Getting promoted at work is usually cause for celebration. However, Tilly’s rise to Lieutenant in Thursday’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery did not invoke feelings of joy. It inspired her to switch careers.
The episode, titled “All Is Possible,” found Tilly questioning her next steps before discovering a new purpose while leading a group of young cadets on a mission gone wrong. Realizing that she’d rather be teaching, Tilly bid farewell to her friends and boarded a shuttle to the Academy, embarking on a new journey mentoring the next generation of Starfleet crew.
Tilly’s heartfelt goodbyes sure seemed to signal a send-off for original cast member Mary Wiseman, but showrunner Michelle Paradise tells TVLine that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the character. “She is definitely still in the world,” Paradise assures. “I expect that we will see her again, for sure. We didn’t send her far, far away. We’re keeping her close.”
Given where Tilly began the series, her career change is unexpected. Since Season 1, the Starfleet officer has focused her efforts towards reaching the captain’s chair. But in a season full of uncertainty and questions about life, it “felt like a natural place to be able to explore some of these things with her.”
Those feelings will continue to be explored while Tilly teaches at the Academy — and according to the Discovery boss, she may not stay there for good. “It’s a place where she feels like she fits and can do good right now,” says the EP. “It doesn’t mean it has to be forever, but it did feel like… digging in a little more deeply to why was that path her dream and where did it come from? Having her ask some of those questions feels like a way of showing her growth as a character.”
With Discovery now firmly planted in the distant future, Paradise notes the importance of ensuring that that show remains connected to the larger Star Trek universe through well-placed references. For example, in this season’s second episode Dr. Culber recalled Picard being revived in an android body (which happened in Star Trek: Picard’s Season 1 finale) while brainstorming ways to bring back Gray in corporal form.
“There’s so much fresh snow ahead of us that we are always looking for ways that we can firmly plant ourselves in the larger Star Trek universe,” Paradise explains. “That’s just one example of the kind of thing that helps all of this feel like a large universe of shows and stories and characters.”