star_trek_discovery_logoSaturday at SDCC became a gathering place for both old and new explorers of the final frontier, when showrunner Bryan Fuller (of CBS’ upcoming Star Trek: Discovery) lead a discussion about the themes, events and people that had shaped Star Trek over the course of its fifty years.

William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk on The Original Series), Brent Spiner (Data on The Next Generation), Michael Dorn (Worf from The Next Generation), Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine on Voyager) and Scott Bakula (Captain Jonathan Archer on Enterprise) populated the panel.

Early on, Fuller and Shatner made it clear that the Star Trek canon is the most important basis for the series. “It is essential,” remarked Shatner, “it is the basis of law and order and the basis of civilization.” Fuller used this question as a preface to the possibility of Shatner coming back for more shows as Captain Kirk should his character ever be revived (Kirk was killed during the events of Star Trek: Generations). Shatner was animated at the very thought, screaming “Hell yes!”

Fuller hit all the right notes, reminding the audience that it’s extremely important to not forget the progressive values and message of the show.

star_trek_50th_sdcc_panel“I think Star Trek has been about individual rights and has been about respecting everyone, no matter who or what they are. We’re living in a world right now where that sort of respect is being challenged,” added Brent Spiner. “A lot of our politicians and our fellow citizens could take a page from Star Trek at this point and have a bit more respect for humanity.”

Jeri Ryan touched on her iconic character, Seven of Nine, commenting on her character’s agency, and the way it had been taken away so jarringly, assimilated by the Borg as a child, then again in adulthood when she was taken in by Captain Janeway.

Also speaking on joining the show as a character of a different species, Michael Dorn commented that he was honored to portray Worf. Dorn compared the character to the starship itself, a uniting device for all races and creeds, but not without his sturggle with prejudice – a scenario also reminiscent of real life.

Interestingly enough, Fuller remarked that he’d already spoken to astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison about how Uhura influenced her life and work. “Starships are not built with cynicism. They are not built with hate. They are built with science.”

star-trek_discovery shipIn the final moments of the panel, I could not help but begin to tear up at seeing all of these actors together on one stage. Trek of past, present, and future have all pointed to a world in which humans are at peace with one another, uniting one species under one flag as a galaxy.

Before ending however, Fuller surprised us all with some test footage from Star Trek: Discovery. It’s then we got confirmation for the new show’s title, and a peak at the latest ship, the starship NCC-1031: The USS Discovery, as it left dock and began its journey.

To send things out on a high note, Fuller paid tribute to the loss of Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin, both Trek actors who had been lost recently. In this moment I nearly began to cry thinking of the impact these characters had left in my life and the importance of continuing Roddenberry’s vision of peace.