'Star Trek: Discovery' Team on How Big Time Jump Shapes Season 3

Star Trek Discovery-Publicity Still 3 -H-2019
Jan Thijs/CBS

The second season of CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery ended with the crew of the Discovery jumping 930 years into the future, bringing the characters into an era where no Trek has gone before. During the show’s New York Comic Con panel on Saturday afternoon, the cast and producers of the series teased what’s to come — while purposefully staying away from any plot spoilers.

Appearing on the panel were Sonequa Martin-Green (who plays Michael Burnham), Doug Jones (Saru), Mary Wiseman (Tilly), Anthony Rapp (Stamets), Wilson Cruz (Culber) and David Ajala (new character Cleveland “Book” Booker), alongside executive producers Alex Kurtzman, Michelle Paradise and Heather Kadin.

“The beauty of the promise of what we did at the end of last season is that, if we don’t deliver something completely surprising and unexpected, we will have failed,” Kurtzman said about the show’s time jump with the third season, adding that the chance to move the show beyond any previous onscreen incarnation of the franchise offered an opportunity to do something truly new for the property.

Added Kadin, “What’s been nice about this show in general is that you didn’t have to know canon to come into the show, but especially now, you can just come in and you don’t need to know what came before.” In the third season, she said, the characters and the audience “will get to discover together this newness.”

“The events of canon have informed what happens in the future, but what the future is is not what anyone expected,” Kurtzman explained. “One of the great joys of this is, you take everything you believe about Trek … and you put in in a blender. We’re talking almost a thousand years in the future, things have to have changed.”

That doesn’t mean that the heart of the show has changed, however. Everyone onstage talked about the importance of the legacy of Trek to be inclusive and optimistic. “Trek is the ultimate beacon of hope, so if you go into a future that doesn’t look like what you hoped it would be, Trek is the anchor to bring it back to what you want,” said Kurtzman. In the third season of the show, he suggested, Discovery will be the beacon to restore hope to a future universe that might have lost its way.

“One of the things that’s most fascinating to us about season three is, one of the definitions of duty is binding force, and duty called in jumping to the future. It bound us together, but it also bound us even closer to the ideals of the Federation,” Martin-Green told the audience. “What our writers are willing to explore, are bold enough to explore [is] what it means to fight for this utopian future and what it does to you. … When we jump to this future full of uncertainty, we have to grapple with how we see ourselves, and sometimes it’s ugly and uncomfortable, but duty calls.”

Ajala talked about joining the cast of the series with the third season, promising that his character Book’s interactions with Burnham will be “unorthodox but very exciting.” “Getting to share the journey with Michael Burnham is great. As you guys get to discover the new world, you’ll get to see it through Book’s eyes and Burnham’s eyes,” the actor said. He added that he initially wasn’t sure how he’d fit into a show midway through the run, but admitted that, after talking to the producers, he wouldn’t be able to watch the show with anyone else playing the character.

Panelists also addressed the new episodes of Star Trek Short Treks, with Kurtzman saying, “Last season we have Captain Pike and Spock and Number One, and we heard you loud and clear and so we did a bunch of Short Treks with them. The first one [has] dropped right now.” The episode, a short featuring Number One and Spock, was written by Star Trek: Picard executive producer Michael Chabon.