SDCC 2019 Panel Recap: Star Trek

Star Trek is known as one of the world's most iconic sci-fi franchises, and it has made a big comeback in recent years. Following a reboot film series by J.J. Abrams, CBS is bring Star Trek to the forefront of television with brand-new series and sequels. San Diego Comic-Con is ready to hype the franchise at Hall H with a meaty panel, and is here to break down all of the information shared at the event:


The panel begins with a loud burst of applause from the crowd. After the moderator is introduced, fans are greeted by a slew of special guests from Star Trek: Discovery. Sonequa Martin-Green hits the stage with Alex Kurtzman, Michelle Paradise, and Heather Kadin. David Ajala joins.

When asked about season three, Kurtzman says we are going about 1,000 years into the future. He understands fans want to know what this world will be like, but he wants to lead with that every conversation about Star Trek is filtered through Roddenberry's vision of optimism. He says it is more important than ever, and there will be huge, huge changes in season three.

"We get to honor canon but shake it up hugely. We're not erasing anything, so don't worry," Kurtzman says.

Martin-Green comes on next to introduce Ajala. They are welcoming him to the cast of season three where he will play Book. Ajala says he will be a character who breaks the rules a little bit, and he does that right from the start in this season.

She goes on to talk about how the show will be going forward boldly into the "future future." Jonathan Frankes even told the group this new season reminds him of how Star Trek: The Next Generation felt.

When the group is asked how cinematic the show is, Paradise said they really strive to be as theatrical as possible. It is a sweet spot between television with character development but with the visual spectacle of film. Kadin went on to praise the prosthetic team as everyone working on this series are big fans of the franchise which helps them rise to the occassion.

When Short Treks was mentioned, Kurtzman said it was an interesting experience. They wanted to get Discovery right, so they had time to build extra stories. "They were these wonderful meals," Kurtzman says. However, they did connect to season two. They will do that again, and there will be six of them.

A trailer is shown for Short Trek. Captain Pike returns with Spock and Number One. They are on a deep mission, but others involve Tribbles. They seem to be eating people, and there are scene references to Trouble with Troubles. A girl is seen eating a Tribble.

For the series, two are animated. Another is a Picard teaser that gives you an idea of what happened to Jean Luc before the sequel.

As a surprise, Rebecca Romijn and Ethan Peck appear. Peck discusses how playing Spock has been like living a dream. Romijn says she is thrilled to be part of the Star Trek family, and it was mindblowing walking onto the set of the Enterprise.

When prompted about season three, Martin-Green says fans will love Ajala who plays Cleveland Booker. Kurtzman agrees since all of the crew will have trouble finding one another once they land as they maybe did not land together. Oh, and Kurtzman teases who the captain of the ship will be... because fans will find out when the show goes live.

When asked about canon, Kurtzman says they would have loved to have brought Spock, Pike, and Number One with them into season three. But that would have broken canon. He then asks the crowd if those three should get their own show, and Kurtzman says he will think about it.

Kurtzman says Star Trek is always about a bridge crew family, and season three lets them mix and match characters. Characters will be brought into the spotlight who did not before, and a ton of new characters will join as well. And before the panel leaves for Discovery, a joke about the Horta's return made.

Jerry O'Connell hits up as the moderator for Lower Decks. Kadin and Kurtzman stay up on stage before Tawny Newsome, Mike McMahan, and Jack Quaid. They are all asked how Lower Decks got started, and it begins with Kadin saying they all loved Rick & Morty. She explains how McMahan is such a big fan, and he pitched his own series about what happens on the lower deck of a Starship. O'Connell says it is the Downtown Abbey of Star Trek.

McMahan says Lower Decks is a half-hour animated show focusing on four Ensigns on a non-important ship in Starfleet. They have stories that feel very Starship with emotion and sci-fi. Every Star Trek is about family, and this is too even if it is about a family you do not know. "It feels like every episode is a real Star Trek episode," McMahan says. It takes place in 2380 after Nemesis and TNG.

Newsome introduces her character Mariner who is a total rebel and does great at her job but has been demoted so often. Quaid plays Boimler who is a very cautious man. He is very booksmart and gets in his head so hard. "He would nail the written portion of the driving test," Quaid says. He is always scandalized by Mariner.

Another character Tendi is introduced. The first episode is her first day on the ship, and she is such a Starfleet fan. She is always ready to go and excited to do anything in the medical unit. There is Rutherford who is an engineer, but he does not do great as solving problems. He is very much a novice, but he also just got a cyborg implant but cannot quite figure it out. Those four are the main family of Lower Decks which audiences will experience the series through.

When asked about animation, Kurtzman says the medium is going through such a renaissance with stories and art. The team wanted to expand what Star Trek could be, and the beloved animated series of the Original Series helped them make this decision. Star Trek lends itself to an educational yet hilarious TV show for audiences of all ages.

"Each of these shows have to be a love letter to Star Trek in their own way," Kurtzman says.

As for who this show will reach, McMahan says it is for anyone who loves Star Trek and wants to love more of it with new characters. Kadin says it is also for newcomers who may be fans of comedy or The Simpsons. It is a way into Star Trek that is very approachable.

Lower Decks also have a bridge crew who think this show is about them. Lieutenant Shaxs, Captain Freeman, Commander Ransom, and Dr. T'ana are keeping the area up. Fred Talasciore, Dawnn Lewis, Jerry O'Connell, and Gillan Vigman will play them respectively.

McMahan says the most important addition is a new ship class, the California class. The main deck never works right, and it will be called the U.S.S. Serritos. Kurtzman also announced a new official Star Trek podcast is going live with Newsome hosting.

The next panel up is Star Trek: Picard. Dominic Patten is hosting and hypes up the release of this long-awaited sequel. A series of producers enter along with showrunners. Cast members join one by one before Patrick Stewart joins.

When asked about his return, Stewart says thank you. He feels compelled to say he regrets the absence of the most important individual which is not Frankes. He is speaking of the dog on the poster whose name is Deniro. He hopes he has an ongoing role in this entire series.

He woke up this morning reading script for the show. He read a line "We never know do we when our last moment will be" and Stewart says he knows his best moment is now.

As for why now is the time to return to Picard, Stewart says he decided that just over a year ago. He had said thank you but no for such a long time. But as the subject matter of this new proposed series became clearer, he knew something very unusual was going to happen with the character which he wanted to be a part of it. To imagine it would go ahead without him would have been too defeatist. He is very happy to be here.

How Picard is different in tone from Discovery, Kurtzman says it started with Stewart. It is very different. He did not want to repeat what he did with TNG, and he really challenged the creative team. Kurtzman said they were forced to think outside the box but also distill the best parts of Stewart. Storylines emerged from there about Picard where he is now questioning the many choices he made.

Kirsten Beyer says the best part of Picard is dealing with his age in life. It is an extraordinary opportunity to see the most unknown part of the captain's journey after helming the ship. Kadin says having Stewart there to bring the character's perspective was invaluable. No one wanted to repeat Discovery or TNG.

When asked about showrunning, Michael Chabon says there's been so much writing to do. He's been a professional writer since he was in his early 20s but having to write so much so frequently in a collaborative nature is such a challenge. Chabon has learned to trust the judgement of Picard implicitly, and that has become true of everyone.

Allison Pill cannot say much about her character, but she is a research. Michelle Hurd says her character is delicious, and she has a yet known relationship with Picard from the past. As for Evan Evagora says he cannot say much about his character, but he makes a point to thank Stewart for all his work and inspiration.

Akiva Goldsman says Picard is far more character based, and it is a hybrid of sorts. It is still a very inspirational story using serialized storytelling. It is a new kind of Star Trek show made by fans of old Star Trek shows.

Isa Briones talks about her character who is a young woman looking forward to a big part in her life. However, a horrible tragedy causes her to go seek out Picard for help. Santiago Cabrera is an ex-Starfleet member, but he has been hardened to life.

The trailer goes live. Fans are introduced to Picard on his home world. The Borg and Data reappear even after Data is said to have sacrificed himself to Picard. Jeri Ryan, Bret Spiner, and Marco Del Arco come on stage.

Ryan says her work was decide more than a year ago. Arco was also brought into the project about a year ago, and it was then he realized he had to bring back the Borg mask on. He said he was nervous to put the mask back on, and he is glad because it looked so good. Getting to work with Stewart was worth it.

Spiner said his role came back to be about a year ago, and he joked about wanting to play Picard. He spoke with Stewart, and he asked Spiner to think about coming back. When Stewart is asked about reuniting with his old friends, he said he had lots of fun, and there was so much joy on his face. It turns out Jonathan Frankes and Marina Sirtis will return to the show as well with Riker and Troi.


So, are you excited for the future of Star Trek? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to talk all things comics and anime!