Thursday, October 26, 2017

Unpacking Michael Burnham's Graduation, Part III: Props and Ships

In this post, we continue to unpack Michael Burnham's Graduation as seen in Star Trek: Discovery "Lethe". The first prop that caught my eye in these scenes was the staff held by the Vulcan Director.

I believe this prop has its origins in the spears we saw in Star Trek III. There are some similar design principles with a central piece flanked by two pointed shapes. The one appearing in "Lethe" seems to be larger and have more heft to it. The Star Trek III spears always seemed, to me, to be somewhat more ceremonial and even delicate.

Another possible influence for this prop is the Debrune Teral'n sceptre wielded by Nero in Star Trek (2009).  This prop was created by Russell Bobbitt and his prop team for the movie. It lacks the symmetry of the Vulcan props but given the shared origins of the Vulcans and Romans it might make sense that an ancient item like this shared design characteristics with Vulcan objects.

The shapes and design of the Director's staff are echoed in some pieces of set decoration that can be seen in the background.

The other prop that most Vulcanologists will have spotted immediately is a Vulcan Lyre being played by one of the graduates in the background.

It's difficult to be certain because the lyre is out of focus, but I believe i can count 28 strings on this version. The lyres we have seen in 24th century Star Trek all had 12 strings but if you look at Spock's original lyre it had many more. It seems like the Discovery team were using Spock's original as a model here. It's possible that this lyre is also larger in size that previous versions we've seen. Again, the out of focus image makes it difficult to say. It could also be that the musician is fairly small person.

Eagle-eyed Vulcanologists will have noticed something fascinating in the distant background of one of the above images. There is a T'Plana Hath-style ship visible on the surface! This style of ship was first seen in Star Trek: First Contact. It's possible that the Vulcans could still be using this class of ship 200 years after first contact with Humans, after all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Another possibility is that this is a sculpture or monument. I like to think that it is the original T'Plana Hath and that it has been converted into a museum. There is lots of precedence for Starfleet vessels being turned into museums after being decommissioned so it's possible.

The structure next to the ship is also interesting. It borrows heavily from the architecture we saw on Vulcan in Star Trek: Enterprise. For example, this shot from "Kir'Shara".

The spire-like buildings in the background are, as noted here, fairly similar to the designs we saw in Star Trek (2009). I think we get a closer look at similar structures in the artwork created for the Hidden Universe Travel Guide to Vulcan.

All of this just demonstrates that the Discovery team is paying a lot of attention to detail. They clearly love Star Trek and are making a new series that fits well into established canon. For the moment, that is all I have to unpack from Burnham's Graduation, however, there is still more fascinating Vulcan content in "Lethe" that I will discuss in my next post.

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