Michelle Yeoh makes a surprise appearance at the Star Trek: Discovery NYCC panel

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Oct 8, 2017, 4:38 PM EDT (Updated)

It was the end of a panel that had delighted for pretty much every moment. The Star Trek: Discovery panel opened for audience questions, and a diminutive woman in oversized sunglasses wearing a mask walked up to the mic.

“Is Captain Georgiou coming back?” she asked, referring to Michelle Yeoh’s character who was [spoiler alert] killed at the end of the second episode.

The audience member turned out to be Yeoh herself, who then joined the cast on stage to answer fan questions (after much cheering and applauding). Before the end of the panel, Gretchen Berg, one of the executive produces of Star Trek: Discovery, confirmed, “You will see more of this woman.”

That was the major bombshell dropped at the Discovery panel (though fans had already speculated as much, seeing as the USS Shenzhou set is a permanent one). But the panel had more delights in store than just that one.

Moderator (and former astronaut) Mae Jemison and Sonequa Martin Green discussed Nichelle Nichols, who famously tweeted her support of Green as the first black female lead of a Star Trek series. Green revealed that at the premiere Nichols pulled her aside and whispered into her ear, “Enjoy this moment. It’s yours now.”

Those on stage also addressed the question of whether this was a different Star Trek than we’d seen before, and specifically whether it was darker. Executive producer Akiva Goldsman has no patience for that constant criticism. “We are a wholly serial narrative,” he explained. And because of that structure, character stories can be just as fully explored as plot points. He referenced The Original Series episode “City on the Edge of Forever,” saying if it were real, “it would not be fine next week.” The format allows them to explore more of those narratives.

The audience was introduced to Wilson Cruz, Shazad Latif, and Mary Chieffo, who play characters we haven’t seen on screen yet. The panelists were generally cagey about letting information slip. It’s well known that Chieffo is playing the Klingon L’Rell, while Cruz is playing Dr. Hugh Culber, who is in a relationship with Anthony Rapp’s Lt. Stamets. Latif’s character is more mysterious; all we currently know (and all that was revealed on the panel) is that he is playing a prisoner.

Science was one of the centerpieces of the panel, as it’s a centerpiece in the history of Star Trek. Executive producer Aaron Harberts emphasized that science is still very important in this iteration of Star Trek. Instead of a focus primarily on physics, though, this show is currently exploring more biology — it’s “a little more born out of the life sciences.”

The producers and cast also discussed the legacy of diversity, and how it’s important for Discovery to place these values front and center. Executive producer Gretchen Berg specifically mentioned the way women are presented on the show: “It’s about collaboration” rather than competition. Indeed, the entire crew of executive producers noted that it’s important to have women behind the scenes as well as on screen.

Executive producer Alex Kurtzman addressed concerns of the Klingons’ portrayal as racially insensitive — rather than treating them as the “other,” he wanted to “humanize them, for lack of a better term ... We wanted to shift everyone’s perspective of what Klingons are, and that meant making visual changes too.” However, we’ll see many different types of Klingons before this season comes to an end.

Tomorrow’s episode will confront some of Captain Lorca’s literal demons, as it takes us into his lab of horrors. The cast and crew also promised a Klingon-heavy episode. Catch it on CBS All Access starting at 8:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. CT.

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