The second season of the animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks arrives next week and TrekMovie had a chance to talk with members of the cast about the new season. Speaking to TrekMovie and a handful of other outlets in a group interview, Tawny Newsome (Beckett Mariner) and Jack Quaid (Bradward Boimler) gave us a preview of what is to come for both the show and their characters in season two and more.
What’s new for Lower Decks in season two?
Tawny Newsome: For the show overall–Jack and I were actually just texting about this. We just watched episodes one through five of season two and we feel like–while it was confident last year–but this year it’s so sure of itself. It’s so sure of its sense of humor. I feel like all the performances, all the writing. We’re like, “Yes, we know this is funny. We know this is great Star Trek.” And there’s zero apologies for it. Zero Fs given. And I love it.
Jack Quaid: Yeah, I love it too. It’s not that we weren’t confident last season, like you said, but this season we got all the setup out of the way. We don’t have to set up the world and the ship and all that. You know these characters and we just take you to insane places… I can’t wait for you guys to check it out. I love it so much.
Who is your favorite guest star or cameo in season two?
Tawny Newsome: I’m going to go with the one that we’re all so excited about, Carl Tart as Kayshon, the new security officer, the Tamarian. If you’re not familiar with Carl Tart, he is an incredible improviser. He’s a UCB guy that I know through doing a lot of improv podcasts, like Comedy Bang Bang and SPONTANEANATION with Paul F. Tompkins. I just fell in love with Carl’s silly, goofy, onstage presence and his on-mic presence and all those podcasts. And to have this character, I think it is the perfect pairing of voice with alien because the Tamarians as we know speak in these metaphors from this incredible critically acclaimed episode of TNG [“Darmok”] that’s like walking Shakespeare. Paul Winfield was incredible in the [original Tamarian] role. And to have a goofy weirdo like Carl saying these… I think it’s perfect. I think it’s an exact example of what Lower Decks does so well. It takes the thing we all love, it puts a weirdo behind the mic to bring it to life and expose what’s kind of funny about it. I am so excited for Carl to join the world.
Jack Quaid: He’s incredible in the show. It’s insane. I agree with Tawny, but I’ll add I’m excited for Jonathan Frakes to return. I love this version of Riker that we haven’t really seen before, where he gets to be a little nuttier and a little bit more jazzy… It’s really great. He was amazing in our season one finale, and he is great in [season two].
What’s different for Mariner and Boimler in season two?
Tawny Newsome: For Mariner, the biggest difference in season two… Obviously, we know at the end of season one she’s now working with Captain Freeman. And it’s not great for either of them. I can tell you that they don’t love it. So not having the anonymity and not having her little secret of being the captain’s daughter puts all of her stuff on blast. She has to do all of her sneaky little side missions in full view of the rest of the crew and the captain. So that’s rough.
Jack Quaid: For Boimler this season, he’s still on the Titan. The Titan is a really important ship, whereas the Cerritos isn’t as much to Starfleet. So the Titan is going on high-stakes missions. We’re fighting the Pakleds and Boimler is a little bit out of his depth this season. He’s book-smart, but he’s just not really that great at thinking on his feet, and that’s something he has to do a lot on the Titan. So there’s a little bit of ‘be careful what you wish for’ happening.
Where did you want to see the arc of your characters headed for the new season?
Jack Quaid: For me, I did want to see Boimler get just a hair more confident, just to show a bit of growth. Obviously, we hope the show goes on for a very long time and we need to make sure to parcel that out. We can’t just be self-actualized immediately. But it’s cool to see Boimler change, especially from who he was last season.
Tawny Newsome: That’s nice of you to think that we plan things… I didn’t approach it with any goals. Truly, I loved season one. I feel like it was one of the easiest jobs–not that the job is easy, but just that [creator/showrunner] Mike McMahan and I formed such a friendship and he started really writing to my strengths and we got to know each other. I just felt like I went in the booth and could just be the fullest, most heightened expression of myself. And that’s what Mariner is. She’s Tawny plus a few bad choices in her life, and some really great ones… It’s a Mirror Universe Tawny. So it was so easy, and the second season, I was just like, “Oh, great, I just want to go in there and have fun with my friends again.” That was my whole plan and I did it. And in season three we are doing it too. It’s been great.
Will we get more of Boimler and Mariner’s individual backstories before the Cerritos?
Jack Quaid: Yes, a bit. That was always such an interesting part about the show, particularly with Tawny’s character, just seeing where she’s been. Because she’s had this kind of history. I feel like this is more your question? Yes, we do get into it a little bit more.
Tawny Newsome: Yeah, Boimler has kind of worn his past on his sleeve a bit… I know everyone wants to know about Mariner. I’ve seen all the theories… Was Mariner a child on the Enterprise? Is Mariner a time traveler? Is Mariner in some secret ops? There are all these things… Why has Mariner been to all these places and worked with all these people? How old is she? Is she 1,000? Is she 25 like the rest of them? And the answer is: I’m not gonna tell you, and some of it’s because I don’t know and some of it’s because we reveal a little bit in the season. So it’ll be delightful when you find out. But you’re just in it for the long haul with her. She’s not going to tell you all her shit upfront. She’s just not–the show or the character. So you just got to keep watching.
How are Mariner and Boimler affected by being separated between the Titan and the Cerritos?
Jack Quaid: For Boimler, I don’t think he realizes how much Mariner really means to him. Or part of him misses the Cerritos, but he was just so bowled over by the idea of this promotion and this new life of his that he didn’t really quite realize how much he missed them. I can’t really get into it too much, but by the end of this season, he really understands just how important Mariner is to him. Because I always thought of the two of them as best friends who just won’t admit that they’re best friends. And I think we see a bit more of that this season. I’m really excited to show you guys the turns in that relationship.
Tawny Newsome: Yeah. I’ll add that I think we see Mariner be pretty hurt that her friend abandoned her without even saying goodbye. That’s pretty shitty. So we didn’t see Mariner expose… hurt a lot in the first season. So that’s a vulnerable side that we haven’t seen before. And how she deals with that, of course, is by being aggressive but yeah, I think that’s interesting.
How is Mariner still learning what she loves about Starfleet, especially after Boimler leaving her on the Cerritos?
Tawny Newsome: Oh, that’s a great question. I feel like she had to drop some of the artifice of being too cool for school, a little bit. Which we learned in season one–especially at the end of it–was a façade. She does love the job. She just wants to do it her way. In season two–with what I talked about earlier about kind of being on display with everyone knowing she’s the Captain’s daughter and not being able to sneak around–that comes with you have to drop the façade a little bit because otherwise why would you stick around? So I think she’s a little more direct. She’s a little more, “This is what I want to do and why.” Whereas last year, she maybe had cool cover reasons for why she was doing certain things. And this year she just has to be like, “I want to do this because I think it would be good.” So yeah, maybe she’s a little more honest, which sounds scary because she was very honest last year.
Do you get all the Star Trek in-jokes?
Jack Quaid: I feel like Tawny knows more than I do. I’m kind of a burgeoning [fan]. I know more than I did when I first got this job, but I am still learning, definitely. Tawny just told me what Trills and symbionts were, so that was a whole day.
Tawny Newsome: I did really geek out for a long time telling him. For people their eyes kind of glaze over when you start going in on things like Trills and the difference between joined and unjoined Trills, but Jack was right there.
Jack Quaid: I will say there is an in-joke [in episode 203]. There was an Easter egg in there, and I was like, “Oh, oh, I know what that is!” I was so proud of myself that I spotted it. For an average Trek fan they would be like “Of course we get that,” but I am definitely learning.
Tawny Newsome: But Mike and the writers still do things that surprise me, or there are some things that I have only a vague memory. I’m like, “Is this the guy who…?” and Mike’s like “No, this is a different person.” There is one thing I can’t tell you what it is. It’s not so much an Easter egg as it is a blatant mention of a legacy character. It’s a passing mention that Mike had written a joke in. In the booth I was like I feel this joke kind of doesn’t work because of this thing that I remember about this character, but I read it and we recorded it. And then I went home and texted him in the middle of the night. I was like, “You can’t use that joke because this character actually this, this, this.” And Mike was like, “Fuck, it’s fine. No one cares about it.” And it’s in the episode and I told him that every “reply guy” tweet I get about that I’m just tagging Mike McMahon. I’m gonna be like, “Talk to this man because I warned him. I knew the real thing.”
Who from the Star Trek universe would you personally want as a talking commemorative plate?
Tawny Newsome: I want one of Kira Nerys. Deep Space Nine is my Trek. If I wasn’t in Lower Decks, Deep Space Nine would forever be my favorite. And Kira is such a hardcore badass. Kira is basically Antifa, and we love her… Kira is incredible and I feel like anytime I was doubting or confused or whatever, she’d be like, “You know who you are!” She would give me the most stern incredible pep talk. That’s what I would need in my life.
Jack Quaid: Mine would be Simon Pegg’s Scotty, just so I could hang out with him… I just want to hang out with Simon Pegg, that is what I’m trying to say.
Are you recording together again for season three?
Jack Quaid: Because of the pandemic we weren’t able to record together for season two, which was such a shame because I love being in the booth with you. It’s like my favorite thing. What was okay about it for me, though, was watching the show, you don’t really notice it, because I think we had so much time in the booth together in season one that we kind of know, more or less, what the other person’s bringing to the table without them actually being there. But as of now, we haven’t recorded together for season three, but it’s possible. I’d love to do it once I’m back in town.
Tawny Newsome: I think our problem is not even COVID. It’s just that Jack and I are always working on opposite sides of Canada for some reason. Like we both go to Canada the same day, but I’m in Vancouver [shooting Space Force] and he’s in Toronto [shooting The Boys], so we can never get together. And productions frown on you flying to meet in the middle to go have ice cream like I suggested.
I think that everyone just working keeps us apart, but I do think Mike and I have formed such a friendship, Jack and I have formed such a friendship. And Eugene [Cordero] and I have worked together for years doing improv with Paul F. Tompkins… And Noël [Wells] does so much voice work. Noël is such a voice work pro, and all of our cast too, like Dawnn [Lewis] too. I feel like it’s just gotten into a groove where Mike knows how to write for us and we almost know how to play off of each other even when we’re not there. Like I know how Jack is going to deliver a certain line when I read it now, so I feel like it has the feeling of being together. If that’s not the most COVID shit, I don’t know what is. It feels like we’re all together just because we’ve listened to each other’s voices so much.
Jack Quaid: But hopefully we will get back in the booth soon because it’s my literal favorite thing.
ICYMI: SDCC 2021 trailer
In case you missed it, here is the trailer released in late July.
Star Trek: Lower Decks season two arrives on Paramount+ in the USA and CTV in Canada Sci-Fi on Thursday, August 12th. It will be available internationally on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, August 13th, and in Latin America in September.
Keep up with all the news and analysis for Star Trek: Lower Decks.