Now that filming has officially begun on season two of Star Trek: Discovery, we thought we’d recap what we’ve learned about the new season so far. Thanks to recent interviews, casting announcements, convention appearances, and the big Discovery WonderCon panel, a picture of what we can expect for season two is stating to emerge.
WARNING: ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS
Season 2 stats
Number of episodes: 13
Filming: April 16, 2018 – November 8, 2018
Production location: Pinewood Studios in Toronto, Canada
Release date: T.B.A.
The creative team: Few changes expected
No major changes from the first season are expected with the creative team behind Star Trek: Discovery. Aaron Harberts and Gretchen Berg are still showrunners with executive producers Akiva Goldsman and Alex Kurtzman overseeing the show. There may be a few changes inside the writers room. One new addition to the writing team is Vaun Wilmot (creator of SyFy show Dominon, and a Trek fan). Also, it appears Joe Menosky has moved on, and may now be writing for The Orville.
Alex Kurtzman will direct the season premiere. Jonathan Frakes is returning to direct the second episode, and then he’ll be back to direct episode 10 (coincidentally he also directed the tenth episode of season one). Akiva Goldsman is also expected to direct at least one episode for the second season.
The cast: Some new and familiar faces
New cast members:
Anson Mount – Captain Christopher Pike of the USS Enterprise, he’ll be in at least the first two episodes of the season.
Alan Van Sprang – Leland is the head of Section 31, introduced in a bonus scene that was originally attached to the end of the season one finale. Based on what Van Sprang said at WonderCon, he’s expected to recur throughout the season.
Tig Notaro – Chief Engineer Denise Reno of the USS Hiawatha, guest staring in an unknown number of episodes.
Returning main cast:
Sonequa Martin-Green – With her rank now restored, Michael Burnham is a commander in the sciences division.
Doug Jones – Commander Saru is acting captain of the USS Discovery as the season begins.
Anthony Rapp – Lt. Commander Paul Stamets now faces a long road ahead of him, seemingly without the love of his life Hugh Culber and his invention of the spore drive, which is out of commission for now.
Mary Wiseman – The newly graduated Ensign Tilly has a lot to prove on her way up through the command track.
Wilson Cruz – Hugh Culber has been confirmed as returning in some form, we’re just not sure how, but Cruz is already in Toronto to film an early episode.
James Frain – Sarek was onboard the U.S.S. Discovery during the cliffhanger ending of season one, so naturally Frain is back in Toronto filming the continuation of the cliffhanger for season two.
Shazad Latif – Ash Tyler (plus Voq’s memories) went off with L’Rell to unify the Klingon houses in the season one finale. Latif has tweeted that he’ll be back on set in May, so we expect the Klingon storyline to pick back up a few episodes into the season.
Mary Chieffo – Cheiffo speaking to TrekMovie at WonderCon, Mary is hoping she will have the chance to explore L’Rell’s struggle to hold power over the Klingon Empire and her relationship with Voq/Tyler in season two. And of course L’Rell was with Tyler at the end of season one, so it stands to reason Chieffo will be back on set with Latif in May.
Expected to return:
Michelle Yeoh – The (former) Terran Empress Georgiou is out there with advanced knowledge of her version of the galaxy and has been asked to share her secrets with Section 31. So we tend to think that she will pop up at least once this season.
The bridge crew gang – Sara Mitich (Airiam), Emily Coutts (Detmer), Patrick Kwok-Choon (Rhys), Oyin Oladejo (Owosekun), and Ronnie Rowe, Jr. (Bryce). These are all local Toronto actors so they likely come and go from the production as needed, we expect them all to be back for season two.
Jayne Brook – While we haven’t seen anything from Brook, she was a fan favorite, so we’re hoping to see Admiral Cornwell explore her relationship with L’Rell as well as dealing with the fallout of Federation decisions during last season’s Klingon war.
Unlikely to return:
Jason Isaacs – We saw (Mirror) Lorca killed in the first season and Lorca Prime is presumed dead. And even though death is not necessarily the end in Star Trek, speaking to TrekMovie at WonderCon, the showrunners made it seem unlikely any Lorca will show up this season, but that there’s certainly a possibility for a return in a future season.
Theme of season two: Science vs Faith
What is the role of serendipity versus science? Is there a story about faith to be told? Leaps of faith. We are dealing with space. We are dealing with things that can’t be explained and you have a character like Michael Burnham who believes there is an explanation for everything. And it doesn’t just mean religion. It means patterns in our lives. It means connections you can’t explain.
Harberts also talked about how the tone of the show will change in season two:
[Season one] was an interesting season because it was set against the backdrop of war. One of things we are looking forward to in season two is a tone that we can now be in a more exploratory phase and a more diplomatic phase – maybe a bit more of a Trekian chapter
Captain Pike and the USS Enterprise
We were left with the Discovery racing to the Enterprise’s distress call in the season one finale, and we’ve got it on good authority Captain Pike (Anson Mount) will be around for the first couple of episodes, could he be around for more?
Thanks to WonderCon and the bonus scene from the season one finale, we found out that the infamous clandestine organization, which exists outside the normal Starfleet and Federation laws, will be featured throughout the second season, the head of Section 31 in this era is Leland (Alan Van Sprang).
Young Burnham and Spock
Speaking to convention goers last weekend director Jonathan Frakes teased fans with the tidbit that we may see a young Spock and young Burnham in the episode he’s about shoot (episode 2).
More canon connections
The first season of the show saw a number of connections to Star Trek canon, such as the characters of Sarek, Amanda and Harry Mudd. Obviously season two will continue with the canon connections with the U.S.S. Enterprise and Captain Pike. Speaking at WonderCon, Aaron Harberts spoke about how wants to explore Trek’s canon more:
The idea was to always be in the Prime Timeline. Obviously, there are questions and concerns and things that are different. Our technology is a little different. We have a ship that runs very differently. We are our own show in a lot of ways. Season two is really exciting for us. This is our opportunity to really show how Discovery fits into this Prime Timeline. We are firmly committed to that.
We’ll learn more about Saru and the Kelpiens
On the season finale of After Trek, the showrunners said we’d see more Kelpiens, and then speaking at WonderCon, Aaron Harberts spoke about Saru specifically:
You will learn more about Saru this season. We had to lay some pipe early in episode 2 [of season one]. What are those threat ganglia. What do they do? What do they represent in the Terran Empire and a lot of that stuff will fold back in when we are back on the air.
That little spore and Stamets’ future
The season finale established that Lt. Stamets will no longer be plugging into the ship to enable the spore drive, leaving the ship to go back to old-fashioned warp drive until Starfleet can find a way to make the spore drive work again. On After Trek Aaron Harberts explained this change for Stamets will be played out:
The spore drive is such a metaphor for Stamets as well. Season 2 is all about his second act. He’s not driving the ship at the moment. He has lost the love of his life. So, we are going to be talking about how he pulls that together.
Speaking of spores, Harberts also teased fans about a particular one scene the last time the drive was used:
I think that fans should be thinking about what landed on Tilly.
Changes in the USS Discovery
One of the intriguing possibilities with the introduction of the character of Chief Engineer Reno (Tig Notaro) is that she may be transferring to the U.S.S. Discovery, which could involve us exploring more parts of the ship, including the actual engine room, an iconic set on every Star Trek series, but one we have yet to see on the Discovery. When we asked production designer Tamara Deverell about this, she wouldn’t confirm if they had built a new engine room set, but did say they have been making changes to the sets:
We’ve expanded parts of the ship. We’ve added a corridor that we didn’t have so now we have like a loop corridor. We went a little more mechanical with that corridor which I’m pretty excited about. We had designed something much bigger but we could only go so much, so we’ve got new spaces. There’s a new opening into the mess hall, and one into sick bay. One of the problems we had with [Stamets’ Lab] in Engineering was that it was very dark in one area and the DP, our cinematographer, kind of complaining and a lot of light came from the [spore chamber] cube. So, we are doing a little bit of renovation there, and I’m just going to leave it at that. But I’m pretty excited about it.
More about bridge crew
Aaron Harberts explained at WonderCon that they’re hoping to write in more for the supporting bridge crew to do:
There is only so much you can do with an ensemble cast with how you divvy up your time and how you allocate time to different characters. We didn’t even meet the Discovery crew until episode three, so we were already limited in the amount of time we could really create five or six characters that the audience would bond with and love. But now that people know who they are and have accepted them, now you have the space to start pulling people into things.
And speaking about one of the more mysterious members of the bridge crew:
Airiam is part of the bridge crew and we have a lot of thoughts of who she was and what the augments are all about.
More quiet/character driven moments
Speaking to TrekMovie at WonderCon, Aaron Harberts spoke about adding more character moments for season two:
…one of the things I am excited to hear is that the fans are open to more scenes where things have “stopped down,” scenes where characters are checking in and where we are learning more about stuff, where the plot isn’t necessarily driving the whole thing. I am proud of all the turns, but I am glad to know people are interested in these quieter moments. Mix it up, have a more of a ‘slice of life’ flavor.
Tyler and L’Rell holding the Empire together
On After Trek the showrunners talked about how even though the Klingon war is over, there is still more to explore with the Empire:
Berg: L’Rell has a huge order in front of her, but I think the right person is in charge.
Harberts: The fact that Tyler has stayed with her and the fact that he has Voq’s memories is going to be a help. As we look into season two, Tyler is definitely going to be questioning the wisdom of that decision. He is the ultimate expat.
Executive producer Alex Kurtzman also discussed the state of the Klingon Empire as we go into season two:
There is a détente, that’s forced by ingenuity, but it does not mean that the Klingons have decided that everything’s fine. That problem could flare up at any point.
Showrunner Aaron Harberts spoke about writing season two back in January:
This year, we have a fantastic creative team in place, everybody knows each other. But we also have time this year—we have time to do things like more away missions, newer planets. These are stories that might fall a little bit more into a framework of allegory that people love to get from Trek. But we will always continue to have that overarching serialized thread.
And more recently, speaking to TrekMovie at WonderCon he mentioned the idea of exploration again:
We are not at war anymore. It is our hope we are going to be doing more away missions and a lot more exploration. Those people are on the bridge for a reason. They all have special skills and we will start learning more about them.
Still much more to learn
All of that may seem like a lot, but there are still quite a few questions remaining about the second season. One of the bigger questions is over who will take command of the U.S.S. Discovery, but there are still many more. There will likely be more guest/recurring star casting announcements during production and it’s likely there will be some revelations at upcoming conventions and events. It’s also likely that a season release date will be announced at the CBS Upfront network presentation in May or at San Diego Comic-Con in July.
TrekMovie will of course continually update all the news about Star Trek: Discovery, so stay tuned.
Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else.
Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.