Season Two of Star Trek: Discovery begins next week, and Mary Wiseman and Doug Jones talk about the reception to their characters and what to expect next.
Wiseman is more relaxed this year, with a season of experience under her belt. “I’m feeling really good,” she said. “This time last year, I was much more in a panic. It was my first show of this magnitude, my first part of this size in any TV show, and I was just white-knuckling it. I pushed through, trying to sound like I knew what I was talking about. And, to be back this year with my friends is a completely different experience, just to see how much we’re settled. I am so excited about the second season. I’m so excited for people to see what Tilly’s doing this season. It’s a really good feeling.”
Sylvia Tilly is one of the fan favorites of the show, and while Alex Kurtzman has one explanation for the Tilly love, Wiseman has another. “Alex said this thing yesterday at the panel that really resonated with me, which is that Tilly does everything with love, and that that’s a character who’s easy to relate to, that the other stuff doesn’t actually matter. It’s that intention right there, and then the actions you choose from there that count, that really make a person. I loved that.
“I’ve gotten letters from people who feel maybe a little isolated or feel like people don’t understand them because they have a mode of behavior that doesn’t jive with everyone, or the way that their mind works or processes information is different than others, and that can feel lonely at times, or it can feel like you don’t get to see yourself reflected in media. And I think some people resonate with Tilly because they feel like they are Tilly. And then they get to see someone like that in a uniform on a spaceship and that’s exciting for them. I feel that way. I would have liked to see Tilly growing up. I think it would make me feel pretty good about myself. That’s my guess.”
For Jones, there is a different reason why the new alien Saru resonated with fans. “As for Saru, I guess the letters I’ve gotten have been from people who deal with severe anxiety in their life, and he’s got a literal thing that shows up, his threat ganglia, when he’s having a moment of terror and is like, ‘What do I do?’ So, I’ve learned a lesson from playing Saru myself, with my own personal fears. We push our threat ganglia back in and we carry forward. We carry on.
“So, that, and I also have so many moments where I’m taking in another character. I listen. Saru listens a lot on camera, and reacts to things, and there’s a certain audience connection with (him). I’m a reactor to the thing that’s going on in the room a lot of the time. With this one [Tilly], a lot. When I think [Tilly] is going off the rails, and I want to give her a bit of a reprimand, there’s great moments of me sighing when she goes off on a tangent. I think the people at home can get a chuckle and can get a likable thing out of that. Parents, especially.”
So what can viewers expect in Season Two? “We’re a little bit less in an era of crisis, because we’re not physically at war,” said Wiseman. “It doesn’t mean we’re not engaged vigorously in all of the more exploratory elements of being a Starfleet vessel. The characters are old friends now. They’re war buddies, quite literally. So, there’s that bond there, and there is that deepening of that relationship that comes with those experiences.”
“Absolutely,” said Jones. “‘I got your back,’ is something that we all don’t have to say because we know that’s happening every day. And, this season, those seven red flares that were mentioned yesterday that show up…
“Signals. I got flares. Where’d I get that from? That’s never been written. The seven signals, they were following them around with kind of like bread crumbs throughout the universe, where some kind of conflict or imminent danger will be happening at those. So, we have conflict to resolve, still, even though we’re not at war with the Klingons anymore.”
Discovery will begin airing again next Thursday in the U.S. and in Canada, and the day after in other countries.