After the Star Trek: Discovery panel at New York Comic Con, TrekMovie had a chance to talk with the cast and executive producers at roundtable interviews in the press room, where they elaborated on some of what they’d said in the panel about the character arcs (for both new and returning characters) and stories coming in season two. We’ll be rolling more of them out throughout the week, but start with the show’s lead.
Sonequa Martin-Green (Michael Burnham) hit the roundtable interviews solo, and talked about plans for her character Michael Burnham, the introduction of Spock, as well as her overall sense of where the new season is headed. Watch the full video below the interview.
Will Michael Burnham’s redemption arc continue in season two?
Oh for sure. The redemption continues, at least the journey to redemption continues, because what I realized as Burnham is that I have to forgive myself. I’ve been sort of redeemed, professionally speaking. I’ve been reinstated into Starfleet. I’ve been redeemed interpersonally. A lot of my coworkers and dear friends and loved ones have forgiven me and understood why I made the choices that I made, though they weren’t the right ones. But I do definitely have to forgive myself, and I carry a lot of guilt, as Burnham.
That’s a huge cornerstone for me, shame and guilt, because of things that happened, namely the murder of my parents, which was because of me. That’s a hell of a lot for a child to take on and carry with them through their maturation. So the redemption has to continue and it has to include a forgiveness and acceptance of my very self, and I say to Sarek in the pilot, that my emotions inform my logic, but what I need to find next is how my logic then informs my emotion. And that will show a synergy of all the parts of me. An acceptance of my emotion, an acceptance of my logic, an acceptance of my humanity, an acceptance of my Vulcan indoctrination … which is the journey of every human being, right? We have to find a way to accept all the parts of us and figure out how they work together, right? And we want that to be a seamless working together, but that’s a long journey for all of us. And that’s certainly the journey that’s continuing for me.
How would you define Burnham’s relationship with Spock?
Complicated. Difficult. Strenuous. We don’t shy away from that, either, which I love. And season 2, as I said in the panel just now, is deeply emotional. And I pray and hope that people can go on the journey with us wholeheartedly because it will wrench your heart. Because it is so deeply emotional. And of course, as we saw in the trailer, that wonderful trailer, that there’s lots of action, but this season digs down to a deeper emotional level than season 1 did. And I’m hoping that people just grit their teeth and are at the edge of their seats and take it in.
Are we going to find out why Spock has never told anyone about Michael?
Oh gosh, yeah. And we mentioned that too, you know … there’s a long game with Star Trek: Discovery. Because it is hyper-serialized, and because it is a novel told in chapters, there is a through-line, and there are conceptual weavings that take time to unravel – that might have been a mixed metaphor, but we’re just going to go with it – but I really encourage everyone to trust that every single question that we raise in Star Trek: Discovery that may seem like it’s not canon-compliant, every one of those questions gets answered. Every one.
Does Burnham wrestle with her spur-of-the-moment decision to bring back Mirror Georgiou?
For sure. What you’ll see in season 2 with Burnham – and with everyone else – is the aftermath. You’ll see the residual after the war, the war is over now, and now there’s time to think about everything that’s happened. And to look at the mess we’ve left behind and what we’ll do with it. And now, who are we? And where are we, and what are we doing, and what have I done and who am I now? And who are we now? Because there is a lot of aftermath after that war, there’s a lot of residual effect from the war. So that is just one of them – this huge decision that I made to bring Georgiou back, I will certainly be wrestling with that along with every other decision that was made throughout the course of season 1.
Are you having fun working with Michelle Yeoh again?
Yes!!! Oh my gosh! We’re just so happy to have her … I mean, she’s a living legend. To have her is incredible. So we’ll take as much as we can get.
How do you balance your ownership of the character with the various directors, given that they come and go but you know the character so well, playing her in every episode?
That’s the great thing about collaboration, because the longer you sit with someone, the better you know them, right? The longer you live in this life, and tell this story, the better acquainted you are with it naturally, right? So yes, there does come a point where you have an intrinsic understanding of what you will do, what you wouldn’t do, what you would say, what you wouldn’t say … your instincts just get more and more honed.
I, for one, take the director’s vision very seriously, I take the words on the page very seriously. And so I always want to facilitate that. I want to bring the words, this writer’s words to live, I want to give over to the director’s vision. Though they may be a guest, it’s still their vision that I want to serve. But there does have to be the collaborative element to it. I have to say, “Oh actually, I don’t think that this is the case because let me tell you about these five memories, and how they relate to this moment, and how I think it should actually be calibrated a little bit that was or this way.” But I do think at the same time, that there’s a necessity to say yes, as an actor. Because you certainly don’t want to be the type of artist who just says no, and just assumes that they know what’s best, no matter what. So sometimes, it’s really really helpful to say yes, even though it seems like it wouldn’t be you, because what if it is you? What if you do do this thing that is not in your normal behavior? How does that affect you? So that happens too.
Where would you like to see Michael Burnham at the end of season two?
I would like for Michael Burnham to be in a place of true self-love, by the end of season two.
Watch the full interview
More from NYCC
There is more to come from our post-panel interviews, plus details from the panels in our coverage of New York Comic Con. 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.