If you have not yet seen the first episode of Discovery’s third season there WILL be spoilers ahead so read at your own peril!
Like many Star Trek fans I’ve been waiting for Discovery to return and it has returned in a big way! I’m so happy about it but that’s for another post.
Roughly 120 years prior to Burnham’s arrival, an event known as ‘The Burn’ happened. Dilithium, the source of power for all warp-capable ships, randomly exploded causing chaos throughout the galaxy with many dead. The status of the UFP and Starfleet are unknown except for one relay station manned by Federation Liaison Aditya Sahil.
Sahil, played by Indian actor Adil Hussain who you may recognise from ‘The Life of Pi’, is a Federation official stationed on an old, damaged relay station. At some point around 3148, Aditya became the sole guardian of the station.
He spent the next 40 years standing watch over the station, with scanners limited to a 600 light-year radius, not knowing if the Federation still existed. His routine became very mundane- sleep, scan and sustenance.
He kept at it for 40 years because he had hope. Hope that someday, somewhere, someone would arrive to help him find out the true fate of the Federation and Starfleet.
After meeting Commander Michael Burnham, he believes that she is that hope.
Sahil explains to Michael that although he comes from a line of Starfleet officers, he himself was never commissioned as there was no one around to do it. Michael offers him a commission and appoints him as Communications Chief with orders to scan for Discovery.
Aditya then does something that may give us a clue to the state of the Federation before ‘The Burn’. He asks Burnham to raise the UFP flag which she does. The flag only has 6 stars where before it used to have many, one of each Federation member. Does this mean that prior to ‘The Burn’ something had already happened to the Federation? Time will tell!
For me, Aditya Sahil embodies everything about Starfleet. The emotion displayed so wonderfully by Adil Hussain when telling of his family links to Starfleet was clear- as were his actions. Duty to a higher, worthy cause came first. He believes there are others out there. He has done his duty for 40 years and has never given up hope. I get the feeling that if his hope ever began to fail, all he need do was to look at the flag he has kept safe all these years. When he first met Michael his expression seemed to be one of shock and revelation with him believing the time, and the hope, had arrived.
In many ways Aditya also represents the current state of the Trek fandom which is divisively split into those who enjoy the latest iterations of Trek and those who don’t.
This isn’t a new thing and dates back to TNG times but I believe that Aditya Sahil represents those amongst use who hope that one day all fans will be unified once again. He is our hope.
Kudos must be given to Adil Hussain for his portrayal of Sahil. Even though we haven’t seen a great deal of his character, from Adil’s acting alone we know much about his character and the type of person he is.
Thanks Adil, for a great performance so far and I hope we see more of you during the season. Welcome to the Star Trek family!
I FORGOT TO ADD THIS!!
I’m going to make a prediction:- by the end of season three we will have a re-unified Federation, on track to rebuilding itself to pre-burn days. I predict that Aditya Sahil will go on to be President of the new United Federation of Planets.