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Star Trek: Discovery's co-showrunner & director reveal the allure (and the pressure!) of bringing the Breen out of the shadows

Why Star Trek's mysterious Breen were finally demystified for the Discovery final season, according to show's co-showrunner & director

The Breen
Image credit: Paramount+

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The big bads of the final season of Star Trek: Discovery are one of the most mysterious races in all of Star Trek lore: The Breen. First mentioned with fearful reverence in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Breen didn't actually appear until years later, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - but even then, only behind the cloaks of full body suits.

Now, decades after their debut, Star Trek: Discovery season 5 is bringing the Breen out of the shadows - and the "demystifying" of the species was a big topic of conversation during the show's official panel at London's MCM Comic Con this past weekend.

"We put a great deal of thought into [demystifying] the Breen, and we're very intentional about choosing them," says Star Trek: Discovery co-showrunner Michelle Paradise. "We knew that in terms of an antagonist this season, we always want to have scary antagonists - but we never just want them to be just one-note bad guys. You can see a lot of that in the Moll and L'ak characters in terms of how they were developed and how we learn more about them."

Paradise says the Breen were "very appealing" because they were relatively unexplored but still highly regarded in Star Trek canon.

"Really, they haven't been in that many episodes. They haven't been explored. But we've seen them, they've been very scary," says Paradise. "And so when you invoke the name of the Breen, that already kind of creates shudders with people."

The opportunity to define who the Breen are - both as a species and a culture - was especially appealing for Paradise and hew crew, as well as aligning with their core goal "to create the biggest obstacle for our heroes on Discovery to come up against."

Star Trek: Discovery director/executive producer Olatunde Osunsanmi says there as "a lot of trepidation" in bringing the Breen to life like this - in no small part due to the ill-defined look of the characters.

Osunsanmi said the look of the Breen were worked on by no less than three departments - the costume department, the prosthetics departmnt, and the visual effects departments. He noted that prosthetic makeup artist Glenn Hetrick went through 27 different versions before they found what they were looking for with the Breen.

"We always look back at what was done before, because it's really important for us to honor that, but at the same time we have to advance it forward with what we know about technology and where Trek is in these days," says the director. "It was a lot of fun, but the pressure - we always feel the pressure - from you and the audience to get it as exactly right as you can."

The Star Trek: Discovery series finale airs May 30 on Paramount+. Popverse will debut the official Star Trek: Discovery panel from London's MCM Comic Con on May 31 at 3pm Eastern.

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