The latest news for #StarTrekDiscovery has not been happy. After the show was pushed back 6 months, Bryan Fuller partially exited because of clashing commitments. Then, all fell silent for a while — aside from CBS saying that Star Trek had no place on broadcast TV, despite the huge success it's had over decades on... broadcast TV. But now, finally, the first cast member has been announced, and she's awesome.
Exec and co-writer Nicholas Meyer (Wrath of Khan, The Undiscovered Country) told ComingSoon that Michelle Yeoh would appear in Discovery. It was later revealed by Deadline that the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star will be playing a Captain.
This counts Yeoh out as playing the lead character, who we know to be a Lieutenant Commander. And Yeoh's character — called Han Bo — won't be sitting at the helm of the USS Discovery either.
Another Ship, Another Story
Captain Han Bo will be commanding the Shenzou, which seems to be named after China's first manned spacecraft, launched in 2003. Because of its reference to Earth history, it seems highly likely that the USS Shenzou is a Starfleet vessel.
While it may seem odd that the first casting news for Discovery is for a someone who isn't even based on the eponymous ship, that's not to say that Han Bo won't be a major character.
A while ago, Fuller hinted that Star Trek: Discovery would break out of the traditional structure and focus on more than one crew, explaining that this made more sense for modern serialized storytelling.
"I think we will be seeing lots of crews in the story. One of the things that is exciting for me is that we are telling a 'Star Trek' story in a modern way. We're telling a 13-chapter story in this first season. It's nice to be able to dig deep into things that would have been breezed passed if we were doing episodic and had to contain a story to an episode."
With the exception of Deep Space Nine (which used serialized plot arcs), all the Star Trek shows have had a predominantly episodic structure. Nowadays, many TV shows lean towards serialization: Longer, complex plots that are drawn out over several episodes, or the entire season.
Such a structure is very narratively rigorous, and dividing the main cast over several ships is an interesting way to adapt Star Trek to a more modern style.
More Characters Rumored
Although it is surprising that the first character revealed for Star Trek: Discovery is not one serving on the titular vessel, this does confirm what Fuller hinted at — that we'll be seeing several ships in this show, and probably following characters on each of them. A few weeks ago, a cast list of sorts was released by The Hollywood Reporter:
Sources tell THR that the rest of the cast also will feature an openly gay actor as one of the male leads (which Fuller confirmed), a female admiral, a male Klingon captain, a male admiral, a male adviser and a British male doctor.
At the time, we were somewhat disheartened to learn how male-heavy the Discovery cast would be, but Michelle Yeoh's casting has thrown this previous report into doubt, as her captain character doesn't seem to be listed. It's very encouraging that the first actor to be cast isn't only a woman, but a woman of color — in a position of authority no less.
This is something of a first for Star Trek, as although there have been women of color playing captains and admirals before, these are usually very minor roles. Yeoh also adds some more Asian representation to Trek, as there have only been three Asian main characters so far: Lt Hikaru Sulu on The Original Series, Ensign Harry Kim in Voyager, and Ensign Hoshi Sato on Enterprise.
As for the rest of the cast, the only report we've had is the one from THR, and a few more hints from Fuller — he revealed that "there will be robots" as part of the crew, and that Spock's mother Amanda may make an appearance.
Although we haven't had much news about Star Trek: Discovery, the little we do know is very exciting, and with any luck we'll get more official casting news soon.
Tell us in the comments: Do you have a dream cast for Discovery?