After the Star Trek: Discovery panel at New York Comic Con, TrekMovie had a chance to talk with the panelists at roundtable interviews in the press room. We have been rolling them out all week and today we have executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin. We discussed the influence of “The Cage,” the evolution of Spock, and the writers’ room. Watch the full video below the interview.
Is “The Cage” a touchstone for bringing this season into alignment with canon?
Alex Kurtzman: We are going to bring everything into alignment at the end of the season, and “The Cage” will be touched on, but in ways that I think are hopefully surprising and unexpected. I think one of the things that I’ve really enjoyed in my time working on Star Trek is looking at stories that have been told but then really examining them for the gray areas, the areas where certain things can be filled in or built on, without violating canon. So that’s a big part of what we’re doing this season.
Which character arc was most satisfying to develop for season 2?
Alex Kurtzman: Spock, in many ways. I mean, my heart is always with Michael Burnham. Her journey, that’s the one that’s most accessible to me as a writer when I sit down to write a script, but I think that I am very excited about Spock this season because this is literally the only season in which we can tell this story about Spock. So there’s a big reason to do it now. And I’m excited about that, I’m excited for people to get to see that.
Heather Kadin: Saru’s arc is also – I mean, they’re all good. But Doug Jones is such a gift. I mean, again, they all are, I say that and … but I mean, I’m literally weeping watching a rough cut, I mean he’s just such a beautiful soul. You see it, right? Like that’s him, and through all that latex, you still see it. But his story is pretty spectacular.
What made you decide to introduce Spock, after saying you were not going to do so?
Alex Kurtzman: What gets me so excited about the story that we get to tell with Spock this season is that it’s the unwritten chapter of Spock. This is not the Spock that you know from the beginning of TOS, this is pre-TOS. He is not that formed Vulcan yet. His experience with the Red Angel and the signals has fried his logical brain. He cannot make sense of it. And he is emotionally ill-equipped to deal with it. So both logic and emotion are failing him, totally. And he is totally unsure of himself and trying to figure out how to make sense of the mystery and where he fits into the world. And it’s through his complicated relationship with his sister that he’s able to figure out how to become and actualize himself as the Spock that we know from TOS. And that’s really exciting to us because it in no way violates canon, it just builds on what’s been set before.
Were you extra sensitive in casting Number One, since it was Majel Barrett’s role?
Alex Kurtzman: You know, I really credit the Roddenberrys and Rod Roddenberry for – not only was she a critical character on Star Trek, she also happened to be his mother. He was very supportive, and really has been nothing but supportive. So yes, obviously we have to be delicate and careful in what we were doing, but the truth is, we didn’t really know much about Number One. So there’s a lot of room to build.
Are we going to find out Number One’s name?
Alex Kurtzman: You’ll have to watch and see…
Are you going to visit any planets this season?
Alex Kurtzman: You will see a few planets this season, yes.
Are you visiting planets we’ve seen before?
Alex Kurtzman: Talos. We’re going to Talos.
Have the behind-the-scenes changes affected the direction of season 2?
Alex Kurtzman: We always had certain pillars – here’s how I like to structure a season when you’re in the room: you spend the first couple of months talking about what you want the show to be, and you ideally decide on an outcome. We want the finale to be here, this is where we’re going to end. And so once you know that, you can reverse engineer your season very strategically to get to that outcome. It’s really critical. So I always think of it as like there are going to be four major pivot points that I want to identify at the beginning, to know how to get to that place. But I don’t want to fill in too many of the gaps, because if I fill in too many of the gaps, it doesn’t leave any room to be surprised as we continue to break story throughout the season. So it’s a matter of having a structure that allows you the freedom to improvise.
Can you tell us about any of the new writers on the team?
Alex Kurtzman: Yeah, there’s a ton. There’s a woman who came in, name of Michelle Paradise, she’s fantastic. Alan McElroy‘s amazing. Erika and Boey have been incredible this year. I could go on and on about each one, but they’re–
Heather Kadin: We have an amazing staff.
Watch the full interview
More from NYCC
We will have a second part of the producers from NYCC tomorrow. Check out all the rest of our New York Comic Con coverage.
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.