Our final breakdown of highlights from the New York Comic Con Star Trek: Discovery panel focuses on what the assembled cast and executive producers had to say about the returning supporting characters for the second season.
Saru gets a sister and some backstory on the Kelpiens, grows connection with Burnham
Saru actor Doug Jones offered some details about how the second season will feature an episode that will explore more about his character and the Kelpiens:
Season two, [Saru] finds out something about himself, and what it means to be a Kelpien, that he did not know and that you don’t know…This will be altering, challenging for him. He is on a path of evolution in the show…And we get to go to my home planet, in an episode where this all culminates.
The actor spoke more about this episode and his Short Treks mini-episode, and broke a little news regarding the casting of his Kelpien sister:
You get to meet my sister, the lovely Serana, played by the beautiful Hannah Spear. So, I actually have family, which is lovely. There is some backstory too. I am in one of the short films [Star Trek: Short Treks “The Brightest Star”] which is coming up before the season starts, which will give you more of that backstory. You will see more of my family and what my home planet of Kaminar looks like… Kelpiens are a prey species there, so who is the predator? We might find that out too and what that relationship is and where that goes.
Doug also spoke about the sibling-like relationship between Saru and Burnham evolves in the second season:
With everything I mentioned before about the evolution and this piece of information about myself and how we get there, I need to call on a family member to help me through this moment. And [Michael] is who I chose, my sister on the ship. So that brother/sister relationship goes to a completely new level this season. It is heartwarming. Everybody who thought we had too much angst with each other are going to be totally calmed by that episode.
Sonequa Martin-Green interjected to talk about this growing connection between Saru and Michael, saying: “We fought for it. It took a long time, and it is earned.” Sonequa also noted that there is a parallel in the stories of Saru and his sister and Burnam and Spock, and how in both cases the Discovery crew members have not seen their siblings in years.
Cruz tells us one thing about Culber in season two
While we have confirmed that Wilson Cruz returns as Dr. Culber as a regular for the second season, details how this will happen have been kept under wraps. The actor made it clear he couldn’t really give any details and so he spent most of his time on stage trying to encourage people to register and vote in the upcoming US elections, with the message “make your voice heard, and let’s create the world that we deserve.”
Cruz did come to the panel with what was clearly a pre-agreed single thing he could say, and he said it a number of times, like the following:
All I can say about this is one thing. We find [Culber] where we left. I honestly can’t tell you anything more than that. We find him [pauses dramatically] where we left him. That is your clue!
Culber was killed late in the first season by Tyler, when the doctor figured out that he was secretly a Klingon. Following that, he appeared again to his partner Stamets in some kind of vision within the mycelial network. So, apparently, Cruz’s clue is that we will find Culber where we left him, inside the mycelial network.
Stamets at a crossroad, moves forward with Tilly’s help
The final episodes of the second season saw Lt. Paul Stamets lose his partner Hugh Culber, and the spore drive, the reason he was on the USS Discovery in the first place. At the NYCC panel actor Anthony Rapp talked about how these issues create big questions for Stamets in season two:
[We find Stamets] wondering how to move forward. At the end of [season one], there was no time to deal with the loss, because we were in the middle of trying to save the universe. In the beginning of season two, he is “What is next?” It is a really big question and I am also really grateful for the writers to give it the time and space for it.
The actor also talked about how the relationship between Stamets and Mary Wiseman’s Tilly has continued to grow stronger into the second season:
Stamets was kind of grumpy and crabby, mostly because of Lorca, let’s be frank. But even from the very beginning, [Stamets and Tilly] have this encounter and she is this little annoying person. But her perseverance and her courage and her commitment to being fully herself has helped melt Stamets’ crusty exterior. In season two especially – we keep doing these really cool things together where we are helping each other. Those seeds were planted in season one, but it has been wonderful to have Miss Wiseman to walk this path together.
Showrunner Alex Kurtzman, who directed the season two premiere, jumped in on this discussion about Tilly and Stamets, noting how the real relationships among the cast members is helping drive forward their performances, saying:
Tilly and Stamets have this amazing scene in the [season two] premiere episode and this cast is a gift, every single one of them. One of the gifts you are getting when you are directing them is you get to watch how they connect with each other. You hear it a lot “oh, we are a family,” but it really is. Everybody on this cast loves everyone else so much. And you see the love and respect at the deepest level and you really see it in the work…And there is this lovely moment when Stamets says: “Tilly, you are incandescent because you do everything out of love.” And I think that is why Tilly resonates with people. She is so deeply pure, and she communicates her love for everybody because she doesn’t really know anything else. We are all frail. We are all searching. The show is called Discovery for a reason. We are all searching for the best version of ourselves. Tilly’s spirit is so tirelessly about finding the best version of herself and I think that is a big reason why she has broken through to Stamets because Stamets in his own way too is continuing to look for the best version of himself.
Tilly embraces her quirks and faces new challenges
Mary Wiseman also weighed in on why she thinks that her character of Cadet – now Ensign – Tilly has connected with fans, saying:
It is probably that she is a person who is fully and completely herself, quirks and all. She talks too much. She has a lot of feelings and she is loved regardless. That is a really good feeling for me and for the people watching her. I feel really embraced. I am a really weird person with a lot of quirks who talks too much, and I feel very embraced. So, I know that is a really good feeling to see reflected on screen. That there is a place for her on this crew. This is a character who in a different universe may feel isolated, or feel lonely for friends, or feel people don’t find a way to respect her, or see how she could function in the higher ranks of a system like Starfleet. This is a universe where everything is possible for her. We want to reflect a utopian universe where everything is possible for everyone here too. As long as you are open to the differences that anyone contains, you deserve love back for that. I think that is what our show is all about.
The actress also spoke about how Tilly’s arc from season one flows through into season two:
At the end of season one she [Tilly] admitted into the command training program. So she is going to continue that journey and what it means for someone like her to be an officer. She is going to face a lot of challenges, a lot of which she is going to have to rely on herself to find her way through, which should prove interesting.
Yeoh having fun playing sexy secret agent Georgiou
After being introduced and then killed off as Captain Georgiou at the start of the first season, Michelle Yeoh returned to play the Mirror Universe version of Georgio and at the NYCC panel she said she was “loving every single minute” of getting to play a version of the character which is “the polar opposite” of Captain Georgiou. Yeoh spoke to the crowd about how Emperor Georgiou has found a new life working for Section 31:
[Michael Burnham] brought me into this universe screaming and kicking, a lame universe as far as Emperor Georgiou was concerned. She was ready to kill herself in that establishment in Qo’noS. So, when Leland came to her with that black badge, she was very intrigued. When she later found out what Section 31 meant – officially we are non-existent. We are an autonomous, clandestine organization, supposedly claim to protect the security defense for the Federation. So, basically, what they don’t like to do, we get to do, really, really well.
The actress also noted that due to how the Mirror Universe was classified top secret (which maintains the canon for the TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror”) she gets to continue to play the complicated charade of Emperor Georgio pretending to be the not-actually-dead Captain Georgiou:
For Georgiou, not everybody knows I was from the Mirror Universe. So, sometimes I get to play the good captain. She is always very nice, compassionate [mocks yawn]. And then with Phillipa Georgiou from Section 31, she is manipulative, devious. I want to say… sexy, thanks to Gersha. Because we are all in leather, the whole time. It’s hot, I mean hot!
The actress also admitted she prefers playing this more devious version of the character:
It’s much more fun playing Section 31 Georgiou, because this poor man [indicating Anson Mount] has no idea who I am. Poor Captain Pike [laughs]. Only a handful of people really know that Emperor Georgiou is in Section 31.
L’Rell embracing her Klingon femininity to find a way to unite the Klingons
Actress Mary Chieffo talked about how in the second season “there are a lot of struggles” that come with her L’Rell now being Chancellor of the Klingon Empire, especially when it came to dealing with Klingon’s issues with a woman in power:
There is also a theme for L’Rell in the second season of embracing her femininity as she embraces her power. I think the two can coexist. I really enjoyed that. But it is not an easy road for her. There are male Klingons who take issue with a woman being in power.
The actress expanded on this struggle, to talk about how she is glad to see the Klingon story in season two being written from L’Rell’s perspective:
That is the beauty of Trek and the beauty of writing Trek in 2018, is that we are letting it reflect our times in all sorts of ways. There is something about all these female monsters that have been everything from Medusa to Medea, that their stories have been told for the most part from the white male perspective and the fact that in this story it is told from L’Rell’s side of the story. It was very much told from the human side last season, from Tyler’s perspective. So, we get more of a window into why she did what she did and the sacrifices that she has made to try to hold up this vision of unification. Because at the end of the day, the vision that T’Kuvma had of unification is a good one. But, he just had a bad idea of how to do it. She is trying to find a better way to do it and find her own voice, with the help of [Tyler].
Chieffo also talked about how the Klingons now having hair (because they let it grow in times of peace) ties into L’Rell’s arc for the season:
I feel that there is something really beautiful about the metaphor of letting your hair down and I think there is very much L’Rell’s journey in the second season. She is opening herself up to Tyler in a way she hasn’t before. She hasn’t had the opportunity to do so in the first season. Now they are able to. They are in very close proximity and they need each other.
Tyler in Klingon limbo with L’Rell
One of the big secrets for the first season was how Tyler was the transformed Klingon Voq. Actor Shazad Latif spent so long keeping the secret that he played both roles that it seems he has become accustomed to maintaining his silence, which may be why he had very little to say at the New York Comic Con panel.
However, Latif did give a very brief breakdown of where he saw Tyler, in the second season:
We left off and he runs away with L’Rell and they go and try and act as ambassadors almost, between the Klingons and the Federation and Starfleet. So, he is this sort of limbo. Him and L’Rell are sorting some things out emotionally, and a bunch of Klingons.
More from NYCC
In case you missed it, check out our previous two NYCC Discovery panel reports covering season two story and design and new cast and characters. There is more to come from our coverage of New York Comic Con, including another our post-panel interviews. So stay tuned.
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. The second season will debut on All Access and Space on Thursday, January 17th, 2019, and on Netflix January 18th.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news here at TrekMovie.