Sci-fi fans are used to dealing with political and social issues in their science fiction. But in today's tense political climate, the notion seems especially fraught. Star Trek: Discovery isn't shying away, though, but rather leaning into the skid.
Showrunner Aaron Harberts told Entertainment Weekly that they began working on Star Trek: Discovery in earnest around election time. “The Klingons are going to help us really look at certain sides of ourselves and our country. Isolationism is a big theme. Racial purity is a big theme. The Klingons are not the enemy, but they do have a different view on things. It raises big questions: should we let people in? Do we want to change? There’s also the question of just because you reach your hand out to someone, do they have to take it? Sometimes, they don’t want to take it. It’s been interesting to see how the times have become more of a mirror than we even thought they were going to be.”
Discovery will be more serialized than previous editions of Star Trek. Set 10 years before the start of the original series, Discovery will focus on the start of the war between the Klingons and the Federation. While the war in Star Trek: TOS focused on Cold War-era politics, today we face a lot of similar conflicts.
“The thing about the war is it takes Starfleet and the Federation and forces them to examine their ideas and ethical rules of conflict and conduct,” Harberts says. “It provides a backdrop to how we want to be as a society and that analysis and self-reflection is new for Trek. They’ve done it in certain episodes in the past, but this is a true journey for the institution in itself.”
“North Korea is in our thoughts as we finish the series,” he says. “What began as a commentary on our own divided nation — in terms of Trump supporters and non-Trump supporters — has blown out to North Korea and how we’re right on the brink. [The U.S. is] actually right at the place where Starfleet finds itself in episode one and we couldn’t have anticipated that happening. But how do you end conflict when both sides have such strong opinions?”
We shall see when Star Trek: Discovery premieres Sept. 24 on CBS, then switches over their All Access streaming service.