From a brutal war with the Klingons to that grand Mirror Universe twist with Capt. Gabriel Lorca, Star Trek: Discovery’s first season was a wild, relentless ride.
In season two, the show slows down to catch its breath.
Not to say that Discovery will be boring. The addition of Capt. Christopher Pike (played by Inhumans‘ Anson Mount) and Spock (played by 10 Things I Hate About You‘s Ethan Peck), as well as the mystery of the seven red signals and a red angel, should keep viewers on the hook.
But the action- and plot-heavy first season didn’t offer much time to process, which is what we’ll see when Discovery returns on Jan. 17 to CBS All Access. (Disclosure: CBS All Access is owned by CBS, the parent company of CNET.)
‘Now that the war is over, now we have the time to think about what we’ve done,’ Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays lead character Michael Burnham, said in an interview. ‘To celebrate. To get back a sense of normalcy and to get back to each other. It’s a highly emotional journey.’
When we last left the crew of the Discovery, Saru was acting captain, and the ship had just encountered the iconic original Enterprise. To get more insight into the big new additions, check out how the new Spock is different here, and how Mount plans to breathe life into Pike here.
Here’s a look at what the original cast members are up to.
(Warning: Spoilers for season one and minor spoilers for season two below.)
When we last left Burnham, she was cleared of charges of mutiny and promoted to the rank of commander. Her record was expunged, essentially resetting her status quo.
With the Discovery encountering Enterprise, Martin-Green said Burnham’s first motivation is to find Spock and talk to him. The search for Spock drives the early part of the new season.
Martin-Green teased that the exploration of Burnham’s and Spock’s relationship would be explored deeply, while the aftermath of the events of season one would continue to weigh on her.
‘We remember what happened yesterday,’ she said. ‘That’s a recipe for some true grit.’
Expect a different dynamic between Burnham and Pike.
‘He realizes very early on she’s captain material,’ Mount said in an interview. ‘He relies upon on her a lot for feedback, and to see the other side of the coin, and to be challenged. He’s not afraid to be challenged.’
With Lorca dead and Georgiou out, Commander Saru finally took the reins. It appeared to be the payoff for several episodes that developed his aptitude for command.
At least early on, Pike will commandeer Discovery in his quest to figure out the mystery of the seven red signals and the red angel.
Doug Jones, who plays Saru, said he is still working on finding his courage — a challenge given the Kelpian are a prey species.
The upcoming season will have us visit his home planet of Kaminar, where Jones hints at a big ‘game-changing’ revelation. We’ll also get to meet the predator species that shares the planet, and more insight into that race’s motives.
His relationship with Burnham also faces a big change, shifting from a sort of brother-sister competitive dynamic to one that’s more direct. ‘You’ll see less butting of heads, and more supporting of each other,’ Jones said.
Georgiou, who escaped into the prime universe from the mirror one, has a new role as part of the clandestine faction of the Federation called Section 31.
She brought an element of candor and attitude to the final stretch of the last season, and will likely do so again. Early trailers showed she would be back, acting the part of the original Georgiou in front of Pike, which should lead to some entertaining moments.
Will she get a chance to kick some more butt? It’s Michelle Yeoh, so one can only hope.
Lt. Commander Paul Stamets
Stamets gets a chance to grieve for the loss of his partner, Dr. Hugh Culber, who shockingly died midway through last season. (Thanks Ash/Voq!)
‘Stamets is appearing into the abyss of the unknown of the space left in the wake of the death of Culber,’ said Anthony Rapp, who plays Stamets.
That grief will fuel a drive to save Culber, who has confirmed he will be resurrected.
Dr. Hugh Culber
We find Culber at the beginning of the second season the way we left him — dead.
‘We don’t gloss over what happened last season,’ said Wilson Cruz, who plays Culber. ‘We deal with the consequences.’
As for how he returns? Rapp and Cruz hint that the mycelial network, which played a role in how quickly Discovery could move from place to place, would be a major factor. Rapp referred to it as ‘nature’s recycler.’
‘The clues for how that happens can be found in that,’ Cruz said.
L’Rell may have had limited screen time in the first season, but she starts things off with a huge role: head of the Klingon High Council.
‘We’re trying to piece it back together,’ said Mary Chiefo, who plays the Klingon leader.
L’Rell is following T’Kuvma’s plan to unify the different factions of the Klingon empire, although Chiefo notes there are challenges, with certain male Klingons who don’t appreciate having a woman in power.
‘There’s an interesting juxtaposition of internal and external struggles,’ Chiefo said.
Alongside L’Rell is Ash Tyler, who at the end of the first season chose to leave Starfleet to go with the Klingons.
Tyler is L’Rell’s ‘torchbearer,’ as Chiefo puts it.
Expect an exploration of the fairly messed up dynamic between the two, with L’Rell having orchestrated Voq’s surgical transformation and brainwashing into Ash Tyler.
Tyler, meanwhile, is still drawn to Burnham and the Federation, said Shazad Latif, who plays Tyler.
‘It’s a love rhombus,’ he said.
Cadet Sylvia Tilly
Tilly, played by Mary Wiseman, was the awkward source of much of the humor in the first season. Wiseman said she’s finding more of a place on the ship, and is developing more confidence through her participation in the command training program.
Captain Gabriel Lorca
Still dead. Sorry, Lorca fans.