STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS’ Cast Reflects on Season 2

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds continued its excellent exploration of different genres in its second season, giving us more of the layered characters we got to know in season one. The Paramount+ original series accomplished notable firsts for Star Treka musical episode and a crossover with Star Trek animated series Lower Decks—while never compromising story. During a panel for the SAG-AFTRA Conversations at Home program, I talked to the ensemble cast of Strange New Worlds about those firsts, significant character moments, the Gorn, and more. Joining the panel were Anson Mount (Christopher Pike), Rebecca Romijn (Una Chin-Riley), Ethan Peck (Spock), Celia Rose Gooding (Nyota Uhura), Christina Chong (La’an Noonien-Singh), Jess Bush (Christine Chapel), Melissa Navia (Erica Ortegas), and Babs Olusanmokun (Joseph M’Benga).

The Musical Episode

The crew of the Enterprise dancing on the bridge of the ship

“Subspace Rhapsody” claimed a piece of our heart from the first viewing. The U.S.S. Enterprise encountered an entity that caused the crew to share their deepest feelings and thoughts in the form of uncontrollable song and dance. It required an extra commitment for the cast, as they needed to squeeze in time to practice and record. Christina Chong, a singer herself, was ready for it. She said, “I mean, I was incredibly excited. It was one of my dreams to do that, to be in a film or TV musical. So for me, it was literally my career coming 360 and living out a dream.”

Anson Mount said they’d been lobbying the showrunners to do something like the musical episode for a while. “Not because I’m a singer,” he said. “I’m definitely not, as you can see, but just I like, ‘Oh, no’ situations. They’re really good for creativity. The way that they scheduled it was even better because it came towards the end of a very long shoot seaso, and everybody was—it was a really hard episode to do, as you can imagine. It required a lot of work on the weekends between recording the album and choreography. But everybody was super psyched to be at work every day.”

The Lower Decks Crossover

Boimler and Mariner talking to Spock and Una in the transporter room

In “Those Old Scientists,” Ensigns Boimler and Mariner went through a time portal and traveled into the past. There, they encounter the Enterprise crew. The Lower Decks characters brought a different kind of energy to the ship—extra energy. The Cerritos crew seemingly operates on buckets of caffeine. But Mount noted with Jonathan Frakes directing, it was smooth sailing. “The episode really could not have happened without Jonathan Frakes, who directs on both series. So he was really the perfect person. With the deep knowledge of Trek to be able to come in and help meld those two tones together, it was really important that he was there at the helm.”

Rebecca Romijn agreed, saying, “Obviously, the energy on an animated show voice-wise is going to be different than on our show. So watching them figure out how to massage that with the help of Jonathan Frakes was crucial.”

The Gorn

A Gorn in a spacesuit, from the Strange New Worlds season two finale Hegemony.

The Gorn have become a recurring foe for the Enterprise. From first hearing La’an talk about them in season one to the haunting Strange New Worlds season two finale, the Gorn have proven themselves formidable.

“I love it because every time La’an, every time Chrissy [Christina Chong] said ‘the Gorn,’ I got goosebumps on set because only none of us had seen the Gorn. The only character that’s seen them is her,” Melissa Navia said. “That fear is already instilled in the writing and in the plot that you don’t want to be caught by this thing that you hear just the most horrible stories about. But then in the back of my mind, I would sometimes think, but wouldn’t it be great after all this, when we finally see them, they are TOS Gorn?”

Mount added that the show didn’t go for the kitschy take and complimented the special effects team and CG artists. A Gorn on set in the season two finale sounded horrifying. Ethan Peck pointed out, “It’s such a complex mechanism, a very brave and durable stunt person wears this enormously heavy suit. Then there’s a team of technicians that are controlling its expressions, and it was crazy to look into his face and it be expressing and looking at you. It felt very present. One of the amazing things about our show is that so many of the effects are practical and that for us, because you don’t have to, again, fill in so much with your imagination. That Gorn was freaky”

Season three of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is in the works, with production underway. We cannot wait. In the meantime, you can watch the entire conversation with the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds cast here.

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