Star Trek has a special place in my heart, as it is for the other millions of fans who follow the franchise, so going to the Star Trek Discovery panel and press talk was a must for my 2018 New York Comic Con experience.
The Discovery panel was held at the Hulu Theater, one of the offsite venues for NYCC, moderated by actress Rebecca Romijn, she’ll be guest starring in the role of the Enterprises First Officer aka Number One, and consisted of executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin along with cast members; Doug Jones (Saru), Mary Wiseman (Tilly), Ethan Peck (Spock), Sonequa Martin-Green (Burnham), Michelle Yeoh (Georgiou), Anson Mount (Pike), Shazad Latif (Tyler), Mary Chieffo (L’Rell), Anthony Rapp (Stamets) and Wilson Cruz (Culber) rounding out the stage.
Main points/highlights of the panel included:
- After introducing the panel, the audience was shown the latest trailer for season 2.
- The new season will premiere on Jan. 17, 2019.
- After a season of war, the new mission for the Discovery will be investigating seven mysterious power signals that tie into research conducted by Spock.
- The new roles and directions that all of the characters take after the events of the first season: Pike taking command, Tilly in the Officer Training Program and Tyler coming to terms with his situation, as well as the recast parts for the new members beaming on to Discovery, Pike, Spock and Number One.
- Michelle Yeoh answered her questions in character as the Mirror Universe Emperor Georgiou and discussed how she’s still upset about being dragged into Burnham’s universe.
- Sonequa Martin-Green’s glowing announcement that her husband will join the cast and play an important role.
- Wilson Cruz humorously stating that his character is where we left him and then passionately making a call for everyone to “Reject the politics of division and hate. Make sure you vote.”
Following the main panel, press were brought to a room backstage to ask a few more questions of the panelist, sadly Michelle Yeoh and Rebecca Romijn were not included. Highlights of the press round table include:
Mary Wiseman/Tilly – “…there are a lot of different stories being told in the larger Arc of the season and you get a little bit of that flavor of the stand alone episodes from the olden days, everyone has their own arc, which contributes to the larger arc.”
Doug Jones/Saru – “Each episode might feature one of us in a way you haven’t seen before and showcase our growth spurts and evolution.” Jones also confirmed that his character Saru will have an episode that deals with his family and home planet.
Mary Chieffo/L’Rell – “ I had always loved sci-fi and fantasy in general, I’m more of a fantasy gal, I really love Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia, but I was introduced to the franchise through the new films, but then I did watch the Klingon-centric episodes from all the different series from when I was prepping, and then yeah. Whenever there was a specific reference, usually they’ll note if it was canon or a new place that they created. The wiki page is very helpful because you go straight to it and [say] ‘okay that’s an episode that’s really referenced in our episode so lets make sure I know about it.’” Speaking about how she wowed the crowd with her Trek knowledge.
Shazad Latif/Tyler – “I got to do so much [last season]. It’s hard to keep that tone up, so this season for me is all about the fallout, how he deals with relationship-wise, rather than his personal battle with what was going on. Now it’s about how does he deal with the Klingons, specifically L’Rell.”
Sonequa Martin-Green/Burnham – “There’s so much takeaway. I’ve learned the cost of service. I’ve learned the cost of operating as an island. Because it is not about what you think is best all the time, it’s about the collective and it’s about serving the needs of the many or the needs of the few– Vulcan proverb, but it’s true. And I’ve certainly learned also the cost of arrogance because [with] Burnham being raised on Vulcan, it is a very arrogant society. Being so logic-based, they believe they’re right and when you’re indoctrinated in that way of thinking you think because you are a logic driven you are always right, so I had to really learn the hard way that is not the case.”
Alex Kurtzman/Executive Producer – “All credit to the writing staff. We spend all day debating those very questions, asking ourselves what we want to see– where does it exist and how much of the boundaries of the edges of canon are we pushing on, what has been written about, and yet what is the gray area and what has been said about it, so we can open new doors on it, so it doesn’t negate what’s been established but actually builds on what’s been established. It’s a constant process of refining and there are many different voices in the room with many different points of view and that healthy debate is I think how we end up answering the question.” The question of story over canon.
Heather Kadin/Executive Producer – “We’ve learned that, tonally, I think not only for people watching, but people making the show, that doing an entire season about war is really heavy and although we loved it and are super proud, it was great to put that behind us and tell more bouncy stories, and you can see that from the trailers. Also, the fact that now our characters have spent so much time together and have earned relationships, maybe they have more emotional moments that they really couldn’t have early on.”
Anson Mount/Pike – “The dialogue is not easy, I figured out why it’s so hard. Nothing in the dialogue almost nothing is in our vernacular, we’ve all said to each other a million times you want to go to dinner, want to go to lunch, you could picture lunch, all that is in our vernacular so it exists as phrases that are in the muscle memory of our mouth, so how often do we get called upon to say Photon torpedo. Sometimes it just doesn’t want to come out.”
Ethan Peck/Spock – “I think figuring out where Michael exist for me as Spock, we can all use more logic and empathy, absolutely 100%. As for the Vulcan salute I was able to do it since I was a kid.”
Anthony Rapp/Stamets – “Biggest takeaway from our characters? One of the famous quotes I said from last year: ‘never hide who you are’. I think Stamets has always been unapologetic of himself fully– doesn’t care if he’s talking to the Captain or cadet or Culber, and I don’t think he’s necessarily running around like burning down the world about it, but never hide who you are, be yourself fully and stand by what you believe in.”
Wilson Cruz/Culber – “The fact of the matter is we’re living in revolutionary times and the revolution doesn’t take place on an actual battlefield, it takes place in a voting booth and you can not be a soldier unless you are registered to vote. And in many States including the State of Florida which is going to be pivotal this year. I’m speaking directly to every Puerto Rican who moved to Florida to escape the tragedy that’s taking place there, to make sure that now that their living in Florida, that they use their voice and take the time to register to vote, because we can be the ones to change the trajectory of this country and that’s really what’s at stake.”
Final note on the Discovery cast and crew: as people, these folks impressed the hell out of me. Sonequa Martin-Green was a classy ball of energy on stage, in the pressroom and out in the street as she was getting in a van for another engagement, risking “Con Crud” by shaking all of our hands before answering our questions. The space we were in was not conducive to 40+ people– we were packed in tight as they squeezed their way between us, the tables and their fellow actors. However, their level of professionalism, common courtesy and energy never dipped evem though some of them had even been shooting the day before.
Before season 2 comes out in January, catch up on all the Trek-ness of season 1 on CBS All Access now or on November 13th when the Blu-Ray and DVD collections drop.
George Carmona 3rd is an Artist/Designer/Writer, former Milestone Media Intern, former DC Comics paper pusher, book lover, lifelong comic geek, has been in 4 Star Trek novels, rocked the tactical station on the Bridge Crew Simulator and held down the DS9 team on a panel at the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Follow him on Twitter @gcarmona3.