Since he stepped away from his role as showrunner almost a year before the series premiere, Star Trek: Discovery co-creator Bryan Fuller has mostly kept silent about the series. But in a new interview, he opens up a bit on how he initially approached a key part of the first season.
Fuller talks Discovery
Bryan Fuller was a special guest for the 400th episode of Robert Meyer Burnett’s web series Robservations. The 90-minute discussion mostly focused on horror television and cinema, including Fuller’s approach to adapting author Thomas Harris’ work for Fuller’s NBC series Hannibal. Burnett pivoted from Hannibal to ask Fuller if he was initially interested in a more abstract approach when adapting Star Trek for Star Trek: Discovery. At first Fuller indicated it was, saying, “Yes, in some ways. It was in some ways an abstraction.”
Fuller then went on to talk about his views for incorporating the Mirror Universe, specifically, in Star Trek: Discovery:
The thing that really fascinated me in sitting down and crafting the story for Discovery was the human condition. I thought that there are elements in the Mirror Universe that we have seen that have sort of boiled to the broadest ends of the spectrum and everything felt really binary. And what I really wanted to do in setting out was looking at the minutiae of simple decisions that have a cascade effect on our lives. So, it’s not about gold lamé sashes and goatees versus no sash and clean-shaven. It is more about we are at forks in the road every moment of our lives and we either go left or right.
It makes me think of Joe Menosky’s speech in [VOY “Latent Image”], where The Doctor has a Sophie’s choice, he can only save one life. And he chose Ensign Harry Kim versus this other ensign and it is a split-decision and it causes his entire program to unravel because he can’t handle how his choice was always going to cost a life. It was his Kobayashi Maru.
So, there was something in the mistakes made by Burnham in “Battle of the Binary Stars” that had this ripple, but the Mirror Universe was always meant to be an exploration of a small step in a different direction. So, it wasn’t necessarily the Mirror Universe we know from all of the other series. It was something that was closer to our timeline and experience, so you can still recognize the human being and go, “What did I do? How did that seem like a good decision for me in that moment and how do I continue with my life forward?” And everything was a sort of an extrapolation out on that. So, there were things that I wanted the Mirror Universe to function in a narrative exploration of like “Oh fuck, if I just didn’t do that one thing, everything would be better.” As opposed to, “I don’t recognize that person, I don’t know who that person is, because they are a diametric opposite of who I am.”
So, that is kind of what the goal was.
Fuller’s Mirror Universe was more familiar
The Mirror Universe—with its trademark gold lamé sashes—was first introduced in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Mirror Mirror.” It was visited again for multiple episodes of both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Enterprise. Through all the depictions of the Mirror Universe, the versions of characters that inhabited that darker timeline were often quite different and generally portrayed as “evil” versions of the prime universe counterparts, with some exceptions.
The way Fuller immediately jumps to talking about the Mirror Universe when asked about how he originally approached Star Trek: Discovery indicates he saw it as an important part of the show, or at least the first season. There were a number of changes made to the show after his departure, but the Mirror Universe still was a significant part of season one; the U.S.S. Discovery visited the Mirror Universe for a four-episode arc starting with episode ten. And it was revealed that Captain Lorca, introduced in episode three, was from the Mirror Universe.
Fuller’s planned approach to the Mirror Universe—and in particular with Star Trek: Discovery’s lead character, Michael Burnham—seems to have been more nuanced. We never actually met the mirror version of Burnham, as the character had died before the U.S.S. Discovery even arrived. It’s possible that the Mirror Universe could have originally been intended to play a bigger role in the first season of Star Trek: Discovery, either in number of episodes spent there, or in the way that the characters were depicted.
Watch Bryan Fuller talk horror, and a bit of Trek
The Robservations chat with Bryan Fuller can be seen below, cued up to the part when they start talking about Discovery.
Keep up with all the news, previews, reviews, and analysis of Star Trek: Discovery at TrekMovie.com.