Short Treks: Children of Mars Review

With both Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 premiering this year, 2020 is shaping up to be the year of Star Trek. We kick things off with a bang in the year’s final Short Trek, “Children of Mars”.

While previous Short Treks focused on the 23rd century, “Children of Mars” warps us into the 24th century, post Star Trek: Nemesis. While it is never explicitly stated, we can infer that “Children of Mars” takes place around 2385, during the events of the prequel comic Star Trek Picard: Countdown. Check out our reviews of issues one and two, and stay tuned for our review of issue three next week. 

“Children of Mars” follows two young girls, Kima and Lil, whose parents both work on the shipyards of Mars. Kima’s mother works at the Utopia Planitia Shipyards while Lil’s father works at the Mars Orbital Facility. We are shown that Kima has a loving relationship with her mother while Lil has a strained relationship with her father. Lil’s annoyance with her father causes her to become angry and isolated. 

Federation Starships in drydock at Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards.

The Utopia Planitia Shipyard is a famous Star Trek location. It is the site where both the U.S.S Enterprise-D and the U.S.S. Voyager were constructed. It is also the site where the Romulan relocation fleet is being constructed and overseen by Geordi La Forge in Countdown

We are shown a shot of the space docks above Mars and see three Discovery-era starships. This is most likely due to budgetary constraints and may not have a canonical explanation. Although reusing old starship assets has become a tradition in Star Trek, we will most likely see new 24th-century era ships in Picard

Trouble at school

Kima and Lil make their way to the school shuttlecraft where their rivalry begins: Lil unexpectedly shoves Kima, causing her to miss the shuttlecraft to school. A rendition of David Bowie’s Heroes plays, eliciting a tone similar to that of the Star Trek: Enterprise theme song. Lil and Kima eventually arrive at the school and we are shown that it is none other than First Contact Day, the most famous holiday in Star Trek

Kima (Left) and Lil (Right), the “Children of Mars”.

Kima and Lil have another confrontation in class, where Lil gets Kima in trouble for drawing a cartoon of the professor. While in class, the professor lectures about supernovas. This must be intentional, as we know that Countdown explores the supernova that threatens to destroy Romulus. 

Kima and Lil’s rivalry culminates in a brutal fight in the school hallway. Both throw punches at the other until they are pulled apart by school faculty. Later, after the girls have been separated, a Vulcan headmaster of the school approaches the two girls to discipline them. Before he can, however, he is interrupted by a transmission on his communicator. An alarm then rings and a video plays on the holo-screens: Mars has been attacked. 

First Contact Day

Students flood the room and watch in horror as Mars is attacked on the screens. We then see news reports from the Federation News Network: “Rogue Synths Attack Mars – 3000 Estimated Dead”. Scenes of alien ships attacking Mars on the ground and in space play on the screens. In this moment Kima and Lil both think of their parents on Mars. 

We then see an image of none other than Admiral Jean-Luc Picard. The Federation News Network quotes Picard as saying that the attacks are “Devastating”. In the image, Picard supports the Admiral’s uniform he wears in Countdown, implying that this short takes place around the time as Countdown, in 2385. In the last image of the short, we see Kima and Lil put aside their differences and clasp hands, taking comfort in each other’s mutual heartbreak. 

Admiral Jean-Luc Picard (Via CBS All Access)

With that ends the final Short Trek before Picard premiers this month. Although the short was, well, short, we can garner clues about the upcoming plot of Picard

Clues for Star Trek: Picard

The shots of the attack on Mars are some of the same shots shown in the trailers for Picard, implying that this event will play a major role in the series. In a more recent trailer, we see Picard on a starship while explosions boom on the surface of Mars in the background. Picard narrates, “I was haunted by my past”. This suggests that this is most likely the same incident from “Children of Mars” and maybe the incident that leads Picard to abandon Starfleet. 

But why would Picard be so personally affected by an alien attack? Perhaps it is because of the nature of the combatants. The news report states that “Rogue Synths Attack Mars”. The word synths is short of synthetic, implying that the attack is from artificial beings. In one of the trailers for Picard, we are shown a room full of artificial beings reminiscent of Data. Were these beings created by the Federation? In another trailer for Picard, we are shown the attack on the Mars Orbital Facility by the same ships from “Children of Mars”, except the trailer ships bear a Starfleet insignia.

The Measure of a Man

Could it be that Federation built synthetic beings eventually turn on the Federation and attack Mars? Picard fought for the rights of synthetic life forms in The Next Generation episode, “The Measure of a Man”. In the episode, Picard secured the rights of artificial life forms to choose their own fate. By doing so, Picard prevented the Federation from creating artificial beings to use as slaves. 

What if by 2385 the Federation ignored the precedent set by Picard and created a new race of synthetic beings? And what if that race then turned on their creators? This would certainly cause Picard to become disillusioned with the Federation and abandon his Starfleet career. 

Two weeks

With only two weeks left until the premiere of Picard, anticipation is higher than ever. Our final clue into Picard’s story comes in the form of the third prequel comic, Countdown, releasing next week. This comic will most likely tie into the events of “Children of Mars” and set up the premiere on January 23rd. Look out for our review. 

2020 is going to be a big year for Star Trek. Stay tuned to Trek Central for the latest Star Trek updates.

You can watch our video review of Star Trek: Short Treks Children of Mars, right HERE.
Star Trek: Picard airs on January 23rd via CBS All Access and January 24th via Amazon Prime.