The final panel during the Star Trek Universe Hall H event at San Diego Comic-Con focused on Strange New Worlds. The big news was about the season 2 crossover with Lower Decks, but there was much more to talk about as well.
Executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Rod Roddenberry were joined by co-showrunner Henry Alonso Myers, along with cast members Anson Mount (Captain Pike), Ethan Peck (Spock), Christina Chong (La’an Noonien-Singh), Celia Rose Gooding (Uhura), and Paul Wesley (James T. Kirk). Together they gave more details on that crossover along with more insights into what’s coming in season 2.
Lower Decks crossover goes both ways
The Strange New Worlds panel followed the one for Lower Decks, but began with Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid returning to the stage to crash the party, demanding to be part of the proceedings. After some banter, Anson Mount official announced that season 2 of Strange New Worlds will have a crossover episode. The Lower Decks actors then gave a bit of a preview:
Quaid: We’re coming aboard the Enterprise, baby!
Newsome: We’re going to show up and stress them out.
Moderator Lea Thompson asked for clarification on if they will be appearing in live action and not only did they confirm it, but we learned at least one Strange New Worlds character will get animated. Here is the exchange:
Thompson: Wait, so you guys are in live action form?
Newsome: Yeah, just like you see us now, baby!
Quaid: Very similar to this [points to self] except with purple hair and more red on me, in general.
Mount: And you may get an extremely buff two-dimensional version of me.
Henry Alonso Myers also gave a bit of background on how the episode came to be:
Meyers: All of us are huge Lower Decks fans on the writing staff of Strange New Worlds. And one of our writers—David Reed—also works on The Boys. And he was just chatting with Jack and was like, “Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if we did a crossover?” And he was like, “Yeah, that’d be great!” And we were in the room and just started talking about it and then we were like, “What if we could get more than one person from Lower Decks on our show?”… The crazy thing is we had this whole discussion about it, and then I got a call from Alex, completely separately… And he says, “I think you guys should think about doing a crossover with Lower Decks. And I was like, “I’ve got some good news for you.” Then it sort of just wrote itself.
Going bigger in season 2… and about Pike’s hair
When asked about the series structure and mix of genres from season 1, Anson Mount talked about what we can expect in the upcoming season:
Mount: My taste as a viewer was always serialized. But we knew we knew early in our conversations with Alex that this needed to be episodic. It needed to be a planet-of-the-week kind of thing. And with the leadership of Henry and Akiva [Goldsman], seeing the potential there not just in having a new story of the week, but that allows us to play with the mode in which it’s presented. It allows the show to be a tremendous amount of fun just both to do and, I think, to watch. And so you are going to see—we took some big swings in season 1—but we’re going for the fences and season 2.
Later, when the panelists were asked to tease season 2, Celia Rose Gooding and Christina Chong pointed to the fantasy episode from season 1 as a benchmark to be topped:
Chong: I will say, if you thought episode eight (“The Elysian Kingdom”) was a bit out there, in season 2 there’s an episode which tops that to an even bigger level.
Gooding: I would say a couple of episodes that top that.
And the co-showrunner also got in on the hype:
We do some things that Star Trek has never done before. I am incredibly proud of it. And this cast brought everything to it, and I cannot wait to share it with you guys.
Speaking of big, Anson Mount was asked if Pike’s hair is getting bigger each episode, and he is very much in on the jokes about Pike’s high hair:
I will relay that question to my hair and he will get back to you. He’s number one on the callsheet… The hair is due in large part to our resident hair guru, Daniel Losco and the entire hair department. Yeah, the hair memes have been fantastic.
Big changes for Spock
As Ethan Peck talked about the Spock vs Spock fight scene in “Spock Amok,” he revealed where his character is headed:
Peck: It was an amazing opportunity in that scene to really view Spock in his various separate parts, Human and Vulcan, and to pit them against each other was a very surreal, unique opportunity. And in season 2, we’ll see Spock really wrestle with his human side much more. He will continue his experimentation with his human emotions, and it will sort of lead to fundamental changes in some very important relationships in his life.
And in response to a fan question about introducing Spock as dyslexic in Discovery, Kurtzman indicated this storyline will be picked up on Strange New Worlds:
I think it’s essential. We definitely made that choice on Discovery for a reason, because obviously, we’re revealing many, many things about Spock that people never knew before on Disco. But I think Star Trek uniquely gets to carry those kinds of conversations as a form of empowerment. And that’s something that we really look forward to doing in every show that we make. But we really make a point of it because if you can’t see it, you can’t be it, right? So we need to make sure that people can see what they’re capable of and not just take such a limited point of view.
When talking about the choice to use the Gorn in season 1, Alex Kurtzman indicated there is more to come:
Kurtzman: Early on when Akiva and I were breaking the story for the pilot, we wanted the Gorn to be the big bad for of the season. And obviously, the Gorn holds a very special place in our hearts from TOS. But the idea of what we could do with the Gorn now given technology and where it’s at felt like a really amazing opportunity. And we were really excited about stretching them over the course of the season as kind of the big bad, even though the show is episodic. So I don’t think it’s going to be the only time you see the Gorn. The lore of them and the way they were presented, they’re just too exciting and too interesting.
Sticking with canon… and M’Benga
For season one Dr. M’Benga is the Chief Medical Officer of the USS Enterprise. During the Q&A, a fan noted how he later ends up working under Dr. McCoy as the CMO and wondered if we will see M’Benga lose or give up the position. Henry Alonso Myers answered:
Myers: You’re talking about the TOS era that we’re familiar with. We are not there yet. And a lot of things can happen between then and now. We’re not trying to rewrite canon, but we’re trying to deepen our understanding of how things come to be. And I will say as far as I’m concerned, Babs [Olusanmokun] will be Dr. M’Benga for a long time.
La’an gets some Khan
Christina Chong talked about La’an’s connection to her notorious ancestor Khan Noonien-Singh and how there is more to explore with his aspect of the character:
Chong: I love that I get to be a descendant of his, but obviously La’an is very different. She has some traits that Khan has. She’s a formidable fighter. She is very tactical. She’s a leader. But her decisions come very much from a place of wanting to learn and grow and evolve for the better. It’s a lot of fun. I don’t know, maybe we get to see version of La’an where she inherits more of the other side of Khan. I don’t know. Do we, Henry?
For the record, Henry Alonso Myers answered knowingly: “Maybe.”
Hemmer continues to influence Uhura
Celia Rose Gooding spoke eloquently about the importance that original Uhura actress Nichelle Nichols has had on her:
It’s been incredible. Her legacy stretches beyond entertainment. It stretches into space exploration and representation and opening the doors for other Black women in entertainment. And so to have an opportunity to sort of step into that legacy, and put my own little spice on it, it’s been incredible. All of this has been such a dream come true. To me, if it is not all thanks to Nichelle, it is a majority of the things to her.
Later she also drew a parallel between Nichelle being motivated to stay with Star Trek by Dr. Martin Luther King and the influence that Hemmer will continue to have on Uhura:
To have that parallel of Dr. King saying to Nichelle you have to stay here and find a family here and continue to be the change you want to see in the world for Hemmer to then say Uhura, “This is your family the moment you allow it to be. Open yourself and let these people love you the way you deserve to be loved.” And to then lose him after that is heartbreaking. But Hemmer is and will always be such an incredible person and incredible mentor and friend—and honestly, father figure—to Uhura. And me—Celia—loves Bruce [Horak] very much and it broke my heart when I read that script and realized that this was going to be the way it was. But knowing what’s coming up, I am excited to watch Uhura’s memory of Hemmer influence her decision-making and be a huge reason as to why she ended up staying.
The actress and Grammy-winning singer also teased that we will see more of her musical side:
Uhura, like myself, is very much a musical person. Poor Ethan shares a trailer wall with me, so he hears me singing morning without fail. [Peck interjects “It’s like I am in a musical”] So I am sure we are going to get more of musical Uhura if I have anything to say about it.
A lighter Kirk in season 2
Paul Wesley appeared in the season 1 finale, playing an alternative future Captain Kirk. At Comic-Con, the actor made it clear that the Kirk we will see next season (and it sounds like we will see a good amount of him) is different, and not so serious:
Wesley: We only saw Kirk for a handful of scenes in the finale. And that specific episode was fairly intense. And if you watch the original “Balance of Terror,” Kirk is quite intense in that episode. So I’m looking forward to viewers seeing a different side of Kirk, and certainly not an alternate timeline Kirk, but a lieutenant on the Farragut. So he’s a much younger Kirk. He hasn’t quite developed into the Captain Kirk that we know. And there’s more levity, it’s an exciting season. So I’m really looking forward to people seeing that.
The panel just happened to take place on Wesley’s birthday, so he was surprised on stage by the panel singing him “Happy Birthday,” along with the presentation of a custom Captain Kirk cake. Mount noted this was the second year in a row the cast celebrated Wesley’s birthday together, with a celebration last year on the set of Strange New Worlds.
Still more to come from SDCC 2022
There is still more to come from our Comic-Con coverage, including more details from Saturday’s Star Trek Universe panel. Stay tuned to TrekMovie.com for more news from San Diego, and check out the rest of our San Diego Comic-Con 2022 coverage.
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