Interview: Mary Wiseman And David Ajala On Tilly’s Struggles And Book’s Abilities In ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 4

Season four of Star Trek: Discovery arrives on Thursday, November 18 on Paramount+. At New York Comic Con,  TrekMovie participated in some group interviews with members of the cast and crew, one of which was with the pair-up of Mary Wiseman (Tilly) and David Ajala (Book). They told us and a handful of other outlets what to expect for their characters and more.

How does Tilly’s scientific mind come into play in solving the crisis of the anomaly in season four?

I think that she is one of the go-to people when there is hard science stuff to crack. It’s her, Adira, Stamets, and Reno who are the really hard science people. Well, Reno’s really more engineering. So I think Tilly definitely goes to employ those skills. But I think one of the things that leaves everyone feeling unmoored in this situation is they don’t even know how to use their skills to deal with this because it’s something they’ve never seen before,  and they can’t predict it, they don’t know by which rules it’s operating, and how to even engage. So when very capable people feel un-capable, crazy things happen.

In season three Tilly was first officer and then acting captain; how does all of that affect who she is in season four?

Mary Wiseman: That experience affects her so much this season. Maybe having had to step up to the plate before she was ready… I think she intellectually knows that she didn’t fail, and that it’s not her fault that Osyraa took the ship, she didn’t have all the information, but I still think the fact that that she took command and somehow lost the ship would be an enormous blow to her confidence and make her question a lot of stuff. So I think we pick up with her after some time has passed since the events of that season, but she’s still sort of not really sure what to make of it, and everything that used to be really comfortable isn’t sitting as comfortably as it used to… if that makes sense.

Mary Wiseman as Tilly in episode 402, “Anomaly”

You two are Michael’s boyfriend and best friend, so does Michael becoming captain create any new tension in season four? 

Mary Wiseman: We don’t have that many scenes together but there’s a lot of tension between us just as actors and personalities. (laughs)

David Ajala: Legit, it’s still very palpable here. Do you see that tension?

Mary Wiseman:  I wish there… maybe in the future there’s room for some protective best friend/boyfriend energy. I think there’s room for it. I hope we’re able to explore it because there’s potential for great levity, but then also really important conversations to be had because when you care about someone you don’t want to see them go through pain, and I can see completely how Tilly will be very protective of Michael Burnham.

David, Can we expect any surprising uses of the special things that Book can do in season four, now that he can control the spore drive?

David Ajala: Yeah. With his skill and abilities, we will see how he may use them in a way that may affect his relationship with Michael Burnham.

Mary Wiseman: That was a really good teaser.

David, has Michael becoming captain changed Book’s relationship with her?

David Ajala: I think it’s made Cleveland Booker even more attracted to Michael Burnham because I think he looks and goes ‘Oh, scrumptious. That’s a crumpet I want to butter.’ [laughter]

David Ajala as Book and Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael in episode 401 “Kobayashi Maru”

We’ve seen Captain Killy, so what does Mirror Universe Book look like?

David Ajala: I’ve never thought about that. What do you think it looks like?

Mary Wiseman: Well… what is like the same root of Book but like the polar opposite expression of it? Like maybe he would be way too codependent or something?

David Ajala: The first thing that comes to mind, is maybe he’s a borderline narcissist, vry egotistical, and self-absorbed. All those wonderful things that don’t make you a good human being.

And how and how would your abilities be used in the Mirror Universe?

David Ajala: I would be very dangerous. Because Book is someone who doesn’t just have cerebral, intellectual intelligence. He also has emotional intelligence. And if you’re able to use that against someone, that could be very, very dangerous,

Mary Wiseman: Right, when you use empathy for evil, it’s manipulation.

David Ajala:  Yeah, absolutely. And for your own gain, right?

Mary Wiseman:  That that could be a very powerful person in the Mirror Universe.

David Ajala:  What about Grudge in the mirror universe?

Mary Wiseman: A dog!

David Ajala: A very licky, friendly dog.

Mary Wiseman and David Ajala with their co-stars Wilson Cruz, Sonequa Martin-Green, Blu del Barrio, and Anthony Rapp at NYCC 2021

ICYMI: NYCC Season 4 Trailer

(Trailer also available for international viewers on Instagram and startrek.com)

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.


Keep up with the Star Trek Universe at TrekMovie.com.

Subscribe
Notify me of
42 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Nice girl but still jostling with Burnham as the most annoying character on the show. Definitely a character created for the TikTok generation to like.. high five, hugs and ditziness with lots of over emotional feelings on display.

Jury still out on Books character….definitely ahead of the 2 dimensional bridge crew though.

Tilly is part Wesley Crusher and part Barclay. Book is Han Solo.

And Book’s starship…think of it as Star Trek’s answer to the Astro Megaship from Power Rangers in Space.

Nah… Book is Boba Fett… and I want to see the spin-off series THE BOOK OF BOOK :-)

I have to agree. I truly do love this show, but Burnham and Tilly are so damn annoying. These are not well-written or well-acted characters, and they weaken the series every time they show up.

Have to disagree. Sonequa is a great actress. She’s magnetic.

This is rare case were I actually agree with Lorma. She seems to be a lovely human being and all that in real life but her acting is not the best. It’s… shall we say very variable.

There is such a difference between having criticisms of the way the characters are written and criticizing the actors’ performance/craft and their leadership in the company.

Sonequa is by all accounts probably the best or one of the best chef de compagnie of all the Trek series.

That however does nothing to mitigate the way Burnham has been written to be unforgivably self-absorbed throughout many of the key moments of the series. For someone who is supposed to care about others, she’s been remarkably stuck in her own emotions.

In season one and early season two, I was finding it credible as a case of someone who had unresolved PTSD and was unmoored from the culture that had encouraged her to supress her trauma. However, with the successive changes in show runners the coherence of Burnham’s development has been lost. At the end of season three, I felt that she became captain not because she had earned it, but because the time had run out on the series plan for her promotion.

Perhaps season four will address Burnham and Tilly’s unreadiness on more than an emotional level. I’m not counting on it.

Good points. Yeah, self absorbed is an excellent way to describe her character, I’d never thought of it that way. You are always very insightful. And I’d add she has a hero complex too – always wants to save the day/galaxy/whathaveyou. It’s gotten very stale now.

It’s not SMG’s fault of course, it’s just the way she has be written throughout the series. It’s been sooo inconsistent from day one. I just hope now that she has been made captain, all her baggage will be finally gone. I’m reaally hoping season 4 will be smoother, I’m holding thumbs here.

As an actor of 20 years myself I can say for SMG that her acting ability is affected by her accent and delivery due to her accent . She could of made it what we call General American/mid-Atlantic to neutralize it a little. It feels too 21st century specific as does Tilly’s. This is a part of the reason people can’t take to them, alongside their poorly written characters. It really doesnt fit in the century they are in. In fact most iterations of Trek the actors have provided a neutral delivery of their native accent.

What? What accent? This sounds kind of racist.

By the way, “could of” isn’t English. It’s could have (or could’ve).

I think you are talking jibberish. The accent is too colloquial. Someone with a lack of intelligence throws a race card at every debate. As I said Tilly has the same issues. Assuming you are American, I’m from outside America where it makes a huge difference in how the characters comes across.”America is not the world” as Morrissey once said.

This clown is racist

The future doesn’t have a preferred accent. Any accent would be acceptable for a time that hasn’t happened yet. The Berman era had specific ideas about things like accents and music that kind of locked it into something fairly homogeneous. It’s one thing that’s definitely been improved upon by the more recent stuff.

It’s a tricky one, as someone who is outside America and didn’t have English as the first language growing up it’s more noticeable. It makes it quite American centric. In fact now I think of it, Book aside everyone has an American accent.

I don’t understand this at all. You’re saying she isn’t believeable because she sounds like she has a 21st century *accent*? How is she supposed to sound considering nobody knows what people in the 23rd century will talk like? Make it make sense!

I recall when Trek featured a French captain with an English accent. So…

Tilly’s character arc was mishandled once they realized Mary Wiseman was cast (Mary’s a decade or more older than Tilly). As soon as she was, they should have rewritten Tilly from being a cadet to being a lieutenant or something. That way she won’t get the appearance she does now of jumping over more experienced officers and seeming to just get ahead because she’s Saru’s favorite.

Tilly should have been introduced as female Barclay or a less extreme version of junior lieutenant Picard in Tapestry (the alternate timeline where his career stalled after avoiding getting stabbed in the heart). Basically a good officer who’s been in Starfleet for some years but her career stalled due to emotional and self-esteem issues. Saru would then recognize the potential in her, give her opportunities to build her self esteem and confidence, and we’d get a good arc that doesn’t seem forced like it does now.

I agree, in fairness Barclay was relatable in many ways, socially awkward but not too overplayed. They’ve written Tilly as just the straight “oh there’s Tilly for the jokes”. Waste of talent.

Should the “nice girl” get off your lawn?

Jack perhaps you were at the Dave Chappelle protest screaming Judas, you are starting to sound like the type who gets sensitive over everything.

While I’m excited to get back to the 32nd century and see what’s changed since season 3 I’m still not excited for the season itself. I would prefer to finish the rest of Prodigy first season instead. And I just really love having Janeway back.

But I really do like Book a lot! He was a cool character and one of the best things about season 3. I can see myself having a few bottles of synthehol with him. 😉

So….

Between Mary’s comments about how Tilly internalizes her experiences as acting First Officer and Captain and the fact that we see Gen Rhys in the big chair in one of the early production stills, does anyone think that Discovery might get Trek’s first regular series Asian First Officer?

Patrick Kwok-Choon is the only one of the bridge officers that doesn’t have another regular acting or producer/director role. So, although he does the occasional guest star role in other shows produced in Canada, he could take on a larger role on Discovery.

I would just be happy if Rhys got more than three lines an episode lol. It’s odd that the bridge crew still feels in the background although they are being used more. It took me 3 seasons just to remember all their names.

Hopefully next season they will be given more development. It would definitely be great if Rhys was promoted to first officer. Having Tilly be one was just…dumb. I’m sorry I can sugarcoat it. Not holding my breath he’s given the job though, especially since we know Saru is coming back. I think Saru will just be the surrogate first officer again although he is now a captain. Sort of the same way Spock stayed first officer in the movies to Kirk although he was a captain for five of those films. Maybe Saru won’t be on the ship as much but I’m guessing they are going the same direction.

Have to completely agree you T2. I know most don’t share my opinon that after a terrible first half of S1, I have generally liked Discovery – but making Tilly first officer was quite possibly the most ridiculous plot twist in the history of Trek.

Now if it turns out, Burnham was being influenced by an alien entity or she has been given insight into the future which made it imperative that she rush Tilly into becoming the Number One, then I can accept it. – but it looks like she did simply did it because she was her friend and room mate.

Hey writer’s room – go back to TNG and see how a child became an honourary bridge officer on the Enterprise D. (something equally puzzling to say the least) Picard did it because the Traveller who could traverse space time and see the future and past told Picard it was extremely important to encourage the boy.

Yes, it was.

Thanks for the correction and yes that is correct. Age is affecting my memory haha. Of course my original statement still stands regarding Tilly becoming Saru’s Number One.

I guess making Tilly first officer isn’t anywhere close to ridiculous as making KT Kirk a Captain who was still a cadet and had probably spent 2 weeks in space before he got the job…but it’s pretty damn close. ;)

Especially when there were just so many more qualified people for the job on and off the ship. But it’s at least nice they came to their senses with that ridiculous story turn (unlike Kirk).

I want to really like Discovery, I do. But the show almost seems to go out of its way every season for some of the dumbest story points you can think of.

BTW, I know this is waaaaaay off topic, but since you are the literary Trek lover on this site and keep up with a lot of the books, do you think Prodigy is going to use some of Kirsten Beyer’s ‘Full Circle” Voyager story lines? It’s been a continuing book series since 2009 and still going. I have only heard of the details a few months ago thanks to a video that TrekCentral (amazing YouTube channel) made about it for Prodigy theorizing a connection. For people who don’t know, it had to do with Voyager leading a fleet of ships going back to the Delta Quadrant a few years after Voyager arrived home. It included a lot of the old characters too like Chakotay, B’Elanna, Tuvok with a lot of new characters. Have you ever read those?

I just wonder if maybe they are adapting the basic idea to what we are seeing in Prodigy since the Protostar could’ve been part of the Full Circle program and was sent back to the DQ for a specific mission? Maybe not but what are your thoughts?

I see other people mentioning the books on Reddit and Youtube because of the new show obviously.

And Kirsten Beyer probably consults on that show too along with her duties on Picard and Discovery, so it’s possible at least. She wrote ten books based around this concept and still writing them. The last novel just came out last year (where does she find the time lol).

I suspect that Prodigy may use some of the elements that Beyer expanded or created for Full Circle without actually developing any of the overall story arc.

Full Circle is pretty dark in some ways. The Delta Quadrant is a dangerous place, and the remnants of species and societies that survived around the edges of the Borg network and incursions were harsh and justifiably skeptical of the Federations.

We have no information that Beyer consults in this show. However, we do know that David Mack does. Mack is one of the core group of Trek authors going back to shortly before Nemesis.

He has been part of the Litverse writers room run by Pocket Books and knows not only Beyer’s works but the books written by others in great detail, and across all eras. He’s been very creative in using callbacks and interweaving eras in his own work.

I believe we can thank Mack for helping the Showrunners and writers identify species that would work in Prodigy and for some deep cuts. I have this image in my head of the EPs saying to Mack that they’d like species that haven’t been main characters in other shows and asking him to give a list of options for a big and strong species, a species without a bianary gender etc.

What I should point out though is that Mack earned the moniker “Angel of Death” among the Litverse fans. So, he’s likely a good fit for the Hageman brothers who say that they want to bring the Wrath of Khan feeling to the Prodigy audience.

Thank you for the response!

Yes I forgot David Mack is a consultant on this show too and is well aware of all the post-Nemesis stories in the novels. I also know he’s basically your favorite Trek author.

And yeah the Full Circle stories do sound a bit depressing especially since SPOILER ALERT they kill off Janeway in them! But of course this being Star Trek they SPOILER ALERT bring her back to life! Janeway is bridge crew, of course she was coming back! ;)

Since this is a show for kids and its not directly focused on the Voyager characters (at least not yet ;)), obviously I don’t really expect any of the bigger plot lines from those books to happen; but it would be cool if the basic idea stuck around and that the Protostar was part of a long term mission of advance starfleet ships heading back to the DQ for study. And it could fit nicely with Chakotay’s story on the show and that he’s also in the DQ for the mission and now has to find the ship. And I know Chakotay was also Captain on Voyager in those books as well.

Anyway it was just a thought. It just came to me and wanted your opinion. It doesn’t matter either way but with so much Voyager mythology created in those novels, it would be cool to see some of it translated on this show!

But I’m just happy we are talking about Voyager again, especially since this show is basically a spin off of it! And more importantly, we’re back to exploring both the prime universe and 24th century again we haven’t done since Voyager’s final season, which was 20 years ago this year! I keep saying this but it’s a great time to be a Star Trek fan again! :)

Thanks for the heads up about Beyer and the Voyager books. I will have to go check it out. Btw have you come across any good DS9 books about what happened to Sisko or the rest of the crew after the finale?

Just a heads up (even more way off topic), for those who liked SG , IMO the Atlantis book Legacy series was quite good, telling the story of what happened after the finale.

The Relaunch Litverse books for DS9 are uneven in my reading experience as compared to the TNG and the Voyager books once Beyer took over.

There really are some of the DS9 authors that are stronger and some that tend to tell too much and show to little in their writing in my view. My best advice is to give some of the Litverse books a try and decide for yourself which writers appeal to you.

In general, the Litverse kicks off with the TNG “A Time to…” series that fills in events between the movies Insurrection and Nemesis. Events in David Mack’s two books towards the end of that series ( A Time to Kill and A Time to Heal) have a profound impact throughout the rest of the Litverse.

DS9 “Avatar” books 1 and 2 were quite good and helpfully kicked off the DS9 Relaunch sequence.

A “Stitch in Time” kicks off the Garak/Cardassian books and is excellent.

You can start with those or the later books in the “Time to…” sequence without significant confusion.

The Trek Collective has a flowchart for the Litverse which is helpful.

I feel bad saying this but I’ve never a read a Star Trek novel in my life lol. I basically just know the books that gets discussed or reviewed here. But it looks like TG47 answered your question! But I would like to read some of the TNG books I’ve heard about, especially the Destiny series which I know is a big crossover with all the classic shows and the Borg. That will be the one I read first!

And I’m even more embarrassed by this, but I’ve never watched any of the Stargate shows. I KNOW, people say they are great, I was too focused on Star Trek when those were airing, but I might try and give the original show a shot one day.

(OMG, we’ve gone way off topic lol. Sorry TM, it’s MY fault! Please don’t ban me!)

I actually had an entire epic story mapped out that I was seriously considering turning into a series of novels. Not sure what the formal CBS/Paramount process is for publishing that kind of stuff, but the story was so detailed that I genuinely wanted to begin looking into it. Unfortunately PICARD turned out to be set in the same period, so it derailed my plans, although later I did figure out a way to explain the considerable differences in the Prime Universe.

No spoilers in case I ever decide to actually the write the thing, but you’d love it as a DS9 fan. Jake is about 45-50 and one of the two lead characters. Originally I imagined him as Denzel Washington or Blair Underwood, but after belatedly watching “The Wire” and “Luther” I think Idris Elba would be a really good match. It would make sense if you knew the story ;) Let’s just say Jake did write his famous book a couple of years after the end of DS9, but in the years and decades ahead he went on to much bigger things and took his career and his life in a very different direction.

PS. I’ve finally had the chance to reply to your comment about Lue Elizondo etc on the other thread. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

Then maybe I would actually remember his name!

Overall, I like the fun character of Tilly (too bad the writers room made her first officer). That said, I know people can be cruel and I am even worried bringing up this topic for fear of the “idiot fringe” piling on, but I hope Mary Wiseman is okay or has a good reason for her weight gain since S1.

I personally have battled weight issues all my life since high school and when I am eating healthy and trainng hard, I feel great and can do almost anything (power skating, fast hockey, tons of physical activity) – meanwhile the opposite is true when I let myself go (and that does happen). I know everyone is different but for me, once I hit my mid-30s my metabolism slowed down, so I had to cut back on the amount of food I ate compared to when I was 25. I realized that unless I wanted to deal with health issues like hypertension, diabetes and other medical ailments, I would have to eat less and less as I got older and older. That sucks, but that is just the way it goes.

There is a great scene back in S1 when Tilly and Burnham are doing cardio training and post workout are eating their “protien, carbs and fat” nutrition, something that the body requires after a hard cardio workout. I hope that Wiseman uses that info into the future because it does work for fat burning and muscle building.

Barclay was funny and silly but relatable due to his social anxiety.
Tilly is just…annoying.

As an actress and a person I don’t mind her at all, she’s lovely. It just really doesn’t fit in this show however.

I hope Mary Wiseman is okay or has a good reason for her weight gain since S1…. I hope that Wiseman uses that info into the future because it does work for fat burning and muscle building.”

I’m not the “idiot fringe” but her weight is none of our business (and, also, she had a baby before S3, I believe).

I’m glad you figured out what works for you, but I’m not cool with a Star Trek board in 2021 focusing on an actor’s weight or appearance, especially when it’s a man commenting on a woman’s weight.

GD, what shoes is David wearing in those pics? all the outfits here are golden IMO but those shoes murder!