The fourth season of Star Trek: Discovery debuts on Paramount+ on November 18. At New York Comic Con, TrekMovie had a chance to participate in some group interviews with members of the cast and crew to talk about the new season. Speaking to TrekMovie and a handful of other outlets, Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets), Blu del Barrio (Adira Tal), and Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber) offered insights into what’s new for their characters and their shared family on the USS Discovery.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Anthony, for Stamets, not being wedded to the spore drive must be a big relief, but since there’s so much of a history with serving that function on the ship, how does that affect him as a person?
Anthony Rapp: I can say that there are interesting dynamics that I get to explore. Finally, I get to have some scenes with Book, with David Ajala. It does come up a little bit in a really interesting way that Stamets isn’t the only person [who can navigate the spore drive]. I think Stamets really likes to hold himself in high esteem—and he deserves to be held in high esteem in many ways—but it is hard for him to give ground. There’s some sense of the proprietary nature of the work that he’s done and he is a little bit threatened, maybe? So yeah, it’s not so cut-and-dry. But it’s also not like he’s totally hands-off the spore drive. He’s still very involved, but not necessarily being the only one is a little weird for him.
There’s a tradition in Star Trek: there’s always a communications officer, chief medical officer, all of that. So as of season four, can each of you say what is your position and role on the ship?
Anthony Rapp: I don’t know exactly—Paul Stamets is a commander, a senior science officer. He’s in charge of the spore drive, but it’s “all hands on deck” in terms of any kind of major scientific or sometimes engineering question that he can lend his brains and talent to.
Blu del Barrio: I think Adira is kind of a mix, but definitely a science officer. They spend most of their time in engineering as well.
Anthony Rapp: But that’s only because I’m down there.
Blu del Barrio: I think they are sort of a mixed bag of science officer on top of everything else.
Does Adira have a specific specialty?
Anthony Rapp: Super math brain and algorithm and programming stuff.
Blu del Barrio: Math and programming. And I think history. I think that there’s a very specific reason they wanted to come onto Discovery in the first place, and they had a vast knowledge of what was already on the ship, to begin with.
Wilson Cruz: Adira’s our secret weapon. For every problem that doesn’t seem solvable, we’ll just ask Adira!
Blu del Barrio: I think that’s why it’s hard to pinpoint. I think they’re that person that you’re like, ‘This is a weird, weird thing to ask about, who would know this? Who would be this person who knows weird facts about a wide variety of things?’
Wilson Cruz: Dr. Culber is also a commander, so he’s also a senior medical officer, but he’s also the ship’s counselor. So this season we actually do see him combining those two occupations, and it’s a heavy lift.
Blu, in season four, are we going to experience more of Adira dealing with having the Trill symbiont?
Blu del Barrio: I think it exists constantly, but I do think that it is still an area that can be delved further into. I would really like to, at some point, kind of go into the history of each of these previous hosts, and where they came from. Like what this symbiont contains and means, and who these consciousnesses are. I would really like to touch on more.
Does the crew in season four wrestle with the notion that effectively, death doesn’t exist?
Wilson Cruz: First of all, yes, because—how do I put this—the way that Gray is corporeal and the ways that Dr. Culber came back to life aren’t necessarily ways that everyone is going to be able to do. Death is still finite. It’s just that we discovered a couple of ways where we can finagle it. So, yes, we do touch on it.
Can you tell us how the development of this found family progresses during season four, and any conflict?
Anthony Rapp: The conflict that happens is not around anything having to do with us being a family or anything like that. It’s just that there’s an issue that takes place on the ship that we have some internal disagreement about how to solve it. So the fact that we’re family, that we love each other and trust each other, allows us to have room to have this disagreement and have it out, and talk to each other on a level that we can talk openly and honestly and intimately with each other.
Wilson Cruz: It’s actually is one of my favorite episodes this season. Because while it’s obvious that we are on different sides at certain times during this episode, the way that we engage with each other comes from such a deep place of love and respect that we can get to a solution because of the way that we the way we handle it and each other through this disagreement. So that the family unit is stronger because of it.
Blu del Barrio: Any conflict that arises has nothing to do with the base of this relationship between these four people. And what I like is that I think the majority of that trust and just that intuitive, ‘Okay, we’re family now and we understand that and that’s not going to just break and go away.’ I think a lot of that work in process wasn’t done on screen. There was a break between the end of season three and the beginning of season four and I think that is when a lot of that really got cemented. It does feel that way coming into the new season, like ‘Okay, this is how it is now.’ And I really liked that it wasn’t necessarily on camera, it just happened.
As the first family of Discovery, what would a family vacation look like to you?
Anthony Rapp: Does Adira let themselves go outside into the beautiful countryside?
Blu del Barrio: They can go outside. It’s just, I don’t know how much that they would like it.
Anthony Rapp: I think Paul would want to go traipsing around in an old-growth forest somewhere, looking at all the mycelial manifestations but would probably defer to you…
Wilson Cruz: We would defer to me, and so we would be on a beach. Some asteroid somewhere. I don’t know.
Anthony Rapp: I would be slathered in sunscreen.
Wilson Cruz: As you can see, it would take some negotiation to figure out.
ICYMI: NYCC Season 4 Trailer
Star Trek: Discovery streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. In Canada Discovery is broadcast on CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave. It is also available on Netflix in 190 countries around the world.
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