The week is finally here. Fans have been waiting for months to see the return of the U.S.S. Enterprise to a weekly television series. Since the end of Captain Archer’s mission (in 2005), there has been no regular mission for the crew of this iconic vessel. Sure, there were three Trek films that starred Chris Pine as Captain Kirk; those stories happened in another universe.
And there have been plenty of “Star Trek” for fans to enjoy. Those shows include “Discovery,” “Picard,” “Lower Decks,” and “Prodigy.” So technically, this is the fourth spin-off of “Discovery” and the fifth new series produced for the CBS All Access / Paramount+ network.
While “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” will not star William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, or Scott Bakula, it will seem like the old-fashioned Trek they grew up with. The show will center on the adventures of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), Number One (Rebecca Romijn), and Spock (Ethan Peck) aboard the Enterprise.
Pike and the Future
The crew will include some familiar faces like Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush), and Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), who were featured in “The Original Series.” “Strange New Worlds” will also feature some new faces, like Hemmer (Bruce Horak), Lt. Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia), and La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong).
Though all of that may sound familiar to Trek fans and might scratch the itch of fans of TOS, TNG, and the other “classic” series, there is one huge factor that sets Pike apart from any of the other leaders who have commanded a starship before: He knows his future.
Actor Jeffrey Hunter first played Pike for the original “Star Trek” story — “The Cage.” This pilot, made in 1964, was rejected by NBC for being too cerebral, forcing Gene Roddenberry to go back to the drawing board. Roddenberry and his team came up with “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” the second pilot, which leaned in on the action aspects of what a Trek story could be. NBC liked it, and the rest is history.
Rather than let a good story go to waste on the cutting room floor, Roddenberry recycled “The Cage” and used it in a two-part TOS story called “The Menagerie.” The crux of this story involved a badly injured and disfigured Pike, who chose to go back and live a life with the beautiful Vina (played by Susan Oliver). This life was imaginary, as Pike’s body would not allow him to walk or talk, but thanks to the Talosians, Pike lived through his mind.
The End of ‘The Cage’
When Pike appeared on the second season of “Star Trek: Discovery,” he saw his future. Pike visited a Klingon monastery (of sorts) and held a time crystal, which revealed his grisly fate and disfigurement.
Unlike any of the other captains of the Enterprise, like Kirk, Picard, Archer, or any other Starfleet captains fans know — Janeway, Sisko, Burnham, or even Captain Freeman (of “Lower Decks”) — Pike knows how he will die.
Of the list above, fans know the ultimate fate of only Kirk (killed by a bridge on “Star Trek: Generations”) and Sisko (ascended to a god-like plane at the end of “Deep Space Nine”). Picard, Burnham, Janeway, and the others still have lives to live and futures to plan out.
‘Arrival’ and the Alien Language
How will Pike face the future? This might be something that the creators of “Strange New Worlds” explore. Even though the show is supposed to be episodic, it stands to reason that an underlying theme for Pike could be how he manages his terrible fate.
This sort of knowledge can torture a character and, if not understood, can drive them mad. In the 2016 film “Arrival,” the linguist character played by actress Amy Adams gained the ability to see the future. This was due to her understanding of the alien “heptapod” language. Adams’ character then was able to jump ahead in time, connect with a Chinese leader, and use the information in her present to avoid nuclear catastrophe.
However, the side effect was that she knew her daughter would die of an incurable illness and still gave birth to the child. Adams’ character felt that the future was written and unchangeable.
Visions in ‘Dune’
Another recent character from popular science fiction is Paul Atreides from “Dune.” Atreides can also see the future, but he can see multiple timelines and outcomes. Eventually, Atreides becomes emperor of the known universe at the end of “Dune” but finds himself trapped by the unseeable future in the later book, “Dune Messiah.”
Thanks to the events of “Star Trek VI: The Voyage Home” and season two of “Star Trek: Picard,” fans know that future events can be altered in the “Star Trek Universe.” Will Pike attempt to act against fate and change his outcome? These exciting decisions will be something to watch for as the “Strange New Worlds” story unfolds.