Anthony Rapp: ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 3 Deals With The Grief And Consequences Of Jump Into Future

In addition to Jason Isaacs and Mary Chieffo, who both talked about possibly returning to Star Trek, Saturday’s Dragon Con Goes Virtual Star Trek: Discovery panel included Anthony Rapp, who discussed a bit about the upcoming third season of the series.

Season 3 family dynamics

When the subject of the third season of Discovery came up, Jason Isaacs said that as a fan of the show he was looking forward to seeing the characters “explore their relationships and the family” as the show jumps into the future. Careful not to reveal any spoilers, Anthony Rapp did talk about how season three will explore this theme of family:

Season three does delve into family dynamics. Not just literal family—obviously we delved lot into that with Burnham and Spock and their sibling relationship—but the family of the people who had to leave everything behind to go to the future. And it doesn’t take that lightly. So often in genre shows these crazy things happen and then it’s like you just wash your hands of it and then you just move on. They go, “Oh, you got zapped by lightning and have superpowers. Okay, great.” But our showrunners have really taken seriously that it’s an opportunity to explore the human part. Yeah, it’s full of cool, fun ideas that are fun to contemplate, but it also lets you examine resilience and grief and adaptability and courage and how do you keep going in the face of all those things.

Later in the panel, Rapp said he was happy to see how the second season dealt with the resurrection of Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz), creating bumps in the road for their relationship and how they had to “earn the road back” as a couple. He then went on to talk about where we find Culber and Stamets in season three:

I wouldn’t say that there’s the same kind of bumps. I think what we’ve been through now over the first two seasons has earned the right to have things feel more settled between them. As I was alluding to earlier, season three dealt very deeply with the sense of family and certainly Stamets’ relationship with Culber is a family dynamic that gets explored very, very richly in season three.

Anthony Rapp as Stamets and Wilson Cruz as Culber in Star Trek: Discovery season two episode “If Memory Serves”

How Michelle Paradise is keeping it human in Discovery season 3

In response to a question on if Discovery will keep the human element as the show deals with life in the 32nd century, Rapp confirmed it would and attributed this to one of the showrunners:

Midway through season two, Michelle Paradise came on as a new showrunner and she has brought with her an incredible sense of fidelity of emotional truth. She insists that everything that’s happening between the characters makes sense emotionally and psychologically. So I can only say, without getting into any specifics, that is absolutely adhered to from moment one to the last final moment of season three. That is something that is something that is so vitally important. All the things that happen, they have have consequences. They have meaning. There is nothing frivolous about anything.

Season three of Discovery will be the first season that was developed, written, and produced with the same showrunners. Co-creator and showrunner Bryan Fuller exited the show early on during the writing of the first season. He was replaced by Aaron Harberts and Gretchen Berg, who were fired midway through the second season, replaced by Paradise along with co-creator Alex Kurtzman.

Pictured L-R: Executive Producer/Showrunner Michelle Paradise, Doug Jones, Sonequa Martin-Green, Mary Wiseman, Anthony Rapp, David Ajala, and Wilson Cruz of the CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery during New York Comic-Con 2019 on Saturday, October 5th.

How Jonathan Frakes helped Rapp with a “Wow!” scene in season 3

When asked about his most memorable scene during the entire series, Rapp said it came during season three, and he was thankful it was one of the episodes directed by TNG veteran actor and director Jonathan Frakes:

Well, there’s a scene in season three. I just can’t say what it is. I felt incredibly grateful for Jonathan Frakes, who has become one of our repeat directors and part of our family. He’s an incredible human being and a great director. He really understands all aspects of the job. And I had a pretty intense scene to do in season three. And when I read the script, and I saw the scene, I’m like, ‘Wow!’ And then when I heard that Jonathan was directing the episode, I was relieved. Because I knew that I’d be in the best possible hands and that he would not let one moment of it not work and that he would make sure that it was safe and it was pure and true and all that stuff.

Preview image of Star Trek: Discovery season 3 with Anthony Rapp as Stamets; Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou; Mary Wiseman as Tilly; Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham

More Discovery news coming on Star Trek Day

On Tuesday, September 8th CBS is planning a series of streaming panels to celebrate Star Trek Day. One of those will be for Star Trek: Discovery and feature star Sonequa Martin-Green along with David Ajala, who joins the show this season as a new character. Also on the panel are co-showrunners and executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Michelle Paradise.

TrekMovie will be providing updates all day with news and releases coming out of the CBS Star Trek Day event.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news and analysis at

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Cautiously looking forward to this. I’m a little nervous because, as much as I like Frakes from interviews, he’s been at the helm at some of the worst Discovery and Picard episodes (the worst MU episodes/Icheb’s torture/Picard’s beret and accent). I get that he’s not the writer, but most of his episodes just haven’t worked.

frakes directed two of the best episodes of picard. so happy he’s involved with discovery. absolute candor is a great episode. loved our introduction to elnor both as the little boy and later on… such a sublt hand at directing… and great with actors… loved the nun. plus his return to see the results of his leaving and anger of the romulans… so good. but stardust city rag is the best picard episode by far. what an amazing funny dramatic adventure… 7 of 9 is stunningly good…her pain is palpable… the bar and freecloud are so incredible and funny and expand the trek universe into something real… mr vup such a good addition (hope to see his species again)… maddux is rescued, so many reveals… and picard and 9’s interaction about recovering fro the borg… wow… he did such a good job as did the writers…

tom riker I’m glad you’re here to balance views on Stardust City Rag, but it’s got to be the most polarizing episode of Picard.

I think it’s fair to question the director (Frakes) part in the choices that were made and whether it works at all.

While for my own part, I found the episode on balance ok with some fantastic elements and some cringy ones (including the fake French accent and beret), I had two family members just stop watching at that point. My spouse watched the rest of the season after a hiatus. One of our teens just won’t try again, even though they regularly watch the 5 classic series.

tbh trek is not for everyone and shouldnt be. and i’m sure you and fam are lovely… :) but come on… the fake accent was hysterical and the dressing up and flare was very well explained and worked super well…elnor’s reaction to the lying was so awesome… does your family remember the ridiculousness of the next generation? i mean seriously… picard and guinan as children? beverly screwing a lamp? q dressed as a mexican in a mariachi band? i mean there’s so much stuff some people perceive as ridiculous while others don’t. the opening of stardust was powerful and really drove home 7’s rage… and give a sense of real horror to the evil things that are being done in this world and all of scifi… we see people get blasted or phased or killed and it goes away but that really brought the momentous terror to reality. i try not to let the trekfandoms hatred for all things bother me and look at trek with an open mind. stardust city rag was a stunner of a trek episode. especially for 7/9… and i wasn’t even a fan of voyager. (yawn)

See, in the old days, they had to crank out 26 episodes a year- so they had some leeway. But when Picard is sold as subscription “peak TV” and ends up as muddled, sometimes embarrassing, melodrama, they should be held to a different standard. And the serial format means it has to add up to something substantial dramatically, beyond doomsday tentacles… though I know many are fond of pretending the tacked-on Data suicide was better than it was- even though the real reason there can’t be any more Data is because the de-aging CGI is too expensive for regular use. That’s cool you think Patrick Stewart doing an abysmal French accent while wearing an eye patch is hilarious and magical. Thank you for sharing, seriously.

you mean it’s 10 episodes are near perfection… so yeah i loved it as most people did. glad you’re still on board with trek even though you dislike a lot of it but you know different trek strokes for different trek folks. picard was so good… can’t wait for an equally amazing season 2… or better. my only quips would be the wrapping up of the adventure… seemed quick but he final 20 was so great. lovely. number of episodes means nothing… tng was able to pump out mostly good stuff season 3-4-5-6… you shouldnt give them excuses for the garbage of season 7… woof. i mean really what the hell was that? maybe they were distracted by the upcoming movie which was pretty terrible too. thank god for frakes for part 8… all shows are gonna have ups and down but picard really was the best season one of any trek spinoff. ds9 is my fave show though overall.

Sadly agreed. I think that is the problem. When you have so many episodes every season, people expect some will be bad, others will be filler but they vary so much it’s really not hard to find great episodes to like and watch them independently, many over and over again.

But when you have only ten episodes in a season and those episodes are all tied to one grand story then that story better be damn good or it’s very very hard to return to that season as a whole or individual episodes when its done. That’s the problem with the format. A lot of season one of TNG truly sucked and YET I still can find episodes to watch 30 years later. I rewatched “We’ll Always have Paris” literally just yesterday.I still watch a few episodes of season 3 of TOS from time to time. I rewatched The Enterprise Incident a month ago. But its very hard to watch ANY episode of Picard because its all tied to the same story line which sadly felt very uneven, half baked and full of plot holes. Can I watch Nepenthe, sure, but I have less motivation to do so because it’s tied to everything else.

That’s always been the problem with serialized stories. If you think the story sucks at the end, it doesn’t matter how great you think the show as a whole was, its harder to motivate you to rewatch any of it. Ask all the bitter GOT fans about that.

In my opinion, it probably was Stardust City Rag that really started to put people off of the show. Until then, the first four episodes were generally liked if not loved. But this episode just felt so different than the others by feeling so much darker. But same time it tried to be comedic too and I think that made it fall a little flat considering how dark the beginning and ending was. It started with a popular character being brutally tortured and ended with a main character killing off Maddox also pretty brutally.

I didn’t hate the episode but looking back now, it is one of my least favorite even though I really loved Seven in it! She was great!

you can’t judge “people” from this board or the trek haters… you need to look outside the bubble… the one’s who irrationally hate and whine all the time come here… they are the ones who post most of the time… when you like something there’s less energy in you to do that… most normal people loved the show. you guys are living in a weird mirror universe. but frakes has even talked about the annoying trek fans who even hated tng and we all know the same ones hated ds9 because it wasn’t star trek lol… it’s never star trek… almost nothing is star trek until about 20 years later… it’s like an initiation or something from a weird angry frat.

I’m talking online in general, not just this board alone. And unfortunately in real life I only know a few people who watched the show (I still don’t know anyone who watches Discovery) and I’m not very close to them. So I only have the internet to base things on. That and my own opinion of course.

And Tom Riker but you seem to take these posts a little too close to heart for some reason. Yeah, its the internet, people are probably overly critical at times. And when you combine that with hardcore Trek fans even more so lol. But you seem to take it personally for some reason. Everyone is just going to like what they like and hate what they hate, right? You said you hated Voyager many times here. I love Voyager. Have I once got on your case about it? No, because I’m not 12 years old. I understand people are going to have reasons not to like something. As long as you don’t knock me FOR liking it then I have problems with you hating it. Hell I probably would agree with some of it lol. That’s how it’s suppose to work dude.

TG47 is probably one of the most well balanced posters here. He isn’t here to HATE anything, he seems to want to enjoy it as much as you do, he simply didn’t and told you in a pretty civil and rational way why he didn’t. You can certainly disagree with him (and me) but trying to classify us as bitter ‘haters’ because we didn’t like elements of this show is just bizarre. The guy even said he didn’t hate it and liked some of it, he simply had trouble with it in parts. How much more rational can one person sound on the internet? On top of that we were some of the biggest supporters going into the show and really enjoyed it in the beginning.We didn’t love it in the end unfortunately but that’s life. He’s not being ‘angry’ about it, he’s just expressing his disappointment over it. Is that OK to do on a message board? Or do you just come here to for a circle jerk and praise everything?

And I just don’t understand why people like you always take other people’s criticisms so personally when no one, and please correct me if I’m wrong here, is getting on your case for liking it? If people here were putting you down for liking the show or gate keeping claiming you’re not a ‘real’ fan for liking it, it’s not ‘canon’ and BS like that, then OK, I get the anger. In this case, it’s just fans expressing their personal opinions WHILE acknowledging it’s not the only opinion or conclusive.

And while I was saying I noticed people became more negative about the show after this episode, A. I don’t mean everybody and B. I’m talking specially about the people who did ultimately hate the show. Go back to episode 4 thread and then read episode 5 this was based on and you see a much more divided opinion and it only got worse in episodes after that although Nepenthe was definitely the stand out in terms of positive opinions.

And finally you make act as if everyone here hates EVERY new iteration of Star Trek, which isn’t even true. AFAIK TG47 seems to really like Lower Decks and I do too and has SAID so every week here. So please stop acting like we’re all here just to hate on anything new, that’s not even remotely true man. Believe it or not, most of us have varied opinions about ALL the shows, we like some, hate others but generally enjoy the franchise as a whole. So please stop putting us in boxes just because we don’t love every iteration as much as you do. And if you love it all, then good for you!

But can you get this bizarre chip off your shoulder because people have the nerve to express not liking something?

Excellent points tiger, I believe most of the conflict in the fandom comes from the points you mention. Not many people are giving balanced opinions anymore (you and TG and some other folks here excluded of course) It is either blind praising or blind hating. We are analyzing the shows here, we gotta look at the issues from all sides.

I’m certainly not perfect but I come to have a well rounded discussion. I want to hear people who love something as well as people who hate something because it gets boring when everyone is echoing the same thing over and over again.

But yes, the blind praising or hate are both pretty tiring to hear. Sure if you just hate something you hate it, but there are people who are just LOOKING to hate everything too. But that’s a pretty small segment of this board IMO. And TM has gotten rid of some of the bigger trolls who just come to post hate or mock anyone that likes it. Most people actually do want to like something, especially when you’re paying for it. They are just disappointed and expressing it.

People who love every inch of Star Trek and never critical of it are fine to feel that way obviously, but you can’t come to a message board and don’t expect others to discuss what they think are flaws or issues with the show. If you only want to hear positive things all the time, set up a Facebook fan page and only invite those people who feel as you do. On a message board we want to have deeper discussions than that even if you still mostly love it.

As I said, no one should be taking anyone’s enjoyment away but if you can’t even HEAR the other side without feeling offended over it or think they are ‘haters’, maybe you just shouldn’t be on a message board.

“Something real” meaning pure schlock? Got it.

okie dokie… great season… stardust was awesome… it’s ok you hate it… you’re the same as those trek fans who hated ds9… you’d tell them it’s great it’s funny it’s more gritty and they would say… (“gritty” meaning pure schlock? got it)… you guys don’t change… what’s awesome is it doesn’t change how good the shows are and doesn’t affect anyone who likes it. so enjoy your hatred and we can enjoy our fun. win/win

tom riker, I’m genuinely a bit flabbergasted by your reaction to my post above – especially when it starts of with my offering appreciation for your bringing the balance of a voice that sees Picard as “perfection” when there are voices that are 100% negative.

Tiger2 has it right. I do want to like it all, and while I was on balance disappointed with the first season of Picard when taken as a serialized whole, I’ve also been of the regular voices bringing attention to its really wonderful elements.

And when my spouse thinks something is great, as they did the Picard season finale, I’ll drop a line about that too. Just as I do when they say that they are put off watching as they were by Discovery’s Project Daedulus and Stardust.

I seem to be one of a very few on the board that watches with a partner or spouse or kids, despite that being how many of us got into Trek in the first place. There are a couple that talk about watch parties but that’s it.

So, I think that it is a contribution to let others know how that’s going, and I’ve got say that it’s a downer to find myself once again watching Trek by myself on Thursdays when the rest of the family is put off by one episode or another. I also note that if there wasn’t a diehard fan in the household and a PVR set to record everything Trek on the CTV Sci-fi channel, these polarizing episodes would likely be the last new Trek they’d watch.

I’m not going to pile on with Tom Riker, I’ve said everything in the other post. He seems like a good guy honestly, but he seems too obsessed with other people’s opinions here because they simply don’t match his own. This is the internet, if you have problems hearing differences of opinion, then its probably best to avoid the comments section (but that’s probably good advice for most comment sections lol). For me TM is pretty tame, but yes people here can have strong and stubborn opinions at times, but it is what it is.

But highlighting your other point about having people to watch the show with, that’s a great point. At least you have family that WANTS to watch it with you, but they don’t sound so hardcore about it they will keep watching when they start to hate it. That’s the difference between people like us, we’re so devoted to this franchise, we’re going to watch it all, regardless. To me, it’s not even a question. Of course I’m going to watch it, it doesn’t matter. But the question is how much do you watch it after you watch the first time? That’s really what most of us are talking about. We’re going to give it all a chance. will watch every season. But if you really just hate something I doubt you will keep rewatching it over and over and SO FAR where DIS and PIC is failing me. But I have rewatched a few episodes of both but very little sadly. I just have hardly any motivation for some reason.

And unlike you, I have NO ONE to watch it with. I watch it all by myself sadly. I have a girlfriend, we lived together a few years now, she has zero interest in watching these shows. She’s not much into science fiction but she’ll watch Star Wars, comic book movies, Stranger Things, etc but Star Trek is just too nerdy for her I guess. And I can’t sit through any of those Housewives reality shows she watches, so that’s fair. ;) She has a teenage son which I become very close to. He lives with his dad mostly but stays with us every month. We’ve gotten very close, can do many things together but when it comes to Star Trek I might as well try and get him to watch C-SPAN lol. We have so many things in common except that. Great kid, just not into science fiction much like his mother.

I have never been with one person who likes Star Trek, its very depressing lol. Even my direct family the only other person who watched it was my brother. For some reason I became the bigger Trek nerd but we both grew up watching TOS and then TNG. He just grew out of it by the time we hit our late teens. And TNG is really the only show he ever really watched continuously. He’ll watch an episode of DS9 and VOY but never got into either show. He did watch all the movies though including the Kelvin ones but very iffy on those.

He asked me about Picard and was interested in watching it. He had no interest in Discovery because it was a prequel. So I was excited, something we can talk about and reminiscence about our old Trek days. He got through two episodes and then stopped because he thought Picard was going to be on the Enterprise again and it didn’t feel like Star Trek to him so that was that lol. I don’t think he’s even heard of Lower Decks but could be wrong.

I would give if just ONE person I was close to watched any of these shows. It’s why I come here and other boards, I literally have no one to talk about them in real life.

Tom Riker, if I offer you cash, would you use a capital letter?

It’s rich that Rapp is praising the Discovery writing when the series has shown to fast forward character drama and present us with emotional scenes that simply aren’t earned, all just to get to the next big plot twist.

While we rarely agree Steve, I share your concern on this point.

In particular some of the most lurid and over-the-top melodramatic scenes were in the back half of season 3 when Michelle Paradise was on board as co-showrunner.

What about the showrunner was melodramatic?

Steve I agree with you for once. I’m skeptical of Discovery at this point. Its prospects look bleak.

Well put, Steve.

I want to see more character development. His lips are moving.

Lacking substance and chemistry is the problem Discovery suffers to break free from.

so many great people involved with these shows but frakes is the steady hand and connection between much of it… tv directors aren’t necessarily game changers but in this case his trek past really unites everything and he’s so good at directing and moving a story along as first contact proved. plus this show and trek in general is so theatrical it really helps to have him. stardust city rag is easily my favorite episode he’s directed… comedy, action, drama blended so well together and that scene with picard and 7… so perfect.


Stardust City Rag is one of the worst episodes of any Trek series. I don’t blame Frakes, though; he directed what they wrote. I hate to think how much worse it would have been with a less talented director.

In a way, I do admire the cast of STD for remaining so positive about a series that is inherently flawed and troubled. Bless them.

Hopefully Season 3 is somewhat coherent and inoffensive to Star Trek lore. Something not dumpster fiery to end the series on. It does need its coup de grâce in this season.

It’s dead, Jim.

Yep. Discovery is one beautiful dumpster fire!

I’d be more impressed if some of the cast pulled a Roy Scheider — or would it be called pulling a Beltran now? – and called out the creatives for the amazing streak of bad choices that have been made throughout the show’s run. As much as I have been disappointed by DSC, it has only occasionally reached the pits of seaQuest season2 when Scheider lipped off, but the show has also never even been as good as the rare good s1 seaQuests either, like the library at Alexandria episode, which I liked so much I kept it on VHS for 20 years. I don’t think I’ll ever rewatch any ep of DSC — certainly no desire to do so thus far, and vanishingly small interest in even seeing s3 once, unless it is on a free offer.

Pretty eagerly looking forward to 3rd season; 1st and 2nd seasons were uneven due to the revolving door with the producer and writing staff, not unlike the behind the scenes turmoil Next Generation had in its early days. Now that season 3 had the benefit of a consistent creative vision it should be interesting seeing what they came up with.

Now they just need to get rid of 75% of the cast and actually give us likeable, interesting characters.

I like the characters and the cast is arguably the most skilled as actors ever, although it’s a tough call to choose between Discovery and DS9.

The incoherence in the writing has hurt the characters definitely though. That has little to do with the actors, rather it’s due to the turmoil through two changes in showrunners.

If Michelle Paradise can tone down the demands for scenery-chewing melodrama, and bring a disciplined logic to characters’ emotions, reactions and development, I’m hopeful that we’ll find them more interesting and be able to better invest in them.

The cast and characters are great. It needs better writers and directions. Don’t get too silly here.

I’m hoping third season of Discovery sort of hits its groove the way TNG, DS9 and even ENT did in their third seasons. And as you said, it just had a BRUTAL two seasons behind the scenes wise we haven’t seen literally since TNG premiered. I was very critical of Discovery like I have been with all the shows but I also think season 2 was a vast improvement overall even though it still had tons of problems. And I’m hoping with a very different setting and where they aren’t so tied to canon (which is what got them in so much trouble in the first place) can really go big and make the 32nd century their own assuming they stay there.

But oddly, and this is not hyperbole, I have not looked forward to a season of Star Trek as much as this since DS9 went off the air. Because they have the potential to do something radically different than every Star Trek prior being so far into the future; so I’m praying they don’t screw it up.

Isn’t it a reasonable assumption, within the Star Trek universe, that in the 32nd century they shouldn’t have a problem finding a way to get back to their own time? It might take them the entire season, but there’s a reset button for this version of the future waiting at the end.

They deliberately left their own time to prevent the Control from taking over and destroying all non-synthetic life.

They’re not lost like Voyager, they made a choice that they believed to be the only way to avoid that bad outcome by permanently sending Michael forward.

Given that Michael’s mother spent decades looking for the way to undo her husband’s death and her premature departure in the timesuit, finding a solution wherein Michael and the Discovery could all go back is basically off the table.

Whether Georgiou and a few others could is another question.

“An incredible sense of fidelity of emotional truth… There is nothing frivolous about anything.”

Um, quite the salesman I guess?

Star Trek Day?

Cool, more grief and sadness. Kiddos these days have a very low bar for what defines the term “optimism.”