Star Trek Discovery Exec Says “Explorers, Diplomats First. War is Not Why We’re Here”

Star Trek Discovery Executive Producer, Aaron Harberts (courtesy CBS, photo by Jan Thijs)

Star Trek: Discovery International Press Junket

Back in late August, CBS invited a limited number of international press and media to visit the sets of Star Trek Discovery at the Pinewoods studio in Toronto, Canada.  Now that the series is a mere two weeks away, CBS has given the go-ahead to publish about the tour and interviews conducted.

One of the highlights of that day was during an interview conducted by Scott Collura for IGN (If you have the time, we recommend you go read his article).  Collura interviewed Aaron Harberts, executive producer of the upcoming series.

As any fan of the Star Trek tv shows can tell you, Star Trek is not about wars and battles – it’s about discovery, social issues, science, exploration, and finding answers to questions and new questions.  Some fans have voiced concern over what appears to be a war and action-heavy series based on the first two trailers released so far.  Of course a trailer doesn’t necessarily represent a show’s true subject matter.  They’re designed to build anticipation and garner interest.  But that hasn’t stopped some fans from being concerned.

That’s why Collura’s interview with Harberts is a must-read for any weary Star Trek fans.  During the interview, Harberts explains that the crew is about exploration and diplomacy; that war isn’t the reason any of the Starfleet crew are there.

Star Trek: Discovery Setting is Klingon War

T'Kuvma, Klingon leader
T’Kuvma, Klingon leader

We know that Star Trek Discovery‘s first season focuses on the Klingon War.  How does Harberts explain?  “These Starfleet officers who find themselves in war are very quick to remind the audience that they didn’t sign up to do that” he says. “[T]hey are explorers first, that they are diplomats first. So our officers are quick to comment on the fact that this is not Starfleet’s mission. War is not why we’re here. And in fact, [the USS] Discovery is a science vessel that has been conscripted for the war effort.”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine also touched on that very same theme.  In that show, a entire season story arc was dedicated to a war against the Dominion – an enemy force from the Gamma Quadrant intent on taking over Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets.  Starfleet personnel reluctantly took up arms at the front line space station.

Lieutenant Stamets appearing skeptical and dismayed (CBS)
Lieutenant Stamets appearing skeptical and dismayed (CBS)

For Dicovery, of particular interest is the way Lieutenant Stamets (Anthony Rapp) has been thrown into the mix of the war.  Stamets, an Astromycologist (space fungus), finds that his research, and his life’s work, are being used in ways he’s not comfortable with.  “[They’re] being converted to be used for the war effort, and that bothers him greatly, and he talks about it a great deal,” Harberts says. “So we go into this with all of the people involved saying, ‘this isn’t why we’re here. We have to do this, but this isn’t our main focus‘” he says of the Starfleet crews.

In addition, the research and methods that Stamets has created are being used by others aboard the USS Discovery, seemingly in some attempt of creating a new technology for space travel.  Details on that are vague, but it’s likely being done to assist with the war effort and possibly against the wishes of Lt. Stamets.

It’s an interesting, and all-to-realistic case of a scientist’s work being used in unintended ways by those that facilitate and/or funded the work.

Lieutenant Tyler
Lieutenant Tyler

From the other side of the coin, we know that a few of the characters in Star Trek Discovery are former POW’s.  Those individuals may have a different take on the way that the war is conducted.  Lieutenant Tyler (Shazad Latif) and USS Discovery’s captain, Gabriel Lorca, both spent time in prison together.

That’s certain to lead to dynamics of potentially competing agendas and worldviews.  Placed in a setting that doesn’t represent Starfleet’s purpose, it should make for an interested show.  One that takes on social concern, and the human condition, in new directions for a Star Trek series.

Star Trek Discovery airs September 24th on CBS All Access in the USA, Space and CTV channels in Canada, and streams on Netflix September 25th for the rest of the world.

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About Cassius Adams

Cassius Adams is the creator of and is a content contributor. He has been a Star Trek fan for nearly three decades. Cassius discovered his passion for the franchise early into TNG's run, and nourished that passion throughout DS9, Voyager, Enterprise, and the movies. Cassius can be reached by emailing or you can follow him on Twitter at @supercass