In addition to speaking to Anthony Rapp, Blu del Barrio, and Wilson Cruz, TrekMovie joined in a group discussion at New York Comic Con with Star Trek: Discovery co-showrunner Michelle Paradise and star Sonequa Martin-Green. Speaking to TrekMovie and a handful of other outlets, the pair talked about new challenges for Michael in season four—as a captain, in her relationship with Saru, and more. Discovery season 4 premieres on November 18 on Paramount+.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Sonequa, in season four how does Michael balance the competing pressures of commanding the Discovery, rebuilding the Federation, and dealing with the mysterious galaxy-shattering crisis?
Sonequa Martin-Green: Well, this new role as captain—and also the life of the story for everyone—is all about that. It really is. It’s all about balancing duty and joy in the midst of uncertainty. So I think everyone is really grappling for this balance because, as you can imagine, this uncertainty being as big as it is and as potentially impactful as it is and what a big threat it is, it requires everyone to rise up in a way like they never have before. And now everyone has to find that balance, and they’re forced to. And of course, Burnham is, as captain, because it’s almost like as soon as she took the seat, here comes this anomaly! So it’s a lot but it is what makes these people leaders. It’s what makes them heroes.
Sonequa, you’ve said Michael is no longer driven by fear. So what conquers fear for this crew?
Sonequa Martin-Green: Going into season three, and then also going into season four, Burnham is no longer led by fear or shame. I think a lot of times they go hand in hand. And they definitely did for Burnham. And they do for a lot of the folks in our story. This is kind of grand, but I think if you really zoom all the way out, I think the only thing that conquers fear is love. Because I think fear and hate go hand in hand a lot as well. So I think it’s love, and I think it’s love in the full sense of it, right? Not in the way that we tend to think about it sometimes in the very comfortable, convenient, flowery feel-good way. It’s like love is so much more than that. And, you know, this crew, they love each other. They’re learning to love themselves and they’re also learning to just love what they do and what they sacrifice for. And I think focusing on that is what then helps you say “no” to fear, which is a callback to the graduation speech from the end of season one.
Discovery started with a Saru-Michael rivalry through a series of rotating captains. How does their dynamic change with Saru back on the ship and Michael as captain?
Michelle Paradise: I feel like Burnham and Saru have been on a journey together in their relationship, and while they had moments obviously in seasons one and two, I think season three was really big for both of them. In season three, some things kind of came to a head in terms of their friendship and loyalty and trust and those sorts of things. And it feels like by the end of season three, they’ve worked through a lot of those struggles and have gotten to a new place that’s really great. And so I think in season four, you will see that relationship solidified in whatever form it ultimately takes between the two of them with a lot of mutual respect and love and care and support for one another, whatever their roles may be.
Sonequa Martin-Green: And I’ll add how brilliant Doug Jones is and how much I flippin’ love him. And just what a joy it is to be his sister of sorts in this story. I love Burnham and Saru, I really do… such a deep, dear place in my heart.
Michelle, previous seasons have always set up the next. Does that pattern continue with season four teeing up season five? And can you say anything about a writers room starting for season five?
Michelle Paradise: Well, when when we get a season five pick up, let me know. That’ll be very exciting! You know, the ends of seasons are always really interesting and challenging. I joined halfway through season two—and coming into that season, they knew from the beginning that they wanted to make this jump to the future. So that’s where they were traveling to, Alex had already kind of set that up. And then coming into season three, what we were looking at for the end is, we definitely wanted to solve this mystery. And we wanted to start bringing the Federation back together again. So I do feel like every season has its arc and has a definitive end. Sometimes, like with season two, it tees up something very specific: We’re going to the future. And then other times it is a wrap-up of the story that we’ve been telling over the course of the season. So what season four does, I can’t tell you because then that would give it all away… but I can tell you that there IS an end to season four.
Michelle, are there any characters that you like writing more than others?
Michelle Paradise: Oh, gosh, that’s hard. I love writing all of them. All of these characters are so very different and I really enjoy that. For me, some of the really fun moments—in addition to our action and adventure and the mysteries and stuff—I really love the smaller character moments. I love finding out new things about these characters, whoever it may be. We spend a fair amount of time in the room talking about those sorts of things, and how can we, in any given episode, learn something new about someone. So, to me, the character exploration is a lot of fun and I really enjoy all of it. It’s just a blast. It’s such a treat to get to write on the show.
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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