The focus of Thursday’s Star Trek Universe panel wasn’t just to give fans enjoyable Comic-Con content (which they totally did), but to also use their platform to advocate for a more equal future like the one envisioned in Star Trek, as they have been doing on social media using the hashtag #startrekunited.
Executive producer Heather Kadin said, “[Diversity] is baked into what Star Trek is. It’s about a better hope, about equality.” So this year, the panel highlighted the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund. Its continuing mission: to “seek structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.”
You can donate today at https://www.naacpldf.org/startrekunited.
The other focus of the Discovery portion of the panel was a live table read of Act I of the season 2 finale followed by a cast Q&A. The table read was utterly enjoyable from start to finish. If the show is a finished album, this table read is an intimate acoustic concert. I was expecting a straight forward read, but there were so many additional touches that made this extra special. There were sounds, like red alerts, phasers, and ships in battle, storyboard images in black and white and color, concept art, and CGI from its bare bones to its finished form in the scenes.
Besides that, the actors were so fun to watch. Tig Notaro was hilarious, as always, and Doug Jones, Sonequa Martin-Green, and Michelle Yeoh were especially committed and a joy to watch in this stripped-down way. It is truly a unique way to experience the episode and I totally recommend it.
If you missed Act 1, you can catch it in the full episode table read over on CBS.
Continuing in the theme of equality, executive producer Rebecca Paradise asked the cast how important it is for Star Trek to keep taking a social and political stance going into season 3. Here’s a quick summary of what they all had to say:
Anthony Rapp (Lt. Commander Paul Stamets) spoke about how “it’s always important to value people for who they are,” not the color of their skin, not their gender, gender expression, or their age, and how it’s more important than ever to show that.
Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber) “Star Trek has always been [an] aspiration for our…country, that it has always set a goal. It’s then our job to not only imagine that future but to create it. …We have an opportunity to have a conversation about the kind of world we want to create, and how each of us has a responsibility to create it together. …[Star Trek] gives us something to aspire to.”
Michelle Yeoh (Philippa Georgiou) “We have to continue to strive together for…what is right, we know what is right or wrong. We have to do it together.”
Mary Chieffo (L’Rell) “It’s about the infinite combinations of diversity. …There [is] still representation and visibility yet to be seen. …The work isn’t done but it’s pretty exciting.”
Mary Wiseman (Ensign Sylvia Tilly) “We don’t make assumptions that we’ve already reached perfection [in this show]. We allow that there’s more to do within ourselves and within the utopia of the Federation and beyond. And I think that’s a really important message to hear right now. There are a lot of people who assume some of these issues are solved, and they’re not.”
Sonequa Martin-Green (Commander Michael Burnham) “A story like this…can give us an example of what that future might look like. I hope it holds us accountable. And shows us, as both Marys were saying, that the work is not done. It’s about confronting ourselves and confronting each other. We see that in this story, within the legacy of this franchise. That’s really what’s going to propel us forward, confronting ourselves truthfully, and confronting each other, exposing ourselves in a way like we haven’t before…I hope we contribute moments to the movement in that way.”
In terms of what can we expect from season 3, the cast all had tidbits to give us. For Burnham, Martin-Green said that she is hoping for “a salvation of sorts.” Beyond that of the crew and where they will all end up, Burnham has this “hope of continual unveiling, and finding that perfect, sweet balance between all the forces that wage within me.”
In season 2, we see Saru make the decision to leave behind his sister and his home world for the second time, which Jones described as “the hardest decision he’s ever had to make.” But in the final moments he sees his sister piloting a fighter ship, so he knows that his people are moving forward and “will have a place at the table in the Federation as well,” so “he feels good about that.”
When asked if Georgiou will be along for the ride, or if she will try to seek power, Yeoh said, “She is one that always finds her way…because she is a survivor with many skills, and [is] a formidable ally or enemy. …Power is something that she inherently has. She doesn’t even seek it. She just has it. Scary, huh? Watch out.”
For how Rapp and Cruz’s characters will continue to heal and grow their relationship, Cruz said that “because he’s made this choice [to stay on Discovery], he knows that he’s different. …He feels different about his place in the world and what his purpose is, and so the relationship is different in that way too. It’s more on equal footing.” And Rapp said that they “explore family in wonderful new ways,” and “that’s one of the major things that gets developed in season 3.”
Wiseman said of Tilly that she is still on the path to the captain’s chair. “…that’s always her pie in the sky…and you’ll get to see more about that journey in season 3. We’re also really on the edge of the unknown, so all of our ideas about what the future holds and who we are, and who we want to be, are going to be transformed.”
CBS has also announced spin-offs, a CGI animated teen show called Star Trek: Prodigy that will air on Nickelodeon and one following Pike, Number One, and Spock called, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
The panel concluded with the cast sharing what their journeys will be like coming into this new spin-off. Speaking on his character Spock, Ethan Peck said that going forward, his interaction with Burnham has helped “teach him what it is to be human” and “is essential to [his] development” and “the conflict between his emotion and logic.”
Anson Mount said that his character Christopher Pike is going to “wrestle with how he can best utilize the rest of his life for the benefit of the world and the universe.” And that “he’s not thinking about [surrendering to the unknown] as a team yet, because he’s wrestling with it himself. I hope he’s going to learn to let other people help him wrestle with it.”
Click here to learn more about Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
- SDCC@Home: Star Trek Discovery Went Above And Beyond To Deliver Unique Comic-Con Experience for Fans - July 29, 2020
- SDCC 2019: Standing Room Only For Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Documentary Panel - July 26, 2019
- SDCC 2019: Sir Patrick Stewart Captains Hall H with Star Trek: Picard Panel - July 25, 2019