“We have been waiting for someone worthy of our attention,” says a Klingon leader in the new trailer for Star Trek: Discovery. Unveiled at Comic-Con 2017 to a crowd of fans, you might think you know exactly what to expect from a new entry in the franchise, from spaceships and Klingons to themes of peace triumphing over conflict. The new trailer and the panel, though, revealed some surprising new details about the show – and how it will depart from the series canon.
Note: Stop reading now if you don’t want to know how the series’ main character relates to Star Trek mythology.
Taking place 10 years before the original series, as the Klingons are rising up to take their place in the galaxy, it sees something found lurking at the edge of Federation space, which will see Starfleet never be the same again. Discovery’s new trailer once again proves its got the explosions and action to overcome the hype in a post-JJ Abrams age, plus a melancholic edge that hints at more character development than you might normally get from a Star Trek story.
Speaking at the Comic-Con panel, Executive Producer Heather Kadin said that the 15-episode first season would follow the emotional arc of all the characters throughout – and there’s every sign that Spock’s father, Sarek (James Frain), and First Officer Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). The panel’s big reveal? That Burnham is Sarek’s adoptive daughter.
The surprising reveal explains why Burnham, a human, attended the Vulcan Science Academy, while also providing a bridge to the original series. Burnham was taken in by Sarek and Amanda, after her parents were killed, with Sarek also committing her to Captain Philippa Georgiou.
Martin-Green said she cried when she was told she had got the lead role in the show, with EP Aaron Harberts adding that they had to wait for her to finish filming The Walking Dead’s latest season so she would be free to do Discovery.
Frain added that the show will explore Sarek’s youth and how unusual it was for a Vulcan to decide to marry a human, suggesting that adopting Burnham was a way for him to raise a human and understand them more.
All of this, of course, is a striking departure from what fans know about Spock and his family. EP Alex Kurtzman reassured fans that they knew there were departing from canon, but asked fans to “be patient”, as they would explain why Spock had never mentioned an adoptive sister before now.
“Obviously we wanted to be accurate, we are within canon, there are raging debates all day in the writers’ room among all the writers and producers about what is within canon and what’s not, what we can do technically,” he added.
Co-showrunner Gretchen Berg also reassured fans that the Klingons would be speaking in their own language, and that it would be accurate.
“You’ll be reading,” she commented. “There will be subtitles.”
Their aim is to show the Klingons not just as “the thugs of the universe”, expanding on their culture, pride, interested and talents.
As for Starfleet, Jason Isaacs said that his Captain Lorca will be different from other captains in the past, because he’s “probably more fucked up than any of them”, with “a lot of sharp edges”.
Other new details revealed include that Anthony Rapp’s Lieutenant Stamets will be joined by Wilson Cruz (My So-Called Life) as his love interest, Dr. Hugh Culber, a medical officer.
“I play the first openly gay character in the history of TV, Star Trek. I’m very proud of that,” said Rapp.
Embracing Star Trek’s Diversity
Rainn Wilson, who guest stars as Mudd and moderated the panel, acknowledged the backlash that the programme had received from small pockets of the Internet, reminding fans that diversity “has been part of the Star Trek universe from the beginning”.
Martin-Green added: “If you say you love the legacy of Star Trek, but you don’t love that, then you’ve missed it.”
Star Trek: Discovery premieres on Netflix in the UK on 25th September, with new episodes then arriving weekly, within 24 hours of its US debut. After all this waiting, the show is undoubtedly now worthy of our attention.
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