‘Discovery’s Sonequa Martin-Green On How Michael Burnham Is Like Other Star Trek Captains

When season four of Star Trek: Discovery arrives later this year a big change for the show (besides the new uniforms) is Michael Burnham in the captain’s chair. Now star Sonequa Martin-Green is talking about getting promoted.

Earning the chair

While out promoting playing LeBron James’ wife in Space Jam: A New Legacy, Sonequa Martin-Green is also fielding some questions about Discovery. In an interview with The Bellisimo Files, the actress spoke about what it meant to her for Michael Burnham to be promoted to captain:

[Becoming captain] was a really big deal, and it was a long time coming. That story was always a journey to the chair, but it’s not something I could just be outright about and say, “It looks like it’s going to happen at this time.” But I think it was earned. And it means a lot to me to be solidified in the franchise’s history as the first black woman as captain and lead of the show. That’s a big deal to be cemented in history in that way and especially right now. So it’s breathtaking, it really does take my breath, it makes me cry. It’s something that I am grateful for and I don’t take it lightly. I also don’t take it too heavily either, but I don’t take it lightly.

Even though the promotion came at the end of season three and she has been Captain Burnham since season four began production late last year, Martin-Green told the hosts of The Talk it still gets her emotional:

I’m still overwhelmed by it. It’s so surreal and I just say, “Jesus, you are Lord and you have shown up and shown out with this.” I can’t quantify it. I can’t really describe what it means to be firmly cemented in this franchise. To be this black woman at the helm of this franchise as captain and knowing what it means – not just on youth, but on adults as well – being able to see themselves but also seeing someone different from them, I could cry again.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Captain Burnham in season four teaser trailer

Joining Trek’s captains

While happy to now be part of Star Trek’s legacy of captains as show leads, Martin-Green highlighted how her three seasons at a lower rank was worth it (via Den of Geek):

I think that being able to see this woman grow into the captaincy is what’s really special and different of course, than other captains.

She also sees a common thread with Burnham that runs through all of Star Trek captains:

I think something that is a common denominator with the captains in the franchise’s history [is] that sacrificial leadership. It’s so important. You have to be willing to lay your life down. That’s something that is shared across the board with all the captains and with the characters that aren’t captains also.

Sonequa Martin-Green in season four teaser

Getting promoted to captain is just the beginning for Burnham. Earlier this year co-showrunner Alex Kurtzman spoke about how Michael’s new position has “defined” season four, saying, “Every time we broke a story, the question is: how is this affecting Burnham as a captain? And I don’t mean affecting, I mean challenging her.”

Space Jam: A New Legacy opens in theaters on Friday, July 16. Season four of Star Trek: Discovery will debut later this year.


Keep up with all the news and reviews from the new Star Trek: Discovery at TrekMovie.com.

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I don’t really mind her being captain but how she got there was…messy. And I have a hard time believing someone who was charged for mutiny out of all things could ever be considered for that position even again. That said, when you are living a thousand years into the future, it’s easier to start fresh. ;) And probably reason #47 it was just a smart idea to put this show in the future because it would be a lot harder to believe Burnham could still be captain in their original era when everyone knew what she done and would somehow have to justify that decision. In the 32nd century no one cares.

And I think it’s just more realistic to do in terms of story, especially for the main character. I think it’s another element Fuller wanted that didn’t really work by having the star be in a lower position. Maybe under Fuller it could’ve worked better but it just doesn’t make sense to have her so involve in every major story and plot line when she wasn’t even a first officer anymore. And then to make it worse, every major storyline centered around her the first two seasons. Now that she’s captain, it doesn’t feel so forced to see her directly involved in every aspect of a mission at least.

That’s why the main character is always captain, it just makes it easer to involve them in every story even if its not directly about them. And I think they realized that was the only way to make Burnham so important without feeling like they have to shoehorn in every story somehow.

Yeah have to agree with much of your assessment. For many reasons, the character of Michael Burnham didn’t stand a chance in the eyes of most fans. Every other series featured a Captain (or Commander) that was essentially a finished product, finely trained with years of Starfleet command experience – their past mistakes were nothing but teaching moments on the climb up the ladder to command and respect. The exception was Sisko and his conflict with Picard in the series opener really turned me off, but by the end of part two, that was forgotten. The warts and command mistakes were all in the past and that is why Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway and Archer were reverred by fans (for the most part).
Then along comes Discovery and the central character not only betrays her Captain and the chain of command, but her Captain gets killed and she starts an intergalactic war with the Klingons. Yes First Officers have made mistakes in the past, but Spock taking Pike to Talos IV, Kira not fully trusting Sisko or a young Riker covering up the illegal cloaking technology seemed minor compared to the complete mess Burnham got herself into – repeatedly.
I understand why Fuller or Kurtzman thought a series based about the first officer might be a good platform for a show, but IMO the Number One is supposed to be a polished Starfleet commander on the verge of getting his or her first ship – not someone who repeatedly shows a complete lack of respect for the chain of command. Even last season, when Burnham went rogue, Saru should have busted her down at least one rank as well as relleiving her of her command duties. Of course that would not have set up the show for her to become Captain for this upcoming season.
If the show started now with Burnham in command of Discovery in the 32nd century, I think the show would have a lot more credibility. That said, Discovery did spawn Picard and Strange New Worlds along with two animated series and some great characters (Georgiou, Pike, Adira, Stammets to name a few.) , and it is not completely terrible – so I am still looking forward to seeing the fourth season. I will just have to forget some of the baffling writing we’ve had to endure over the first three seasons and hope for better stories for this year.

Yeah that is SO MUCH baffling writing on this show sometimes. I mean you mentioned she was First Officer, but we literally saw her lose that position after the second episode in season one. And we didn’t see her as First Officer again until season 3 (for two episodes lol). First season she was a ‘specialist’ without any rank and then got that back in the finale. I don’t know if she was a Lieutenant or something in season 2 until we got to season 3 where she finally became FO again and you know the rest. And I agree, Saru should’ve busted her down again after trying to save her boyfriend. But don’t get me started on him promoting Tilly to XO (ugh). Vance literally wanted to throw Burnham into the brig for defying Saru’s orders and then decided she should be the captain a month later.

How any of that is ‘earned’ to be captain I have no idea. Take a show with GOOD writing on DS9 for example. We saw Sisko earning his command the right way, being a strong leader for years. Not throwing his nose up at anything he didn’t like and a steady leader throughout the show (and 90% less crying). When he is promoted to captain it felt right because they spent 3 seasons showing how competent and reliable he was unlike Burnham who spent 3 seasons doing one questionable thing after another.

But yeah, end of the day they want the star to be the leader and I can’t blame them. I just wish they did a MUCH better job of developing her to the position instead of the slap-dash sloppy writing we got.

And Discovery didn’t have to be in the 32nd century but it should’ve been a post-Nemesis show from the beginning, at least in the 25th century but I digress on that. But I also we may not have gotten a Pike show out of it, so it all worked out…eventually. ;)

Haha, I laughed about Sisko crying 90% less than Burnham. The writers should take a look at DS9’s Sisko more closely, the few scenes where he cries are emotionally powerful. Whether it is over Jennifer or in the episode where he plays the author Benny who finally breaks down – crushed after continually facing racist roadblocks all his life – IMO that is easly one of the most emotionally powerful scenes in the franchise.

Conversely, the writers have Burnham crying over almost anything. Yes, I understand that some people are more emotional than others, but for viewers like me SOMETIMES it becomes a little tiresome and I end up dismissing the scene or its message. Sorry, I know this is terrible, but occasionally the crying on the show sadly reminds me of the character on Seinfeld, who cries after dropping her hotdog on the ground.

All joking aside, maybe this is simply the reaction of an old school male Star Trek fan who has grown up conditioned not to cry because it is a sign of weakness, and maybe younger fans can really relate to Michael. If the crying actually helps build up a younger audience, then so be it. New additional fans can only help our favorite franchise live on for decades to come – and long after I’m gone.

NOTE: I know you already know this Tiger2 , but for others – despite its flaws, IMO Discovery has also done some great things in its 3 year run and some of the episodes are quite honesty fantastic. I just wish there were more of the good and less of the bad ones.

she didn’t start the war, that happened when the admiral’s ship was destroyed by the klingons under a flag of truce in the first few eps of Disc

Her actions directly led to an interstellar war where most likely tens of millions of civilians were killed, the destruction of probably half the fleet, and she got most of her shipmates killed. But no big deal Mikey Spock. We’ll let it slide and you’ll fail upwards because you’re the BESTEST EVAR!!.

The killed the “torchbearer” first chance she got, which led to the all-out conflict between Starfleet ships and Klingon ships, and the start of the war.

Had she not been so gung-ho about investigating some random anomaly, she wouldn’t have met the Torchbearer or had the chance to kill him. Also, Starfleet was encroaching on Klingon territory, so the Klingons response was justified. She just helped it along that much faster.

It’s the wonderful wacky world of modern day Trek.

Apparently you have never heard of the real life British Naval Captain John Bentley, who lost his ship, faced a Court Martial, yet recovered and eventually made Admiral?

Dude G-O A-W-A-Y!!

Don’t break your promise now. OK? Thanks

<spock> Fascinating </spock>
Might have to google him.

But did he mutiny?

And apparently YOU haven’t been paying attention to the conversation since your example does not involve mutiny and is thus irrelevant.

er, EVERY Royal Navy Captain who loses a ship has to attend a court martial. If it is the verdict that they were not directly at fault then they are returned to duty.

So many things about this particular show didn’t make sense from the start. But I blame the maker’s storyline and design choices for that, not any of the actors. At least it’s led to giving us the Stange New Worlds show, which will hopefully turn out to be a lot more satisfying for me overall.

So while I would never rewatch any of the first 3 seasons of Discovery a second time, I’m curious to see if this 4th season can work on it’s own as a far-future Trek crew featuring Burnham as it’s already established Captain, especially if there’s not too many references to her backstory seen in the previous instalments, or other aspects of those seasons either.

So good luck to Sonequa on getting the Captain’s chair.

Yeah, I have trouble with much of the writing of this show, but the ACTING has been extremely good for the most part. Martin-Green is very good; Jones is outstanding; and Wiseman, Rapp, and Cruz are all excellent.

The acting has been good, but Martin-Green has been horrible. She whispers to much. She contorts her face in all kins of odd ways as she delivers her lines.

Overall, I think her performance has been a low spot for the show.

I don’t adore her performances the way I do those of Doug Jones, but I don’t see the problems that you do. Of course, I watch with subtitles on, so that might help. :-)

Y’know, we give Shatner a lot of leeway for being stagey and hammy and wearing his emotions on his sleeve, and tbh I don’t see that Martin-Green as an actor is doing anything differently except! Not! Punctuating! Things! Like! This! (Something Avery Brooks did more than once on his show.)

Like, if Shatner were to start today, would we be on the floor calling it “total cringe, LOL?”

The point of acting is to make you care. They make us care!

And in an era where a lot of young people are thrown into positions of responsibility with very little preparation, Burnham resonates.

She’s got private doubts but publicly has to be strong. The character comes with a ton of impostor syndrome – you can know you’re right, book-smart, able to prove your ideas on paper, but still second-guess yourself, or overcompensate and try to be *too* decisive. (Something I’d love to see this season explore… the Captain needs their bartender / counselor to confide in).

What people often forget about Shatner is that his performances were made — and intended to be watched — during an era when the average TV was 21″, and the only option was BROADCAST television. Broadcast TV was rarely all that clear and sometimes even had little white dots all over it that were called “snow.” The enormous, clear pictures we see today did not exist in 1966.

Shatner’s performances were geared to making it clear what was happening when people were watching on small, black-and-white televisions that weren’t terribly clear. He might look as if he’s overacting TODAY, but that’s because his performances were never intended for four-foot wide crystal-clear color televisions. Those hadn’t even been thought of in 1966!

That’s not historically true. He acted the way he did because he had a Shakespearean background and was used to performing on the stage. The vast majority of TV actors in the 1960s did not act the way he did, so what you described above simply isn’t true.

Agreed…but welcome to Discovery lol.

It was a foregone conclusion that Michael was going to wind up in the captain’s chair, but, her journey getting there was a total shit show.

Michael mutinied in the very first episode of the show and in the three seasons since, she hasn’t grown or learned anything. She’s just as stubborn and cavalier as she was from the moment she mutinied.

She hasn’t changed – everyone around HER has changed in order to adapt to how she does things. She’s treated like a superhero in which every character on the show differs to her because she knows what’s “best”; being being shooting Osyra in the face and killing her.

As far as I’m concerned, Michael’s path to redemption was fulfilled at the end of the first season when she was reinstated in Starfleet. This was the arc that should’ve played out across the entire series, which would’ve led up to her attaining command possibly in the final episode of the series.

Her arc has been so terribly mishandled and inconsistently written.

Nah.

Lower Decks having music way down in crew lounge causing the entire ship to shake and also disturbing the Klingon ship nearby as well — now that’s a total canon violation shit show.

Seeing Michael get the captains chair was exciting! I love her character and her journey. Her story came at a time in my life where I needed hope and seeing her get the captains chair taught me that when you get knocked down….way down…you can get back up, that redemption and second chances are possible. I hope I get to meet her someday. She’s awesome!

Agreed!

Well said! I could not agree more.

I disagree. For people who make mistakes like Michael Burnham did (mutiny, murder) the only redemption they should receive is an early parole.

In episode one she disobeys orders and takes charge because she thinks she’s right and her way is the only way that’s going to save them.

By the middle of season 3, I seem to recall her taking Book’s ship at some point to save everybody, clearly because she assumed she was best equipped to handle the situation. We’ll never know if that was the case, because they never give the crew a chance.

And of course, these are not isolated incidents. Burnham does not follow orders, she doesn’t trust her crew, and she clearly has some sort of a complex. This is even ‘lampshaded’ in one episode and never actually handled.

It’s hardly redemption when her character has learned nothing, behaves the same way, but everybody and everything around her bends for her. That’s called bad writing and wish fulfillment.

They’re going to have to re-write her character if they want her to be a great captain, because the running theme is that she only trusts herself to get out of a situation, not her crew. If they don’t have her confronting these issues, and either keep her the same or inexplicably ‘reboot’ her personality to fit the role, it’ll be a massive disappointment.

How many times on TOS did we see Kirk letting someone else handle the dangerous and tough assignments? (Maybe a little bit more in the Kelvin movies, where we get to see Sulu in command and follow the other crew members as they worked on their own, particularly in Beyond where they were all separated.)

Kirk always assumed he was best equipped to handle most situations other than medicine or running the engines. Diplomacy, science, covert ops, first contact situations, Kirk was front and center.

Kirk disobeyed Starfleet nearly every other episode if he thought their orders were dumb or immoral. (So did Picard; remember an entire movie called ‘Insurrection?’)

Why was Kirk always at the center of galactic events?

Did we see Kirk learn, grow, or change? Did we ever see him lose or not get his way? (“I don’t like to lose.”)

Gosh, he really ought to be rebooted into a by-the-book, rules-following, authority-respecting Captain. You know, like Captain Styles, or that other great leader, J.T. Esteban.

TOS was different because of the structure of the show. Shatner, Nimoy, and Kelley were top billed and highest paid (I’m assuming) and so they got more lines. As a consequence, the show seems to revolve around them. But this is different from Discovery, who intentionally revolves the show around ONE person. It doesn’t matter how much you say ‘Kirk did this, Kirk did that’ the show was NOT about him. Discovery on the other hand does pretend that it’s about Burnham even if they aren’t technically framing it that way. In that sense, they’re opposites? Inverted? Kirk also trusted his crew, and often relied on them. Then again, maybe Burnham has trouble trusting cardboard cutouts. Can’t blame her on that one.

Diplomacy, science, covert ops, first contact situations… Yeah, seems to be about what Starfleet captains are specifically trained for. Especially in the TOS-era where the captain of a deep-space explorer was expected to handle a wide variety of situations independently. Again, part of this was also for budget and scaling reasons too. TNG partly addressed this by adding an XO and counselor to assist the captain in his decision-making. TNG also focused more on the rest of the cast because it was designed to, and had the budget for it.

Kirk’s rule-breaking has been exaggerated. It certainly wasn’t ‘nearly every other episode’ and was NEVER because he thought an order was ‘dumb’. And his rule-breaking is framed a hell of a lot differently, and more sympathetically. Most of the time it was to solidify the notion that they’re out there facing the unknown and often have to make their own decisions, versus what the out-of-touch bureaucrats say about the matter. Or if not that, then he was probably making a human decision, which is another focus of the show. That’s MUCH different than Burnham thinking her captain and crew are helpless or clueless and that she’s the only one that can save them.

Why was Kirk always at the center of galactic events?” What galactic events was he the center of? And how often was he intentionally inserting himself into these events?

Did we see Kirk learn, grow, or change? Did we ever see him lose or not get his way?” I guess you didn’t see the TOS movies. Or even the Kelvin movies..

Because Kirk had EARNED that status as a result of his actions.

https://youtu.be/W1Y-IpSj7q0

What has Mikey Spock “earned”? Nothing. She didn’t even attend Star Fleet Academy. She’s only in her position because her father is an ambassador.

Yes. There’s really a double standard here. When a female hero behaves the way a male hero does, people claim she’s such a b*tch, but they love the guy who does the very same things.

Sadly there is a lot of sexism in the trek community. I find it disgusting. They have been criticizing the character since they found out she was a woman. If Burnham was a white male. You would hear a different tune from them.

What a boon Martin-Green has been to modern Trek!

This may be a comparison that both fans and detractors might side-eye, but IMO her combination of earnestness, openness, and sheer charisma makes her the most Shatnerian of post-TOS Trek leads. Like Kirk on TOS, I love watching her in a great episode and admire her conviction in a not-so-great one.

You’re obviously high.

I really like the character of Burnham from the get go where she knew what was coming with the Klingons. She really seemed like someone accustomed to the frontier versus the “bureaucrats” at home thinking it would always be peace with aliens that will always want to be just like us humans. Glad they gave her a redemption arc, Captain Burnham is a highlight of Discovery in my humble opinion.
I like her way more than Picard, that’s for sure.

Agreed

Now we have three solidifieded FIRST black women in the franchise’s history:  

1. Madge Sinclair
2. Dawnn Lewis
3. Sonequa Martin-Green

Anyone else wish Madge Sinclair had gotten a TOS movie era show?
She just exuded being a Captain in Star Trek IV (and her crew seemed interesting).
Fun fact – she was Sarabi in the original Lion King where, sure enough, she nailed sounding like a matriarch.

Yeah, I liked her!

I would have loved this. With Brock Peters in a guest starring role as Admiral Cartwright, which whom she would go head to head.

Agreed!!
Though I did like Admiral Cartwright in IV, was happy to see him back in VI only to be totally shocked he was a conspirator (which I assume is why they went that direction).
A good thing about Burnham is that she sort of does the Cartwright thing (takes drastic action to save the Fédération) but the writers let her not only be in the right but find redemption regarding the chain of command.
It is refreshingly non cliche and was certainly not boring.

And she was the queen in Coming to America as well. Maybe something about her exuded majesty as well.

Aren’t you missing the first first, Nichelle Nichols?

I think odradek is talking Starship Captains.

Thanks for the clarification. I knew I was missing something.

Shes still written like a superhero, Shatner on steroids….hopefully next season 4 she is a little more nuanced

Yep.

I have enjoyed this show from the beginning and am overjoyed to see a black woman in the captain’s seat. It’s about damn time. But…

I wish it were a different black woman.

Michael is so badly written and so overacted, it’s very difficult for me to enjoy her as a character. I find her arc forced and non-believable, I find her unlikable as a person, and I find Martin-Greento be an actor incapable of subtlety. I wish Michael were a different character, played by a different actor. Then I would love the show even more than I already do.

With Saru, they had the perfect opportunity–the first show to have a non-human in the captain’s role. But then they had him leave the ship, even though he was the logical captain, not the mutineer. The writers seem determined to make her into Starfleet captain material, when she isn’t. Her career and criminal record would not lead to a captaincy, and that they have strains credibility by a large factor.

I scrolled down to see if anyone would mention the acting. To be honest, I don’t know if it’s over-acting to blame, or poor writing, or just a poor understanding on either or both ends of that equation that these are, essentially, military personnel we’re dealing with. Yeah, I know, Starfleet isn’t the same as military and all those thing Roddenberry said and so on. But it *is*. And a number of characters on this show simply don’t act like that. (Some of this- but to a much lesser extent- shows up in Stamets/Culber interactions.) Burnham, I’m afraid, gives into emotions way too much. There have to have been multiple scenes of extended crying at the worst moments. The one that springs to mind is when she says goodbye to her mother with literally single-digit seconds before disaster and yet somehow they manage a thirty-second weepfest.

To be honest, I have no idea why this is. Some of it may even be the cinematography or editing choices. But it still grates, and to take it in-universe, it makes some of the choices and storylines kind of weird.

Completely agree, it should of been Saru OR an actress capable of playing the role, I am not sure SMG fits it well, a combination of poor writing and over dramatic acting hasn’t helped.

Well, one small takeaway I get here is that while I knew that Doug Jones is a pretty religious Christian, I hadn’t known that Martin-Green was as well. No judgment one way or another, I just find that interesting.

I’m sort of amazed she is allowed to express that honestly!

She’s very upfront about it on all her social media, and uses language that references her faith frequently in interviews and panels.

I expect it’s something that she would insist on being able to do (via her agent) if anyone in management raised any about it.

I, too. Although culture today is full of weird little exceptions to rules.

I’ve actually enjoyed DSC pretty much all 3 seasons with S2 being my favorite.
The problem with the uneven writing is the decision by committee approach, all of the woke points (which I think is great, BTW) and mission creep. I suspect there is probably some suit interference, as well. Having a 12-13 episode season means compromises. CBS spends approximately $8 million USD per episode. They want a return on that investment. The pressure of getting the episode in the can sometimes means more compromise. Some filmmakers will tell you that they never truly finish their film, the abandon it due to release dates. They also are more excited for their next project. I watched the S3 season finale (again) last night. The acting, especially by Doug Jones, was well done. The scene of Burnham shooting Osira and then coming out of that Starfleet Carbonite was just plain fun to see.

I’ve enjoyed DSC but not as much as some of the other Trek shows. The acting is mostly excellent, and the sets, costumes, special effects, and make-up are all stellar. CBS is clearly pouring a LOT of money into this show; I just wish they’d hired better writers. The actors and behind-the-scenes crew can bring to life anything the writers dream up … but I’m not loving what the writers dream up. I’m hoping SNW will go better, since they don’t need season-long stories for that one.

Doug Jones is a treasure; we’re SO lucky to have him in Star Trek!

I suspect that they actually HAVE good writers. A good idea will get presented and various other ideas are suggested by the writers room. On a show like Star Trek, everyone wants to contribute at a high level, especially the creative people. I’ll bet some pretty good scripts get written. They then get re written to allow the episode to be shot on time and on budget. Then, any character arcs they can cut and paste inside the A story gets some attention. Then, as writers like to say, the director takes their script and “maims their baby.”

Interesting. But y’know, every Star Trek show had to come in on time and on budget, and they all had directors. But we still got “Amok Time” and “The City on the Edge of Forever,” and “The Measure of a Man” and “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and so on … and that was with much smaller budgets and a much shorter window for shooting. So what’s different for DSC?

I can’t speak to TNG but TOS routinely went OVER budget. “City” went $50-$60,000 over budget. As far as DSC or SNW goes? I was 1st AD on some low budget movies.
Getting done on time and on budget was crucial. With DSC and SNW, a lot of cast and crew are American. Both shows are filmed in Canada. It can creates all kinds of tax implications for them. They may be exempt from paying taxes in Canada, provided they don’t work over a certain number of days. If they have pay income tax both in Canada and the US? Yikes!! Also, all the cast and crew who aren’t Canadian are being housed and expenses paid. I’m sure Anson Mount, SMG and Doug Jones are anxious to get home at the end of a long season. Also CBS is franchise television. I’ve friends who’ve worked for CBS shows. It’s timed almost to the minute. You don’t have a job or career long at CBS if you can’t get shows done on time, on budget.

She got most of her shipmates killed, disobeyed orders, assaulted her captain, started a munity, her actions resulted in most of the fleet being destroyed including the flagship which also resulted in the death of the vice admiral, and instigated a war with an enemy in which most likely tens of millions of civilians were killed as collateral damage. Explain to me why Mikey Spock not rotting away in a Federation prison somewhere?

What’s the message here? No matter how undisciplined you are and no matter how you screw up, you’ll always fail upwards?

Exactly. She’s not a good leader. She’s not a good officer. She in no way belongs in the captain’s chair. I love the show, but this was the dumbest thing the writers did.

That’s how it works in the television industry, so…

I don’t see her as getting anyone killed, if anything she tried to save all the crews and prevent a war. Had she actually attacked first and given the Klingons a bloody nose/embarrassed their high command/broke their unity that might have ended the war right there Balance of Terror style.
The Klingons were going to attack the Starfleet, it was in the cards and only Burnham was willing to accept that reality.
The Vice Admiral was a fool, only Georgiou gets a pass because even though she knew what was coming she was willing to let everyone die under the principle of force only in self defence. Fair enough especially when you go down with the crew. And Georgiou was in Command, Burhnam was supposed to accept that though I certainly can understand why she would want to choose a different strategy.

Michael Burnham becoming Captain?

BAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!
(wipes tear)

Oh, that is RICH!

She is neither qualified nor deserving of the position. Period.