In Season One of Star Trek: Discovery, Michael Burnham fell from grace. She redeemed herself by the end of the season and her redemption arc will continue in Season Two, in spite of the heavy burden of guilt that she carries.
TrekMovie interviewed Sonequa Martin-Green at NYCC last weekend, where she spoke about her character and about Burnham’s relationship with Spock.
Burnham has been forgiven by others, but not yet by herself. “I’ve been reinstated into Starfleet,” she said. “I’ve been redeemed inter-personally. A lot of my coworkers and dear friends and loved ones have forgiven me and understood why I made the choices that I made, though they weren’t the right ones. But I do definitely have to forgive myself, and I carry a lot of guilt, as Burnham.”
That guilt dates back to her youngest days, when her parents died. “That’s a huge cornerstone for me, shame and guilt, because of things that happened, namely the murder of my parents, which was because of me,” said Martin-Green. “That’s a hell of a lot for a child to take on and carry with them through their maturation. So the redemption has to continue and it has to include a forgiveness and acceptance of my very self, and I say to Sarek in the pilot, that my emotions inform my logic, but what I need to find next is how my logic then informs my emotion.”
Her relationship with Spock is “complicated, difficult, and strenuous,” said Martin-Green. “We don’t shy away from that, either, which I love. And Season Two, as I said in the panel just now, is deeply emotional. And I pray and hope that people can go on the journey with us wholeheartedly because it will wrench your heart. Because it is so deeply emotional.”
Will fans ever hear why Spock has never mentioned Burnham? “Oh gosh, yeah,” said Martin-Green. “And we mentioned that too, you know -there’s a long game with Star Trek: Discovery. Because it is hyper-serialized, and because it is a novel told in chapters, there is a through-line, and there are conceptual weavings that take time to unravel – that might have been a mixed metaphor, but we’re just going to go with it – but I really encourage everyone to trust that every single question that we raise in Star Trek: Discovery that may seem like it’s not canon-compliant, every one of those questions gets answered. Every one.”
Season Two of Star Trek: Discovery begins on January 17, 2019 on CBS All Access and on January 18 on Netflix.