First of all, if you haven’t seen the pilot episode of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ yet, or the second episode (which is really “Pilot Part 2” as part of CBS’s ploy to force you to get their All-Access app because the first episode ends on a massive cliffhanger), then know this article is full of SPOILERS for both episodes.
After the newest series in the storied franchise finally premiered last night, there are understandably a lot of questions about the new story, the new characters, and the new plot, especially since it is now clear that this is NOT your traditional ‘Star Trek’ series, and plans on going in some new directions. Luckily for us all, EW recently sat down with producer Alex Kurtzman to talk about the new series and the direction it is taking:
“So when Bryan and I started talking early on we came to the idea that there’s something very powerful about setting the audience up to believe they were going to be able to predict what was going to happen and then pull the rug out by the end of the second episode so that you’re left going, “I really can’t stay ahead of us, this is not what I thought it would be.” And we weren’t trying to do that as a gimmick, we did it because Burnham is Starfleet’s first mutineer, and that’s a deeply emotional story. In so many ways, the rug is pulled out from under her as well. Timing the audience’s experience to hers is critical. Every reason she did what she did is called into question. She doesn’t know where to turn. And I think that’s why we watch television — to experience those kind of whirlwind emotions and to sit on the edge of our seats and live in the deep emotional experiences of a character’s arc. The other thing is the Klingon War, while having been mentioned, has never been elaborated on. So there’s a wonderful opportunity there to stay consistent with what’s been set in canon but open the door to what really went down. So it felt like the right idea.
I will also tell you is the beginning of the season and the end of the season were planned a year and a half ago and are inextricably linked. So as deliberate as the beginning is, we’re also setting up where we’re going. There’s a grand design to season 1.”
Of course, after the events of the pilot, another big question is: was Burnham directly responsible for the Klingon War? Kurtzman answers this question as well:
“One of the questions I think the audience will be asking, and Burnham is asking, is: Did I start this war or would this war had happened anyway? And what is the difference there? And would my friend and surrogate mother still be alive if I had acted differently? That’s going to be a point of debate. I’ll spoil one thing: We’re never going to answer that question for you. The audience will have to decide.”
EW then asked about how much of the series would tell the Klingon’s point of view in the war:
“Quite a bit of it. And there’s a specific reason for that. Star Trek in its heart and soul is about an understanding of what we perceive as the Other. And the Klingons have always been presented as one or two-dimensionally represented as a war-faring race. Of course, there have been a lot of Klingon lore. But if we’re going to tell a story about war we want to tell a story about both sides in a complex way. So we couldn’t do that without spending a lot of time with the Klingons. I hope people are comfortable reading subtitles because there will be a lot of them.
…Well, our goal is to humanize them, which is an ironic term in this case, and to just get the audience to understand them and see them a bit differently.”
EW also asked about the Klingon ship covered in corpses, which they were very excited about, which Kurtzman seemed very amused to speak about:
“[Laughs] Well it’s called the sarcophagus ship. It is indeed covered on corpses dating back over 1,000 years. We’re going to spend a lot of time on this ship and learn the origins of the ship. It’s a big and beautiful set. People will hopefully be very delighted by the fact we built these massive practical sets and everything you’re seeing in those spaces is entirely practical.”
Lastly, they asked for more information about next week’s 3rd episode, which Kurtzman gave few details about:
“There’s a time jump. It’s not a radical time jump. In many ways we designed episode 3 to almost be a new pilot. People were set up to expect one thing, and something very different episodes. The USS Discovery doesn’t show up until the third episode, along with its crew — which is our main cast. Burnham and the audience are going to have a reset. Burnham believes she’s headed to a prison colony and is met with an unexpected surprise that has to do with the Discovery and its captain.”
I don’t know about you, but Kurtzman’s thoughts on the new series do help fill in some holes and explain the very different tone of the show, which frankly was not at all what I was expecting from a new ‘Star Trek’ show. I am a little worried that they were so obsessed with making it different, with hitting that Klingon War, getting that Klingon POV, and having their main character be a mutineer, that they might have lost the magic that is ‘Star Trek,’ but I do think we should wait until the third or fourth episode before making those kinds of judgements, especially since we have yet to meet the main cast or even get to the U.S.S. Discovery.
What are your thoughts on Kurtzman’s words? What did you think of the first two episodes? Did you give in and pay for CBS All-Access? Share your thoughts, praise, or frustrations in the comments below!