Star Trek on TV leader Alex Kurtzman’s media blitz is not over, with a couple more interviews out today. While they cover a lot of familiar ground, he also had some new things to say about the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, premiering January 17th.
There has been a lot of talk of changes coming in the second season, including doing some more traditional Star Trek exploration and storytelling. But in his interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Alex Kurtzman made clear that the highly serialized nature of the series will remain, even if you might not always notice it at first:
It’s very serialized. There are no real one-offs. Every piece of the puzzle is connected to the finale, we worked backward from knowing the outcome we wanted to get to. There are episodes that seem standalone that are fundamentally part of where we’re going at the end.
How Spock became Spock
In previous interviews, Kurtzman has discussed how the second season will explore the relationship between Michael Burnham and her foster brother Spock. On Variety’s TV Take podcast, the producer went into more detail on how the season will work as a sort of origin story for Spock:
I’m a huge sucker for a sibling story. It is one of my favorite kinds of story and it is so rarely told and it is such a unique and specific relationship. And you don’t necessarily have to be a blood sibling to have a distinct and unique connection. So, the idea that Spock and Burnham are playing out this dynamic of logic versus emotion and knew each other before Spock became the character we meet in TOS was so exciting to me. What got me so riled up about it is the idea that if we can take season two of Discovery and understand how his relationship with Michael informed how he became the Spock we meet in TOS and that without that relationship he would never have been prepared for Kirk, that is a new an interesting spin and something really worth talking about, because people haven’t seen that before.
By the time Spock and Kirk are together, which we see them being when you are airdropped into what became the first episode of TOS, Spock certainly works out logic versus emotion over the course of the series and movies, but he is more or less settled into his Vulcan character. And that was an interesting opporunity. Maybe he wasn’t always settled into that Vulcan character. Maybe he had to go through a whole journey of logic versus emotion to figure out what was neccessary ultimately was balance. And while Spock always represented the logic of the Enterprise, Kirk was the emotion of the Enterprise. And without his working through that self-exploration and self-discovery work – pun intended – he would never have become that character. So, that felt like a unique and interesting opportunity and a neccessary one.
Filling in the blanks for Pike and Number One
Kurtzman also discussed how season two will approach the characters of Captain Pike and Number One:
What was really exciting was the opportunity to explore a grey area about this relationship and these characters, Spock, Pike and Number One. Number One is a great example. You know very little about Number One. She was in one episode and then kind of out. So she is kind of a blank slate, but also always remembered by Trek fans. Why? And getting to look at that. Pike was obviously a character who had a large mythological presence on the show, both because of the pilot that never aired and what came later in “The Menagerie,” and then what we did with Bruce Greenwood we got to open more doors, but that is obviously the Kelvin universe and a different version of Pike. So, I loved the idea of saying “who are these people?” And we have fourteen episodes to explore nuances and details and parts of their lives the either may have been alluded to or left blank, that we can now fill in.
Don’t expect Lorca, yet
But what about last season’s captain? Kurtzman set up expectations for seeing Jason Isaacs return as Captain Lorca, telling EW:
I will tell you that you should not expect to see him this season but that doesn’t mean he won’t be back.
The canon balancing act
In his interview with EW, the reporter opined that Kurtzman and his team should not worry so much about canon and focus instead on just telling a good story. Kurtzman weighed into the controversial topic, diplomatically saying:
We really do spend a lot of time talking a lot about canon and there are people in the writers’ room specifically to tell us where we’re stepping on the line of violation…But it’s always a conversation…The best version of the story needs to be the driver. But what’s the best version of a story is an entirely subjective thing. That’s why we have so many different voices in the writers room with so many different points of view. You want to write a nuanced story to get as many different voices as possible to represent how they feel about different ideas. A big part of my process is listening to the other writers. With Trek, you want to go out and beta-test ideas. But as soon as you do that you’ll get 50 percent of people telling you they love it and 50 percent saying you should be strung up and killed. At a certain point you need to follow your own internal compass, but you don’t want to do it in a vacuum — that’s very dangerous — so we hire people to express what they think Star Trek means, and where we’re violating canon and what we can invent within the grey area.
So, yes, we want to stay true to canon, but we’re also doing a lot of new invention that has nothing to do with canon. There’s a lot of conversation online like, “Why don’t you start with new things? Why do you have to look back?” And the answer is, “We can do both.” We have to do both. Star Trek has always done both.
Star Trek: Discovery is available in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.