It’s time to go back to the U.S.S. Discovery–at least for a short while.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 won’t be returning until early 2019, but in the meantime fans will be treated to a series of shorts with contained stories about Discovery characters, including Doug Jones’ Saru, Rainn Wilson’s Harry, and a new character named Craft, played by Aldis Hodge (Underground, Leverage). The first in the series of Short Treks is “Runaway”, starring Mary Wiseman’s Tilly, who has an unexpected encounter on the U.S.S. Discovery, which airs Thursday, Oct. 4 at 9 p.m. on Space.
The TV Junkies spoke with Wiseman during a recent press junket about how this short fits into Tilly’s larger storyline in the series, her experience joining the Star Trek universe, and what makes Tilly a great candidate for leader.
The TV Junkies: How did you feel about Tilly getting her own short?
Mary Wiseman: Oh, I was so excited. It was nice to do something that was focused on Tilly because she does a lot of backup on the show and this was kind of an opportunity for her to get in trouble, have to figure something out on her own and use the skills that she’s learned so far to do that. So that was a great opportunity.
TTVJ: It’s true, she’s been a great support, but with her goal in mind as leader, it’s nice to see her step more into the spotlight.
MW: Yeah, she’s got to learn how to take on issues of conflict while on her own. Otherwise how is she ever going to be an officer? How’s she ever going to go on an away mission?
TTVJ: How long did it take to film?
MW: We shot it over three days, but we had a lot of the same crew that we use on our main unit, so that was nice and we were right on set. It was really cool. It was nice to get like a little different story going on.
TTVJ: You filmed while you were working on Season 2, right?
MW: Yes. Yeah, right in the middle.
TTVJ: What was it like for you to be back on set for Season 2 compared to Season 1?
MW: Oh, it was wonderful. You know, when I arrived for first season I was in kind of a blind panic because it was a huge step for me and I was just kind of awestruck. So coming back the second season when I know everybody and these are all my friends and it gave us a completely different feelings. There’s that second season relaxation and comfort in shooting the show where we know the story we know who these characters are, and getting to see all my friends again, which was amazing.
TTVJ: It has to be nice to return to a character that you’ve had the chance to grow and learn more about, then get to expand for Season 2.
MW: Yes, absolutely. You know, we’re just building on this thing that we’ve laid the groundwork for. And in the short also you get to see Tilly have to figure out what it will mean to be someone in command and how to execute the command training program in a way that will be successful and also will be fully Tilly, you know?
TTVJ: It was mentioned that the shorts would plant some seeds for Star Trek: Discovery Season 2. Is that the case with yours as well?
MW: Yeah, I mean, it definitely stands alone. You can watch the series without watching the short and it will still make sense, but it is like a nice supplementary story that fleshes out a bit of character and a bit of a growth, which is very important to me and I think will be important to Tilly’s journey.
TTVJ: It’s nice for the fans. Especially when it comes to Star Trek, the more content you can get the better.
MW: It’s amazing to be part of it because I’m not just acting, I’m also in a video game, and we’re also doing little short films, and I’m on the cover of a comic book. It’s a wild and amazing job. And I’ll see my cast makes for the rest of my life. I’ll be going to conventions–this is a part of your entire life when you join a world like this. It’s not just whatever material we’re putting out right now, which is really cool.
TTVJ: What has it been like meeting the fans so far for Star Trek?
MW: It’s been amazing. It’s really a strange, beautiful new world. You’re not making a show in a vacuum, you know, you’re making it–before we even premiered our first episode–within the engagement and with the community of fans that are going to go along on this ride for you. So meeting them and seeing what our stories mean to them, not just the past Star Treks but also ours, is deeply moving. I don’t know another job where I would get to meet so many fans and really hear their stories and why they appreciate what we do. So I feel pretty lucky to get to do that.
TTVJ: Are there any stories that stand out to you?
MW: The big things that stand out to me, because I relate to them, are women feeling like they see themselves in Tilly. That you can be all of yourself and you don’t have to mimic what a man in command looks like, or that you can be quirky and be compassionate and be very different and strange to others and still make your dreams come true and be part of a world where you’re respected and valued. Those stories are amazing to me, you know, and very personal to me are women who feel like this is a diversity of size and shape also, that I’m not like every other woman you see on television. They feel like that means they get to be in Starfleet some day. That also is deeply moving to me because I had role models like that growing up and they were very important to me too.
TTVJ: And we do know Tilly is working toward becoming a leader, so what do you think are some of her qualities that will make her a good leader one day?
MW: I think that she can relate to everyone else. She’s not elitist. I think she’s a bit of an every-man and that gives her compassion for other creatures. I want a compassionate leader, you know? That’s the kind of person I want at the helm is someone with softness and grace, but who also has a lot of humanity. I think that’s the kind of leader Tilly truly would be. And maybe some people would think that would be disqualifying, but I think that those things that seem like her short-comings are her greatest strength. She’s deeply flawed and deeply, you know, herself. And that’s the only way to lead, I think, is to really use all of yourself in what you do.
TTVJ: Considering what’s going on in the world today, I think compassion is a really important quality in a leader.
MW: We really need Starfleet right now, you know. That there’s something bigger than just whoever, you know, undoing the work of the last leader. That there are greater values that we follow, that dictate our decisions, is an idea and philosophy that I think is soothing and quite a balm right now where we are.
Are you excited for the new Star Trek shorts? Sound off in the comments below.
Star Trek: Short Treks will air monthly, beginning Thursday, Oct. 4 with “Runaway”, airing at 9 p.m. ET on Space, and available to stream the next day on CraveTV. Star Trek: Discover Season 2 will return early 2019.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.