Star Trek: Discovery had its two-hour premiere on Sunday, introducing Starfleet’s newest members aboard the U.S.S. Shinzou.
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery.]
Like past Star Trek shows, much of Discovery’s best moments come from its relationships. The relationship between Captain Georgiou and Commander Michael Burnham, for example, was captivating. As the focal point of Discovery, Burnham’s various relationships with individual crew members drives the narrative forward, but there’s another emotional connection explored in the first couple of episodes that may appeal to longtime fans of the Star Trek franchise: Burnham and her surrogate Vulcan father, Sarek.
Sarek is best known for being the biological father of Star Trek’s most famous Vulcan, Spock. In 2227, Sarek married a human woman named Amanda Grayson, and three years later in 2230, the couple had their first son, Spock. Their relationship was always strained, and Spock was routinely picked on by other Vulcan children because of his father’s decision to marry a human and his mixed ancestry. Everything changed for the worse, however, in 2250, when Spock decided to join Starfleet instead of following in Sarek’s footsteps and attending the Vulcan Science Academy.
In Discovery, Sarek took in Burnham when her human parents were killed by Klingons. Burnham resided with him, and during that time attended both the Vulcan Learning Academy and Vulcan Space Academy — just as Spock never did. Once she completed her studies, Sarek took her to the U.S.S. Shinzou and left her under the mentorship of Captain Georgiou.
In Discovery, although Sarek maintains his cold, emotionless Vulcan exterior, he does show some warmth toward Burnham. In one scene following a Klingon attack, he tells Burnham that if someone had to die at the cost of war, he’s glad that it wasn’t her. For a Vulcan, that’s about as loving as it’s going to get.
Outside of Discovery and the original series, which occur about 10 years apart according to former showrunner Bryan Fuller, Sarek also appeared in Star Trek: The Animated Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation and four of the Star Trek films. It’s unclear if Sarek will be a recurring character in Discovery, but it seems likely.
Star Trek: Discovery airs on Sundays at 8:30 p.m. ET via CBS’ streaming service, All Access. The service costs $5.99 a month with ads and $9.99 without. The first two episodes are currently available to stream.