Star Trek: Discovery instantly separated itself from the other panels right from the get go. Not only did it have a very large line up of creators and actors, we had a legend as our moderator. Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, led the questions beautifully. And given that she’s a long-time Star Trek fan, it was only fitting.

Before we dove into anything, we had an extended look at the next episode. We learn that Burnham has been put in the science division on Discovery and has no rank. She’s coming to terms with her new outfit when she’s interupted by Tilly. Tilly has a package for Burnham and when she tries to find out what it is, she discovers it’s the last will and testament of Captain Philippa Georgiou. Spooked, she hides the package under her bed as she’s being called to the deck. There she sees Saru and they exchange barbed words. When they get to the deck, we see that Lorca is running drills but the crew aren’t fighting the way he wants them to, getting them killed rather quickly. Lorca asks them to run it again while he takes Burnham off to another room. He’s giving her a special task, leading her to a room filled with the galaxies most deadly weapons. When she points this out he tells her that he studies war. He also shows her a deadly alien that he’s captured. He tells her that the alien was hit by bat’leths and is completely unharmed. He needs to know what it is about the alien that makes it indestructible and weaponize it.

After the teaser we had questions. First, Sonequa Martin-Green was asked about meeting Nichelle Nichols, and she told us about how much of an honor it was to meet her. She actually went to the set once and as Martin-Green put it, they were “literally graced by her presence”. 

Then they dove into the science portion of the show where Anthony Rapp talked about how his character was named after an actual scientist. An expert in mycology, Paul Stamets is the inspiration behind Lt. Stamets being an anastromycologist. It’s all about the little details. Things like that are what really make the show great at appreciating science.

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We swung back to Martin-Green and asked about Burnham’s arc during the show. At the beginning of the show, she was a confident woman able to take charge. But due to the events of the first two episodes, she’s lower than everyone else, even emotionally. The death of her friend and captain have really brought her down and they (the showrunners) felt that was what was needed for her arc to place her on a path of redemption. Martin-Green described Burnham’s inner turmoil as “visceral” and felt that Burnham needed to use her emotions to carve out her own path, unlike the Vulcans who raised her.

Jason Isaacs was asked about Captain Lorca but he diverted the question and instead asked Jemison about what it felt like being up in space, whether she felt more pride being a part of her country or pride in humanity in general. Jemison teased that she wouldn’t forget her question to him but humored him but answering that she felt like she was more connected to the galaxy in general. She felt that she had every right to be here like the rest of the space dust.

Then she repeated her question. He talked about how he wouldn’t want to play a Captain unless it was different than the ones before him. He wouldn’t and couldn’t compare to the captains that came before him. He described Lorca as a wartime captain, one who is trying to get his crew to be efficient. He called his crew “happy dappy hippies” and said he was “surrounded by idiots”. He’s a fierce captain, not one to be messed with.

While speaking about the deep science of the show, I will freely admit that a lot of it went over my head. But I felt that one of the producers had a beautiful quote saying “you can’t engineer the human soul”. 

Doug Jones was then asked about his alien race and how it’s been like creating the Kelpie. He said he was both intimidated and relieved to create the race because he didn’t have to take on any iconic species but creating something new can be difficult. But he also gave create to Saru, since being a prey-creature, he’s become a trailblazer for his kind by becoming the first in Starfleet.

The producers then talked about the importance of having women both on and off the screen. They felt proud of the amount of women they have on the cast and behind the scenes, especially behind the scenes. One producer talked about how he loved the way the women’s relationships were playing out and how they were “using their minds to solve problems”, which was a very poorly chosen phrase. 

Then we talked about the Klingons for a bit. Actress Mary Chieffo spoke about how they have a word-for-word translation of Klingon. She found it easier to learn the language that way and felt responsible to completely learn the language for the fans who spoke Klingon. She also said she and the other actors would practice later in the day after filming was over. They also felt it was important to learn the language phonetically because then they were able to act on the words they were saying and express them in the ways the character’s felt. So if they were mad, they would be able to grunt the words out or yell them, for example. Later Alex Kurtzman answered a fan question regarding the Klingons, saying it was important to them to humanize them for this show. They wanted to explore what the Klingons were going through during this war, not just the humans, in order to understand them. He also explained them as “a mirror to ourselves”.

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When taking fan questions, the first one asked if Georgiou would return, the producers outright said no but the person asking the question revealed themselves. It was Michelle Yeoh! She surprised the audience and the cast as she got up on the stage and hugged everyone before talking a bit herself. We won’t see the last of Georgiou and she told Isaacs that Lorca better treat her “baby girl” (Burnham/Martin-Green) right or she’ll kick his ass. It was such a fun moment for her to be there.

They were also asked about any cameos and they couldn’t say much but Jemison asked if maybe she could cameo. MAKE IT SO, ST:D PRODUCERS! 

But one thing they really wanted people to understand was that the show wasn’t dark. It was a redemption story. They balance the light and the dark but it’s really about the redemption of Burnham. So be sure to watch her as she grows during the Klingon war!

Star Trek:Discovery airs on Sunday nights on CBS All Access. 

Erin Lynch