Anson Mount was the perfect Captain Pike, bringing an old-school feel to a beautifully shiny and new Star Trek: Discovery. But if you’re not familiar with Star Trek lore, then you may need a reminder about Pike’s background in the series. Read on for details about the role he’s playing now, and where we’ve seen Pike before.
First, a quick reminder of where Discovery falls in the Star Trek timeline. Discovery takes place about 95 years after the events of the Enterprise series featuring Captain Archer and the founding of the Federation. Archer commanded the first deep space mission in Starfleet, using Warp 5 technology.
The series is happening about 10 years before the events of Star Trek: The Original Series, when Captain Kirk commanded the Enterprise. That’s why it’s going to be so easy to run into characters from the original series, like Pike and Spock.
So just who is Pike and what is his background in Star Trek canon?
In the canon, Pike was born in Mojave on Earth, joined Starfleet, and sometime before 2254 he became captain of the Enterprise. He took command at the age of 38 after Robert April, who had commanded the Enterprise for nine years. He’s appeared in numerous episodes in the Original series. The very first was “The Cage” two-parter from the original series, set in 2254. His next episode is “The Menagerie” from the Original Series, where he’s promoted to Captain. But he’s severely injured while rescuing several cadets and left paralyzed, unable to speak, scarred, and only able to communicate through a light on his chair. That’s when command goes to Kirk. Pike eventually is taken by Spock (against Federation rules) to Talos, where he can spend his life in an illusion feeling that he’s in perfect health.
It’s unclear if this is Pike’s future in this Star Trek universe too. It’s heartbreaking to think it might be, since the captain is already so endearing.
He’s referenced again in TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror” when an alternate universe Kirk says he assassinated Pike to become captain of the ISS Enterprise. He also appears in the Kelvin Timeline movie series reboots, Star Trek Beyond and Star Trek Into Darkness. He has prominent roles in both. He’s the first captain of the Enterprise and is taken prisoner, giving a chance for Kirk to step in. He eventually must be in a wheelchair too, but is promoted to admiral and retains his ability to speak and use his upper body. So his injuries aren’t nearly as severe in the Kelvin timeline.
Anson Mount, who is portraying Pike in the Discovery series, is the perfect man for the job. He told ET that his job was to portray Pike somewhere between “The Cage” and “Menagerie.” He said: “My Pike is sandwiched between those two [episodes]. He comes after The Cage and before The Menagerie. It was my job to come into a very weird situation, which was a role in which the first and third acts had already been established and I was supposed to play the second act. I don’t know of any situation in which anybody’s been asked to do that before, but it was fun as hell and it was great to play a character I admire.”