NYCC 2018: Star Trek: Discovery Season Two Panel and Interviews

NYCC 2018: Star Trek: Discovery Season Two Panel and Interviews

Star Trek: Discovery premiered in September 2017 and quickly set high expectations for production design and storytelling with a fresh new look at the “Prime Timeline” in a series set ten years before the original Star Trek.

The Cast and Producers came to the New York Comic Con stage at Madison Square Garden for some spoiler-free talk about the upcoming season in an all-around feel good celebration of the show.

*** Fair warning: Spoilers for the first season of Star Trek: Discovery will be necessary when speaking about the upcoming season.

NYCC 2018: Star Trek: Discovery Season Two Panel and Interviews

Rebecca Romijn, who has been cast as Number One on Christopher Pike’s Enterprise, took on the hosting duties. Along with Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Mary Wiseman, Mary Chieffo, Wilson Cruz, Anthony Rapp, and Shazad Latif, we were introduced to Anson Mount who plays Captain Christopher Pike, and Ethan Peck, who plays Spock. Co-Creator/Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman and Executive Producer Heather Kadin were also on hand to offer their insights and ensure spoilers were kept to a bare minimum.

This upcoming season focuses on a group of signals sent out from across the galaxy that are giving off more energy than any known species. The signals are also tied to mysterious “red angels” which appear to Burnham at a critical point in her story.

Here’s what we learned from the panel:

  • Commander Saru has a sister, Serana, and we’ll meet her when he visits his home planet, Kaminar. We’ll probably learn more about the predator/prey relationship on his planet since Saru is part of the prey species.
  • Brother/Sister relationships will loom large over the season with Seru/Serana, Burnham/Spock, and even the strong brother/sister-like bond of Saru and Burnham. That last one developed over the past season and as Martin-Green said, it was earned.
  • Spock has a beard and is wrestling with his emotions. He’s had a breakdown tied to the red angels and both logic and emotion have failed him. This is Spock ten years before The Original Series (TOS), so the producers felt they had some room to play with the character and show how he became the Spock we all know from TOS.
  • Captain Pike is a different kind of leader. He’s very comfortable asking for input and advice when he’s at a loss as to how to proceed. This apparently makes for some fun scenes on the bridge in the upcoming season.
  • We will be visiting Talos – which is huge for fans of TOS. Talos IV is where the original pilot for the show was set so we may get a strong story-based connection between Discovery and the pilot, bridging the gap between the two series.
  • The war with the Klingons has ended, but we’ll still have a subplot about the Klingon Empire heavily focused on L’Rell and Voq/Ash Tyler.
  • Klingons shave their heads in times of war, which helps to explain the look in the first season. Now that the war has ended, they’re letting their hair grow out again so expect a very different look for L’Rell this season.
  • Dr. Culber, played by Wilson Cruz died at the end of the first season – I warned you there would be spoilers – yet Cruz was here on the panel. When asked about his character he cryptically stated that “We find him….. where we left him”, so take that as you will.
  • Wiseman’s character, Tilly, was a very different kind of Star Trek character. Analogous to Reginald Barkley in a small way, she was unsure of herself, but very talkative and animated. Her confidence has grown through the trials of the first season and she’s now an Ensign. The strength of her character, with all of her quirks, finding a place in this Universe, speaks to many of the fans in that you can be you and still find your way and even thrive.

NYCC 2018: Star Trek: Discovery Season Two Panel and Interviews NYCC 2018: Star Trek: Discovery Season Two Panel and Interviews

Speaking directly with the cast and producers after the panel we dug a little deeper and found out that Ethan Peck initially had no idea who he was reading for. Since Discovery is set ten years prior to the original series (TOS), Spock is written on the page very differently. He’s experienced a major trauma and his two halves are in conflict. This gives the writers room to explore the character while allowing him to grow into the Spock we know.

Sonequa Martin-Green had some really interesting takes on her character’s relationship with Spock, which episodes are the most gut-punchingly emotional, and being a part of two major genre franchises in Star Trek and The Walking Dead. Check out the video below.

The war with the Klingons was finished at the end of Season One so the actors didn’t know what was going to happen but the Producers wanted to dig a little deeper so their storyline will continue.

Shazad Latif’s character has to come to grips with who and what he is while L’Rell is trying to find a way to embrace him in his new identity. She also now has to learn how to be a leader and Mary Chieffo indicated that her journey this season is very Shakespearean.

Producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin decided early on that if they were asking people to pay for this show (through CBS All Access) that they needed to deliver something they couldn’t get on normal network TV.

“We wanted to blur the lines between movies and television and Trek is the perfect way to do it because the canvas is so massive”

They made changes in Season Two to raise the bar a bit including a switch to anamorphic film with a much bigger and wider aspect ratio. They also mentioned that the visual effects are so complex that it takes roughly eight months per episode to complete them.

They’re excited to move into a new chapter since the first season was all war with a very dark storyline. Now that it’s over, things can lighten up a bit and they can explore the relationships a bit more.

NYCC 2018: Star Trek: Discovery Season Two Panel and Interviews NYCC 2018: Star Trek: Discovery Season Two Panel and Interviews

As for the themes, this season will be exploring what happens when we give up some of our freedoms to protect our borders. Both seasons are driven by emotional storylines, raising great philosophical questions, and they feel that’s what Star Trek does best.

They spent the first season building relationships and the crew is now a family so another theme for this season is going to be about what it means to choose your family.

When asked about challenges they mentioned that Episode Eight really opened their eyes. The crew had their first real away mission and the way it was shot isn’t the way it ended up on screen.

“There’s a tremendous learning curve at the production level for a show of this size in the first season”

The being they encounter on the planet was originally an actor, a dancer in a costume, and it didn’t look right. When they were editing the show they decided to replace the actor with a visual effect and that then necessitated a change to the look of the planet and everything in the scenes.

NYCC 2018: Star Trek: Discovery Season Two Panel and Interviews NYCC 2018: Star Trek: Discovery Panel and Interviews

With the (re)introduction of Captain Pike in command of the Enterprise, a ship that’s newer than the Discovery, the inevitable question arose about how they could reconcile that Sixties set in comparison to the advanced technology we saw in the first season.

We were told that, obviously, the technical abilities in the Sixties were very different than what they are now and if they delivered those exact sets, you’d be pretty angry that you were paying for it. The idea instead is to honor the spirit of what those sets represented and to imagine them as what they would have been with a better budget.

“In the premiere episode when the actors showed up on set in those uniforms it was awesome, and it was particularly awesome to see them in contrast to the Discovery uniforms and to see those worlds come together.”

For fans of Ubisoft’s Star Trek Bridge Crew, which released about four months prior to the premiere of Discovery, the TOS bridge is likely as close as we’ll ever get to the show in the game’s virtual setting. Sales of the game didn’t exactly light the world on fire so it looks like the Next Generation DLC released last year is all we’re getting.

We’ll all get to see for ourselves what the modern day production design of the Enterprise looks like on Thursday January 17th when Star Trek: Discovery returns with the Season Two premiere, “Brother”.

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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