Star Trek: Discovery writer Ted Sullivan spoke with TrekMovie about Discovery‘s characters and how they are still changing as the show progresses.
When it comes to Captain Lorca, at the end of Lethe, Lorca “parrots Cornwell’s own line – ‘Discovery is bigger than any of us,'” said Sullivan. “Saru doesn’t know that, but we the audience does. That’s on purpose.
“Lorca is damaged. Jason Isaacs hasn’t been shy talking about that aspect of him to the press. He’s seen a lot of pain and death. And he’s got a lot of blood on his hands. It would be impossible not to be affected by that. And his choices are going to be impacted by them.”
Speaking about choices, what about poor Admiral Cornwall? “There’s also a lot of serialized elements in Lethe,” said Sullivan. “The drama between Lorca and Cornwell is a direct result of their face off in episode five, which in turn is a direct result of the Discovery‘s successful battle in four. And obviously, now poor Kat is in the hands of General Kol, which is something that will definitely have repercussions down the line. So the serialized story is still a major component of the episode.”
Sullivan explained why the writers delved into Burnham’s past with her foster family, especially Sarek. “There’s a clear father/daughter story with a beginning, middle and end,” he said. “It’s a profound journey for Michael. For the first time in her life, she sees her foster father as flawed. It’s a big deal when you see your parents through adult eyes and realize they aren’t perfect.
“It was really important to us to tell that story. It moves Michael forward and helps focus her character. It’s taken some audience members time to get used to this. Normally characters in Star Trek are fully realized. Kirk is Kirk. Riker is Riker. No one in Discovery is fully realized yet. You can see characters changing as a direct result of the events of each episode. They’re ‘discovering’ who they are. And so is the Federation and Starfleet. They all thought they knew who they were, but that confidence is tested by the war.
“We’re still ten years away from TOS. So there’s a lot of time to grow and change. I think people will start to see more and more glimpses of the Starfleet they know the deeper into the series we get. But we’re not there yet.
“But as many have started to see, we’re not doing what previous Trek shows have done. We’re moving stories at warp speed. And everything you see is impacting story, character and theme. We don’t waste any time. Even Tilly and Michael jogging at the top of Lethe ties into the Sarek/Burnham story. Michael is initially pushing Tilly just like Sarek pushed her on Vulcan. But at the end, she tries to course correct and tell Tilly to find her own way. Those bookend scenes show some personal growth and insight already.”