DSC @ NYCC Part 1 – S2 Trailer & Panel, Plus Alex Kurtzman & Heather Kadin

New York Comic Con this past weekend brought us some Trek news, and a brand new trailer for Season 2 of Star Trek Discovery, premiering on January 17.


On the panel following the trailer, moderated by Rebecca Romijn (Number One), Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman said that the mystery of these seven signals will be the driving force of the shows second season, which will explore the relationship between science and faith.

The panel also addressed where we will find several of our characters:

  • Michelle Yeoh confirmed that the black badges belong to Section 31, and Georgiou will be working with them (as referenced in this bonus scene, released back in March).  But only a handful of people know who see really is, and Captain Pike is not one of them.
  • Paul Stamets lost his partner and his life’s work in Season 1, and Anthony Rapp said that we will find him searching for a way to move forward.
  • Wilson Cruz was allowed to say one thing about Culber: “We find him where we left him.”
  • Mary Wiseman explained that she thinks so many people connected with Ensign Sylvia Tilly because, “Tilly is fully herself. She has quirks, she talks too much… and she is fully accepted. And that’s a really good feeling… in another universe, she might be isolated. But this is a universe where anything is possible for her.”  And in Season 2, Tilly will be figuring out where “someone like her” fits into the Command Training Program.
  • Doug Jones said that playing Saru has been inspirational for him dealing with anxiety, and appreciates how many fans have told him the same is true for them.  In Season 2, we will continue to see Saru deal with his fears, and we will also visit his home planet of Kaminar, where we will meet his sister Saranna, and potentially explore the predator/prey dynamic on the planet.
  • L’Rell now finds herself Chancellor of the Klingon Empire, and Mary Chieffo hinted that there might be a few male Klingons who take issue with her leadership.

We also got some insight into how Anson Mount sees Captain Pike: “Pike knows that a good leader has frailties, and publicly so. And that his greatest asset is his crew. What I like most is that he’s not afraid to admit when he’s stumped.”  And some insight on the audition process from Ethan Peck, who says he didn’t officially know what he was auditioning for, but he knew it was for Star Trek and the character was struggling with emotion and logic.

Mary Chieffo also pointed out the new look for the Klingons in the trailer, explaining that makeup designer Glenn Hetrick was inspired by a line spoken by Kahless in  the TNG episode “Rightful Heir”:

KAHLESS: I went into the mountains, all the way to the volcano at Kri’stak. There I cut off a lock of my hair and thrust it into the river of molten rock which poured from the summit. The hair began to burn. Then I plunged it into the lake of Lusor and twisted it into this sword. And after I used it to kill the tyrant Molor I gave it a name. Bat’leth. The sword of honor.

From this, they created the tradition that Klingons shave their heads in a time of war, and let is grow in a time of peace.  (When challenged on Twitter by fans citing long-haired Klingons in the Dominion War, Chieffo answered, “The Dominion War takes place more than 100 years after the events of Discovery. Traditions change and are lost in time. Much of what T’Kuvma predicted about homogenization and assimilation of the Klingon race occurs after the explosion of Praxis & subsequent political shift.”)

But perhaps most importantly, we saw once again what being a part of this franchise meant to many of the people on stage, and that they understand what this show means to us.  Sonequa Martin-Green (Michael Burnham) said, “On Star Trek Discovery, you see people with so much complexity, making choices and making wrong choices… and you can see yourself in them.”  And Wilson Cruz added, “We can create a future where we all respect each other. No strongman will save us. We have to save each other.”

 

After the panel, I had the opportunity to head to the press room and participate in several roundtable interviews (with multiple outlets asking questions) with several of the cast and crew.  First up is our chat with Executive Producers Alex Kurtzman & Heather Kadin:

The first season set a very high bar, so where are you taking us next? What do you want to explore in Season 2?
ALEX KURTZMAN: Well, Season 1 was about war, so that prescribed a very specific tone and pace. It was intense, and it was fast and urgent. And the stakes were always very, very high. And there’s wasn’t a lot of time to stop down on things like humor, or things like philosophical conversations that defined some of the past Star Treks. So, we slow down. We slow down, and we speed up in some ways. The show, weirdly, is bigger than Season 1 in scope and scale, but it’s also very intimate emotionally. Our constant goal is making sure we’re not sacrificing one for the other.
HEATHER KADIN: Because these characters have gone a whole season together, and taken such journeys, we’ve earned these really emotional moments that you’ll see between Stamets and Tilly or between Saru and Burnham. You couldn’t have done that first season.
KURTZMAN: They didn’t have the relationships then.
KADIN: Right, and I think that’s really special this year.

In the first season, we saw a lot of “Easter eggs” for longtime, hardcore fans. Will we be seeing more of those, and specifically more from The Animated Series?
KURTZMAN: There is a reference in the premiere episode to The Animated Series, and yes, you’ll be seeing more Easter Eggs.

At first it looked like it might just be the promotional trailer, but with the premier of Short Treks, it looks like you’ve changed the aspect ratio of the show from the first season. What lead to that decision?
KADIN: Wow! Very perceptive!
KURTZMAN: Yes, I pushed that decision. I am in love with anamorphic frame. I just think it’s glorious and beautiful and every great film experience I’ve had has been shot anamorphically. It somehow does two things: It broadens the scale, and makes everything bigger, but it also somehow increases the intimacy. And I don’t know why. It’s just the magic quality of anamorphic film. But it has allowed us to shoot essentially a film now, and to eliminate the line between television and movies, and that’ really fun for us. So you’ll see it feel a lot more like a movie this season.

Was that difficult to work out with CBS? Since it really still is a television presentation.
KURTZMAN: They were actually very supportive of it. It was a little more expensive to do it, the lenses are expensive. But they understood why we wanted to do it, and I think they understood that we owed it to the fans to make the experience premium. If we’re asking you to pay $10 for it, then you have to get your money’s worth. Every choice that we have made has been about you watching it and going, “Well, I couldn’t get that on normal network television.”

Regarding the shorts – There are 4 announced now, but are there more coming? And what was the idea behind the shorts?
KURTZMAN:  Yes, there will be more.
KADIN: In the first season, we really learned how long it takes to deliver this show with the quality we wanted – fans expected – and knowing therefore that there would be a really long break between seasons. We wanted, for fans, for there to be some kind of
Trek in between. Plus, we loved the idea of really being able to tell stories in these little 10-15 minute snippets that will then feed into our bigger series.
KURTZMAN: The other thing we’re doing with the shorts is that some of them – not all of them – but some of them will tie very much into the season. So you’ll see storylines and characters that end up getting picked up in Season 2.

Since the holidays don’t fall in the middle of the season, do you still expect a mid-season break this year?
Kurtzman: No, we’re gonna go 13 straight.

What can you tell us about Spock and his place in the show?
KURTZMAN: This is not the Spock from TOS. He has not become that character yet. When we meet him in TOS, he’s more comfortable with his Vulcan, logical self. As a result of these signals and the Red Angel, Spock has seen something that his logical brain cannot make sense of. So logic is failing him. And he is not emotionally equipped – because he has not been raised to be emotionally equipped – to deal with that. So that’s failing him, too. So he’s really in a state of confusion. One of the things the season is about is watching Spock become that character that we know from the beginning of TOS.

 

Coming up this week, we’ll have more interviews from New York Comic Con with Sonequa Martin-Green, Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, Anthony Rapp, Wilson Cruz, Mary Wiseman, Doug Jones, Mary Chieffo, and Shazad Latif.

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