Why is Saru the bravest Kelpien? Overall, they’re an unassuming species; the Kelpiens live their lives in fear, forever in anticipation of the culling. Whenever a Kelpien reaches a certain point in their life, and they approach Vahar’ai (a biological process) they are hunted, captured and killed by the other inhabitants of the planet: the Ba’ul.
The Ba’ul have been orchestrating the culling for thousands of years. When Vahar’ai approaches for any Kelpien, it’s seen as the point of oncoming death, and each Kelpien knows they are to be hunted. It’s why over the millennia, they’ve gained enhanced hearing and vision, and great speed with their long limbs – all evolutionary gifts due to their species’ history.
His name is Saru
Imagine if your life was governed entirely by fear. It’s very real for some in the here and now. In the fictional world of Star Trek, this is the way of things for the Kelpien race. They live in villages with their families, but always under the watchful eye of the Ba’ul. Giant obelisks hover over each Kelpien settlement, as the superior technology of the Ba’ul never lets the Kelpiens forget about their ultimate fate.
But one Kelpien had different, dangerous thoughts. His name is Saru.
Saru’s father was a priest in his village. In the name of keeping the peace, he furthered the Ba’ul’s doctrine amongst his people, assuring them that the culling was necessary for The Balance. The Ba’ul insisted that only by putting Kelpiens out of their misery at the time of their Vahar’ai would they be able to maintain the all-important Balance, which was crucial for their survival.
Taking matters into his own hands
Saru was a Kelpien through and through. His actions were usually fear-based, in the name of survival – like all the rest.
But he wondered if the Balance was all there was. Saru knew that there was life beyond Kaminar and took a chance, using Ba’ul technology to send a message to the stars.
As a result, Saru contacted Starfleet posing as a representative of the Ba’ul and asked the Federation to open a dialog. Starfleet’s arrival was met with hostility by the Ba’ul, but Saru took the opportunity to seek political asylum and left Kaminar behind.
Saru found himself as the only Kelpien in the whole Federation. He was heartened by not only seeing so many other forms of life, but seeing them live and work together. It amazed and astonished him. For the first time in his life, he began to hope.
He seized every opportunity, making friends, learning over 90 languages, applying to Starfleet, and building a career.
Many years later, serving as first officer on the USS Discovery, Saru realised that, after going through it, the Vahar’ai was not a death knell for Kelpians, but a different stage of life. The Balance was a lie. And having finally returned to Kaminar during a mission, Saru artificially induced Vahar’ai in all Kelpiens, revealing the Ba’ul’s deception.
It turned out that the Balance and the culling were manufactured by the Ba’ul to keep Kelpiens from becoming their equals, fearing the race’s true strength.
Saru, the liberator
In the end, it was revealed that thousands of years earlier, it was the Kelpiens who had ruled the planet, cruelly dominating the Ba’ul. The Ba’ul managed to attack and reverse their species’ roles, and they have kept the Kelpiens under their thumbs ever since.
Knowing all this, the Kelpiens vowed to embrace their new status, and to never resort to the old ways.
And all this came to light because one Kelpien stood up and dared to hope.
Does Saru’s tale resonate with you? Have you been watching Saru on Star Trek: Discovery? And are you looking forward to Season Three? Let us know in the comments section.
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