniforms

“Children of Mars” — Episode SF #008 — Pictured (l-r): Ilmaria Ebrahim as Kima; Sadie Munroe as Lil; of the the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: SHORT TREKS. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2019 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Previously on Short Treks: Many things happened, all of which were adorable

Well Season 2 of Short Treks is wrapping up with an episode meant to prep us for the premiere of Star Trek Picard. Let the mining for clues commence!

Gif of woman saying "I'm very excited"

The beginning of the episode shows us parallel stories of two little girls: Kima (Ilmaria Ebrahim) and Lil (Sadie Munroe). Kima tells us her mom works at Utopia Planitia on Mars, and we see a video call between the two of them where they make funny faces at each other and laugh. After a cutaway to a shot of a bustling orbital spacedock above a red planet, Lil introduces herself seemingly much less happily. She says her dad is a Quality Systems Supervisor at the Mars Orbital Facility.

In their video call, her dad tells her that it’s too busy for him to make it home this year. Which, really? A year? I may be wrong but it looks from her view like she lives on Earth, or perhaps terraformed Mars.

Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec narrowing his eyes skeptically

Maybe Lil’s dad met Worf and is like, “How can I be a worse dad than this guy?”

The two girls leave their literal padded rooms. The beige rooms have an aesthetic that can best be described as bridge of the Enterprise-D-meets-bouncy castle. In their uniforms: maroon blazers, white collared shirts, grey pants and grey slip-on rubber-soled shoes, the girls make their way to a shuttle to class. On the way, Lil deliberately knocks into Kima and causes her to drop her backpack. As a result, she misses the shuttle and is late for school.

Can I pause here for a second and ask if we’re supposed to think all schools have uniforms in the 24th century? Or is this some Starfleet Academy prep school? If so, they definitely missed out not having kids in yellow and blue blazers too.

Cue the beginning of the song that will take us through most of the rest of this Short Treks – a slow, emo-y soft rock song with a refrain about being heroes just for a day.

The interior of the building looks like the test centre from the Brazilian sci-fi show 3% – very sterile and bright-white with electronic display screens, in this case trumpeting the fact that it’s First Contact Day.

All the teachers are in black with white collars, given them an authoritarian religious look that is not helping me with my dystopian associations.

Rodolfo from the show 3% saying it's not fair that only 3% of the population gets to live on the offshore

Kima arrives late to class and shoves Lil as she passes behind her desk, before sitting down. Kima glares at Lil, who doodles a caricature of the teacher on her tablet and sends it to Kima. Kima gets caught by “Mrs. K” (people are still using “Mrs” apparently).

In the library later (but still during the same song), Kima hides and sticks her leg out to trick Lil, then runs away. Lil gets up, furious, and stalks down the hallway. When she finds Kima at her locker she shoves her and the two get in a big fight in the hall, while other kids egg them on.

And frankly I found it disturbing, which I hope was the intended result. At one point Lil punches Kima straight in the face and blue blood drips out her nose.

But as a placeholder here are two pandas wrestling.

Baby pandas wrestling

The teachers pull the girls off each other and they sit in the foyer, backs to each other, under glowing signs that read “Grow” and “Achieve.”

The song finally ends and a balding Vulcan administrator is walking towards the girls when he receives an alert on his handheld communicator. Another teacher gets the same message and runs over to him and they look at each other in shock. They make a non-verbal decision to broadcast the feed on the large screens and then everyone in school sees the news: there’s been an attack by “Rogue Synths” on Mars and an estimated 3000 people are dead.

Some very Romulan-looking ships are flying over the planet – bird-like with glowing green emblems. Kima flashes back to her last video call with her mom and Lil regrets hanging up on her dad.

We see the ships destroy a space station and then Picard’s face on the screen with the caption “Admiral Picard reacts to Mars Attack.” Only I thought it said “Attacks” and I was imagining Picard reacting to the 1996 movie Mars Attacks.

So I don’t have a ton of clues about what’s going to happen in Picard but we have a much clearer idea of the series’ premise. Having read the first two issues of the Star Trek Picard: Countdown prequel comic from IDW I’m wondering whether we’re going to see Geordi killed in the attack on Utopia Planitia – the comic establishes he’s working there overseeing the work of fleet-building. I guess we’ll know in a couple of weeks!

Also, I have a ton of questions about Federation primary schooling.


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