‘Star Trek: Discovery’: Here’s the Deal With Michael Burnham’s Parents

Trekkies everywhere will rejoice on Sept. 24, 2017, when the highly-anticipated Star Trek: Discovery premieres on CBS. Fans of the series are especially excited because this is the first time in more than 10 years that the legendary franchise has returned to TV.

Since the first trailer was released in May, there have been many questions about the series and its main character, Michael Burnham. Showrunners revealed that Discovery is a prequel, set 10 years before the original Star Trek series in the “Prime” universe.

And what about the protagonist? Well, we know that she is a woman played by The Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin-Green and has a very interesting storyline. The actress previously announced that she is Spock’s adopted sister and was raised by Sarek and Amanda. So what happened to Burnham’s parents?

Here’s the deal on that and a list of everything else we know about the lead character.

1. She is not a starship captain

 Actress Sonequa Martin-Green poses in a green dress at the premiere of AMC's 'Fear The Walking Dead' Season 2.

Sonequa Martin-Green | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

That’s right: Martin-Green’s character is not captain of a starship (at least, not at first).

“I’m the first officer on the U.S.S. Shenzhou that is captained by Captain Philippa Georgiou, who is played by the amazing Michelle Yeoh,” she told Entertainment Weekly.

2. Her parents were murdered by Klingons

James Frain attends the 8th Annual BritWeek Launch Party.

James Frain | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

One of the biggest bombshells we learned about Burnham is that she is Spock’s adopted sister and was rescued by Sarek and Amanda after her parents were murdered by Klingons. Sarek takes the young Burnham in and raises her as his child on Vulcan.

James Frain, who plays the role of Sarek in the series, elaborated on the storyline. As he told SFX magazine of his character:

We see Sarek as a younger man, and we discover that he has been made responsible for Michael’s upbringing — her parents were killed while being hosted at the Vulcan Academy when there was a Klingon attack. So we feel responsible for her, take her in, and I raise her in my family as a Vulcan.

Burnham’s struggles between the life she was born into and the life she was raised in will be detailed in the series.

3. She’s the first human to attend the Vulcan Science Academy

Michael Burnham wears a captain's uniform while standing on a ship in Star Trek Discovery

Sonequa Martin-Green in the Star Trek: Discovery trailer | CBS

Speaking of the Vulcan Academy, we know that Burnham is the first human to ever attend the Vulcan Learning Centre when she was a child and later, the Vulcan Science Academy as a young woman.

“I’m a xenoanthropologist, I also had another field of study while at the Vulcan Science Academy,” Martin-Green explained of her character. “I’m the only human to have gone to the Vulcan Learning Centre and the Vulcan Science Academy and excelled at that. As a xenoanthropologist, I’m also essentially and inherently a first contact specialist as well.”

4. She makes a difficult decision that has serious consequences

Captain Georgiou talks to Michael Burnham in the 'Star Trek: A Discovery' trailer.

Captain Georgiou in Star Trek: Discovery | CBS

Like with any good story, there needs to be conflict with the star character, and Burnham’s stems from a decision she makes that has some serious consequences.

Her choice, which affects the whole universe and likely goes against orders, is still a bit of a mystery, but the trailer shows a heated exchange between her and Georgiou, perhaps over the decision.

5. She ends up in a civilian yellow shirt

Michael Burnam's reflection is seen in the force field which Captain Lorca faces

Eagle-eyed fans spotted Michael Burnham wearing a yellow shirt in the trailer. | CBS

The Comic-Con trailer referenced “change” and, at one point, showed Burnham’s reflection in a civilian yellow shirt behind a force field as Captain Lorca spoke to her. This suggests that she’s been stripped of her captain duties, at least temporarily.

Questions about what exactly led to this will have to be answered in the series, but one would presume that it may be the result of the aforementioned consequential decision.

6. She learns something odd is happening on the USS Discovery

Michael Burnham talks to her captain in Star Trek Discovery

Are there secrets to be unraveled on the ship? | CBS

That same trailer also suggests that while serving as a member of Lorca’s team, Burnham learns that something very odd is happening on the USS Discovery.

But what? It seems Burnham is determined to get to the bottom of it as we see her rooming with Cadet Tilly and hear her ask, “What the hell is going on on this ship?”

7. Her character may not be safe

Michael Burnham wears a space suit in Star Trek Discovery

Fans might not want to fall in love with Michael Burnham too soon. | CBS

Another interesting bit of information that we learned about the new series is that no character, not even Burnham, is safe from being killed off — and you can thank Game of Thrones for the extra drama.

Producer Gretchen J. Berg gave credit where credit was due, telling Entertainment Weekly that “Game of Thrones changed television. They almost made it difficult to fall in love with people because you didn’t know if they were going to be taken away from you. That show’s had an influence on all TV dramas that have come after it.”

That means it’s anybody’s guess how long Burnham or any of the other major characters will last on Star Trek: Discovery.

Follow Michelle Kapusta on Twitter @philamichelle.

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