We've known for quite a while that Spock's father, Sarek, was an important figure in the life of Star Trek: Discovery's Michael Burnham, but now Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays the First Officer that is at the center of the new series, is giving up some details about how deep that connection really goes. It turns out that not only is Sarek a father figure and mentor to Burnham, but that he and his human wife, Amanda, actually raised her on Vulcan from the time she was young after her parents were killed. Here's what Martin-Green had to say about how that upbringing affected her character's outlook:
So what was interesting about my upbringing with the two of them was I was indoctrinated with the Vulcan way of life. I was on Vulcan, and I was raised to be that. And so there was always the fight to deny my humanity and take on the sort of Vulcan spirit. But while that was happening, here's Amanda. Human Amanda. So here we have this household of this Vulcan patriarch, this human matriarch, this half-Vulcan/half-human boy, and this human girl. You can imagine a human girl doing her best to become something she was not born to be, while being shielded, guided, comforted, emboldened by her human surrogate mother. Inner conflict, to say the least.
Well, this "inner conflict" certainly sounds like it will comprise at least some of the personal issues that Burnham will have to overcome as she deals with her duties on the USS Shenzhou and the Discovery. Not to mention handling whatever comes her way as the war between the Klingons and Starfleet wages on.
According to what Sonequa Martin-Green told IGN, it actually sounds a lot as though Burnham went through a similar experience to the one Spock went through, being half human and half Vulcan, but with the added trauma of having her biological parents killed and then being raised in a truly alien culture that she had no actual connection with. Being raised by one Vulcan parent who controls his emotions constantly might not have caused so much internal turmoil on its own, but it makes quite a bit of sense that Burnham would feel pressure to act Vulcan being raised around Vulcans almost exclusively. And yet, as Burnham grew up she could also see the benefits to being emotional while watching Amanda navigate life on Vulcan.
While we still don't know how Sarek and Amanda came to care for Burnham, Spock's father was an ambassador, so it's possible that he and his wife knew Burnham's parents because of his work. All will be revealed in time, though, as Star Trek: Discovery finally debuts on CBS and CBS All Access this Sunday, September 24 at 7:30 pm. CST. Subsequent episodes will air only on CBS All Access, so if you like what you see after the premiere, you can sign up for the service here.