Following the Star Trek: Discovery panel at Madison Square Garden, the cast and crew attended a press conference to further discuss the freshman season of their show.
The panel, headed up by Dr. Mae Jemison, was packed full of interesting tidbits about what Trek fans should expect from the remainder of the first season. We covered everything, in detail, in an earlier post — but the cast and crew expanded on a few key areas of interest in a press conference following the panel.
A direct followup during the press conference was the subject of the Klingons, Star Trek: Discovery’s primary antagonists. During the panel, the cast was asked about how they were going to humanize them and broaden their story — making them more than just the ‘other.’ The cast had an opportunity to expand further, when prompted by the press.
“In reading the scripts, the thing that was most moving to me was that we really were looking at the perspective of the story through the eyes of the Klingons,” Wilson Cruz (Dr. Culber) said. “We really had to understand why they feel the way that they feel. And it really speaks to the times that we’re living in. It’s so easy for us to look at someone we’re in an adversarial situation with and make them one dimensional, in order to justify how we feel. And we forget to see each other within each other, and I think that’s what we’re trying to do on the series. We’re not so different and perhaps we can find common ground. And maybe that’s what will save us all in the end.”
And true to delving deep into that perspective is the role that Mary Chieffo plays in L’Rell, a female Klingon warrior and follower of T’Kuvma. “Once I got the role [of L’Rell], I did watch all the Klingon-centric episodes. Because there’s a lovely, comprehensive list on the Star Trek Wikia page,” Chieffo said. “That really informed me. I did have an eye on the female Klingons and their representation, and I am really proud in how we have paid homage to what happened in the past, but we’ve created a new version that is in the vein of things that we’ve seen.”
That past, which is also Discovery’s future, is most evident when Chieffo speaks of one particular Klingon character that inspired her most. “I keep referencing a character that really resonated with me, which was Grilka in Deep Space Nine, because it’s a real, poignant storyline of a woman who cannot succeed her husband’s house because she’s a woman,” she continued. “Ultimately, though, through her own intelligence and perseverance, she becomes the leader of her own house. So that sort of theme [is prevalent], and I do think what’s fun about the Klingons is they allow the women to be very strong, they are innately strong women, but they still do live within this patriarchal species. I’m really excited to see how you guys perceive L’Rell’s relationship within this very patriarchal Klingon species. I’m really thrilled with how we’ve incorporated that within the story. I’m very, very humbled by it.”
Of course, there are strong women on both sides of the war. And though we may have lost Captain Georgiou far sooner than any of us may have liked, her presence still resonates throughout the show — particularly in Burnham herself.
“What was great about seeing the Georgiou and Burnham relationship, where Georgiou was such a wonderful mentor, is this is now happening again here between these two [Sonequa Martin Green and Mary Wiseman], between cadet and former First Officer. It’s paying it forward, and it’s taking the lessons that you’ve learned,” Gretchen J. Berg said, of the blossoming friendship between the two. “That friendship is a two way street, and that’s awesome.”
While Sonequa Martin Green might be familiar with playing a part in a huge franchise, for Mary Wiseman, who plays cadet Sylvia Tilly, it is a whole new experience. “I’m very new to the situation, I’ve never had a role of this size on this kind of franchise before. Tilly, her whole world is opening up. She’s so green, and she’s on this new ship that is like the ship for science, and is exactly where she wants to be,” Wiseman said of her role. “And then she comes into contact with this woman, [Burnham], who is strong, who is warm, who is empathetic, and she kind of blows her mind. She is in a place of pure possibility right now, and I feel like that too as a person. To have Sonequa, she may not be the Captain of the ship, but she’s the Captain of this friggin’ show. She is a mother, and a sister, and a friend to all of us. And I feel that way about all the women behind the scenes also. The stories that you will see on screen reverberate backwards, in between us all. It’s really special to get to be here for that.”