By Fleet Capt. Dave Mason
SAN DIEGO/LAS VEGAS — The war with the Klingons is over.
Now “Star Trek: Discovery” is ready to lighten up.
Set in the time just before Capt. Kirk, the CBS All-Access series had a grim first season. But it ended with the USS Discovery running into the USS Enterprise, led by Capt. Pike, and fans will see the Discovery and Enterprise crews interact when the second season starts in January.
“There’s a lot of fun this season,” Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman told reporters during a press conference after the show’s Comic-Con International panel in mid-July at the San Diego Convention Center. “Obviously last season was about war. It’s hard to have a lot of humor when the stakes are so high.”
But Kurtzman said he sees an opportunity with Capt. Pike and the Enterprise to strike a balance between the humor of original “Star Trek” series and the drama of “Discovery.”
Anson Mount, who plays Capt. Pike, said he knows the character, whom Jeffrey Hunter played in the first “Star Trek” pilot, “The Cage,” was creator Gene Roddenberry’s first face for “Star Trek.”
“I know there was a tremendous optimism in this person, and he had a good heart,” Mount said. “I’m really enjoying playing a character I like as a person.”
Mount and other “Discovery” actors discussed the latest “Star Trek” show further during Creation Entertainment’s Official Star Trek 2018 Convention in Las Vegas.
Guests at the Las Vegas con included “Discovery”stars Sonequa Martin-Green (Cmdr. Michael Burnham, the show’s lead character), Doug Jones (Cmdr. Saru), Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber), Mary Wiseman (Ensign Sylvia Tilly), Mary Chieffo (Klingon Chancellor L’Rell), Shazad Latif (Vog/Ash Tyler) and Anthony Rapp (Lt. Cmdr. Paul Stamets). All of them spoke at Comic-Con in San Diego.
Also on stage in Vegas were stars from all the “Star Trek” series, including “Deep Space Nine” as it marks its 25th anniversary and reviews a special civil rights episode, “Far Beyond the Stars.”
As usual, William Shatner (Capt. Kirk) and Kate Mulgrew (Capt. Janeway of “Star Trek: Voyager”) addressed fans.
The Las Vegas con featured one “Discovery” actor who wasn’t at Comic-Con: Rainn Wilson, the “Office” star who played scoundrel Harry Mudd last season. The con also featured an exhibit devoted to last season’s “Mirror, Mirror” episodes.
At Comic-Con in San Diego, “Discovery” stars and producers made announcements about the new season, which will include Spock.
Mount, aka, Capt. Pike, told fans about Rebecca Romijn (pronounced “Romaine”). The actress, who played the shape-shifting Mystique in the original “X-Men” movies, will play Number One, Capt. Pike’s first officer. Majel Barrett Roddenberry portrayed her in “The Cage.”
“I think what Majel conveyed in TOS (the original series) was a real sense of authority and confidence and obviously a connection with Pike that could suggest many things,” Kurtzman told reporters during the press conference at a San Diego hotel. “We are digging into that.”
Back in Hall H, series star Sonequa Martin-Green appeared before thousands of Comic-Con fans. She praised “Discovery” for its empowered female characters and embrace of diversity.
She is the first African-American woman to be the top star of a “Star Trek” series.
“It’s such a pleasure for me to play a strong woman and even more than that, to be surrounded by strong women,” Martin-Green said.
Among them are Mary Chieffo, who plays L’Rell, the warrior who’s uniting the houses of the Klingon empire.
“She is trying to be the best chancellor she can be of this very patriarchal Klingon empire, and there are some Klingons who aren’t so happy about that,” Chieffo said in Hall H.
New this season is Tig Notaro, who moderated the Hall H panel. She’s playing Chief Engineer Reno.
Executive Producer Heather Kadin said producers, including “Discovery” co-creators Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller, knew they wanted female characters who aren’t defined by the men around them. “They all have their stories. Hopefully there’s a lot of women out there who see themselves as Tilly and Michael.”
Returning this season is one character who was killed last season: Dr. Hugh Culber.
“I’m not just here to say ‘hello,’” actor Wilson Cruz said in Hall H. His character’s resurrection will be explained when the episodes air.
Cruz said last season’s death will turn out to be one chapter in the epic love story between Dr. Culber and Lt. Cmdr. Stamets.
“I think we’re going to learn a lot more about these two men” as individuals and a couple, Cruz told reporters later.
Fans will learn more about characters, including Cmdr. Saru and his home world, during four “Short Treks,” 10- to 15-minute episodes that will stream in December on CBS All-Access.
Kurtzman told reporters he and the other producers balance their respect for “Star Trek” canon with taking “Discovery” in new directions. He said fans will learn answers to questions such as why Spock never mentioned he had a sister.
“The first season was about the crew finding each other and forming the foundation of a family. Now they are a family,” Kurtzman said. “Season 2 will test them as a family.”
By Fleet Capt. Dave Mason