Star Trek: Discovery (season 2)

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Star Trek: Discovery (season 2)
Star Trek Discovery season 2 poster.jpg
Promotional poster
Starring
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes5
Release
Original networkCBS All Access
Original releaseJanuary 17, 2019 (2019-01-17) –
present (present)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 1
List of Star Trek: Discovery episodes

The second season of the American television series Star Trek: Discovery is set roughly a decade before the events of the original Star Trek series and follows the crew of the USS Discovery. The season was produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Secret Hideout, Roddenberry Entertainment, and Living Dead Guy Productions, with Alex Kurtzman serving as showrunner.

Sonequa Martin-Green stars as Michael Burnham, along with the returning Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, and Mary Wiseman; they are joined by Wilson Cruz, promoted from a recurring guest role, and Anson Mount as original Star Trek captain Christopher Pike. Original showrunner Bryan Fuller had intended for Discovery to be an anthology series that told different stories each season. CBS did not agree, but a hybrid approach was eventually used, following the same characters but telling different stories each season. The second season was officially ordered in October 2017, and filming began in April 2018. Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts, the first season's showrunners, returned for the second but were fired during production; co-creator Kurtzman replaced them.

The season premiered on January 17, 2019, on CBS All Access and will consist of 14 episodes.

Episodes[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date [1]
161"Brother"Alex KurtzmanTed Sullivan & Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron HarbertsJanuary 17, 2019 (2019-01-17)
En route to Vulcan, the USS Discovery receives a distress call from the USS Enterprise. Captain Christopher Pike takes emergency command of the Discovery, explaining that the Enterprise was investigating seven mysterious signals when it was catastrophically damaged. All but one of the signals have disappeared, but it too is gone by the time Discovery arrives at its location. The crew discovers the wreckage of the USS Hiawatha, which was reported missing during the Klingon War, on an asteroid made of non-baryonic matter, and find chief engineer Jett Reno nursing the last survivors of the crew. All are transported back to the Discovery. After having a vision of a red angel while on the asteroid, Burnham visits the Enterprise and investigates the quarters of her foster brother Spock, who had previously taken leave for a personal investigation. She discovers he had been having nightmares of the seven signals through an entry in his personal log.
172"New Eden"Jonathan FrakesStory by : Akiva Goldsman & Sean Cochran
Teleplay by : Vaun Wilmott & Sean Cochran
January 24, 2019 (2019-01-24)
While confronting Pike about Spock's final log entry, Burnham learns he had himself committed to a psychiatric unit and requested that Starfleet not inform his family. Discovery detects another of the signals and uses the spore drive to travel to a Beta Quadrant-based planet with a previously unknown human population. A looped transmission suggests they arrived sometime during World War III. Pike and Burnham lead an away team to the planet's surface, where they come across a primitive society with a religion combining multiple human faiths. During the team's investigation, an anomaly produces an extinction-level radiation shower. Tilly, after receiving advice from a medical staffer, uses a fragment of the asteriod from their last mission to avert the catastrophe, later learning the staffer was a manifestation of a classmate who died five years earlier. After returning to Discovery with the away team, Pike reviews footage from a helmet camera recovered from the planet and sees the red angel from Burnham's vision.
183"Point of Light"Olatunde OsunsanmiAndrew ColvilleJanuary 31, 2019 (2019-01-31)
Burnham's foster mother Amanda Grayson visits Discovery with a stolen copy of Spock's medical records. Upon learning that Spock escaped the psychiatric facility after murdering three doctors, Pike orders Burnham to decrypt the files. Grayson recognizes one of the included documents as a drawing of the red angel, which Spock often drew as a child. Burnhman later tells Amanda she feels guilty about hurting Spock in order to protect him from Vulcan's logic extremists. On Qo'noS, Klingon House leader Kol-sha threatens to kill Ash and L'Rell for having a secret child but dies after the two work with Georgiou, who is now a Section 31 agent. In a ruse to consolidate power, L'Rell convinces the Klingon High Council Ash and the baby are dead while Georgiou delivers the baby to a monastery and recruits Ash to Section 31. Burnham, meanwhile, realizes a sentient spore growing inside Tilly is behind her hallucinations. Stamets uses dark matter to pull the spore out and captures it.
194"An Obol for Charon"Lee RoseStory by : Jordon Nardino & Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts
Teleplay by : Alan McElroy & Andrew Colville
February 7, 2019 (2019-02-07)
While attempting to intercept Spock's shuttlecraft, Discovery is taken out of warp and immobilized by a living, planetoid-sized sphere that has gathered gargantuan amounts of data from all over the galaxy. Attempts to break free causes Saru to become infected with the Vahar'ai, a condition fatal to his species. After transmitting its information to Discovery, the sphere dies and releases Discovery, Saru unexpectedly recovering shortly after. Tilly, meanwhile, works with Stamets to communicate with the spore after it attaches itself to her right arm. The spore, claiming Discovery nearly destroyed its ecosystem by using its fungal network to jump through space, kidnaps Tilly and carries her off Discovery.
205"Saints of Imperfection"David BarrettKirsten BeyerFebruary 14, 2019 (2019-02-14)
216"The Sounds of Thunder"[2]TBATBAFebruary 21, 2019 (2019-02-21)

Jonathan Frakes also directed the ninth episode.[3]

Cast and characters[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

On November 2, 2015, CBS announced a new Star Trek television series to premiere in January 2017, to coincide with the original series' 50th anniversary in 2016.[19] In February 2016, Bryan Fuller, who began his career writing for the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, was announced as the new series' showrunner.[20] CBS did not have a plan for what the new show would be when Fuller joined,[21] and he proposed an anthology series with each season being a standalone, serialized show set in a different era, beginning with a prequel to the original series. CBS told Fuller to just start with a single serialized show and see how that performs first, and he began further developing the prequel concept.[22] By the end of 2016, Fuller had left the series due to further conflicts with CBS and other commitments, with Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts replacing him as showrunner.[23] In June 2017, co-creator Alex Kurtzman said that he and Fuller had discussed plans for future seasons before the latter's departure.[24]

Executive producer Akiva Goldsman stated in August 2017 that though the series is not an anthology as Fuller first proposed, "it's kind of a hybridized approach. I don't think we're looking for an endless, continuing nine or 10 year story. We're looking at arcs which will have characters that we know and characters that we don't know."[25] Kurtzman elaborated that the Federation-Klingon War story arc of the first season would not continue in a second, saying "each season needs to be about a different thing".[26] However, he was not interested in a full anthology series because "I wouldn't necessarily want to throw [the characters] away at the end of the season for a new show",[27] and instead felt that the aftereffects of the first season would be felt moving forward: "The results of the war are going to allow for a lot of new storytelling", with "the casualties, the things that have grown in Starfleet as a result of the war" carrying over to the next season.[26] By the end of August, Berg and Harberts had developed a "road map" for a second season.[28] After the premiere of the first season, Kurtzman explained that a "big idea" had been proposed mid-way through production on that season which became the "spine" of the second season, with the writers' "emotional compass" having pointed them to using that idea. He added that the series' producers wanted to avoid announcing release dates for the season, just to delay them due to the external pressure that caused with the first season. However, he hoped the second season would be available in early 2019, as long as the quality and scope of the series was not compromised to achieve that.[29] On October 23, a 13-episode second season was officially ordered by All Access.[30][31] CBS Interactive President Marc DeBevoise cited the increased subscriptions for All Access since the series' debut, as well as critical acclaim and fan interest, when announcing the renewal.[30]

In June 2018, during production on the season, CBS Television Studios fired Berg and Harberts. This was not due to creative concerns, as the studio and network were pleased with the scripts for the season and early cuts of already filmed episodes, but due to a combination of the first episode of the season going significantly over budget—to the point that the budgets for later episodes of the season would have to be cut to cover the difference—and alleged abusive behavior by the pair directed at the series' writing staff; multiple writers had become uncomfortable working with the pair, and had apparently been threatened by Harberts after stating their intention to file a formal complaint. Kurtzman was made sole showrunner in their place, and was described as the "glue holding Discovery together". With this change came news that Goldsman did not return as executive producer for the second season, after serving as Kurtzman's "right-hand man", because he had a "management style and personality that clashed with the writing staff".[32] At the end of the month, James Duff joined the series as an executive producer, specifically to help Kurtzman run the series' writers room. Olatunde Osunsanmi, who served as a director and co-executive producer during the first season, became a full executive producer as well and was set as producing director for the rest of the season's production. Additionally, Jenny Lumet, who joined as a consulting producer at the beginning of the season, was promoted to co-executive producer.[33] In July, the season was confirmed to premiere in January 2019.[18] Star Anson Mount revealed in December that the season had been extended to 14 episodes to allow CBS to amortize the cost of production delays following the showrunner change.[3]

Writing[edit]

The series' writers began work on the second season in December 2017, and were considering "science vs. faith" as the main theme of the season. Harberts said that, unlike the first season, the second would not be a "war season" and would have more time "to do things like more away missions, newer planets, stories that might fall a little bit more into a framework of allegory that people love to get from Trek" while retaining the serialized structure introduced in the first season. He added that the season would be "jam packed" with things that they were not able to do in the first season.[34] In March 2018, Harberts clarified that the series would not just be looking at religion, but also "patterns in our lives. It means connections you can't explain. Who enters your life and who leaves your life and these indelible impressions people make ... that is one of our biggest ideas now and it is threading through all of our characters' lives."[35] With the Federation–Klingon War storyline not carrying through to the second season, Kurtzman said that there would be much less of a focus on the Klingons in the second season and far fewer Klingon-only scenes, but that Klingon characters would still appear.[7] He later added that the Klingons would grow their hair back to show that they are no longer at war, something that he said was always intended and not a response to fan criticisms of the bald Klingons in the first season.[36]

The season begins with the arrival of the USS Enterprise (where the first season ended) on a specific mission, which ties into a larger story that does not involve the Enterprise and is the main arc for the whole second season;[37] the storyline involves seven mysterious signals and a strange "red angel" figure that appears to several characters in visions.[13] A goal of the showrunners for the season was to "cement Discovery firmly in the timeline" by reconciling some of the apparent continuity errors caused by the first season, such as why protagonist Michael Burnham has never been mentioned by her adoptive brother Spock, or why the advanced spore-drive technology used on the USS Discovery is not used in later Star Trek series.[38] The season also features more of an episodic feel than the first, while still having a serialized story for the whole season. This "classic episode feel" was created by having a central character or question for each episode whose story also contributed to the season-long story.[13] Something that Kurtzman felt "all the best" Star Trek series had was examinations of the real world at the time of their creation, and so this season would address "building walls around ourselves, literally, to keep people out" and how that can "chip away at our essential understanding of Starfleet doctrine, and what it means to assume diversity". Mount felt that the season was able to "get back to those big questions" because it was no longer questioning the leadership of the Discovery as was done with Captain Gabriel Lorca in the first season.[39]

Casting[edit]

The season stars the returning Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham,[4] Doug Jones as Saru,[5] Shazad Latif as Voq / Ash Tyler,[7] Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets,[6] and Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly.[6] Wilson Cruz reprises his guest role of Hugh Culber, who died in the first season,[8] and is promoted to the main cast for the second.[9]

After the first season concluded with the Discovery receiving a distress call from the USS Enterprise, specifically from Captain Christopher Pike, Harberts expressed interest in exploring that character in the second season, feeling that he had not been seen much in Star Trek previously and so "there's an interesting opportunity that we might have to delve into and flesh out a character who I think is a pretty darn heroic and selfless captain". Spock is also a crew member of the Enterprise, but Harberts felt that he was less of an interesting character for the series to explore given his many appearances throughout previous iterations of Star Trek,[40] and was reluctant to have an actor other than Leonard Nimoy or Zachary Quinto portray the character.[41] In April 2018, Anson Mount—who was considered for the role of Lorca—was cast as Pike, a "key role" for the season,[10][3] and a young Spock was confirmed to be appearing in flashbacks;[42] Kurtzman noted that casting for Spock took into consideration a balance between Vulcan logic and revealing "emotion in the eyes and in the small gestures".[37] Mount revealed in July that he would star for the full season,[43] and that Rebecca Romijn would portray the original series character Number One.[18] In August, Ethan Peck was announced as portraying Spock in the season. Kurtzman compared the actor to both Nimoy and Quinto and stated that he believed Peck "would, like them, effortlessly embody Spock's greatest qualities, beyond obvious logic: empathy, intuition, compassion, confusion, and yearning".[15]

In March 2018, an alternate ending to the first season was revealed in which a Section 31 agent named Leland is introduced, portrayed by Alan van Sprang. The producers confirmed that Sprang would be portraying the character in the second season.[16] Van Sprang had worked with Berg and Harberts on the series Reign, and they had been trying to find a character for him to play throughout production on the first season. The actor described his role in the second season as a "massive part of it".[44] The alternate ending saw Leland approach Michelle Yeoh's Philippa Georgiou about joining Section 31,[16] and in February 2018 Kurtzman said that it was possible for Yeoh to reprise the role in the second season along with Jason Isaacs as Gabriel Lorca.[7] Yeoh was confirmed to be appearing in the season to continue the Section 31 storyline in October 2018,[13] while in January 2019, Kurtzman said that Isaacs would not be appearing in the season but could still return to the series in the future.[45] Several other recurring guests also return from the first season, including Mary Chieffo as L'Rell,[17] James Frain as Sarek,[14] and Mia Kirshner as Amanda Grayson. Additional returners include Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer,[6] Patrick Kwok-Choon as Gen Rhys, Oyin Oladejo as Joann Owosekun, Ronnie Rowe Jr. as R. A. Bryce, and Julianne Grossman as the voice of Discovery's computer.

In April 2018, Tig Notaro was cast in the guest role of Denise Reno;[11] she later revealed that this would be a recurring role for the season, and that she had been able to rename her character to Jet Reno.[46][12] That October, Martin-Green announced that her husband Kenric Green had been cast for the season, and would be making an "indelible contribution".[13] Hannah Cheesman took over the role of Airiam for the season, with original actress Sara Mitich being recast in the role of Nilsson.

Design[edit]

Several new sets for the Discovery were built for the second season, adding to the ones constructed for the first. These included a new "loop corridor" and new entrances to the mess hall and sick bay sets. The engineering set from the first season was also renovated for the second, with production designer Tamara Deverell explaining that the cinematography department had been complaining about the large amount of light coming from the spore chamber in that set in contrast to the rest of the room.[47] Glenn Hetrick and Neville Page of Alchemy Studios, who provide prosthetics and armor for the series, teased in May 2018 that the season would feature a "truly alien" character for which they had to figure out new ways to reduce the weight of the prosthetics and make it breathable for the actor, as well as try improve the actor's vision because the eyes of the creature did not align with where human eyes are positioned. Hetrick added that there would be more interesting prosthetics for extras playing background characters, while the pair were able to use a species from earlier Star Trek canon that had not been in the first season of Discovery after producing a list for the executive producers featuring all the species they would like to use.[48]

John Eaves and Scott Schneider, designers of the starships for the series, were required to redesign the USS Enterprise for Star Trek: Discovery, making it 25 percent different from Matt Jeffries' original design due to legal concerns regarding the ownership of different Star Trek elements. CBS ultimately confirmed that they were free to reuse Jeffreies' design in Star Trek: Discovery, but stood by the changes made by Eaves and Schneider as creative improvements that took advantage of modern visual effects. These changes included adding elements that could realistically be removed or replaced in the time between this series and the beginning of the original series. The visual effects department made further adjustments to the design after Eaves and Schneider completed their work.[49] The final version of the ship seen in the series also adopts some of the characteristics of the Enterprise from the films, such as being "a little bit fatter, a little bit bigger", to fit into the aesthetic of the series.[50] Elaborating on this, Kurtzman explained that the original designs for the Enterprise would look out of place within the series due to the far more advanced modern technology being used to produce the show. He added that any sets designed for the Enterprise would bridge the look of the original series and Discovery while still trying to adhere to canon and remain consistent with the original designs where possible.[7]

Filming[edit]

Filming for the season began at Pinewood Toronto Studios on April 16, 2018,[5][51] under the working title Green Harvest. Production was set to take place on the series at the studio until November 8.[51] At the time of Berg and Harberts' firing, production was underway on the fifth episode of the season, and a hiatus in filming was planned to follow that. This allowed Kurtzman to take the time to "regroup" the series' writing staff without delaying the series' production.[32] The production was ultimately delayed enough that it needed to extend its time at Pinewood in order to complete the season, and to amortize these costs CBS added an additional episode to the season's run, which pushed the end of filming on the season to December 21.[3] Due to the delay, episodic director Jonathan Frakes ultimately directed the ninth episode of the season instead of the originally planned tenth.[42][3]

Kurtzman hoped that if the series was projected in a theater it would appear indistinguishable from a feature film, and chose to use anamorphic lenses for the season to "immediately [convey] a sense of scope and scale". He also pushed the lighting and design departments to use color in ways that are not traditionally considered for television, and challenged the episode directors to each shoot a scene where they would not use the same shot twice; this was to encourage them to use more inventive shot choices rather than just typical "coverage" (filming a master shot of the scene followed by angles from several different sides if time permitted). Kurtzman also wanted as many options available to the editors as possible during post-production. Addressing the fact that Star Trek was originally inspired by naval tradition, Kurtzman said that the season would be leaning further into that than the first did, especially in the way that they filmed the bridge scenes and a funeral sequence. He named Crimson Tide (1995) as an influence for the filming style.[52]

Music[edit]

Composer Jeff Russo planned to begin work on the second season in May 2018, after receiving the first script for the season. He did not expect to significantly change the tone of his music for the season, feeling that so much work in the first season had gone towards creating a unique sound for the series within the Star Trek franchise which he would like to continue moving forward.[53] Russo did feel that the score for the second season would focus more on the "swashbuckling" aspects he wrote for some scenes of the first season. Russo generally works directly with the showrunners rather than any of the episodic directors but discussed his score for the season's second episode with director Frakes.[54]

Marketing[edit]

Star Trek: Discovery panel at 2018 Comic-Con International in San Diego

The season was promoted at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2018, with Notaro moderating a panel that featured Kurtzman, Martin-Green, Jones, Latif, Wiseman, Rapp, Cruz, Chieffo, Mount, and executive producer Heather Kadin. The first trailer for the season debuted at the panel before being released online.[18]

Release[edit]

The season premiered on January 17, 2019 on CBS All Access in the United States.[13] Bell Media broadcasts the series in Canada on the specialty channels Space (English) and Z (French) before streaming episodes on Crave, while Netflix has streaming rights for the series in another 188 countries. Netflix releases each episode of the series for international streaming within 24 hours of its U.S. debut. [55]

References[edit]

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