‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Cast Talk About Return To Familiar Star Trek Optimism, Science And More

In what is likely their final convention appearance before the premiere of the second season, the cast of Star Trek: Discovery appeared on Saturday at Destination Star Trek in Birmingham, UK. On hand were main cast members Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Wilson Cruz, and Mary Chieffo, along with season one’s Jason Isaacs and guest stars Jayne Brook, Kenneth Mitchell, and Sam Vartholomeos. We have highlights from the panel where they talk about season two being more like traditional Star Trek, the joys of Klingon makeup and more.

Star Trek: Discovery cast panel at Destination Star Trek 2018

Turning back to familiar Star Trek

One question from the audience asked about the tone of Discovery being even darker than Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Anthony Rapp, who was probably the biggest Trek fan on stage at the event, took the question first, and talked about the transition from season one to season two:

Anthony Rapp: The whole first season was about the effect of the Mirror Universe, thanks to Captain Lorca. So, it was really going through that to come out the other side, building up to Burnham’s last speech. It was building up out of the darkness to get toward where we are much more in familiar territory. So, season two absolutely follows in those footsteps, building up the Starfleet that we are more familiar with.

Rapp then discussed, as he had at the NYCC panel two weeks ago, that they are asking fans to be patient:

Anthony Rapp: It is unusual to ask Star Trek audiences to have such long storytelling, because it’s been much more episodic along the way. We’ve asked you all to have faith that we do know what we are doing. We are aware that we are going to spend a year taking a left turn to get us back to the path that is more familiar.

Wilson Cruz and Anthony Rapp at Destination Star Trek 2018

Sonequa Martin-Green also weighed in on how Discovery shows the crew fighting for the ideals of Starfleet:

Sonequa Martin-Green: I think there is something to be said about the fight. Because that is one of the things that is most beautiful about our show, and all the other iterations of Star Trek, but definitely Discovery. Not only do you see this future, but you see this fight it takes to get to it. Not to just get it, but to maintain it. So, you see us take this left turn into darkness because we are at war, but you see us fight out of it. I think that is actually most hopeful of all.

Martin-Green also tried to give some context to the darker tone of the show, pointing out that it is a result of the highly serialized nature of the show:

Sonequa Martin-Green: One of our executive producers once said he doesn’t find this iteration to be darker, it is just that we remember what happened yesterday. And when you remember what happened yesterday, there is going to come the sorrow of loss, and the mourning of loss. And you also have the philosophy to fight. But we will always strive to be Starfleet and so you get to see that fight in action and I think that is something that can really be latched on to, because it’s not just a picture. You need to see an example of its actualization.

Sonequa Martin-Green at Destination Star Trek 2018

More science in season two

The second season won’t just have a lighter and more optimistic tone, it will also feature more of Trek’s tradition of science. Anthony Rapp, who plays a scientist on the show, told the Birmingham crowd:

Anthony Rapp: This season there is even more [science], with anthropological, sociological stuff as well as some physics, which has always been part of Star Trek. The writers really care and want to be sure that any science, even if it’s playing to some fantastic level, is always based on something that has some correspondence with what people are dealing with in the scientific community.

Anthony Rapp as Lt. Commander Stamets doing some science in season two trailer

Makeup helped Chieffo see herself as a Klingon

One of the biggest changes for Star Trek: Discovery was, of course, the design of the Klingons, which required much more complex prosthetic makeup for the actors, something TNG/DS9 Klingon actor Michael Dorn has critiqued, saying it limits the actor’s performance. Actress Mary Chieffo was asked how she felt about the makeup, and the L’Rell actress said it was something she welcomed when she was first informed about it:

Mary Chieffo: I was very excited to be totally transformed. It played into a lot of movement character and mask work I did in school. And the voice and speech, of course, was able to drop into a completely different entity. So, when I looked at myself in the mirror I was not Mary Chieffo, I was L’Rell. I was excited and gratified.

Mary Chieffo with her fellow Star Trek: Discovery cast members greeting the crowd at Destination Star Trek 2018

The actress also gave some detail on how the new design of the Klingons informs her performance:

Mary Chieffo: The more I talked with Neville Page and Glenn Hetrick, who were the designers, about why they specifically created the head ridges, they wanted to explore the complexity of the sensory devices within the ridges. It was fun to play with that. I talk about the head tilt I started doing, that was symbolizing the computing of information that Neville encouraged. He said “yes, your sensors are stronger in the back.”

Mary Chieffo as L’Rell with Jayne Brook as Admiral Cornwell in the 1st season of Star Trek: Discovery

Cut season finale dialog explored the bond with Burnham and L’Rell

Both Mary Chieffo and Sonequa Martin-Green spoke about how even though they only interacted in the season finale, there was always a parallel and bond with their characters.

Mary Chieffo: I was compelled by the fact that L’Rell was brought out of the shadows by Burnham, even though these two women were tied by heartbreak. And the fact that they found their power in their vulnerability and it took a lot to get to that place.

Sonequa Martin-Green: We fought to get to that place. What I loved about what was on the page was that you see these two women that are powerful and vulnerable and in tune with their femininity and the power of that. And they also realize that they are greater than the sum of their parts.

Martin Green also revealed a bit of dialog that was cut from the season finale, in the scene where Burnham and L’Rell decide to cooperate:

Sonequa Martin-Green: There was a line that I was heartbroken that had to be cut in the edit where I am giving her this detonator, so she can take control of the Klingon Empire, and Terran Georgiou says: “why did you do this? She is your enemy” and Burnham says: “today she is not my enemy.” And I loved that. There is a presentness to that saying. Today means now, could mean forever. We are not actually enemies. We were able to dig into each other and dig down together for the greater good.

Mary Chieffo also weighed in, saying that the Burnham and L’Rell relationship has a message for today:

Mary Chieffo: I think that is the only way we are going to succeed as a society, is if we lift each other up. I think we are in this time as women where we really need each other. We are embracing that for the best way for all of us to succeed is by lifting each other up, even if we do differ.

Burnham and L’Rell in the season one finale

More from Destination Star Trek

Stay tuned for more coverage from Destination Star Trek Birmingham.

TrekMovie has teamed up with the TrekkieGirls for our coverage of Destination Star Trek. Sam, along with her colleagues Sarah and Carole, are on the scene in Birmingham, so check out their live live-tweeting of DST at @TrekkieGirls, and visit their site for more at trekkiegirls.com.

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Virtually the whole damn cast! The best panel of the whole con so far. These guys are awesome. They have brought such a vibrancy to the Trek family, and are fully embracing their good fortune to be involved in the franchise, and are doing sovwith the utmost respect.

At least the cast see what was missing.

I like the way Sonequa talks about the show; it seems like she really GETS it. Fighting to get out of darkness and to maintain the ideals of Starfleet IS a worthy goal, and it’s very in tune with where our society is right now.

I also think it’s an excellent point that part of why DSC seems darker is because it’s not episodic. In the first TOS episode made, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” Kirk had to kill a good friend. In real life, that would have haunted him for a long time, but since TOS was episodic, Kirk was perfectly cheerful in the beginning of the 2nd episode made, “The Corbomite Maneuver.” Kirk had to let Edith Keeler die in “The City on the Edge of Forever,” but the next week, he was fine at the beginning of “Operation: Annihilate.” If TOS had NOT been episodic and if Kirk had actually still FELT all those losses from week to week, S1 of TOS would have been WAY darker than S1 of DSC.

If you think about S1 of TOS, Kirk kills Gary Mitchell in the first episode (I’m going by production order), sees the evil side of his personality split off and given independent life in the 4th episode, is subjected to a mind-controlling device that drives people crazy and makes them feel empty enough to die in the 10th episode, is confronted with the man who he watched kill 4,000 people while he was only a teenager in the 12th episode, is put on trial in the 14th episode, has his ship stolen by the one person he was sure he could trust in the 15th and 16th episodes, has a fight to the death in the 19th, goes back in time in the 21st, is put into the decompression chamber and nearly killed in the 24th, watches his entire crew commit mutiny in the 25th, must allow the woman he loves to be killed in the 28th, and suffers the death of his brother and sister-in-law in the 29th.

If TOS had NOT been episodic, Kirk would have been reeling before Season one was even half done. They must have really fabulous treatment for PTSD in the 23rd century! :-)

So yeah, it’s a good point. DSC seems darker because they actually FEEL those losses and don’t hit the reset button at the end of every episode.

Imagine if they played the effects of Siskso’s decision from In The Pale Moonlight over the course of a few episodes…..

Sisko’d’ve gotten addicted to tetracel white for four eps, and the station would have had a short-lived epidemic of drug misuse.

Well it’s nice to see the STD cast have time for this kinda thing. Maybe I should keep asking Anthony Rapp my question on twitter,maybe he’ll eventually have time for that as well. LOL!

I’m glad they opted to get rid of that odd-looking tumor on the back of the Klingon’s heads. That feature was the biggest departure from visual canon in my opinion. The equivalent of turning Vulcan’s purple.

In other words “we messed up, we’re trying to make the fans happy again with an attempt at real Star Trek”.

Oh, relax.

Honestly, some fans just like to whine and complain.

That’s a bit harsh but sorta how I am seeing it as well.

Sorry, but they don’t get it, or don’t consider ENT canon, it’s one or the other. While I can accept the mirror universe statement from Anthony Rapp to some small extent, it’s not the reason DSC felt dark, it’s the lighting, it’s the designs, it’s the characters. DS9 had war and didn’t feel dark in the way we’re critisizing here. And “building up the Starfleet that we are more familiar with”? Bullsh*t, the Starfleet in ENT already felt more familiar than anything shown in DSC. Sure, it was the same authors and producers, but still, it’s canon. So DSC deviates from it and tries to get back to canon to please fans, it’s not building up to anything.

And people wonder where The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy stereotype comes from…

What do you mean? Where did I say anything about stereotypes or wrote anything stereotypical? It’s just that I’m calling them out on their BS excuses for messing with canon. Nothing more, nothing less…

If I’m getting a little tired of the cast defending S1 with the same rhetoric then I bet they themselves have to be.

Kinda weird that Issacs was there. He’s not part of S2 and seeing him only makes me think of a wasted opportunity to inject a GREAT character into Star Trek lore.

Most of the actors showing up at these conventions are no longer an active part of Star Trek.