Oct 14, 2017

Is Burnham to blame for the war?

6 comments

Several people in the series intimate that they believe Burnham is to blame for the war and there are various things which might lead them to think so given that even she does not know why she did what she did.

1. She killed the original torchbearer which people may see as a provocation, there is no recording of this action and so no proof that the Klingon attacked first or if there was any reason why he should be killed at all. It could be possible that people believe that she was the aggressor and attacked as a personal retaliation for the death of her parents.

2. She distracted her Captain and Crew at a critical juncture, so people might feel that if she had not mutinied and incapacitated her captain then things may have been different.

3. After claiming that killing T'Kuvma would create a martyr and that the war would then become a holy war she then proceeds to kill him instead of stunning him after he kills the Captain.

4. She pleads guilty and fails to explain her actions in any way, her comments at the Courts Martial simply say she had high hopes and she has now lost them. It is about how she feels now not an explanation of why she did what she did.

5. Her reaction to the inference that the war is her fault from others does not raise a word of denial from her.

 

It may be one or all of these that lead the public and others in Starfleet to indicate that they apportion blame on her. We as the audience have a privileged view of the situation as we have been a fly on the wall throughout, something no other person depicted has.

 

So is she responsible?

Oct 15, 2017

These are all marvelous points. We are so used to television that permits characters to automatically possess the same knowledge as the audience, and it's refreshing to have a show that challenges that and that understands how information is disseminated in a complex society.

 

For my part, I think that we as the audience "know" that Burnham wasn't responsible for the war, that T'Kuvma had laid a trap and was going to start a conflict no matter how the Shenzhou or any other Federation vessel responded. Yet, all the factors you point to contribute to a general understanding that Burnham is responsible.

 

One thing that I wonder is whether the Klingons claim that Burnham's killing of the Torchbearer was the inciting incident of the war.

Oct 15, 2017

I rather think that the Klingons see no need to explain or rationalize their position and probably have had no contact with the federation, they don't care what the other races know or think and are unlikely to give any indication as to their motivation other than you are too close so go away or we will kill you.

Oct 15, 2017

I was wondering about this, in fact. By Star Trek IV (the one with the whales), there is some sort of Klingon ambassador to the Federation. Given that Georgiu explains that no one's had contact with the Klingons since Star Trek: Enterprise, do you think the establishment of formal relations is a later event, perhaps even tied to what is happening on Discovery? I'd really love to see how this works out.

Oct 15, 2017

I would have to think that the only way to have any sort of diplomatic contact would be if the war is won by the federation or that the Klingons believe the war is lost. So I think that the establishment of formal relations must come later.

Oct 16, 2017

Yeah, I think so, too. I'm really excited to see how this plays out.

Oct 20, 2017

I wanted to take a second and return to your original points here, Kev. They are all great catches and completely valid reasons for Starfleet officers to place blame on Burnham.

 

I think Glenn hit the nail on the head by pointing out that we, the audience, know that T’Kuvma was going to start a war either way, even though intra-universe characters weren’t privy to the same information. I found myself asking how in the world Starfleet would end up blaming Burnham over the Klingons, notorious as they are for being aggressive and for seeking glory and honor in battle.

 

This begs the question: how much should we assume that Starfleet officers at this point in the timeline really *do* know about Klingons and Klingon culture?

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