'Star Trek: Discovery' Showrunner Talks New Tech And Ships 930 Years In The Future [TCA 2019]

CBS Television Studios held a panel on "Impact Storytelling" with four of its showrunners for the Television Critics Association. The panel included Dead to Me's Liz Feldman, The Good Fight's Michelle King, In the Dark's Corinne Kingsbury and Star Trek: Discovery's Michelle Paradise. The panel addressed how each show uses their narratives to discuss social issues. After the panel, Paradise remained to talk to reporters more specifically about Star Trek: Discovery season three. Since season two ended with the Discovery traveling 930 years into the future, season three takes Discovery from a prequel series into the far future of Star Trek. Paradise previewed the sorts of changes Trekkers can expect, and what's not going to change in Star Trek: Discovery.

Star Trek Can Pave Its Own Way Again

Previously, the furthest into the future a Star Trek series boldly went was the Next Generation era. Parallel series like Deep Space 9 and Voyager remained roughly within that era, episodic wormhole episodes notwithstanding. Enterprise, and the first two seasons of Discovery, have been set in Star Trek's past. "It's been a big challenge and a wonderful challenge," Paradise said. "Everything from what we see on screen, the clothing, the look and feel of the structures, all of that. There's been big conversations and lots of conversations. We're fortunate to have just an incredible team in Toronto."Of course, Paradise wouldn't spoil specifics, but since all departments are addressing a millennium of evolution, we can be sure season three is going to see a comprehensive Trek flash-forward."Our production designer, our costumer, our props, everything," Paradise said. "Our builders, everyone is just absolutely phenomenal. Our prosthetics, the aliens that we see. It's just a great opportunity to see what's coming."

Phasers 930.0

Apple comes out with a new iPhone every few years, so the Federation has got to have a lot of new technology in the future. "We're looking at everything for 930 years," Paradise said. "Certainly 930 years in the future, you would expect that technology has advanced so that's a lot of the conversations that we've been having as well."Honestly, the most profound technological advance in all of Star Trek is the food replicator on The Next Generation. Everyone dreams of having a machine that can make the perfect version of any food you want. I don't think they're going to be able to top that."What does that future look like?" Paradise continued. "What does the technology look like? In addition to things like the world itself and the look and feel of ships and all of that Yes, we're looking at all of that."

It’ll Still Be Star Trek: Discovery

It may have taken Star Trek: Discovery a season to find its footing, especially with several showrunners departing midway, but they've figured out what Star Trek: Discovery is now. They can take Discovery into the future, but it will still be Discovery."I think we, as a show, I feel like we really found our tone in season two," Paradise said. "We found I think a wonderful mix of heart and character and adventure and fun and funny and action. All of that together, I think we really hit our stride with that so we intend to keep that tone." That is true to Star Trek as a franchise. It doesn't matter what planet they land on or what time period they end up in, the crew of characters always keeps the Star Trek adventures consistent.

Who’s Flying This Thing?

One cliffhanger that will be resolved in season three will be the naming of a new captain for the Discovery. With the departure of Pike, the Captain's chair remains vacant. "Well, I can't answer any specifics but I will remind that in our finale, as Pike was leaving, he said, 'We are going to need to choose a new captain,'" Paradise said. "Saru said, 'Let's put a pin in that and see what happens.' Discovery will need a captain. The pin will need to come out. We will need to address that in story."I'm sure fans will have lots of theories about who should be promoted to Captain. I can only venture it won't be Burnham because Discovery seems to work best when she goes rogue, and that's harder to do in a position of authority. Perhaps they'll hire some new future captain.

There’s No Going Back 

Time travel can make everything somewhat temporary. However, Star Trek: Discovery is committed to a one way ticket. They are jumping 930 years and not planning to come back. "Correct, we're there and we're living there," Paradise said. At least, they say that now. Let's check back around season five when they've exhausted all the future stories. But I appreciate the commitment and staying in the future has unlimited narrative possibilities since they'll never butt up against The Original Series there. 

They’re Still Coordinating With Star Trek: Picard

Even though Discovery has escaped the timeline of all previous Star Treks, and certainly all the current ones in production, they still coordinate just to be safe. The upcoming Star Trek: Picard will be set in Jean-Luc Picard's timeline, albeit his future post-Next Generation. Yet Paradise still double checks she's not contradicting anything they're working on."I would say every iteration of Star Trek we want to be aware of and we want to honor," Paradise said. "It's important to us to do that. Alex [Kurtzman], as he works on that and works on our show, he lets us know if there's anything that we need to be aware of in terms of history."In the case of Star Trek: Discovery, that's most likely making sure she's aware of any new history that is established in Star Trek: Picard. She doesn't want to have the Discovery encounter an alien species only to find out that Picard accidentally eradicated that race from existence, for example."We're also aware that all of the iterations of Star Trek, so we really want to make sure that we're not doing anything in our show that directly contradicts something that we've seen established or that is being established on another spinoff," she said. Paradise did not yet have a premiere date for Star Trek: Discovery season three.