Of all the big sci-fi franchises, Star Trek got fairly lucky during Covid-19.
Star Trek: Picard Season 1 and Star Trek: Discovery had both finished filming before the quarantine lockdowns of spring 2020, and Lower Decks, is, of course, an animated series. And, in just a few weeks, on October 15, 2020, Discovery Season 3 will actually debut, which will open up a whole new direction for the Trek canon in the 32nd Century.
But before that happens, Trek will make a big splash at New York Comic Con. This year, CBS All-Access will have a sizeable presence at the virtual version of NYCC 2020, and one detail from the Star Trek Universe panel could suggest that the announcement of a more interconnected Trek universe is coming.
Here's what to expect at the NYCC 2020 Star Trek panel, and what it might mean for the future of the Final Frontier. Speculation ahead!
When is the Star Trek panel at NYCC?
On Thursday, October 8, at 12 p.m. Eastern, the Star Trek Universe virtual panel will happen at NYCC. Here's how the CBS press-release describes it: "The beloved panel returns to New York Comic-Con with a special virtual edition, featuring exclusive back-to-back conversations with casts and producers from the “Star Trek” universe on CBS All Access, alongside a few special surprise guests."
Officially, there are two segments to this: a panel on Lower Decks and a panel on Discovery. The Lower Decks panel will be moderated by Wil Wheaton, and the Discovery panel will be moderated by Sarah Rodman of Entertainment Weekly.
What will happen on the Lower Decks and Discovery panels?
Because October 8 is also the same day that the season finale of Lower Decks is set to air on CBS All Access, it's a good bet that showrunner Mike McMahan will be talking about that finale, and also, almost certainly talking about Season 2 of Lower Decks.
It makes sense that this panel will probably reveal a release date for Lower Decks Season 2 and possibly even a trailer. It's also possible that because the production schedules of live-action Trek shows like Picard and Strange New Worlds will be delayed, that Lower Decks Season 2 could roll-out much earlier than previously thought.
Could we be getting more Lower Decks in early 2021? We know Season 2 is coming, it's just a question of when.
October 8 is also exactly one week before Discovery Season 3 debuts, so it seems like another trailer for Season 3 is a given, but there' also every reason to believe new cast members will be revealed, too.
Who are the special guests?
We already know that Discovery Season 3 will introduce David Ajala as a character named Booker, as well as Ian Alexander and Blu del Barrio, as Gray and Adira, Trek's first transgender and non-binary characters, respectively.
But there is another character in the Discovery Season 3 trailer who has not been named, nor revealed yet. About halfway through the latest trailer, we see a character dressed in what could be a future Starfleet uniform from the 32nd century. This character jokes with Tilly, Reno and Stamets about being "dysfunctional."
We don't know who they are yet! It seems very likely the NYCC panel will reveal this actor and the character at the NYCC panel.
It's also possible that the Lower Decks and Discovery panel could feature more legacy actors who could crossover into either series. Because of the timeline setting, it's much harder for legacy characters to appear in Discovery Season 3, but Q is coming to Lower Decks so, could he be showing up on Discovery? 830 years is nothing for him, right?
Finally, it seems almost 100 percent confirmed that more information will be revealed about the upcoming Trek kids' series for Nickelodeon; Star Trek: Prodigy. Dan and Kevin Hageman, who are the two big creative names behind that series, made it very clear on Twitter that they are among the "surprise guests." This could also mean that we'll get an idea of what Prodigy will even look like, and perhaps, a trailer.
Could Star Trek reveal a bigger crossover, a multiverse?
One thing that's happening in the background of all this Trek news is that in 2021, CBS All-Access will be rebranded as Paramount+. Whether or not the NYCC Trek panel will address this, isn't clear. But, let's just say that they do; why is that relevant for Trekkies? Well, since roughly 2005, the movie and TV rights for Star Trek have been split between Paramount and CBS. But, these days, Viacom and CBS have re-merged, which is why CBS is being rebranded as Paramount+; it's all one company again.
This affects Trek more than any other property that will stream on Paramount+. It now means that you'll probably get all the Trek TV shows and Trek movies (including the reboots) streaming in the same place in early 2021.
So...does that mean there will be some kind of project that formalizes this new shared community? Back in the '90s, new Trek feature films referenced new TV series all the time. But, since Discovery's debut in 2017, there haven't been any new Trek movies happening at the same time as the TV series.
On top of that, the Kelvin Universe continuity from the reboot films has been left behind by new Trek on TV, specifically because those films were legally separated from the "Prime Universe" TV canon. That said, when Picard debuted in 2020, that series did reference events of the 2009 Trek movie, specifically the Romulan supernova.
The larger point is, legally, the Star Trek franchise is in a position where some kind of larger crossover between the reboot films and the TV canon could actually happen. This doesn't mean this kind of thing is happening, or that it will be announced at NYCC. But then again, you never know. As of September, the Prime Universe has started crossing over with the Kelvin Universe in the MMOG Star Trek: Fleet Command. This means Discovery characters are co-existing with Chris Pine Kirk and the rest of the Kelvin Universe crew right now. Could something like this happen, but on Paramount+?
Nothing is in stone for big Star Trek crossovers, but with Paramount+ coming, and a lot of new Trek projects in the works, it seems like one Spock quote is more relevant than ever:
"There are aways...possibilities."
You can check at all the virtual NYCC panels on the New York Comic-Con website here.
Star Trek: Discovery hits CBS All Access (soon to be Paramount+) on October 15, 2020.