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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.