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‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Producers on Season 1 Finale, and How Season 2 Will Be ‘What Trek Does Really Well’

Showrunners Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts speak to the show's new sense of optimism, how '90210' inspired one finale choice, and which character could get a kitten in Season 2. 

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CBS

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for “Star Trek: Discovery” Season 1, Episode 15, “Will You Take My Hand?”]

According to “Star Trek: Discovery” co-showrunner Gretchen Berg, legendary TV producer Aaron Spelling is the reason why no major character dies in the season finale of “Star Trek: Discovery.”

“We worked on the original ‘Beverly Hills 90210,'” she told IndieWire, “And somebody was going to die or not going to die, and his attitude came back down that he didn’t want the person to die and I was like, ‘Why? Come on, that’s life!’”

Added Aaron Harberts, her co-showrunner, “The Mr. Spelling in me is always like, ‘You don’t kill a character! You just don’t. Because it’s good to be able to bring them back.’”

Thus, while characters like Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and Tyler (Shazad Latif) are no longer members of the Discovery crew at the end of Season 1, the opportunity for them to return remains. “You got great actors like Shazad Latif and Michelle Yeoh and the cool thing about them is that they fit inextricably into the fabric of the show,” Harberts said. “They both are so important to Michael Burnham. And so our goal is to create a universe of characters and our goal has always been to find other avenues of storytelling in terms of characters who can carry storylines. We didn’t want to limit ourselves. We love those characters and there’s a very good chance that you’ll see them again.”

(For the record, the writers haven’t forgotten about Dr. Culber, played by Wilson Cruz, who they promised would eventually return following his tragic and untimely death. “The presence of Dr. Culber will continue to be extremely important,” Harberts said. “We know what we want to do, but we’re just figuring out when and how.”)

It’s always fun to talk to producers who are hard at work on the second season of their show, following the conclusion of their freshman season. While most showrunners won’t say much about what to expect going forward, there’s an excitement about getting past the hump of a first season and coming up with new stories that will set the show on a long-term course.

And that’s doubly true in the case of “Discovery,” since Season 1’s finale ended the war with the Klingons — creating the opportunity for new adventures.

“We are excited, because this season does free us up to [say] ‘Let’s try more away missions,’ ‘Let’s find some new alien species,’ ‘Let’s chase down new mysteries,’” Harberts said. “That’s hard to do when there’s a war to deal with. So Chapter 2 of the novel does get to be about what ‘Star Trek’ does really well, which is philosophy and debate and intellectual ideas and science and all those things.”

Added Harberts, “Gretchen and me, what we love about ‘Discovery’ is that it is an ongoing storyline and we always try to find these interesting arcs for the characters. So this year I think we’re going to get to watch our characters grow against the backdrop of a more optimistic start.”

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In that new season, don’t anticipate the Klingons playing a major role, according to Berg, “The Klingons are now a part of our tapestry and they’re members of our cast, they’re established, meaning that we know who they are,” she said. “But the universe is so big. So I would say don’t be surprised to see Klingons but I don’t how Klingon-centric the stories will be for the entire journey and the whole arc of next season. They’re part of our world, but there are so many other people out there to meet and get to know — and when I say people, I mean aliens — and places to explore.”

That said, “Discovery” is now entering previously explored territory from the original series. “We’re now in an area where we have documented events happening out there in the universe somewhere that are around the same period, if you’re looking at ‘Star Trek’ canon. We’re looking at the same timeline,” Harberts said.

And it’s something they can’t escape thinking about, because as Berg said, “you can’t contradict anything that’s happened and if you do, you better have a really good way to clean it up.”

So, Captain Pike may or may not be a big part of Season 2 (Berg and Harberts certainly wouldn’t confirm it). But they would discuss what we currently know about the character, which is that, according to Harberts, he “is everything that Lorca was not. He sacrifices himself so many times for others. He’s got his own ennui when we find him in ‘The Cage.’ He’s got his own interesting issues, but I think that he’s a valiant character who clearly forged quite a bond with a certain Vulcan we know and I think that he certainly is a fantastic captain.”

Added Harberts, “The other thing that’s interesting about that character is we don’t know a lot about him. There’s a lot of stuff we don’t know.”

A final note: “Trek” shows have a history of giving their characters pets, and after Harberts mentioned the fact that he just recently got a kitten, IndieWire did ask if any characters on the show might acquire a furry friend.

“In the room, we talk about having an office kitten,” Berg said. “So you know how sometimes art imitates life? You never know.”

And Harberts noted that “we had a lovely pitch the other day that maybe Saru is harboring a little kitten with him. I think we just need to make that happen. Because I think Doug Jones with a kitten is irresistible.”

Agreed.

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