Paramount+ uses their Star Trek Logs Instagram account to reveal tidbits about the various Trek shows, this week there are two logs offering up some more insight into Star Trek: Discovery. Plus David Ajala talks about how he is approaching Book’s mental health storyline in season four.
Nilsson on how not everyone is cool with the new Zora
The bridge officer Nilsson was introduced in the first episode of season two, played by Sara Mitich who played Airiam 1.0 in season one. Nilsson (named for singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson by former Discovery writer/producer Ted Sullivan) has appeared in 21 episodes throughout the last three seasons, but her first name Eva was not revealed until this week with the release of an audio log. In the log Nilsson talks about how she feels after being put in the pattern buffer during the events of “Stormy Weather” and offers her thoughts on how Zora has “become more” than the ship’s computer. She also hints at the crew’s apprehension over the new Zora saying: “I’m not sure everyone on board will be entirely comfortable with how she’s changed.”
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Book’s log about his father
“Stormy Weather” also featured Cleveland “Book” Booker dealing with visions of his estranged father. In his new personal log, Book talks about how the vision could be both real and a manifestation of his subconsciousness.
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Ajala on Book’s mental health journey
Season four has focused on Book coping with the loss of his planet and his family. In a new interview with Digital Spy David Ajala talked about the focus on mental health in season four and how he had to prepare himself:
I remember thinking, with a story like this, I knew this would be something I’d have to sit in for a considerable amount of time, and I had to really make sure that I protect my own mental health. My spiritual, physical, and mental health, that was really, really important because I wanted to tell the fullness of this guy’s story, without holding back. I had to approach it from a place of joy and liberty, as weird and profound as that may sound, it sounds like an oxymoron.
Ajala talked in detail about the shooting the therapy seasons with Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz) in the episode “All is Possible”:
I thought, this is the first time these two characters are meeting in a very, very safe space, and we’re dealing with mental health, specifically from the lens – though these are universal themes – from a Black man and a brown man, having this conversation, and we wanted it to be as transparent as possible. Before each take, we did an exercise that allowed us to be very, very open and in the moment because we can’t do a therapy session and be guarded or kind of skillfully act our way through it. It needed a different energy and flavour. I felt very, very proud how Wilson brought that to the table, brought that out of me and I for him, and to see how people responded to it. That specific therapy session of feeling anger, resentment, pain, frustration, grief and actively working through it, was a very exposing thing to show on TV. But I think for that very reason, that’s why it’s so important.
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With the limited number of episodes per season, I understand why many of the supporting bridge characters don’t get much screen time; it’s disappointing, but them’s the breaks. I’m convinced that if the series produced 26 episodes per season like in the TNG days, that wouldn’t have ever been an issue, with a more traditional A-story / B-story format.
That said, if they can use this additional online content to flesh out the lives of these characters, that would be a smart use of the medium, and a way to keep fans glued to the series’ social media content.
The fact that every single episode has to revolve around Burnham doesn’t help.
Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. A number of episodes have focused on Saru, Stamets, Tilly, and Book, for starters. But yes, Burnham is the main character on the show; so, much like Kirk in TOS, it’s not surprising that her character is dominant.
I understand why Burnham gets all the attention — she’s the star of the show. It makes a lot more sense now that she’s Captain. But the fact that so many of the rest of the storylines center around Stamet’s completely baffles me. I think he’s probably the most unlikable primary character in the history of Star Trek, and any efforts to soften or fix him have not made an appreciable difference by my estimation. I love Saru and Tilly and think that Book has made for a great addition.
I politely disagree about Stamets’ unlikability. Barring a stretch in S1, his character has become one of my favorites in the show. I agree with you about Saru, Tilly, and Book (and Grudge) though.
I’m not particularly enamored by Anthony Rapp’s acting style, but I think Stamets has moved out of being unlikable the way he was written to be in season 1. I’m not sure it qualifies as a truly deliberate and effective character arc (I don’t believe his paternal feelings towards Adira at all), but inevitably he softened the more we saw of his personal life.
I have no problem with that pre-condition to watching DSC.
In 79 episodes of TOS, just what did we learn about Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov? For all the complaints about lack of secondary character development on DSC, we seem to forget about how TOS was pretty centered on the triumvirate of Kirk/Spock/McCoy.
TNG/VOY/ENT was a bit better in that regard, but the only Trek series to really flesh out almost all of its cast was DS9.
Let me acknowledge some bias upfront — Sara Mitich is super adorable and I want to see more of her. More consequently though, I don’t know if Sara Mitich is a talented actress. We don’t see enough of her. I have to imagine that she and the rest of the senior staff (the mostly nameless ones) are there because they’re talented actors. It just feels like such a frustrating waste of talent for these actors in their peek earning years. Denise Crosby had considerably more to do and left the show because she didn’t have enough meaningful work to do. Maybe they’re happy to be working, and maybe they wouldn’t be working otherwise. Lord knows, Star Trek can be a very productive enterprise for working actors until late in their careers, for the convention gigs alone. I just really hope to see these actors get some meaningful material that allows them to shine.
And a wish is just a dream you wish to come true
Woo, woo-woo, woo
Mitich and most of the Canadian background characters seem to be doing this as a steady source of income while they pursue other things, particularly Canadian productions. This is why many of them have left or are intermittently absent.
In fact, it appears that Mitich is wearing a wig this season as she coloured her hair brown for another role in a feature film.
All of them seem to be very solid in their craft which may be why we are wondering about who they are as compared to the random nonspeaking background bridge crew on TNG or Voyager.
Since we should be seeing at least three shifts’ worth of crew aboard Discovery, this has been working out as an exercise in further world-building and character-building for me as a viewer.
We’re wondering about who they are because this is the first Trek show not to focus on the whole bridge crew, while still spending lots of time of the bridge.
There are what? 4-5 commanders on that bridge now? I’m sure it’s at least 4, but genuinely have trouble making out ranks apart from the captains. I get zero sense that any of these actors are scene-stealers in-waiting, but I do find myself frustrated by the clumsy insertions of backstory we have been getting about them this year. That might actually be worse than not giving them any characterizations.
Well Ronnie Rowe Jr who plays Communications officer Bryce is a scene stealer.
He’s been nominated for Canadian Screen Awards and had major roles in two award winning independent feature films: Black Cop and Akilla’s Escape.
He is starring in a new historical CBC/BET+ drama series called The Porter which is premiering in Canada in February.
Ah yes, the one they replaced with another black male actor for a couple weeks, reiterating how these artists are being used for cheap diversity points rather than to play proper characters.
I could be wrong, but I think this is the most we ever heard Nilsson talk. ;)
And the acting for that VO was over-earnest and forced. High school play-level choices to pause and sound thoughtful, hesitant and searching for the words. Transparent that an actor is reading lines. Meh.
Discovery has such a sizeable budget they can afford to take tv/series semi established talented actors and put them in the background. Unthinkable in the olden days.
I don’t really know who any of the bridge crew are in Discovery, which is too bad. The computer becoming self-aware is something I can’t wrap my hear around. Sure, they can accept it, but then it needs to be offloaded somewhere else and a new computer OS installed. You can’t have something running a ship where seconds count if it “isn’t sure of itself”. It’s a tool and they use it as a tool for a reason.
I still don’t understand how everyone has such jumped up ranks (so many Commanders) that seem to do nothing material and why would a future Starfleet promote so many people out of time?
Nilsson is so beautiful… but like the rest of the bridge crew, she’s a cardboard set piece who adds nothing to the show. It’s not her fault, though–it’s the writers’ unfortunate need to give all the screen-time to Sonequa, a chronic over-actor, and not enough to anyone else.