Last year, Star Trek returned to television for the first time in 12 years with Star Trek: Discovery, another prequel in the franchise that is set 10 years before Star Trek: The Original Series. The first season of Discovery held a lot of surprises for fans in an action packed and intriguing introductory season with a memorable cast of characters. Now the second season is ready to bring in more familiar elements of Star Trek lore, such as Captain Christopher Pike, the Enterprise’s first captain, and the franchise favourite Spock.
At the Fan Expo convention, the select members of the show’s main cast got together at a panel to look back on season one and what is in store for the second season, Sonequa Martin-Green (Michael Burnham), Doug Jones (Saru), Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly), Shazad Latif (Voq) and Anson Mount (Captain Pike) were in attendence and revealed some interesting information fans can expect for its sophomore season.
The panel began with the cast looking back on the first season and the twists and turns it took. Unlike most Star Trek series, this first season was heavily serialized and had a lot of twists as more about the characters and the overall goal of Discovery was revealed. This made it fun and tense for the cast to work on as they wanted to know more, but kept themselves in the dark about what was ahead for them. “Every actor is different of course, but I think there’s an overview that I think all of us would like to have,” Martin-Green said. “It’s a sort of map that gets filled in later, episode by episode, but I think we like to know generally ‘where am I’ in this story, ‘what have I learnt’ and ‘where do I hope to go’. Then you take in those specificities episode by episode.”
“With Burnham and everything I was thrown into, some of it I had that general overview, that map, and I knew, but some of it I didn’t know,” she continued. Burnham is also an interesting character first for a Star Trek series where it does not actually focus on the captain, but on a first officer who is disgraced and has to work her way back up. Martin-Green said she explored some of the previous series for any pointers on how to play this type of evolutionary character, but mostly kept it to her own process. “I certainly dove into that Star Trek universe and watched and gleaned as much as I could, but then there was a point where I had to set that aside and focus all the energy I had on the story at hand. I had to just go on the roller coaster of the season and I had to do that willingly. Hopefully we will see the residual effect all of that had because there was no time to digest it. I just had to go through it. Hopefully we see that in the coming season.”
Newcomer Anson Mount joins the series as Captain Christopher Pike, an already established character from Star Trek mythology. Pike was set to be the captain in the original series, even going so far as to film a pilot with Jeffrey Hunter in the role before studio decisions forced them to drop him and the character, though he did appear in the episode ‘The Cage’ using footage from that pilot and has gone on to appear in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films with Bruce Greenwood portraying him. “We did the convention in Las Vegas and that was my first Star Trek specific convention and it was so much more chill than I expected,” Mount said on his entry to Trek fandom. “Everybody just walks up to you and is like ‘Hey man, what’s up?’. They’re so used to us now coming to these things that there are no weird shifts in status and that’s what I prefer. I met so many cool people. I really enjoyed it a lot.”
When it came to playing Pike, Mount instead decided to rely more on his and the writer’s own intuition with the character rather than make a copy of what Hunter and Greenwood had done. “For this one, I guess because it was important to make a character that was already established not just a replica of a previous performance, I needed to come at it my own way. It’s hard to establish a character in the second season and it’s been a dance between me and the writers to figure it out. They figured it out long before I did, but I just got into the groove of this character last week.”
On what drew him to this series, aside from being a lifelong fan of Star Trek, was the series’ unique take with its lead character and mythology. “I was really impressed with the decision to finally see Star Trek from the point of view of an officer that has found their self in the most horrible possible position they can be in. Someone who is an intrinsic leader build themselves up from that point was such a smart decision.”
One character that really stood out among fans was Doug Jones’s Saru, the Commander of Discovery who was the prey species on his home planet and lived in an almost constant state of fear. Jones explained why he thought Saru, and Discovery in general, stood out to new and old Star Trek fans. “I expected smart people to be drawn to this,” Jones said. “People who watched Star Trek as a kid who are into sciences now. The franchise has been really good for that with how smart audiences can be from people who break down every moment and fact-check our science on the show. What I did not expect was the emotional connection not just to each show, but to each character, each nuance. What I’ve been finding with Saru is a lot of people have been coming up to me and saying how much they connect with the fear-based prey species that I am and how they’ve dealt with their own anxieties and fears in life and how Saru is inspiring them to move forward. That’s was a surprise to me.”
On what fans can expect from Saru in season two, Jones said “For me, I would love to see more of that evolution. Is there a permanent solution to our fears or is it something we do have to be haunted by for the rest of our loves? That question might come into play.”
Likewise, Tilly will also go through an evolution of her own as she comes to grips with everything that’s happened to her. “Season 2 will be a continuation of her journey,” Wiseman explained. “She grew a lot over the season from being placed on the ship and meeting Burnham and having her priorities and values shuffled around. That arc will continue with a little bit of fire. I think that bad-ass part of Tilly will start to grow and flourish and that’s the part that interests me because that’s what makes her complex and three-dimensional.” Wiseman also revealed one aspect of being in a Star Trek show she hadn’t really considered before: “There’s nothing in life that can prepare you for someone dressing up as you. That was an experience no one prepared me for so that was cool.”
Anthony Rapp’s Paul Stamets will also undergo a change in Season 2 as he deals with his personal tragedy after the murder of his husband. Fans can expect a more detailed look at his loss and the grief he’s experiencing in the new season. “I’m really grateful that in Season 2 I get to deal with the aftermath of the loss of Culber and the question of what is next. If the spore drive isn’t going to continue as is, what is there to do? I think that’s a really interesting human experience from people who experience loss and what they go through. I’m very grateful to the writers for the time, space and voice they give to grief and what growth can come from it and what’s possible from it.”
Of course, Culber’s murderer had his own shocking reveal as Ash Taylor was revealed to have actually been the Klingon Voq all along and unconsciously killed Culber before he could reveal his identity to the crew. Playing dual roles is something Shazad Latif was looking forward to playing. “It’s joyful to have to come to work and play two characters, but you have to take it as it comes. As Sonequa said before, we get scripts and I want to know where I’m going, but its nice not to know the intricacies because it keeps you fresh as an actor and play off each other. It doesn’t get stale. To play two characters is just amazing.”
Star Trek: Discovery certainly resonated with the fanbase, a fact that was not lost on any member of the cast. “I think those whole community, this family, is just that: its so familial,” Martin-Green said. “What was surprising to me, especially in Vegas which was sort of a pinnacle for all of us, was just how much love, respect and warmth there was in how they welcomed us in such an endearing way. I think it was so surprising, uplifting, comforting and humbling for all of us. We all sort of looked at each other when it was all done and had broken hearts, but in the best way.”
Star Trek: Discovery returns with its second season in early 2019. There’s a lot to ponder over in the next couple months leading up to the premiere, including how Pike and Spock fit into the ship and where Burnham, Saru, Tilly and Stamets go from here. What would you like to see in the second season? Let us know below…