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What would New York Comic Con be without Star Trek news? That's something we don't even have to consider, because a mighty panel about the Star Trek Universe took place today, and it dropped all kinds of trailers and news about Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery, as well as the highly anticipated new show Star Trek: Picard. SYFY WIRE was on the bridge and at full red alert to catch all of the incoming phaser fire.
The Discovery cast and crew came out first: Michelle Paradise (co-showrunner), Heather Kadin (executive producer), Alex Kurtzman (executive producer and co-showrunner), Sonequa Martin-Green (Michael Burnham), Doug Jones (Saru), Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly) Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets), Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber), and new castmember David Ajala (Cleveland "Book" Booker).
The crew has now gone 930 years into the future, truly going where no one has gone before. As Kurtzman said, "If we don’t deliver you something that is completely surprising, then we will have failed. Canon, however, is hugely important to us ... the events of canon have absolutely affected the events of the future."
They proceeded to show the first trailer for Season 3, and after some technical difficulties, the spore drive spooled up.
“I’ve spent a year searching for that domino that tipped over ... and started all of this," Burnham says in the trailer, perfectly setting the scene. We also saw Andorians, Ajala's new character, in action, and the fact that he seems to be expecting Burnham somehow. Saru possibly had the best line of the trailer: “It will be our privilege to make that future bright."
After being mostly Vulcan in Season 1, and then being more human in Season 2, Martin-Green remarked on what is coming next. "What’s interesting now, we’re not ultimately going to be who we were going to be. I think it makes people able to see themselves in us much more.” Paradise added to this, remarking on how the future we see on the show might not be warm and cozy. “We are married to canon, we honor and respect all of that," she said. "We’re looking for ways to push our show and push our characters in this new future...which is not what we expected it to be.”
“You sort of take everything you assume about Trek, and you put it in a blender," Kurtzman said. "Obviously, time changes everything. We often talk about how Trek is a mirror that holds itself up to the world … many of the things we long for — hope, compassion, and empathy — those things seem to be waning. Trek is the ultimate beacon of hope.” He adds that in this troubled future (where the Federation may or may not exist anymore), the Discovery itself becomes a beacon of hope. "We’re looking to have something to say about the world as it is now, reflected onscreen.”
Ajala wasn't very familiar with Trek before booking this job, but after getting the pitch from Kurtzman and Paradise, he felt that he couldn't possibly turn it down.
Cruz talked about Culber and Stamets' relationship next, saying, "We’ve spanned life and death, we’ve been through a lot. I think where we left off was a realization on Culber’s part, is that he really was home, and what he was looking for was in front of him the whole time.” Rapp chimed in immediately, “Took you long enough.” To which Cruz responded, “I needed some space!” Then added, "This trip into the future is a clean slate, for him, for this relationship … part of that is being a better partner, a better doctor, but also being there for his crew. How can he be of service to them?”
Rapp said Stamets was "a little tougher to please" than he was, but added, "... I think he’s teaching me to have certain standards, certain boundaries. He’s really good at boundaries." He also made it clear that the writers are not shying away from the fact that the entire crew has now said goodbye to everyone and anything they've ever loved.
Wiseman's Sylvia Tilly will likely play into that, as she will certainly be one to miss home. That said, she's not going to just sit and wait to return. “This moment in this narrative we’re gonna start driving without a roadmap in a very real way ..." she said, "... you have to make big decisions and big moves. This season you’re gonna see more of her stepping into her power … it’s not a time to wilt, it’s a time to step forward.”
The Season 2 storyline of Saru's Kelpian growth was brought up, and Jones said, “We saw Saru’s adolescence, which he didn’t know he was going through. When the threat ganglia fall out, you realize, ‘What was I afraid of the whole time?’ We might just need to but those ganglia off and journey on.” The new Saru will almost certainly continue his new authoritative streak, and Jones mentioned that Saru has put "his bony a**" in the captain's chair on more than one occasion.
On that note, whose a** is going to be in that chair for good in the new season? Whoever it's going to be, they didn't reveal anything. Whether it's Burnham or Saru, both will certainly have a sense of duty, which Martin-Green maintained was central to the show.
“One of the definitions of duty is that it is this binding force, and duty called," she said. "Duty called for us to jump into the future. That very act reverberated and bound us together, but also bound us to what we believe in.” She added that the writers were going to "show the fight for identity" and said, "When we jump to this future that is full of uncertainty, we have to grapple with how we see ourselves, and how we’re going to navigate it … sometimes it’s ugly, and inconvenient … but duty calls.”
That's when things turned to Star Trek: Short Treks. They revealed that the first episode of the new season, Q&A, is available to stream right now. It's written by Michael Chabon, and features Spock (Ethan Peck) and Number One (Rebecca Romijn).
Before the Disco crew left the stage, Kurtzman told a fan that they were all saddened by the recent death of Deep Space Nine actor Aron Eisenberg, and that if there was a way to work "Captain Nog" into the show somehow, they will "look for every opportunity."
That's when the panel changed it all around, and made it so ... if you get our meaning. That's right, it was time for Star Trek: Picard.
Kurtzman and Kadin returned, and they were joined by Hanelle Culpepper (executive producer and director), Kirsten Beyer (supervising producer), Akiva Goldsman (executive producer), Michael Chabon (executive producer), Isa Briones (Dahj), Santiago Cabrera (Rios), Michelle Hurd (Raffi), Alison Pill (Dr. Jurati), Henry Treadaway (Narek), Evan Evagora (Elnor), and of course ... Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard).
There's no secret that there is a lot of expectation surrounding this show, and Goldsman said, “We’re doing our best not to fail it.” Stewart didn't fail the audience, as he had a new trailer roll not once, but twice.
“One is never safe from the past," Picard says, in the trailer, which includes himself and Data in classic uniforms, an array of androids, Seven of Nine firing two weapons at once, a new version of the classic Romulan Warbird, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), and William Riker (Jonathan Frakes). The audience went utterly crazy for it.
Kurtzman recounted how the show actually came to be — it began as an idea for Short Treks, but then it spiraled into an idea for a full series. They didn't think that Stewart would ever be interested, which was true. He was not interested and actually said no ... until he read a long document about the potential series, written by Chabon.
In terms of classic characters, Kadin said, "A big concern was that we did not want it to be a Next Generation reunion show. We only brought people back if their story really mattered to the story we were telling.” She added, “I think you’ll see that each one of them has a pivotal, emotional story to tell in 10 episodes.”
As far as the timeline goes, Goldsman said, "We wanted it to be a real-time follow-up from where we last saw Picard in Nemesis." He also said that the team has filled out the entirety of what has taken place in the 20 years since.
In terms of Dahj, a character that seems integral to the show's story, Briones said, "When Dahj and Picard first meet, it’s a really special moment of two lost souls colliding, born out of tragedy. It starts with me asking for help, but in a way we help each other ... which is a really beautiful thing to have with Patrick Stewart.” According to Briones, Dahj's "gut is telling her to go to Picard."
Cabrera's Rios is ex-Starfleet, and will be opposed to working with Picard at first. Hurd then mentioned the connection between Raffi and Rios: “We have a past, we had a falling-out. She’s also very complicated in general. She’s sarcastic, she has vices that she leans on, she’s also a genius hacker and systems security analyst.”
Pill said that in terms of Dr. Jurati, “Picard’s mission ends up being what she’s spent her whole life dreaming about.” She also said that Jurati is an expert in robotics ... which could prove useful when certain androids pop in.
We have two confirmed Romulans as a main characters, too — Treadaway said that Narek was a Romulan agent, and that he clashes with Evagora's Elnor. A question brought up the notion of the destruction of Romulus (something seen in 2009's Star Trek), and Kurtzman confirmed that those events are still canon.
Stewart closed the panel in a powerful way, as only he could. After saying that he actively campaigned for Picard's dog to be a pitbull, he said, "We have issues on our own world, that need attention, and endorsement.” The show will hopefully, like Discovery, hold a mirror up to them. As far as Stewart is concerned, we all have a duty to make this "a world of equal opportunity and equality."
Star Trek: Picard will go to warp Jan. 23, 2020, on CBS All Access.
Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of New York Comic Con 2019, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.