PaleyFest: More Canon Characters Coming To ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ + Tardigrade Was Bridge Officer

Following their appearance at New York Comic Con (see TrekMovie panel report) the cast and creatives popped over to the Paley Center to hold another panel discussion at PaleyFest 2017. The discussion mostly focused on talking about each character one by one, but early on there was some news about more familiar Star Trek characters to come. It was also revealed that there was almost a very different kind of character on the show.

Star Trek: Discovery panel at PaleyFest 2017

More canon characters coming to ‘Discovery’

The panel included the showing of a clip from episode 5 featuring Rainn Wilson as Harry Mudd (see below for spoiler description). In response to a follow-up question from the moderator, co-showrunner Gretchen J. Berg confirmed Discovery will feature more characters from Star Trek canon, saying:

I think what’s been great about this version of Star Trek and the way that we are telling through a serialized approach is we are taking our time to introduce people. We are spending time with people when we introduce them. So, we will be bringing back other [canon characters]. But, as far as when and the specifics of all of that…When we get them, we want to spend time with them and really do a deep dive on why they are in the episode or in the arc or whatever we do with them.

Apparently there are more Star Trek canon characters to come in addition to Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson)

Tardigrade was going to be part of the crew

During the Q&A portion of the PaleyFest panel a fan asked if the group could talk about some of the changes the show went through during development. Anthony Rapp suggested they talk about the tardigrade monster seen in episode 3. At first, co-showrunner Aaron Harberts tried to be cagey saying “We are speculating,” to which Rapp replied “It has been reported that it is called a tardigrade on TrekMovie.” And with that, co-creator Alex Kurtzman told the story of the original plan for the tardigrade:

So we have this tardigrade and for those that don’t know it is a microscopic creature that lives in water and it is part of an ecosystem. And like all Trek allegories, what you see is not always what you get so what may look like a monster may not be that, even though the creature has been introduced as such. In the original conception, the tardigrade was one of the bridge crew members… It was going to be like you come in and there was Mary and there was Shazad and then there is Ephraim [named for the first zoologist to observe tardigrades]. It would have been really cool because he would have just been there.

Kurtzman went on to say that in the end they “just couldn’t pull it off.” Harberts also revealed that the idea was to have the tardigrade character as a member of the bridge crew and it got as far as them building a puppet for the character to be used on set.

Originally the tardigrade was going to be a member of the USS Discovery bridge crew

Captain Lorca is good at war, doesn’t have time to be nice

When asked if Captain Lorca is a “warmonger,” Jason Isaacs responded by saying:

We’re at war, and I’m pretty good at it. I’m able to fight well if I’m given the right tools, but I’m surrounded by morons, unfortunately. They’d be great at peace time, but they’re not very good at this, and the ship is not built for it. And, I’ve got a chief scientist who would rather be publishing a paper, [rather than] help me build weapons, and so I’ve got a rock to push uphill with one finger. It’s proving to be tough, and so I recruit someone who I think will have the kind of metal that I’m going to need to get this thing done. If we lose, if the Federation loses, it’s not just the crew on the ship, it’s everybody on every planet in the Federation will be either subjugated or killed. So, I don’t have time to be nice to people and make them like me.

Lorca doesn’t have time to play nice

Michael Burnham is haunted

Discussing how Michael Burnham hit an emotional bottom at the beginning of episode 3, Sonequa Martin-Green gave some more detail on where the character is at and where she is going:

As Burnham, the ground fell from beneath my feet. And, I am still falling. That moment in the shuttle was actually a blissful moment. Because being in a pit of despair and being in a shame spiral, which is what I’m in. Being all consumed by the feeling of guilt makes you yearn for the sweet release of death. All I can look forward to is penitence from my life sentence. I don’t have the courage or sensibility to kill myself.

I am haunted by my decisions that I made in those days leading up to what turned out to be the Battle of the Binary Stars and the war with the Klingons and the death of my captain/mother. This is a story about redemption as much as it is about discovery. And the story of discovery of oneself through redemption. That’s the thick ugly stuff that we are delving into very courageously and bravely and respectfully.

Burnham hit rock bottom in episode 3, but is on arc of redemption

Saru’s ganglia explained

In episode 3 we got to see one of the characteristics of Kelpiens is their “threat ganglia.” We saw Saru’s ganglia emerge as the prisoner shuttle without Burnham on board left the USS Discovery. Actor Doug Jones gave a bit more detail on how the ganglia work:

My threat ganglia tend to deploy when there is an unseen threat. If you’re coming at me with a phaser in my face, they probably don’t go because I know what’s happening. It’s when something’s behind the door. It’s like when your dog barks at the door and there’s nothing there, I’m the dog.

Saru’s ganglia can sense unseen dangers

Tilly is going to grow and change

When discussing her character Cadet Tilly, Mary Wiseman noted how the character is expected to change over time:

What moved me about Tilly is that your container as a person is not everything that you are. You can have limitations in these ways and you can have great strengths in other ways. And Tilly is going to go on a journey that she has limitless potential because she just starting out. She is going to grow and change and everything that she seems is not everything that she is…The thing that I find most moving about this show is that different is someone can make a mistake and they can come back. Because, utopia is limitless curiosity and radical empathy and radical forgiveness. That is the kind of world that I want…Tilly talks too much. She snores too much. But, one thing she does have is endless empathy and curiosity. And she forgives Michael and she hopes that Michael can forgive her.

Tilly starts off awkward but there is more to come

Diversity by design

There was a good amount of discussion on the diversity of the cast during the panel. Kurtzman noted it was always the plan to have a woman of color be the lead of the show:

We wanted the lead to be a person of color and we wanted her to not be captain…Trek is all about diversity and the spirit of diversity. Roddenberry’s greatest contribution to that conversation is that no one ever talks about it.

Berg noted that the lead role of Michael Burnham (which eventually went to Sonequa Martin-Green) was the hardest one to cast:

Any time you’re trying to cast a female who feels intelligent who can carry, in this case, a phaser, and doesn’t look ridiculous… it’s hard to find someone who is so believable and so grounded and who can carry the weight of the show the way she does on screen and off screen.

Mary Wiseman, Sonequa Martin-Green and Doug Jones at PaleyFest 2017

Berg went on to say that over all it was a long casting process for the show:

For all of these other characters… this was the slowest casting process ever! To the credit of everyone here, there was so much care given to find the specific voice that was really going to represent and explode off the screen. It’s a diverse cast in every way.

When discussing the inclusion of a gay couple (Anthony Rapp’s Lt. Stamets and Wilson Cruz’s Dr. Culber) as part of the crew, Cruz talked about how it was important to show LGBT characters as just part of the future, noting:

These stories we tell about LGBT people are really important so that people understand who we are and what our lives are like. So, perhaps people will understand us and not hate us…And we are living in a time when we have leadership that doesn’t necessarily understand that. I hear the president watches television; I hope that he tunes into Star Trek.

Wilson Cruz and Anthony Rapp at PaleyFest 2017

More bits from PaleyFest panel

  • Saru walking the halls offering Burnham blueberries (as seen in episode 3) was “a tribute” to co-creator Bryan Fuller who “would walk through the offices of Star Trek, and he would offer you a blueberry.”
  • The USS Discovery originally was going to have a two-story high bridge set.
  • Original plan for Saru was to have ten eyes and a prosthetic was made for it, but it was scrapped because it “was going to cost a fortune” to do all the eyes with CGI and you also couldn’t see Doug Jones eyes which took away from his performance

Jason Isaacs and Mary Wiseman at PaleyFest 2017

Clip shown from episode 5 “Choose Your Pain” [SPOILERS]

The panel included the showing of a clip which features the introduction of Lt. Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif) who meets Captain Lorca in a cell on a Klingon ship. Tyler has been tortured since being captured from the USS Yeager at the Battle of the Binary Stars. As they talk you can hear the screams of other prisoners. Lorca can’t understand how Tyler has survived Klingon torture for seven months, but Tyler notes the female Klingon captain has taken a liking to him. They talk about trying to escape with Tyler saying no ship could get to them so deep in Klingon territory, but Lorca assures him “my ship can.” The pair also encounter Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson) in the same cell. Mudd blames Starfleet for starting the war which got him captured as well, and he uses some adult language to express his feelings.

Following the clip, Harberts noted how it introduces “the very wounded and tormented Lt. Ash Tyler.” He also said that fans should pay close attention when watching “Choose Your Pain,” saying:

It’s a really interesting episode that is about torture. And it is about loyalty…This is one to watch very carefully, because this is an episode that sows seeds for the rest of the season.

We meet Harry Mudd on a Klingon prison ship

Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusive in the US on CBS All Access with new episodes released Sundays at 8:30 pm ET. In Canada Star Trek: Discovery airs on the Space Channel at the same time. Discovery is available on Netflix outside the USA and Canada with new episodes made available Monday at 8 am BST.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.


Photos from PaleyFest by Joe Andosca/

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LOL “Canon Characters” LOL none of this is canon.

Canon is determined by what is seen on screen. The events on Discover are seen on screen, therefore it is canon.

It is though. Because this is the show. This is Star Trek. It’s happening every week.

At this point, you are a troll Trekboi.

Either intelligently describe why you don’t like Discovery or don’t say anything at all. It’s pathetic.

I apologise for the rant, but it’s that kind of idiotic mentality that give Star Trek fans a bad name.

It’s canon. Get over it.

Your troll is weak, Trollboi


Trekboi – you’re nonsense is getting old. You’re not keeper of the canon. Get a grip.

In other words, Trekboi89 is not a Star Trek fan, like many people who post here.

“Head-canon” is different for everyone. For instance, mine includes the fan film “World Enough and Time” because it’s really good Trek, and doesn’t include the actual TOS episode “And the Children Shall Lead” because, well, it isn’t. In the spirit of IDIC you might start accepting that many of your fellow fans don’t share your feelings about Discovery, wish them well on their enjoyment of the show, and leave it at that.

Aww, still trolling Trekboi I see

A whole lot of ‘pot calling the kettle black here. Many of you trashed JJ Trek relentlessly, for similar reasons.

The ten eyed concept was for Saru, not the tardigrade. Aaron said that Doug Jones make-up tested and he got lost in the make-up as well as it being too expensive.

What does that mean they wanted the bridge to be built over two stories? They wanted it to be two floors, or they wanted the bridge crew to come together over two episodes (like farpoint)?

I’d love to see a two story bridge — it makes sense for a science vessel which might have an observation deck constantly reminding the crew why they were there, and to get a better direct view of whatever they encountered. Of course, it’s a particularly dumb idea for a ship at war. Kind of like Space 1999 having all of those essential, exposed exterior rooms on the top level of the moon base when aliens were constantly attacking them — the second season they moved underground, but also lost a lot of grandeur and visual appeal in the process.

I read it as being two stories large. That would look cool but might impact story telling.

Johann Melchior Goeze ia a famous figure in German history. But I never heard that he had a sibling called Ephraim Goeze who was a zoologist. That is complete against canon and I refuse to belive that he ever existed.

Um… Isn’t this headline a spoiler?

The headline was such a huge spoiler that I won’t be coming to Trek Movie again until Discovery is over. I’m hugely disappointed that you spoiled the whole freaking SEASON; I didn’t want to know the end of the entire story arc!

What part? The part about more canon characters are coming? We knew that right? Harry Mudd and Amanda? Or the part about the Tardigrade being a bridge officer? They abandoned that idea, so it is no longer a spoiler.

They changed it, so it wasn’t a spoiler by the time YOU saw it, for which you can be thankful. :-)

An Enterprise character next please. Played by the original actor and no radical makeup redesign, if it’s a certain former member of the Andorian Imperial Guard.

Archer should still be around, T’Pol as well naturally. Not to mention if the Discovery is a Section 31 operation we could maybe get Tripp’s resurrection as a Section 31 operative canonized.

Would Jolene return considering how vocal she was about much she came to hate the role?

For the right amount of pay, I bet she would. She has bills to pay too.

She is married to a gazillionaire, so i doubt she has any bills to pay…

What did she hate about the role? I liked her arc

Discovery is set in 2256, 95 years since the founding of the Federation. How do you came up with “Archer should still be around”, unless we include time-travel?

Well ‘could’ still be around is probably a better word choice. McCoy was over 130 years old in TNG and I think the average human could live up to 150 years. YEah, it would be a bit of a stretch (Archer was in his 40s on Enterprise) but its possible he would still be around.

“Lorca can’t understand how Tyler has survived Klingon torture for seven months, but Tyler notes the female Klingon captain has taken a liking to him.”

Or, he was turned by the Klingons and now he is working for them.

Now that would be a *really* interesting plot twist. I’d be down for that.

I’m calling that Tyler is actually Voq, turned humanoid after being exposed to the augment virus by L’Rell’s Klingon house of deceivers. I think this will be part of the story, that klingons will look enough like humans as to become moles in starfleet. You heard it here first ;)

Given Wilson Cruz’s statement above —
To American Gays: A sincere question from someone who lives in the Gay Capital of the world (Tel Aviv). Please don’t be upset by my asking, because gay life seems so different where I am.
As a non-American looking in from the outside, I am puzzled by the position of most American gay people against their President. I’ve searched all over for something he said or did that makes many of you so angry, but I just can’t find it.
I did find something about not allowing people to use whatever public toilets they want. So, that might be one. Anything else? I can only find seemingly very supportive statements, and positive inclusive actions in his former private businesses.
Help me understand. What does the American President say or do that is so upsetting on these issues?

Are you a Russian Troll or just a moron like the quote-un-quote American President? Trump is not just anti-gay, he’s anti-science and the antithesis of ally he values Star Trek espouses. He’s a danger to our country and the entire world.

As much as I hate Trump, I don’t think he is anti-gay. I think the issue is he’s not pro-gay either like Obama was. In other words he may not roll back things like gay marriage but I don’t see him finding for their rights in other places either, where gays are still discriminated against in a lot of places.

And he is also the one is trying to kick transgendered people out the army which most of the military brass find confusing. They aren’t necessarily gay but it only tells people who are not traditionally heterosexual that he doesn’t see them as equal as others.

Personally I don’t Trump really cares but he’s trying to appease his backward base, the 35% of them that thinks he’s a legend.

Serious question, how do they know if LGBT people will exist that far in the future or not? Transgenderism is still considered a mental disorder medically, so if that’s cured than they wouldn’t be exist in the future right? I could see maybe LGB people still existing in the years to come but the T is a whole other story.

This is simply Suit Star Trek out to make a fast buck. The flash and bang can’t disguise miserable and unlikable characters. Cypher Bridge Characters. Massive plot holes. Sloppy character motivations. And a dark and depressing Star Trek. The show has no humour, no decent character interactions and no sense of fun. Star Trek should be about hope, camaraderie, optimism and particularly in todays light, an escape and reminder from the cosmetic show insanity and smirking intolerant depravity of Trump! If you want gloom and doom, there are plenty of other shows out there to provide it. Discovery should have been a tonic that still presents the light!

Wayne Beckett,

Re: …a fast buck.

I don’t believe anyone can divorce the money Roddenberry was given to make STAR TREK pilots and series from their contributors deserve to make a fast buck. Just exactly what fine distinction do you believe you are making here? Can you provide examples of STAR TREK that was produced without the goal of monetary gain?

“their contributors deserve ” should be “their contributors desire “