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Recap / Star Trek Discovery Short Treks E10 "Children of Mars"

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12 year-old classmates Kima and Lil find themselves at odds with each other on a day that will change their lives forever.


Tropes:

  • Alien Blood: Kima's blood is blue.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Did Kima's mom and Lil's dad survive? The short ends before we find out.
  • Apocalypse How: Mars suffers an apparent Class 1, at the very least, under the synths' Orbital Bombardment. The series premiere of Picard, "Remembrance", reveals that it was actually Class 4 to Class 6, depending on what degree of life still survives there (or does not).
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  • Break Out the Museum Piece: The Magee-class starship and class-C shuttlecraft are still in service in the 2380s, more than 130 years after their debut in "Battle at the Binary Stars" and "Context Is For Kings", respectively. Of course, it's not unusual for Starfleet to use century-old designs such as the Miranda- or Excelsior-classes, both of which were all over TNG and DS9.
  • Contrast Montage: Both Kima and Lil start the day talking with their parent via subspace. Kima's conversation with her mother is light and goofy, while Lil's conversation with her father is more somber and sullen until she angrily hangs up on him.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Children of Mars" refers to both the planet Mars, and its namesake — the Roman god of war. Kima and Lil, the titular children, potentially lose a parent during the attack on Mars.
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  • Downer Beginning: For Star Trek: Picard, though a fairly distant one.
  • Escalating War: Starts very small, but by the end the two girls are in an all-out brawl before they are separated.
  • First Blood: Lil punches Kima hard. Kima touches her nose, feels the blood, and comes back swinging.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The events of this episode occur on First Contact Day, a major holiday in the Federation.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Kima assumes that this is why Lil keeps bullying her. In reality, it's because Lil's frustrated that her dad isn't coming home from Mars this year.
  • Missed the Bus: Because Kima has to pick up her stuff after Lil bumps into her, she arrives seconds too late to reach the shuttle taking the others to school, the first slight in their Escalating War.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: As Star Trek: Picard confirms in its premiere episode, this is set on the day that Mars was bombed into uninhabitability and over 92,000 residents of the planet lost their lives. The Utopia Planitia shipyards, the figurative "birthplace" of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D, U.S.S. Defiant, and U.S.S. Voyager, are gone. Starfleet and the Federation ban all research into artificial and synthetic life-forms, forcing the dismantling of Data's "brother" B-4, and the end of Data's ill-fated bid at resurrection.
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  • Not So Different: Both Kima and Lil have single parents working at a distant job that makes it hard for them to spend time with each other except by subspace communications.
  • Not So Stoic: The stern Vulcan school official reacts with visible dismay at the news of the attack on Mars.
  • Orbital Bombardment: Part of the attack on Mars consists of this, with large explosions dotting the surface visible from orbit.
  • Parting Words Regret: Lil thinks back to her last conversation with her dad, when she angrily hung up on him not knowing what was about to happen.
  • Prequel: Unlike the other shorts, this one is a lead-in to Star Trek: Picard.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The "rogue synth" attack on Mars, the purported death toll of 3,000, and the sudden onset of the news back on Earth are all a close parallel for the shock and immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
  • Robot War: Rogue "synths" — presumably some type of android — bomb Mars and the Utopia Planitia shipyards.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale:
    • 3,000 seems a shockingly low number of casualties for the level of destruction we see on the Martian surface. Downplayed, though, by the implication that it's just an initial estimate — the real death toll is likely much higher once Starfleet responds to and investigates the attack.
    • The series premiere of Picard, "Remembrance", indeed confirms that it is far worse than that. Over 92,000 Starfleet personnel and Federation (and other) civilians are said to have died that day. For reference, that beats out the death toll of the Battle of Wolf 359 (see "The Best of Both Worlds" in TNG and "Emissary" in DS9) by a factor of eight. The Martian atmosphere is still burning a decade later, leaving the planet practically uninhabitable.
  • The Unreveal: We're given no real details about these "synths" beyond what can be gleaned from the attack. Starfleet was clearly caught flat-footed by the attack even though the synths have presumably been around for a while, and judging by the number of attack ships, the synths had plenty of time to prepare in advance. Also, why they picked Mars and Utopia Planitia as their target, rather than Earth itself when given the chance, is left unexplained. Presumably, most of these answers would constitute spoilers for Star Trek: Picard.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Lil angrily hangs up on her father when he says he won't be able to come home this year like he'd hoped.

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