The Star Trek: Discovery cast and crew are sharing more about the creation of the much-buzzed-about episode “If Memory Serves.” We have gathered up all the highlights.
Peck talks “If Memory Serves” and nerding out with Jonathan Frakes
Episode 8 offered the first real look at Ethan Peck’s Spock for Star Trek: Discovery. As the guest on the Ready Room after-show, Peck talked about getting the role and how he meticulously studied Leonard Nimoy to prepare, reading his memoirs and even watching TOS during breaks on set.
Regarding how he developed his version of Spock where he is on his arc in “If Memory Serves,” Peck spoke about how he played the sibling rivalry with Michael Burnham:
I spoke at length with Alex Kurtzman about [Spock’s] anger. I think there is a deep resentment that he is human. This is before he discovers that may be his greatest gift, that he is mixed, in that his human half will give him perspective that his Vulcan half cannot. That is such an incredible tool for someone that is trying to understand the universe more deeply. Which I really think is at the core of Spock, because of his deep curiosity. So, I would almost say there is a kind of sassiness from him to Michael Burnham. We discussed how illogical he would get, because he is not fully logical that he would be angry with her. There was an abandonment that occurred, but she did it in the best interest of the family. And he can’t quite get beyond his emotions to see the bigger picture, in this moment in this episode. So, that is pretty unusual for Spock as we know him.
The actor also talked about the importance of the moment revealed in “If Memory Serves.”
That moment in their childhood was the beginning of his shutdown and compartmentalization of his emotions, which is half of who he is and what makes him special as a member of the Vulcan and Human civilization. It is a big cornerstone in who he is qualitatively and his personality.
Discussing shooting the first scene with Spock and Captain Pike in the shuttle bay in “If Memory Serves,” Peck also talked about how his personal admiration for actor Anson Mount has informed his approach to the relationship with Pike and Spock:
It is not spoken about explicitly, but I had decided that he was a sort of older brother figure. And that I had secretly admired him because Spock has been so closed off emotionally for so long, but there was a relationship with Pike. He is teaching him to be human, he is teaching him to be a Human man and not a Vulcan man…so it is maybe a way of life imitating art or vice versa.
Peck also talked about moments this season that stood out as special, like his experience working with director Jonathan Frakes on an upcoming episode (next week’s “Project Daedalus”):
Jonathan Frakes…yeah, meeting him at the first table read I felt sort of I wanted to make him my friend immediately. I wanted him to be my mentor immediately. He is so gregarious…and such a joy to be around. I am sure I weirded him out, but I went up to him and didn’t know how else to communicate that I wanted his approval and his guidance – so I was like “can you sign my script?” And he was like “sure.” And I was “it’s for me.” I wanted it as a good luck token.
Another moment that stood out to Peck was when he was “clapped out” to wrap his work on the season:
The day we finished was hugely emotional for me, because it was a journey…It was just so beautiful – bunch of people gathered, a bunch of crew and the cast. It just was hugely emotional and a big relief. It was such a challenge to me as a person, as an actor. And to have really gone though it and completed it, it is one of my peak life moments.
Peck was careful not to provide any spoilers for the rest of season two, but he did say that three words sum it up:
Faith, family and wonder. You can expect Spock to become more like you have known him to be. This is a big transitional period for him.
Watch the full video below:
Stepping into the role of Vina was Australian actress Melissa George. Speaking to her hometown paper the Sydney Morning Herald, George recognized the significance of the part, saying “Just to be part of history like this is extraordinary.” George said she studied the original part as played by Susan Oliver and contrasted that with her approach:
Her acting was very heightened because it was Star Trek and the very first one. But what I got was the essence of how much she loved Captain Pike. For that reason I kind of wanted to take her and listen to the guidance of producers and the costume designer because it’s modernised in such a way. So you start to put the pieces together from her look, to the way she sounds, to the the way she could walk. After a few days I kind of got the impression of the Vina we were creating today and I slipped into her shoes.
George spoke to Syfy about how she played Vina:
When you first see Vina with that perfect blonde hair and that perfect blue eyeshadow, you think, ‘Oh, she’s a bit off with the fairies.’ But she’s actually got such gravitas and is in fact very strong and grounded. So I decided I was going to embrace being a woman, with all her beauty and the hair, and those high heels, and being comfortable in my own skin. And that’s how I am in my own life, too. I think that women often get perceived in a certain way. If you’re ‘too pretty,’ you’re perceived as maybe not being smart enough. So, no, she’s not a victim. She’s everything, this woman. She’s clearly a woman in love, too. So [I] decided to be comfortable and strong with it.
Mount talks Pike’s return to Talos and Vina
CBS released a brief video with Anson Mount giving a brief summary of “The Cage” and how he felt about picking up on the story:
Dealing with that important part of canon came with a certain sense of responsibility and a sense of “Oh, my God. Seriously?” I get to do this?
"It goes back to the very first episode of Star Trek, the original pilot." @ansonmount discusses the importance of Talos IV in @StarTrek canon. #StarTrekDiscovery pic.twitter.com/K0fBnQCVWv
— Star Trek: Discovery (@startrekcbs) March 9, 2019
Editor reveals backstory for “Previously on Star Trek” intro
One of the unique elements of the episode was the use of footage from the original Star Trek pilot “The Cage” to introduce the episode. Editor Scott Gamzon took to Twitter to explain how that segment evolved in a series of tweets. Here is the full story:
As I was cutting the episode I was wondering if we would revisit the footage from The Cage / The Menagerie and rewatched both multiple times. [Executive producer Olatunde Osunsanmi] suggested that we attempt some sort of flashback for Pike at the beginning of the episode utilizing the TOS footage in a hyper stylized way. Ultimately, the flashback version, proved a bit too confusing. Upon viewing, [executive producer/showrunner] Alex Kurtzman, suggested creating a recap using the TOS footage. I then incorporated the idea of also making this seem a flashback for Pike by using the match cut from Jeffrey Hunter’s Pike to Anson Mount’s Pike. Finally, I suggested using the original TOS score and Kurtzman came up with the vision of 1960s era transitions which our VFX team then created. This is what I love about my job – the incredible collaboration that leads to some really great and creative storytelling.
A closer look at Talosian makeup
Makeup designer James MacKinnon shared images on Instagram of him and his team doing the makeup for the updated Talosians.
View this post on Instagram
I have to pinch myself every week after watching Star Trek: Discovery. It’s so cool to be part of a show that celebrates what I do for a living. Each week we on top of our regulars we also see new aliens, and incredible reimagined works of the iconic Star Trek makeups that I grew up admiring; makeups that make me the artist I am today! PLUS the work it takes to make all prosthetics at @glenn_hetrick_ Alchemy FX Studios @nevillepage designs… and all the craftspeople it takes each week to get the pieces to us up in Toronto. My set team @mthreefx @versionsofu @nixiepixie13 @chrisbridgesv1.0 (to name a few) deserve a huge congratulations! Well done team!! . Oh and wait there’s more ….. tune into next weeks episode on #cbsallaccess and see! . . . . #makeup #aliens #talosians #makeupartist #prosthetics #Prostheticmakeup #makeupfx #makeupfxartist #creatures #depthead #local_706 #local798 #startrekdiscovery #jamesmackinnon #specialmakeupeffects #space #artists #emmynominated #fxmakeup #startrek #startrekdiscovery #discovery #startrekmakeup #startrekprosthetics #hairandmakeupawards #startreknetflix @actordougjones #2019emmys #deptheadprosthetics #space #discovery #emmys #emmyawards
Cast do Q&A
CBS has also released a couple of videos on Twitter with Anson Mount, Sonequa Martin-Green and Ethan Peck talking Discovery. In this first one, Peck answers a question from a fan about what he takes from Leonard Nimoy’s Spock.
You asked, Spock listened. @ethangpeck answers a fan question from @MikeSarzo about becoming Spock. pic.twitter.com/QBvGxxIq3e
— Star Trek: Discovery (@startrekcbs) March 9, 2019
And Sonequa revealed why Burnham and Tilly are still roomies.
Who wouldn't want to room with Tilly? @Dragos_BD asks @SonequaMG why Burnham and Tilly are still roomies. pic.twitter.com/MMPZz5gYXh
— Star Trek: Discovery (@startrekcbs) March 11, 2019
Sulu approves of new Spock
One last fun thing: Original Star Trek actor George Takei has weighed in on Ethan Peck as Spock on Twitter.
The new Spock on Discovery, Ethan Peck, is quite sexy.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) March 9, 2019
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.
They have done such a great job of casting all of these characters – they are crazy if they don’t use them all in a spinoff. I think fans would love to see Pike, Spock, etc completing their next 5 year mission on Enterprise.
I would say at least a mini-series depicting a Pike/Number One/Spock story set on the Enterprise would be in order!
100% with you! I am desperate to see a Pike/Spock/Enterprise spin-off! The casting has been revelatory. Mount is utterly compelling and invokes Pike brilliantly. His performance as a captain, is the best since Picard.
Peck is also sensational! There is something about his performance that gets the subtleties of Nimoy’s Spock that Quinto’s failed to get. It all clicks perfectly.
I hated the first season of Discovery, but the second season has some of the best Trek ever, requiring repeated viewing. I absolutely loved If Memory Serves!
To be fair, I don’t think it was Quinto’s fault. The Kelvin Timeline Spock was written poorly and Quinto did what he could with what he was given. He was either too angry or too loquacious, but that was all in the writing.
Very much agreed. Quinto was fine, but the love / hate LETHAL WEAPON-style bromance between Spock and Kirk was misconceived from the start. God knows I hate sounding like my age, but Trek 2009 seems to have been written by a generation that only seems capable or writing movies and TV based on what it has already seen on. . . movies and TV.
Agreed. Quinto is an excellent actor, but the writers didn’t give him a logical Vulcan scientist to play; they gave him a human action hero that just happens to have pointed ears.
A Pike/Spock spinoff could be great. I think it should be a standalone, non-serialized series, contrasting with the season-long arcs of Discovery and presumably Section 31 and Picard. Make it an old-fashioned TOS/TNG-like show, and then CBS could advertise that they have something for everybody. Big arcs for the Game of Thrones crowd with Discovery, TNG nostalgia with Picard, and classic planet-of-the-week storytelling with Pike/Spock.
I’ve said this before but is worth repeating given where this thread is going… I did not like the idea of Pike on the show and certainly had no desire to see a Pike led series. But after seeing Mount, now Peck and that one scene with Romijn… That has become a show I’d really like to see. Would be great to see Pike earn Spock’s loyalty. That is a backstory that could be worth telling. Not the one they are doing with Spock and Michael.
In my opinion there’s really no reason to go back to that non-serialized format. We have HOURS of Trek like that. Keep it serialized, short and sweet as to not over-stay its welcome.
If “If Memory Serves” was the pilot for a new series, I have to say that it was beyond successful. More like this, please!
*(H)e meticulously studied Leonard Nimoy to prepare, reading his memoirs and even watching TOS during breaks on set.”
Ooooooo! Watch out, Mr. Brando!
To put that in perspective, that’s a little like preparing to play Macbeth by watching “Shakespeare in Love” sitting on the dressing room toilet on your IPhone between the end of the matinee and the 8pm show.
He did good though. In Quinto’s ballpark.
Brando, as it turns out, didn’t take acting all that seriously.
I heard that he never liked learning his lines so they had to write them in places out of the view of the camera or he would just improvise them.
Richard Donner said that Brando did not like learning lines and preferred reading them on set. That is what he did when shooting Superman. Brando read cue cards the entire time. Does this go all the way back to his younger days? Not sure.
I read somewhere that he never liked learning lines, that he would just improvise or have them written on cue cards. I think many directors who have worked with him acknowledged this fact.
No, it isn’t. He did a lot of work to prepare, and between scenes, he uses the original to help ground his character. To equate a film with the original source material seems like a dubious metaphor, at best, and just seems to be written to hurt the actor in some way.
They did a great job with the makeup and prosthetics for the Talos IV aliens. It looks realistic and believable.
I didn’t sate for the nose bridge.
This show has the best casting of any Star Trek show. I like everyone in it especially the Pike and Spock actors. Great actors with great talent.
No, the show with the best casting is called Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It premiered in 1993. Its casting is all the more impressive because it had the largest Trek cast, with many recurring characters outside the main cast. If you haven’t seen the show, I recommend it, its available on Netflix in multiple countries, Amazon Prime, or CBSaa if you are into that.
“And he can’t quite get beyond his emotions to see the bigger picture, in this moment in this episode. So, that is pretty unusual for Spock as we know him.”
I’m glad he acknowledges how unusual that is for the Spock we know in later years. I was thinking about how Spock surely must understand the logic of Burnham’s actions, so it was hard to see him unable to get past his emotions. That childhood experience must have really stuck with him. I think many people recall things from their childhood that, although rationally understood better as adults, still resonate subconsciously in negative and irrational ways. I know I can relate to that!
Spock faced rejection at every turn. Rejected by his people, by his older brother, and now Michael.
Spock and his childhood is one of the good things of the season.
Very Pleased with this Episode. Everyone did a fantastic job. Absolutely loved the Preveously on Star Trek with Jeffery Hunters Pike. Then cutting to Mounts Pike. Very well done.
Thanks Trekmovie.com for posting The Ready Room interview with Ethan Peck. I haven’t watched any of the Ready Room shows yet on FB (probably because I rarely use my FB account) and I also liked Matt Mira’s After Trek even though it was a little hokey. That said, I see why CBS would want a younger host and I really liked the interview with Peck. Also too funny that he remembered Riker but not Frakes’ name when he told the story about asking for an autograph. Peck seems to really have a grasp on who he is playing on Discovery and although a little overwhelmed, IMO he is doing a great job so far. Btw, I wonder if we get to see him in the Enterprise blue science officer uniform without a beard before the end of season 2??
Why is The Ready Room so much worse the After Trek?
I have not seen it yet because I deleted my Facebook account years ago, but someone above mentioned that the host is younger than Matt Mira. Is that the complaint, or is the host just not well-versed in all things Trek?
Whatever the complaint, I still do not understand why CBS got rid of After Trek and moved the post-game discussion show to Facebook. I’ll put aside for the moment the huge (self-inflicted) problems that Facebook itself is having right now, and I will grant you that CBS was well within its rights to decide Matt’s show wasn’t working and they decided to go in a different direction. But why move the replacement show off of CBS All Access and onto someone else’s platform? CBS should be doing everything that it can to keep viewers firmly planted on CAA and engaged with the website. Why drive Trekkies away who want to eagerly discuss the episode that just concluded? Last season, after I watched After Trek, I sometimes browsed around and checked out episodes from other series such as The Good Fight. This season, I watch Star Trek Discovery and then exit CAA to go watch something else (usually The Orville!) or I go do something else. No engagement or “glue” to CAA. Their strategy just doesn’t make sense to me.
Do they ever explain why they decided to make one of the Talosians a guy, instead of using an all-female cast for that creepily genderless/androgynous effect, like the original show did? I surely hope they didn’t mess with it just to make some kind of political statement!
So much of the production design this season (the new stuff, not the holdover stuff from last season) has been pretty good. The bulk of the updates have worked just fine, and I have no real issues with the Talosians as well. But, yes, I would have like to know why they opted to not duplicate using women for the Talosians. It didn’t ruin it by any means, but I’d still like to know what they were thinking there.
Obligatory comment on Uncle George’s tweet:
I wonder how confusing the original version was if what they did was less so. I still think it was done for fan service. I know that cutting together the “previously on” things is tough because you need to convey important plot points with just a shot or a line or two. More often than not they do a good job.
Pike and Number One — at least the Number One of “The Cage” — are like the mirror images of Spock’s parents. Sarek is cool and Vulcan, and Amanda is warm and human, whereas Pike is warm and human, and Number One is cool and Vulcanlike. I can only imagine that his eleven years four months and five days on Pike’s Enterprise must be a corrective emotional experience for Spock — it’s so good for him to have a warm father figure and a logical mother figure to balance his home life.
It was a really good episode. Loved how it all tied together from the Cage. Brilliant!
So it looks like these Talosians are part Klingon. Klingosians? Wonder if they have a future storyline in mind for this. It could be they are distant cousins of the Klingons (but more recently related than The Great Seeding as seen on The Chase TNG). The Talosians developed their minds, whereas the Klingons developed their brutish side. Maybe in seasons 3 or 4… we’ll see a Unification of some sort? It couldn’t be anything too major, because of the canon and all. But you have my attention, Disco.
Wow, watching The Ready Room interview, Ethan is a GORGEOUS guy! Said it once and I’ll say it again, I finally have my own Spock crush