The big event for Star Trek: Discovery at WonderCon 2018 was the “Visionaries” panel, populated with many of the behind-the-scenes department heads that make the show happen. On hand were Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts (Executive Producers & Showrunners); Tamara Deverell (Production Designer); Gersha Phillips (Costume Designer); Mario Moreira (Props Master); Glenn Hetrick & James MacKinnon (Prosthetics & Special FX Makeup); Jeff Russo (Composer); and Jason Zimmerman (VFX Supervisor).
While much of the panel focused on the process and approach to how the show is made, there was also a good amount of discussion about what to expect in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, in addition to the “bonus clip.” TrekMovie was there, and we have gathered together the highlights.
Season two will show how Discovery fits into Prime Timeline
An audience question asked if Star Trek: Discovery really takes place in the Prime Timeline, as has been often asserted by the show producers. The fan suggested the show could take place in a parallel timeline, like one of those very similar universes seen in the TNG episode “Parallels.” Co-showrunner Aaron Harberts confirmed again that the show is set in Star Trek’s Prime Timeline, and also noted that the second season will make this even clearer:
Aaron Harberts: The idea was to always be in the Prime Timeline. Obviously, there are questions and concerns and things that are different. Our technology is a little different. We have a ship that runs very differently. We are our own show in a lot of ways. Season two is really exciting for us. This is our opportunity to really show how Discovery fits into this Prime Timeline. We are firmly committed to that.
Season two will have more ‘Trekian’ tone
When asked about the darker tone of the series, Discovery co-showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg noted it wasn’t done for shock value, but also pointed to a change for the second season:
Gretchen J. Berg: We are aware it is a different era and a different format for the show. I don’t think we are gunning for shock value. Everything always comes out of character and story. If it feels like something that would happen in that world and in that context, we go in that direction. It is not a group that leads with wanting to shock people or horrify people.
Aaron Harberts: [Season one] was an interesting season because it was set against the backdrop of war. One of things we are looking forward to in season two is a tone that we can now be in a more exploratory phase and a more diplomatic phase – maybe a bit more of a Trekian chapter…but everything for us is really driven by character.
USS Enterprise design evolved and grew to match Discovery universe
Production designer Tamara Deverell and VFX supervisor Jason Zimmerman offered some insights into the approach for developing the look of the USS Enterprise seen at the end of the season one finale:
Tamara Deverell: For the Enterprise, we based it initially off of The Original Series. We were really drawing a lot of our materials from that. And then we particularly went to more of the Star Trek movies, which is a little bit fatter, a little bit bigger. Overall, I think we expanded the length of it to be within the world of our Discovery, which is bigger, so we did cheat it as a larger ship.
Jason Zimmerman: It starts with them giving us designs to work with and then there is a lot of back and forth between VFX and [Tamra’s] department to make sure that we get everything right. There were a lot of conversations and more emails than I could remember about how the design would evolve and sort of match our universe, and that is how we sort of arrived where we are now.
New uniforms hinted at (possibly for the USS Enterprise crew)
A fan asked if the Starfleet uniforms may “evolve and turn a bit more familiar,” which prompted some tantalizing hints from the co-showrunners:
Gretchen J. Berg: Well, we are in the same timeline. This is the prime universe and we are pretty close to when TOS happens.
Aaron Harberts: Well, we bump up against the Enterprise at the end of our [season one] finale, and we know what kind of uniforms they wear. So, we will leave it at that.
More about Saru in season two
Aaron Harberts imparted that there is more to be revealed about Doug Jones’ Saru, saying:
Aaron Harberts: You will learn more about Saru this season. We had to lay some pipe early in episode 2 [of season one]. What are those threat ganglia. What do they do? What do they represent in the Terran Empire and a lot of that stuff will fold back in when we are back on the air.
There is still much to be seen with the Klingons
When asked about the impetus for the different look of the Klingons on Discovery, Make-up FX designer Glenn Hetrick got really into the details, and hinted about more to see for the Empire in season two:
Glenn Hetrick: The impetus lies in the earliest conversations with writers and producers and [Bryan] Fuller. We were talking about what would the difference be, if you are going to take another step. I am as much of a fan as you guys and when Neville [Page] and I stepped into that world, we knew that it cannot be something completely different. You need to honor and maintain as much of the integrity of the concept of the Klingons.
So, what we did is started dissecting through the lens of canon. What is their species? What is their DNA? It is sort of this cross between reptilian and avian. And once we struck upon that concept, as with all of our aliens, the evolutionary imperative drives our decision. Every single thing has to be for a reason. It can’t just be because it looks cool. It needs to have function and form follows that.
So, that is how it started. I am also not going to lie to you. Both Neville and I are huge [HR] Giger fans. So, that is the seasoning. So, if you look at it that way, you can see a lot of Giger-y type designs, that are sort of tertiary details on top of all the form and sub-form. There is still much to be seen and it is still an ongoing conversation. The Klingon Empire is vast and there are so many things I want to tell you, but I can’t.
A female same-sex couple may be hiding in plain sight
During the Q&A, a fan had a touching moment talking about how Discovery gave her purpose, and she expressed her appreciation for the relationship with Culber and Stamets and asked if “we will get any queer women on the show.” In reply, Aaron Harberts implied that they have already laid the foundation to do just that:
Aaron Harbers: In terms of your question on same-sex couples on the female side, you may well be already watching one and just don’t know. As a gay man, what is really important to me about presenting gay characters is that they always lead with their competence and their character first, and not with their sexuality. So, that is true of all of our characters on our bridge. All of our characters who are so different, they lead with their professionalism and their strong character first. So, you may already have a window into a relationship and you just don’t know it.
More WonderCon 2018
There is more to come, so stay tuned.
Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on the Space Channel and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.