The fifth season of Star Trek: Discovery is finishing up production now, and a first look was shared by Paramount+ at New York Comic Con over the weekend. Showrunners Michelle Paradise and Alex Kurtzman were in New York along with members of the cast (and star Sonequa Martin-Green beamed in from the set in Toronto) to preview the changes in store for the show, which includes a new tone and some new characters.
Season 5 is about adventure and a quest
While in New York, executive producer Michelle Paradise talked to EW about how after saving the galaxy from an apocalypse (again) last season, the show is changing the tone for season 5.
Paradise: We do have a bit of a tonal shift this season. We try to keep every season feeling fresh and new. Coming into the season, Alex and I talked about shifting the tone a little bit because there was a bit of heaviness in season 3 and particularly in 4 with the DMA. So this is more of an action-adventure sort of season. There is a mystery. There’s a quest, and this mysterious power… It is a quest that our heroes are on and they do have a chance to go on quite a few adventures this season, which will be fun.
Wilson Cruz (Dr. Culber) told EW this adventure is going to take the show to new places.
I think what’s beautiful about this season is that it gives us another opportunity to come together as this team that we’ve developed. And everybody has to bring their A-game in order to solve this mystery. And we get to travel a lot more through the galaxy… and go to places we’ve never seen before. It’s exciting.
Cruz talked more about this shift during the Star Trek Universe panel.
Cruz: Every season we have a bit of a shift in tone… and this season even more so. We’re on an adventure, truly an adventure. And you really see everybody step up and use their strengths in order to solve a mystery, truly. But each of them is also discovering even more of themselves… But what I love most is just this quest that we’re on, and how we come together as a team to solve it. I honestly—I swear I say this every season—but I think it’s the best season we’ve ever had.
Rod Roddenberry asked Michelle Paradise about a moment during the new trailer that appeared to show Captain Burnham on the top of the ship, which she confirmed, saying that was an example of the kind of thing to expect in season 5.
Yes, that was Sonequa riding on top of a starship while it was at warp. [Sarcastic] It’s a very low-key season. Not much happens. There’s no action or adventure except for that one moment.
Callum Keith Rennie joins as a gruff captain
The panel also revealed some new cast joining the show, including Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica, Umbrella Academy) as Starfleet Captain Rayner. Michelle Paradise offered some more detail on his character.
Paradise: Captain Rayner is a captain of a different starship. He’s a bit of a gruff captain and he’s got some things to learn and so he will learn those things.
Actor Anthony Rapp (Commander Paul Stamets) talked about how this gruff captain adds a new chemistry to the show.
Rapp: She described his character as gruff. Callum himself is gruff. He’s a lovable teddy-bear gruff, but it’s like a wonderful new piece of the recipe for the show. Because Sonequa is lightest light of the world, and then Callum’s like [gruff voice], “Are we going to do the scene now or what?” And so the mixture of their chemistry is really wonderful to see how they bounce off of each other. He’s a wonderful actor and a just a great person to be around has it has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the new season. So I think you’ll like him.
Moll and L’ak are 32nd-century Bonnie and Clyde
Also joining this season are Eve Harlow as Moll and Elias Toufexis as L’ak. Paradise gave a little more detail on how they will come into conflict with the Discovery crew.
Moll and L’ak, they are a bit of a Bonnie and Clyde kind of characters this season and former couriers… Let’s just say they come into conflict with our heroes.
Challenging the characters
The showrunners talked about how season 5 offers a new opportunity to challenge the show’s characters.
Kurtzman: The fact is that we do kind of choose a different flavor for every season, but have a very consistent throughline. And the consistent throughline is watching our characters evolve together. From the beginning, the title Discovery was chosen for a reason, because we wanted it to be about each character’s evolution, and their evolution as a family and they’ve gone through so much together… We’ve settled into this incredible groove this season. Five years on a show together is a long time. And it’s a long time to get to know each other as characters, it’s also a long time to get to know each other as people. And I think that the intimacy and the ease that the characters have with each other is a reflection of how amazing this cast is and how much they love each other… It’s lovely to, having obviously been on from the beginning, to feel this incredible journey of these characters who have stepped into a more confident place by season 5.
Paradise (via EW): At the beginning of every season, one of the things that we do in addition to talking about what is our big story for the season, what are we doing thematically, those sorts of things. We go through and we talk about each of our characters and what do we want them to experience the season. And how does their character arc relate to the thematic stuff that we’re exploring. And it’s really important for us that every actor, every season, we get to push those characters forward and give all of our wonderful actors new things to play and new challenges. We never want them to be bored, obviously. And also these characters are so fascinating and the way our actors play them it’s just wonderful to see.
Wilson Cruz backed her up.
Cruz (via EW): Definitely not boring me, especially this season. They throw some stuff at me which tells me that they have confidence that I can do it. But sometimes they’ll send me something and I’m like, “Whoa, okay. I need a minute with that one.”
On the panel, he offered more about Culber’s arc for season 5.
Cruz: Culber is asking big questions again. He’s a person who—since he’s come back to life—has really been learning who he really is and owning all of that. And some of it is a little uncomfortable in relationships, but how we navigate that is also been really exciting to play.
Anthony Rapp gave an update on Stamets for the season as well as his relationship with Culber.
Rapp: We’re in a pretty good place. We got our little sort of—to say child feels demeaning now because Adira has grown up a bit—but our charge, but our child. Stamets is on a little bit of trying to figure out the next what new path of scientific exploration. So that’s really interesting because, for him, science is not just about “Ooh, cool ideas.” It’s actually his reason for being. So yeah, searching for the thing that will plug him into the next passionate course of his life is a really cool thing to be a part of.
Burnham digs deep in season 5… and it’s “complicated” with Book
Sonequa Martin-Green (Captain Michael Burnham) talked about how the season’s quest will impact Burnham and the crew as characters.
Martin-Green: Everybody is meeting themselves. There’s a confrontation that’s happening with all of us. There’s a confrontation with Burnham and all the other characters that we’re having to make those tough decisions about who we really are and who we really are together because of this mystery. And because of this adventure in a new way, in a deeper way, in a more profound way than we’ve ever seen. I give so much respect to the writers for this season. Because we really do dig deeper than we ever have.
Sonequa also gave a preview of what’s in store for Burnham and Book:
Martin-Green: Oh my. It’s complicated. It’s like that old Facebook status. What they gonna do? I love it, because you see this conflict between mission and love. This conflict between duty and romance. And how do they fit in? And I think that line between professional and personal crossing over and blending is really fascinating. And you see that in a lot of ways. You see that with other characters as well. Them coming up against, “Well, am I going to stand for what I stand for, even if it costs me what’s most important to me?” Because that’s the mark of a true hero… That’s what makes this real and authentic. And even with Burnham too, it’s not a cakewalk. You see how hard it is to be a captain and what it really costs to sacrifice and be that sacrificial leader. And I love that across the board. You’ve got these people that are just willing to sacrifice at all. We’re all really excited for y’all to see what we have this season. It’s deep.
Alex Kurtzman talked about how the show will continue to explore what it means for Burnham to be a captain.
And for Burnham, I think the thing that I’m most excited about is that getting the captain’s chair is one thing, but learning what it means to be a captain is a constantly evolving process.
Musical episode? Maybe
During the Q&A, a fan wondered if there was going to be a musical episode, given that the show has a Broadway star like Anthony Rapp in its cast. Before executive producer Alex Kurtzman could answer, Martin-Green and Cruz jumped in to add their voices to the request.
Martin-Green: Please! Because both of them are heroes. Anthony and Wilson… Please, Michelle. Please Alex. Please can we have them sing?
Cruz: We’ve only been asking for it for five years.
Kurtzman: Nothing would make me happier than to do a Star Trek musical. Let me just say anything is possible. How about that?
Season 5 first look
In case you missed it, here is the season 5 trailer released at NYCC. [International version at startrek.com]
There is no release date yet for Discovery season 5. Seasons 1 through 4 are currently streaming exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. Internationally, the series is available on Paramount+ in Australia, Italy, Latin America, the U.K. and South Korea, as well as on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel. It will also stream exclusively on Paramount+ in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria later this year. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave.
More Star Trek from NYCC
The panel is over but there is more coverage to come, so keep coming back to TrekMovie.com for all the latest from NYCC 2022. See more of our NYCC coverage here.
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