Star Trek Short Treks: Children of Mars

By nature I love brevity: A well told story about two lonely little girls lashing out in the search for connection, until something brings them together.

If you are looking forward to Star Trek: Picard, watch this. I'll just start with that. If you are excited for the show, go and watch this right now, because it will get you a-theorizin' about its tantalizing clues.

At its core, this is a basic story about the way people process loneliness. Through the eyes of two young girls, we are shown the pain of being alone with powerful, simple clarity. This manifests itself in two different ways, both of which cause them to frantically seek connection in any way they can find it. Kima (Ilamaria Ebrahim) talks to her Mom often, but is always longing to be with her. Lil (Sadie Munroe) is angry with her father for his repeated failures to come and see her.

This simple feeling of desperate loneliness soon spirals into a spiteful battle between the two. Both of the girls find themselves hating and abusing each other, partly to take out their frustrations and partly to form some slim kind of connection, even if it's one of anger and violence. Lil's simple carelessness at the start has blown very quickly into something neither child would have wanted.

And then it happens.

Those who were capable of conscious thought on September 11th, 2001, know and can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard that a plane had struck the World Trade Center in New York City. This, and other such horrible and shocking events, have sparked some of the greatest bravery, sacrifice, and deeply heartfelt human connection that the world has ever seen. When something terrible happens, it knits people together in a single moment as tightly as years of devoted friendship.

This is probably why this episode didn't click with me the first time around. I am not old enough to have experienced the events of 9/11 as countless people did. I have not felt the moments of incredible tragedy, of connection over shared grief, and of relentless determination that events like those inevitably produce. It is an experience that I both do and do not wish that I had been a part of. This prevented me from connecting with 'Children of Mars' on the level that I'm sure many people did. My youth is not the fault of the episode. But it did provide a slight barrier on the first watch.

The second viewing really improved it, with full context to interpret what I was seeing. I was prepared for a sudden tonal shift when I initially watched it, but when I saw it again later I was better able to follow the story's arc of escalation followed by tragedy.

So it is very likely that a vast majority of you will enjoy and be able to fully appreciate this short. I wasn't initially, but that's alright and it certainly isn't a problem with the episode.

Pensees:

-Previous Short Treks have all been 'Based upon Star Trek: Discovery.' This was 'Based upon Star Trek: The Next Generation.'

-The rooms Lil and Kima lived in had very TNG-style walls.

-The news story about the Mars attack contained a few important pieces of information. One was that the attack was being carried out by 'Rogue synths.' The second was the response to the attack. It was from Admiral Picard. Speculation about both of these things in the comments is encouraged.

-The trailers for Star Trek: Picard have contained similar shots of Mars being destroyed or at least bombarded significantly.

5 out of 6 rogue synths.

--
If CoramDeo had a million dollars, he'd write a review. But not a real review, that's cruel.

2 comments:

Dimo said...

The thing that bothered me the most was the complete lack of imagination as to the evolution of "society", but that is an STD staple so no surprises there.
The fact that they portray the 24th century school as a typical contemporary USA style school with lockers, bullying, violence (other students cheering for the fight?) and subsequent disciplinary action (detention?) is not just devoid of imagination but also goes against all we know of the Federation society. They are beyond petty bullshit like this, and when there are problems in school they handle it through dialog and progressive methodologies.

Around the world concepts like detention and even large scale classrooms are being challenged already today. But hey. Spolsions!

And like in a high tech society where we KNOW that they use transporters to get around earth, why do they need a school bus shuttle? Yet another USA thing. In most of the worlds big cities, students get to school using public transport or cycling or walking. Why don't they just take the metro? But even if we assume they need a shuttle - why doesn't it wait for the missing student? And why doesn't she just pop over to the nearest transporter? And why is she being reprimanded for being late with no explanation? It's just so infuriating how little vision there is.

And what the fuck do they need lockers for anyway? I didn't see any books or any kind of physical writing materials, they need those huge backpacks for their little "tablet"? Really?
Wouldn't any required materials like books or props simply be replicated when needed?

It's a damn shame that's what it is.

CoramDeo said...

Dimo, I don't tend to care so much about those sorts of things. I definitely think it would have been a mistake to try and tackle what school might look like in the 24th Century in such a short story. In a short film, narrative shorthand like that is essential to telling a good story.