Over the weekend we posted the live stream of the Star Trek: Discovery New York Comic Con panel and followed that up with some updates from the panel regarding the Picard show as well as some revelations to inform our trailer analysis. But there was much more discussed in the panel, so we broke down the highlights for those who haven’t had a chance to watch it, starting with a look at what they revealed about the theme, story, and design choices for the second season. We will follow this up with insights from the panel about the characters and actor performances.
Science, faith and the mystery arc of the 7 signals
Alex Kurtzman outlined the overall arc and themes of the second season, which have already been telegraphed in both the SDCC and NYCC trailer and the promo poster:
The seven signals, where they came from, who or what sent them, is really what drives season two. The Discovery crew is trying to figure out what they mean. Are they some kind of path? Are they a message? We don’t know. There is a lot of interesting conversation about sciences versus faith. What does faith mean? Even Starfleet can’t understand what they are and where they came from. So, that is a big part of the drive of season two.
Lead actress Sonequa Martin-Green picked up on this and talked more about the mysterious “red angel”:
The red angel is such a mystery. And as Alex said, it is the big mystery of the season is this red angel and these signals. As you saw in that fantastic trailer, the red angel appears to Burnham at a very critical moment and what I find out is that Spock has also seen this red angel earlier in his life.
A return to exploration, episodic stories, and canon
Anson Mount, who joins the cast as Captain Christopher Pike, outlined how the second season begins:
We start out by chasing these occurrences of these red signals. We have already determined that the energy needed to create them is beyond anything we have ever encountered. This initially brings us to an asteroid that is hurtling towards a pulsar and we find there is a downed ship, the Hiawatha. When we go to inspect, there is one awake survivor [Reno] played by Tig Notaro, playing the engineer who stayed behind trying to keep all the injured alive. She is fantastic and adds such a great flavor to the show. She was fun working with too. That character comes aboard for a while.
Mount, an avowed Trek fan himself, went on to talk about how the second season mystery allows for a return to classic Star Trek storytelling:
Each step, each time we chase down a signal, there is a step towards truth. What I really like about what the writers are doing with this, is while they are maintaining this decision to do this serialized version of Star Trek, this choice of chasing down the signals is bringing in a sort of classic episodic feel to the second season. So, each show does have its own character, its own question, while maintaining this really strong through line.
During the audience Q&A the panel was asked what message they had for longtime Trek fans who felt that Discovery didn’t fit with what they saw as Star Trek. Stamets actor Anthony Rapp, another cast member who is also a big fan of Trek, fielded the question with a call for patience and to watch the upcoming season to see how it all ties together:
Trust that we have a long game approach to how this will fit in and this will all get answered through season two.
A return to classic Klingons coifs and cleavage, but don’t expect TOS smooth-heads
One of the biggest changes for the second season revealed in the NYCC trailer is how the Klingons have hair again–and not just hair but long, luxurious hair like that seen in the TNG era. Without actually flat out saying Klingons would have hair again, makeup designer Glenn Hetrick telegraphed the new look for the Klingons during his panel at Star Trek Las Vegas. At NYCC over the weekend, L’Rell actress Mary Chieffo put the pieces together explicitly, saying:
You might have noticed in the trailer, there is a bit of a new aesthetic going on. [flips her hair around] And that is a really exciting addition that has been made and is inspired by Glenn Hetrick, who is our designer and a huge Trek fan himself. He was inspired by season 6, episode 23 of The Next Generation “Rightful Heir.” There is a reference when Kahless is brought back as a clone…the way he proves himself is he tells the story of how he cut off a lock of his hair and dipped it into a volcano and made the first bat’leth, with which he killed Molor, the terrible tyrant who was running Qo’noS at the time.
Chieffo then explained how they are extrapolating from this brief moment in TNG:
So, in the spirit of Discovery we took that one little beautiful seed that was planted from an earlier iteration and kind of expanded on that. And that we see that in a time of war the Klingons would shave their heads, and in a time of peace, we start to grow it back out. I really love the symbolism of that.
UPDATE: Responding to comments on social media about how this all fits into future Klingon history, Chieffo explained that things change:
The Dominion War takes place more than 100 years after the events of Discovery. Traditions change and are lost in time. Much of what T’Kuvma predicted about homogenization and assimilation of the Klingon race occurs after the explosion of Praxis & subsequent political shift. https://t.co/EOjgXpDh9A
— Mary Chieffo (@marythechief) October 8, 2018
At the NYCC panel, the actress also revealed it isn’t just hair that will be part of the classic look for L’Rell, now Klingon Chancellor, during the second season:
The Chancellor aesthetic when it comes to clothes – Gersha Phillips again has outdone herself…I was wearing these boots and she was “Oh, you like heels?”…I’ve got these epic heeled boots and these gorgeous dresses and a little bit more of your classic Klingon cleavage that you all love so very much!
During the Q&A portion, a fan asked if we would see the even more classic TOS style of Klingons, from the pre-ridged forehead days. While Kurtzman didn’t dismiss the idea, he explained the reasoning behind their approach for the Klingon look:
The ability to create the kind of makeup we can do now didn’t exist back then. So, a lot of the choices that were made were because they didn’t have the choices that we have. So, part of what we do is try to maintain the spirit of what was going on in TOS and then bring it into the modern age but brings that spirit to it. So, technically are there Klingons that look like some of them did? There could be. There is no reason there wouldn’t. But, the Klingons we have chosen to focus on are going to look more like the ones you have seen in Discovery.
A return to Talos IV?
Speaking of canon, when a fan asked if there was “any chance we will see of the original Star Trek characters on the show besides Spock?” Alex Kurtzman replied simply “yes.” The producer then teased the return of some aliens that are very familiar to Captain Pike, saying:
You guys like Talosians? We should see some.
Of course, the illusion-inducing Talosians were featured the original Star Trek pilot “The Cage” and seen in flashbacks in the episode “The Menagerie.” Based on Star Trek’s future history, Pike and the crew of the USS Enterprise (including Spock and Number One) visited Talos IV around 3 years before the Enterprise rendezvoused with the USS Discovery in the Discovery season one finale. Since Pike’s mission to Talos IV, the Federation has imposed General Order 7, making any contact with the planet a death penalty offense.
Get ready for your head to explode, emotionally
Pointing to the action-packed trailer that was first shown during the panel, Sonequa Martin-Green noted that there is more to the second season:
This season is deeply emotional. It is a deeply emotional story and you really do get everything this season. You are seeing us dip down into the depths this season. There is so much palpable action, and all that. But the emotion is what is most palpable. It is going to be really thrilling because of that. It is a bit of a departure, but it is very much still in line with how authentic our show strives to be.
Culber actor Wilson Cruz followed that up, with a promise to fans:
Your heads are going to explode!
More from NYCC
There is more to come from our coverage of New York Comic Con, including another report from the Discovery panel and 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.