Following the Star Trek: Discovery panel at Comic-Con’s famous Hall H, there was a press conference in which the Disco team got a little more in-depth about some of what’s planned for season 2. Here are the eight biggest takeaways from the conference.
1. This isn’t “The Cage” Captain Pike
Based on executive producer Alex Kurtzman’s description of Pike, he’s not the jaded, exhausted Pike we met in “The Cage” (which took place 3 years prior to the start of season 2).
What I love about Pike, and I think this kind of comes from what I took from Jeffrey Hunter’s performance, and to some degree the Pike that we did in the movies, is that he’s a man who’s very kind, who has tremendous authority, and yet can still apologize when he’s wrong. And so in many ways he’s the opposite of Lorca, that way.
Anson Mount, who plays Pike, clearly understands the legacy he’s taking on.
You have to be very careful about the footprints you lay, because they’re there for a very long time … Pike was Roddenberry’s original face of Starfleet. I only knew that there’s a tremendous optimism to this person. And a good heart, someone who probably had good mentors.
2. Rebecca Romijn’s Number One will get some character development
Pike’s Number One, originally played by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry in the pilot “The Cage,” will appear in Discovery, portrayed by Rebecca Romijn. Kurtzman elaborated a little on what to expect.
I think what Majel conveyed in TOS is a real sense of authority and confidence and obviously a connection to Pike that could have suggested many different things. And we’re definitely digging into that. I think it was funny seeing Rebecca – first of all, seeing the actors show up on set in the TOS outfits was really incredible. It was just an amazing thing because the color scheme is obviously so different from Discovery. So seeing the actors in that place, you get this amazing feeling of re-interpreting and yet honoring at the same time.
The thing that I love about what Anson’s bringing and what Rebecca’s bringing is that there’s a depth that I think couldn’t be explored in those characters, obviously given what little screen time they had back then.
He added that there’s a bonus to casting Romijn, pointing out that “…obviously there’s almost a fanboy quality that comes with Rebecca just based on X-Men.”
3. Saru’s history will be explored
Doug Jones was excited to talk about the plans for Saru, although (of course) he couldn’t reveal the specifics.
As far as Kelpiens go, I’m the only one you’ve ever seen in this universe. Of course in the mirror universe, they were dinner.
I think the keyword is evolution, this year. We do visit my home planet, we’re going to meet some of my family, we’re going to find out where Saru comes from, how he became what he is, why the fear, who’s the predator, all those things are going to come into play.
4. Dr. Culber is back, somehow
Wilson Cruz pointed out that his very appearance on the panel is a pretty good indication that Culber is going to be a real character this season, and not just an occasional Stamets vision or flashback. “My neck feels fine,” he said, referring to the first season episode “Despite Yourself” when Voq/Tyler kills him by snapping his neck.
I think we’re gonna learn a lot more individually about these two men, and together. I think we’re going to deepen this relationship and these characters.
Co-star Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets) chimed in with a slightly more informative hint about how Culber might return, fueling fan speculation that the mycelial network may contain some of the answers.
It really is inspired by real science, that the real Paul Stamets, who’s a mycologist, has to say about the nature of mycellia and how it interacts with matter in the universe, and his theories about that.
5. L’Rell is the new Klingon Chancellor
At the end of season 1, L’Rell held the Klingon Empire in the palm of her hand, literally, having been given a detonator to a bomb buried deep inside Q’onoS by Michael Burnham. Actress Mary Chieffo explained where this story and her character are headed.
I do now have some power over the Empire. I’m now the Chancellor, trying to do my best to uphold T’Kuvma’s vision. But it’s fraught with strife, because patriarchies are patriarchies, and often times they do things when they’re angry at women. (laughs) But beyond that, I just think that you get the kind of grandiose side of things, the ruler, but then you also get the heart and the humanity.
6. We won’t be revisiting the mirror universe
But Kurtzman doesn’t rule out the possibility of other parallel universes.
I think we felt that the mirror universe served an incredibly specific character purpose last year, in that the first half of the season was about blowing up Burnham’s life … and any choice we make about a universes isn’t just about, ‘Hey, let’s do that because it’s cool,’ it’s because there’s a great character journey to be had there. So I think this season is not so much about going to alternate universes as much as it’s about maintaining and growing the direction of the characters. But certainly, the idea of going to other universes is open.
7. Season 2 will give us some TOS-like moments
The turbolift scene that ended the season 2 sizzle reel shown at the Comic-Con panel gave us a little taste of what to look forward to in terms of some of the lighter moments. Kurtzman elaborated,
There’s a lot of fun this season. I think, obviously last season was about war, and it’s tough to really stop down and have a whole lot of humor when the stakes are so high and life and death is really what they’re dealing with every day.
And tonally now, we’ve gotten to a place where the crew has more– even though the stakes are very high, there’s more down time in moments, which allows for more humor, which allows for a slower onion layer pulling open of character and the details of their relationships that we would never have been able to give time to. I feel like tonally it’s probably a more buoyant season, even though there are some episodes that are very very serious and intense. I think you’ll see in the first episode that there’s more balance between some of the humor that you’d see on TOS, and the high stakes of the more modern versions of Trek.
8. Canon questions will be answered
When asked if they are ever tempted to just ignore canon, Kurtzman was clear that they won’t, and that that they understand some of the issues the fans are having.
We’ve never been tempted to just say screw it, we’re doing our own thing. However, we are constantly challenging ourselves in the writers’ room with how can we push really really hard against the edges of what canon is without breaking it. And that means things like coming up with the spore drive, which obviously never existed before Discovery, and why did Spock never mention his sister. These are huge, huge questions.
And we will be syncing up with canon, and we will be answering those questions … I think the key for us is to do it in a way that both feels inevitable and totally surprising. And hopefully by the time you get to the end of the season you will understand why all of those things have never been discussed.
Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.