Short Treks Recap: The Girl Who Made the Stars & Ephraim and Dot (Season 2, Episodes 4 & 5)

Previously on Short Treks: Cadet Sidhu is put through some tests/torture.

New animated Star Trek! For the first time since the 1970s! And two different animation styles!  I hope you’re all as excited as I am, because here we go…

The Girl Who Made the Stars

There’s a lightning storm in space, near a research station, and young Michael Burnham is awoken by a nightmare. As she clutches her stuffed tardigrade, she tells her dad that she wants to sleep with all the lights on. But her dad wants to tell her the story of a girl, about her age, who changed the entire universe with “just one single, tiny light.”

Well, TrekMovie called it. In the first episode of Discovery Season 2, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) tells us a story: “A thousand centuries ago in Africa, the /Xam Abathwa people gathered to share a story. The tale of a girl who dug her hands in the wood ash and threw it into the sky to create the Milky Way. And hidden there, a secret buried among the eternal stars, was a message. An enormous letter in a bottle made of space and time, visible only to those whose hearts were open enough to receive it.” This is that story, which is told to her by her father (Kenric Green). Except he tells it a little differently…

A thousand centuries ago, there were no stars in the night sky, which frightened the First People, who weren’t allowed to travel at night.  But the people had been farming the same land over and over, and were in danger of starvation. A young girl wanted to search for new land, over the mountains, but the Elder told her the journey would be too long, and she should just “go play.” Which annoys young Michael in just the way you’d hope.

"Not today, fear" gif

So, the girl goes off on her own, and is joined by a firefly. But she was still frightened of the “night beast.”  And all of a sudden, there was a streak of light from the sky. Her curiosity won out, and she followed the light, which lead her to… an alien crash site? The being saw in the little girl a brave warrior and showed her just how big the universe was to explore, and told her that “the first step is conquering fear.” The being gave her a gift, and took off.

When the girl returned to her valley, the Elder scolded her for angering the darkness. The girl replied, “No, I brought us the light” and she opened her gift and filled the night sky with the stars, and her people were never scared of the night again. The girl grew up to be a great explorer, and leader, eventually becoming Queen.

Young Michael realizes, “It was the light inside that guided her!” and that there’s no reason to be afraid. So young Michael decides she no longer even needs her nightlight, and falls asleep, dreaming of the great Warrior Queen shooting an arrow right at the head of the Night Beast.

"Believe in Yourself" gif

Ephraim and Dot

Ephraim the tardigrade is flying through the mycelial network, minding her own business and looking for a place to lay her eggs, when none other but the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 warps into town and destroys her asteroid. Ephraim is curious about the ship, and flies around, looking in the windows at the crew. And she happens to see Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy and Khan Noonien Singh in sickbay, complete with audio from “Space Seed.”

Ephraim is trying to get inside the ship, but doesn’t know how. And that’s when Dot, a repair bot (as seen is the second season of Discovery), appears, sounds an intruder alert, and zaps poor Ephraim. But after Dot returns to the ship, Ephraim follows. As the pair rockets through the corridor, they encounter a vat of blue goo and several laundry piles of red, blue, and gold tunics. Dot threatens to zap Ephraim again, but she escapes through the ship’s conduits, and eventually finds the perfect warm, safe place to lay her eggs.

Just as she lets her her guard down and relaxes, Dot’s found her once again. This time, their chase through the Enterprise involves a storage hatch full of tribbles and a scene from “The Naked Time,” before Ephraim is ejected into space, and Dot snarkily (for a robot) says: “Live Long and Prosper.”

But Ephraim will not leave her eggs. As the Enterprise goes to warp, Ephraim travels the mycelial network to keep up with them. And this chase sequence pays homage to SO many classic TOS episodes, including but no limited to: “The Doomsday Machine,” “The Tholian Web,” and “The Savage Curtain” (I love me some Giant Space Lincoln).

Floating Lincoln from "The Savage Curtain"

Ephraim is finally able to catch up with the ship and peek inside the window to see that her eggs are still safe, right where she left them… but the ship us under attack from the Klingons!

Ephraim gets inside through a breach in the hull, but Dot spots her. While she’s checking on her eggs, Dot attacks and zaps Ephraim yet again, before sending her out at airlock. As Dot gets back to her business of literally putting out fires, she finally notices the eggs. And that’s when the ship’s computer announces, “Self-destruct sequence completed and engaged.”

Ephraim’s flying back to the ship once again when she sees the Enterprise explode. In the debris, she finds Dot, and is about to attack… until Dot opens her torso to reveal eight newly-hatched tardigrade babies.

"Awww" reaction gif

Ephraim hugs Dot, and the new family jumps into the mycelial network together (as the credits begin to play over the TOS theme).

  1 comment for “Short Treks Recap: The Girl Who Made the Stars & Ephraim and Dot (Season 2, Episodes 4 & 5)

  1. Went back to watch the opening of Brother after catching “The Girl Who Made the Stars” and caught two things:

    “The first time I heard the story of The Girl Who Made the Stars, I wasn’t ready to understand. I still don’t know if I am.” The animated short gives a more complex picture into the traumatized girl that arrives in Sarek and Amanda’s home.

    Also, what Spock draws and throws into the air upon meeting Michael is the Night Beast! This is a nice tie together as is the later moment when Michael realizes she must throw the stars into the air to find the map to Spock.

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