‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Cast on Captain Michael Burnham, Family & Season 4
In Season 4, she and the U.S.S. Discovery crew will be facing a threat unlike any before — a mysterious anomaly, as seen in the trailer — and with Federation and non-Federation worlds alike feeling the impact, they must confront the unknown and work together to ensure a hopeful future for all.
TV Insider spoke with stars Martin-Green, Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets), Wilson Cruz (Dr. Hugh Culber), Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly), David Ajala (Cleveland “Book” Booker), and Blu del Barrio (Adira) and executive producer Michelle Paradise to get scoop on what’s coming up.
Captain Michael Burnham
Burnham’s journey has been leading to that captain’s chair, and “because you’ve seen [that] and you’ve seen everything that Burnham has suffered through and you’ve seen how much Burnham has changed and grown and learned, we have a pretty solid understanding of who this woman is,” Martin-Green says. “There are still lots of lessons to be learned, there are still mistakes to be made, and there are still victories to be had as well as captain. But there’s something very grounding, very emboldening and also purifying about Burnham as captain.”
Her Discovery crew is very much behind her. “It has felt like such a natural fit for her to take the helm,” Wiseman says. Hugh’s “very happy to see her finally sitting in that chair,” Cruz says, and he’s not the only one. “Cleveland Booker is loving seeing Michael Burnham thriving in this position because he believes she has all the qualities that she needs to be a good captain,” Ajala adds.
For Adira, this is “the best-case scenario” for them, del Barrio shares, since Burnham “is one of the only other adults [besides Paul and Hugh] on this ship that they trust.” And Rapp doesn’t think “Paul will ever just be able to be like, ‘I’m subservient to you, Captain.’ I think there is always going to be a little bit of push and pull, but in a healthy way.”
Burnham has become captain just as the crew will be facing this mysterious threat of the anomaly. “When there is something that big, one can’t really be prepared for it,” Paradise explains. “The joy of the season is watching this person who has prepared for the chair and then is also grappling with and dealing with things that no one can prepare for. How does she grow in all of that? How do we watch her wrestle with that? How does she ultimately help everyone succeed in all the things that they’re doing in any given episode?”
The U.S.S. Discovery Family
Those on board the Discovery are more than just a crew. “They became a family when they decided to jump to the future together to save the universe,” Martin-Green says. But that “family” is going to be getting “a little bit less face time with Michael Burnham because she’s incredibly important to the ship now,” Wiseman acknowledges.
Within that family is the family unit of Paul, Hugh, Adira, and Gray (Ian Alexander). They’re “definitely more settled” in Season 4, del Barrio says, especially for their character who now knows they’re staying put on the ship.
“We have created a really solid foundation and it allows us to really rely on each other more and trust that that support is there in order for us to do our jobs on the ship,” Cruz teases. “And there’s a new dynamic between Paul and Hugh, where Hugh has to allow himself to be taken care of for once that was really enjoyable to play.”
Right now, only Adira can see Gray, but Hugh promised them that would change. “We live up to that promise, and we make him flesh and blood,” Cruz says. “What’s interesting and fascinating to me is that we needed him to be flesh and blood in order for him to do the work that he ends up doing on the ship that helps us with this incredibly uncertain time that we’re all living through.”
When Gray is corporeal again, however that happens, there’s the question of what that means for his and Adira’s relationship. “It was, for about a little over a year, sort of completely one-sided in terms of who was able to make changes to their joint life together,” del Barrio points out. “It’s easy to imagine where there might be conflict, tension, good changes, all of it.”
Certainty in the Face of Uncertainty
With the theme of Season 4 uncertainty, what’s everyone sure of? For Tilly, it’s “her trust of the people who are around her, who she’s been fighting side by side this entire time with,” Wiseman says. Ajala points to Book “knowing that he will always have something to offer because now he’s in a position where he’s happy to serve a purpose bigger than himself. That is a testament to Michael Burnham being the living embodiment of someone who speaks very proudly about the benefits of being part of a family and a team.”
Other than each other, what’s the family-within-the-family of Discovery relying on? While Hugh will be struggling to be the therapist the crew needs while they face the latest threat, Stamets is so certain that “if I apply myself hard enough, I will solve any problem that’s put in front of me,” Rapp says. But “he’s faced with the biggest challenge yet” in Season 4, Cruz adds.
Like Stamets, Adira relies on their brain and “on themselves,” del Barrio says, admitting, “And not always the healthiest way. It’s just the way that they’ve had to for a really long time.”
Joy, Grudge & More Season 4 Teases
Tilly got a taste of being in charge Season 3, which “was definitely a learning experience and will be the jumping off point for a lot of what she goes through and thinks about” this season, Wiseman shares. “For Tilly, getting to see Burnham take the captain chair is a little bit of a preview of something she’s dreamt for herself and maybe watching her take on that role raises some questions about her readiness to do it.”
Also coming up this season: more of Book’s abilities. “We get a bit of information and context as to why he has the skills and abilities,” Ajala teases.
While things may look bleak, especially as the crew faces this anomaly, “there’s always time for joy,” Martin-Green promises. “There’s always going to be optimism. That’s the heartbeat of Star Trek. You see these people fight, but you also see them love.”
Adds Paradise, “one of my favorite shots of the trailer is Burnham and Tilly just hugging and of course, you can’t get enough Grudge [Book’s cat]. It’s a season that does have that and it’s got the action and the adventure and the fun and the funny, even in the midst of this unknowable, big thing that’s happening.”
Star Trek: Discovery, Season 4 Premiere, Thursday, November 18, Paramount+