The second season of Star Trek: Discovery has introduced a number of changes, with new characters, storylines, themes, tone, and visual style. Also getting an update are some of the sets of the USS Discovery, something we first heard about from the design team back in March 2018. Today we’re taking a look at some of them.
Making changes to sets between seasons is a long-held tradition with Star Trek. In many cases, sets are re-worked for practical reasons, such as helping to make filming easier or reducing wear and tear on swing sets (sets that provide multiple uses). Along the way, designers get to embellish some of the details as well.
We got our first look at some of the updates for Discovery in the Short Treks released in the fall. More new elements have been seen in the first two episodes of the second season. In addition, a select group of entertainment news outlets were given a set tour during production, with Space.ca and SFX magazine providing some details about the set changes.
Enter bridge right
In season one, the only real way to show someone entering the bridge into a scene was via the ready room. So for season two, they changed the dark blue area behind the captain’s chair that had a bunch of blinking lights symbolizing the main computer core, called “HAL” by the production staff (which is, of course, a 2001: A Space Odyssey reference). It’s been pared back a bit and an opening was created for another way characters can enter and exit a scene. Art director Jody Clement says:
“It allows for crew members to enter onto the set other than through the Ready Room, that area was considered a bit dark in the background and didn’t really have any life in it. So we added digital production on some pipes—a bunch of ones and zeros that give it life.”
Ready Room replaced
In the first episode of season two, “Brother,” Captain Pike says he needs a new ready room if he’s going to stay on the USS Discovery, since the existing room was configured by Captain Lorca without any seating and wasn’t very conducive to meetings (or discourse). A new office/meeting room set was constructed for Pike, which is possibly a redesign of Captain Georgiou’s ready room from the USS Shenzhou in season one. The production team has repurposed Lorca’s old ready room into a new science lab set, which we have yet to see as of episode two. Pike’s new ready room is no longer entered from the bridge directly and requires a turbolift to get to.
While they’re still not saying if we’ll ever see main engineering–all we’ve seen so far is the lab where Stamets setup his spore drive research, also known as Engineering test bay alpha, which is actually just off main engineering– they did make a few changes to the engineering lab set. Clements notes:
“You can see a series of pipes [through that hall] and then we have a backdrop just beyond those pipes to give the illusion that the chamber goes a lot further.”
Clements also told SFX that the new backdrop is 30 feet high and is meant to show off the Discovery’s dilithium chamber.
Longer corridor for more “walk and talk”
As we saw in “Brother,” the corridors of the Discovery set got some nice upgrades. Clement expands on this:
“Directors were finding it difficult to stage scenes. This year, in order to prevent them from having to stop and start over, we can do a continuous loop because we opened it up. The airlock has gone away and we’ve made the ceilings a little higher with some greenspace [green screen area] above.”
More set, less wear
To save on cost, the mess hall and crew quarters were really the same basic set in season one, and it took a toll according to Clements: “It was a challenge on many levels, and we also ran into a lot of wear-and-tear on the set when we were changing it over.” So now there are new standalone mess hall and crew quarters sets.
While rebuilding the mess hall, they also upgraded the functionality: during season one only one food synthesizer (slot 3) was set up and working, and now all five work, so there can be some variety in the shots of people getting food.
While less dramatic, sickbay got a revamped entrance and a few more tweaks to the detailing on the set. As Clements teases: “We have the same sickbay as last year, but we made a few changes.”
More new sets coming
We have probably seen most of the changes for the USS Discovery, besides the aforementioned new science lab. This new lab may have been glimpsed in one of the trailers for season two.
And there are a number of sets outside of the USS Discovery still to be seen in the second season. We know that L’Rell now has her Chancellor’s chambers on Qo’noS, something L’Rell actress Mary Chieffo has mentioned in interviews, and could be glimpsed in some of the trailers, including blueprints in the start of production teaser video from April 2018. These new sets are derived from the Klingon sarcophagus ship in season one, which was later redressed to become the throne room set from the ISS Charon in the Mirror Universe for the second half of the season.
There have also been strong hints that Section 31 will have its own ship in season two. The start of production teaser video showed the former USS Shenzhou bridge set being re-worked, along with a glimpse of blueprints labeled “Section 31 – Bridge/Lab.” We can see the final product in a few of the promotional photos released just before the season began.
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.