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WARP FIVE: Mary Wiseman Brings Her Academy Experiences Aboard Discovery

The Star Trek: Discovery actress on reuniting with the crew for their final mission.

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains story details and plot points for the fifth season of Star Trek: Discovery.

Graphic illustration of Mary Wiseman and episodic stills of Sylvia Tilly in Star Trek: Discovery

Getty Images /

Welcome to Warp Five,'s five question post-mortem with your favorite featured talent from the latest Star Trek episodes.

The fifth and final season of Star Trek: Discovery finds everyone all hands on deck for a Red Directive mission as different factions are chasing a tool of immense power that could create life itself.

In addition to pulling ex-courier Cleveland "Book" Booker and new Kellerun first officer Rayner aboard the U.S.S. Discovery, Lt. Slyvia Tilly steps away from the Academy to aid Discovery to unravel the mystery around the Progenitors' technology.

Ahead of the latest episode, "Whistlespeak," which sees Tilly beaming down to a pre-warp planet with Captain Michael Burnham, had the opportunity to sit down with Mary Wiseman to talk about Tilly and Discovery's mission this season.

The Season Overall

Mary Wiseman as Slyvia Tilly Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 environmental portrait

Speaking to the action-packed, galaxy-trotting season, Mary Wiseman summarizes her experience, "It's really fun, expansive, and rewarding getting to go so many different places."

"It’s just really beautiful," adds Wiseman. "It gives you that sense of adventure, like new worlds, where we have to acclimate, have to figure out what the rules are. It keeps you very much on your tippy-toes, keeping that sense of adventure throughout the entire season."

The Trials of a Mentee

Tilly joins a couple of cadets in the mess hall in 'Jinaal'


As revealed at the start of the season, Tilly questioned her impact with the latest batch of Academy cadets, finding a bigger thrill in hacking the Federation database to reveal the nature of their Red Directive mission.

As the season progresses, Tilly's presence and return has been crucial as she utilized her personable skills to challenge Rayner's approach, guide Ensign Adira, provide an ear to Dr. Hugh Culber, and decode each clue the Discovery acquires across their mission.

"Tilly had a lot of very healing mentor-mentee relationships in the early part of the series," states Wiseman. "She probably has some sense that those relationships made one of the most positive impacts of her life. She wants to give that back to other people, and it naturally gels with how she moves through the world, her values and beliefs. It’s a natural evolution that I really like."

Sylvia Tilly, Adira Tal, and several other cadets try to find their footing as they stick to the perimeter of a ship in 'All is Possible'

"All Is Possible"

In "Whistlespeak," Tilly shares her doubts in her ability to connect with the latest batch of cadets with Burnham on the planet Halem'no.

"Tilly is very attuned to young people who are struggling to be seen, or those who feel confused or misunderstood," notes Wiseman. "She really listens and pays attention to people like that because that is how she felt for a very long time. It's a natural part of life that you want to protect people who remind you of yourself when you need protection and help."

"She's struggling to understand the kids at the Academy," continues Wiseman. "They’re from a totally different set of circumstances [and time] than her, but the desire to help is enough to push through any sort of problem or any sort of misunderstanding."

Tying it to Tilly's guidance of the Halem’nite Ravah in "Whistlespeak," Wiseman shares, "It's so sweet that she gets on this away mission is immediately like, 'Ooh, young person who is struggling, let me help you.'"

Callback to Season 1

Michael Burnham looks over her shoulder towards Cadet Sylvia Tilly in 'Context is For Kings'

"Context is For Kings"

In "Whistlespeak," as Tilly and Burnham take on the Journey of the Mother Compeer in order to enter the temple. Their run along the route mirrors the cadet drills she and Burnham endured when they ran laps throughout the starship upon Burnham's arrival on the Discovery in Season 1.

On sharing this moment with Sonequa Martin-Green and having the ability to weave in these series callbacks, Wiseman says, "It's very cool to be on a project for this long and have so many really well-established and beautiful relationships that have blossomed over time. It makes things really easy to act, and you feel really bought in and really invested in everything you do because you really care about the person standing opposite from you."

Being in Tune with the Needs of the Discovery Crew

Tilly with her arms folded while leaning at the bar table looks up towards Culber in 'Mirrors'


Following the events of "Jinaal," Dr. Hugh Culber struggles with the feelings and expansions of what he knows to be fact after possessing the consciousness of an 800-plus-year-old symbiont, which Tilly easily clocks.

"It's really nice when you’re around brilliant people," comments Wiseman, "especially if you find an area where you can offer them help. She sees the opportunity for [Hugh] to take care of himself when he's taking care of everyone else, to help him sort of [root] out what he’s struggling with and name it. She relishes that opportunity to give back to him because he's certainly helped her many times in the past."

At the bar in Red's, Tilly warily looks over at Rayner as he glowers at her in 'Jinaal'


And what's Tilly's read on the gruff first officer? "[Rayner] really pushes her buttons," Wiseman replies. "Tilly is so conscious of how everyone else is feeling, and I think it's particularly aggravating for her when she encounters people who don't appear to care for how they're impacting others; it really sets her off. That pulls something interesting out of her when she stands up to him [as seen in 'Jinaal']. They're probably a good pair in that they're very different and they can influence each other in really positive ways."

"It’s emotional," Wiseman reflecting on the season and series as a whole with her crew. "Endings are weird, but also really happy. This feeling of pride and a feeling of love. It’s a chance to reflect on the relationships you’ve formed [on- and off-screen], and the journey and how great it's been."

Blending in as a Halem'nite

Dressed as natives, Michael Burnham and Sylvia Tilly stand on the surface of Halem'no in 'Whistlespeak'


To avoid violating the Prime Directive on Halem'no in "Whistlespeak," Tilly and Burnham don facial markings and attire that reflect the pre-warp society.

"It was such a fun and classic Star Trek thing to do," reveals Wiseman. "It was my first chance to actually go into the prosthetics trailer, which was very cool, because all my friends hang out there."

Not only did Wiseman get to trade out her Starfleet uniform, she also got to film outside of a sound stage. "Getting to be in the woods with Sonequa where it was so gorgeous was great," Wiseman raves. "And shooting at night, seeing Mars in the sky, being by the water, we got to take in all that fun and a lot of beauty."

"Getting to change or do something different is always really exciting," concludes Wiseman. "It felt so classic in a way to get to do an away mission where you're trying to blend in. I was really, really excited because of all the circumstances. It was a beautiful time."