Spoiler Warning: There are major spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1, including the season finale. Spoilers are also present for Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: Discovery.
This theory is going to get into major spoiler territory for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, including the very last scene of the final episode of Season 1. If you aren’t fully caught up on the events of Season 1 – and you decided to ignore the spoiler warning above – this is your last chance to nope out!
So today I thought it could be fun to speculate about Una Chin-Riley – a.k.a. Number One. Captain Pike’s first officer had an interesting season, with a truly unexpected backstory that connected back to the events of Star Trek: Enterprise while simultaneously setting the stage for some significant development in her relationship with La’an in particular.
The decision for Una to be an Illyrian was a genuinely interesting one, and I felt sure that there’d be something more to come after the revelation of her true heritage in Ghosts of Illyria. It took until the closing moments of the season finale, but eventually we got there! Una’s arrest was the perfect tease on which to end the season, setting the stage for what will presumably be the first part of Season 2 in truly spectacular fashion.
There are a few points to consider before we jump into the main theory list. First of all, the fact that Captain Pike visited an alternate future in which Una is still incarcerated almost a decade after the events of Season 1 does not, in itself, mean that that will be her fate. That was an alternate timeline, after all, one which Pike’s actions have now erased. So I don’t think we can dismiss Una, saying “that’s it, she’s off the show” and close the book! There’s obviously going to be something more to come – though whether it will fully restore her to a leading role in Starfleet is still an open question.
One of the interesting things about a show like Strange New Worlds is the potential it has to explore different aspects of Star Trek’s 23rd Century and answer questions that most fans didn’t even know they had! One such question could be “where was Una after the events of The Cage?” She didn’t participate in Spock’s off-the-books quest to transport Captain Pike to Talos IV, despite being one of only a handful of people who knew about his impending disability and the powers of the Talosians.
Una was also never seen, nor even mentioned, during the entire run of The Original Series and its films. On the production side of things that’s at least partly because Majel Barrett, who was the first actress to take on the role, was playing the character of Nurse Chapel. But again it leaves the question of Una’s fate open-ended. A senior officer with such promise serving on the Federation flagship would usually be gunning for a promotion and their own command; was that what Una hoped to do?
It could be that the explanation for Una’s absence from the events of The Menagerie and other significant moments in the second half of the 23rd Century is that she was either locked up or exiled for her deception and illegal genetic enhancements. That would be a pretty depressing way for the story to go, but it wouldn’t contradict anything we know of from other Star Trek productions. Personally, I’ve never felt any of these absences were glaring omissions that have been crying out to be explained away – but perhaps some of the show’s writers disagree.
There’s also a potential narrative reason to shuffle Una out of the way, and that comes from the character of Spock. Firstly, Spock long ago took over Number One’s original “cool and logical” persona that debuted in The Cage. And secondly, while Captain Pike was surprised to learn in A Quality of Mercy that Spock was his new Number One, as Trekkies we know that Spock’s arc will take him through being Captain Kirk’s first officer and trusted confidante all the way to becoming a captain in his own right, an ambassador, and beyond. Perhaps part of the next chapter of Strange New Worlds will involve setting the stage for Spock to step up and grow into that kind of role, either by serving as Pike’s XO aboard the Enterprise or potentially by pairing him up with a younger Jim Kirk.
However, I’m not convinced that we’ve seen the back of Una just yet. Strange New Worlds already killed off Hemmer – in one of the most shocking and tragic sequences in the entire season – and La’an’s request for a leave of absence to track down the family of Oriana could mean that she will have less of a role to play in future, too – potentially being absent for some or all of next season. With at least one and possibly two characters already gone, it would be one heck of a shake-up to lose Una as well.
With the exception of Lower Decks, modern Star Trek shows have struggled with consistency. Discovery has famously had four different captains across its four seasons, and Picard took two very different approaches to its characters in the two seasons that we’ve seen so far, with some noteworthy absences in Season 2. In short, it would be to the benefit of Strange New Worlds – and the Star Trek franchise overall – to settle down and to find room to breathe; to expand and develop the characters who are already in play before rushing off to make more and more changes. So if I had a vote, I’d find a way to keep Una around!
All of this leads up to my theory list about Una. The first part of the list will consider possible culprits for grassing her up to Starfleet Command and getting her arrested, and the second part will consider possible outcomes and options for Season 2 that could either bring her back into the fold or see her depart the series.
My usual caveats apply: I have no “insider information” and I’m not trying to claim that anything discussed here will be part of Season 2. This is pure speculation from a fan and nothing more! If Season 1 is any indication, Una’s story in Season 2 will go in a wildly different direction that I won’t be able to predict! Secondly, all of this is the subjective opinion of one person. If you hate all of my ideas (or I don’t include your current pet theory) that’s okay! There’s room within the Star Trek fan community for civil conversations and polite disagreement.
With all of that out of the way, let’s look at some theories!
Culprit #1: Captain Pike
I don’t believe that Captain Pike would have intentionally told Starfleet about Una’s Illyrian heritage. But in the course of his duties as captain, he may have had to log or otherwise record Una’s disclosure to him – or may have done so in a personal log. If those logs were then sent to Starfleet, it could be that Captain Pike inadvertently flagged up Una’s true origin.
There was room in Season 1 for more development of the relationship between Una and Captain Pike – a relationship that seemed well-established when they appeared together in Season 2 of Discovery. In a busy season, though, their time together was somewhat limited, and I’d like to see more interaction between the Enterprise’s captain and first officer going forward. Making Pike the one who got her arrested – even if it was completely accidental – would risk damaging that relationship. While that could give them a starting point to rebuild from, it wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice.
Culprit #2: Dr M’Benga
As with Captain Pike above, I don’t believe that Dr M’Benga would deliberately reveal Una’s secret to Starfleet. Just as Una had something to hide, so too did Dr M’Benga, and Una was the only one who knew about his daughter being kept suspended in the transporter buffer. He would have no motivation to expose her, and from his perspective doing so may have compromised himself and his daughter’s safety.
However, Dr M’Benga is responsible for the ship’s sickbay and the health of all its personnel, so perhaps he logged somewhere that there’s an Illyrian aboard. Maybe Dr M’Benga noted that the treatment for the contagion that broke out aboard the Enterprise came from Illyrian antibodies; Starfleet Medical must surely keep records of these dangers and their cures for the sake of other ships and crews.
Culprit #3: La’an Noonien-Singh
La’an is really the only character who would have any motive for deliberately and maliciously telling Starfleet the truth about Una. Although the two had resolved their differences by the end of Ghosts of Illyria – and grew closer over the rest of the season – La’an was incredibly angry at first upon learning who Una really was. It seems possible to me that La’an contacted Starfleet sometime during the events of Ghosts of Illyria, possibly while under the influence of the contagion.
This could set up La’an and Una for a confrontation, but one for which La’an already feels guilt and remorse. If she is responsible, I think there’s a pathway for forgiveness – and perhaps she’ll find a way to make it right, such as by advocating on Una’s behalf or even trying to break her out of prison.
Culprit #4: Spock
On a number of occasions we’ve seen how Spock is a stickler for the rules – particularly at this early point in his life and career. In Star Trek Into Darkness, his decision to be completely truthful in a mission report ended up getting Captain Kirk in a lot of trouble, so even if Pike, M’Benga, and everyone else had chosen to conceal the truth in their logs, it’s possible that Spock wouldn’t. He may not even see it as a bad thing at first, regarding telling the full, unvarnished truth as part of his job.
One of the interesting things about Strange New Worlds is how it’s taking Spock on a journey; building him up to become the character we’re familiar with from The Original Series. Perhaps one of the lessons Spock will learn in Season 2 is how to bend the rules, how loyalty to one’s friends and the need to keep certain things private can superscede the official rules. That could make for an interesting story and a chance for growth.
Culprit #5: Una herself
Maybe Una was sick of hiding. Maybe she wanted to get caught. Maybe she hoped to give herself an opportunity to defend her people against Starfleet’s hardline anti-genetic engineering rule. There are a few different reasons why Una might have turned herself in, or anonymously submitted the evidence to get herself arrested.
This would be a bit of a twist, but it could lead to a wonderfully complex story and character arc for Una if it’s handled well. The idea that she was fed up with having to live a lie, or even that revealing the truth to Captain Pike, La’an, and some of her other shipmates was a weight off her shoulders could be an interesting angle to explore. It would also absolve anyone in the crew of any wrongdoing – intentional or not!
So those are the culprits!
Up next we’re going to look at a few different ways that Una’s story could go from here. As above, please keep in mind that all of this is speculation; I’m not claiming that any of these things will happen.
Theory #1: Una will stand trial with Captain Pike defending her.
Star Trek can do courtroom drama exceptionally well, and perhaps we’ll be treated to an episode that blends the likes of The Measure of a Man and Court Martial. I can absolutely see Captain Pike stepping up to be Una’s advocate – like Captain Picard did for Data or Captain Sisko did for Worf. How exactly this trial would go is unclear, but with Spock and the rest of the crew also working on it, maybe there’d be a way to win – or to convince Starfleet to make an exception for Una.
That wouldn’t be unprecedented in the Star Trek franchise. Dr Bashir, who was also genetically engineered and didn’t disclose that fact to Starfleet, was permitted to continue to serve after the truth came out. Perhaps what Captain Pike will have to do is convince Starfleet that Una is irreplacable and should be forgiven for her deception.
Theory #2: Una will be broken out of prison – but will have to go into exile.
If Starfleet insists that Una needs to be locked up and won’t budge, maybe La’an and some of Una’s other friends will stage a break-out. It wouldn’t be easy – and they could all end up in hot water if things go wrong – but they may see it as a last resort if the alternative is Una being locked up for years in a Starfleet penal colony.
However, even if they succeed it seems unlikely that Una will simply be able to return to the Enterprise. She may have to go into exile, either by returning to the Illyrians or by striking out on her own. Either way, that could mean Una will be departing the series.
Theory #3: Una is found guilty and imprisoned.
With the major caveat that what Captain Pike saw took place in an alternate timeline that has since been overwritten, this was Una’s destiny in that version of the future. Captain Pike, La’an, Spock, and the rest of the crew seemed to have come to terms with her imprisonment by that point, and while we don’t know what happened at the time of her arrest and trial, any schemes that Pike and the others may have had to get her released clearly didn’t work.
Again, this would surely see Una leaving the show, perhaps after one final episode in which she comes to terms with being locked up. I don’t think that would be a fun or satisfying end for her character, though. It would tie up the loose end of Una’s whereabouts as of The Menagerie – but as stated above, I don’t think anyone has ever really challenged or questioned that, making it a solution to a non-existent problem. If Una is to leave the show, I’d rather see her go out in a blaze of glory, saving the ship and crew!
Theory #4: Diplomacy with the Illyrians.
If Una is still in contact with her family or other Illyrians, perhaps the Illyrian government will attempt to intervene on her behalf. Just because the Illyrians are not permitted to join Starfleet that doesn’t mean that formal diplomatic relations between the Federation and the Illyrian government don’t exist, and perhaps they’d have something to say about one of their own being arrested, especially if the reason is basically “because she’s an Illyrian.”
This could lead to some kind of diplomatic mission for Captain Pike, and again it could conclude with Una being given some kind of special exemption and being permitted to remain in Starfleet. Having revealed Una’s true heritage, it would be interesting to see more Illyrians show up in Strange New Worlds – perhaps they still hold a grudge after their meeting with Captain Archer during the events of Enterprise!
So those are the theories!
There are lots of different paths that the story could take from this juncture, and the question of whether Una will be back in a big way in Season 2 feels kind of open right now. Along with the departure of Hemmer and the potential absence of La’an, that would be a pretty radical shake-up of the main characters after only one season of the show.
I suspect that Una will be back aboard the Enterprise before too long, though. There’s untapped potential in her relationships with La’an, Spock, Captain Pike, and everyone else that would be wasted if she were to leave so soon. I’d love to spend more time with Una, perhaps seeing her in temporary command of the ship, leading an away mission, or doing other things that first officers in Star Trek are often seen to do. So it’s my hope, at least, that we haven’t seen the beginning of the end for Una on Strange New Worlds.
I hope this was a bit of fun. I haven’t had many opportunities to dive so deeply into Strange New Worlds thanks to the frustrating and disappointing international distribution situation, but with Paramount+ now here in the UK, that’s all changing. Hopefully by the time Season 2 rolls around we can talk about more theories like these during the show’s run instead of having to wait until the dust has settled!
I had a great time with Strange New Worlds Season 1, and the fact that it ended on this shocking cliffhanger was fantastic. I’m looking forward to welcoming back Captain Pike, Una, and the rest of the crew – and getting a satisfying end to this storyline, too!
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and other countries and territories where the platform is available. Episodes of Season 1 are being released weekly in the UK. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds and all other properties discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: Although there are no major plot spoilers for Strange New Worlds Season 1, the inclusion of particular episodes on this list may hint at certain themes, characters, storylines, etc. There are also spoilers below for the episodes and stories on this list.
I haven’t been able to talk about Strange New Worlds as much as I would’ve liked thanks to Paramount taking an “America First” approach to the series, the Star Trek franchise, and pretty much everything else on Paramount+. However, with Paramount+ having now arrived here in the UK, I hope to slowly begin to rectify that situation and make up for lost time. On this occasion, I’ve put together a list of ten episodes that I think make great background viewing for Strange New Worlds Season 1.
You can absolutely watch these Star Trek stories before diving into the show’s first season, but if – like me – you’ve already watched Strange New Worlds Season 1, there’s still value in going back to some of them to expand on what the new show’s first season delivered. Ordinarily I’d have written a list like this before the season aired, but having already seen Strange New Worlds that’s allowed me to adapt the list and include a couple of episodes that I would have never considered!
Strange New Worlds was absolutely fantastic in its first season – and it has me lamenting the truncated ten-episode seasons of modern Star Trek as I could’ve happily enjoyed at least ten more! If you missed it, I’ve already written up my spoiler-free thoughts on the show’s first season, and you can find that piece by clicking or tapping here. At the risk of repeating myself, Strange New Worlds hit ten for ten in its first season – ten outstanding episodes that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I can’t recommend Strange New Worlds highly enough both to fans of Star Trek and to newcomers to the franchise. If you’re new, or if it’s been a while since you last saw some of these episodes, watching them will provide some additional background and backstory heading into Strange New Worlds – or will expand somewhat on some of the stories, factions, and characters if you’ve already watched Season 1. However, nothing below makes for essential or unmissable viewing; Strange New Worlds is a very accessible series that newcomers to Star Trek shouldn’t feel intimidated by!
As always, please keep in mind that all of this is just the subjective opinion of one person. I’ve chosen episodes that I generally enjoy and that I feel connect in significant ways to Strange New Worlds Season 1. If you don’t like my picks or I miss something you would’ve included, that’s okay! There’s always room in the Star Trek fan community for discussion and polite disagreement.
I’ve tried hard to avoid major plot spoilers for Strange New Worlds Season 1, but the inclusion of certain episodes here may hint at the inclusion of factions, aliens, characters, and storylines. If you don’t want to risk any of that, this is your last chance to nope out!
With all of that out of the way let’s take a look at the episodes I’ve chosen, which are listed below in no particular order.
Episode #1: The Menagerie, Parts I-II The Original Series Season 1
Technically speaking, The Menagerie was Captain Pike’s first Star Trek appearance. The episode incorporates most of the footage left over from The Original Series’ unsuccessful first pilot, The Cage, but uses a frame narrative to include Captain Kirk and Spock as they look back on the events of Captain Pike’s mission to the planet Talos IV.
After network NBC had spent a significant amount of money on The Cage, one of the conditions attached to The Original Series’ first season was that Gene Roddenberry and his team find a way to use the footage left over from the original pilot. It was either impossible or prohibitively expensive to bring back The Cage star and original Captain Pike actor Jeffrey Hunter for the role, and the recasting of the character is part of the reason for Pike’s severe disfigurement and disability.
We could do an entire article on the production history of The Cage and The Menagerie – and maybe one day we should! – but for now, the important thing to keep in mind is that this is Captain Pike’s ultimate destination. The Menagerie exists as a reminder of where Captain Pike’s arc will ultimately lead him, but it’s also an interesting episode in its own right.
The Original Series was beginning to find its feet by this point in its first season, and a two-parter like The Menagerie could’ve blown it off-course. However, the way The Cage was incorporated into the story made for a fascinating and somewhat mysterious presentation, and Spock’s characterisation and his dedication to his former captain in particular are noteworthy. It’s a fascinating episode that managed to be so much more than just a recycling of a failed pitch and that found a unique and innovative way to accomplish what could have been a difficult and annoying task.
Episode #2: Trials and Tribble-ations Deep Space Nine Season 5
Trials and Tribble-ations was created for the Star Trek’s thirtieth anniversary in 1996, and it was a fun celebration of the franchise’s roots. The crew of the USS Defiant – led by Captain Sisko – find themselves displaced in time, arriving during the events of The Original Series episode The Trouble With Tribbles.
Sisko and his crew have to preserve the timeline – a nefarious villain is attempting to use a Bajoran Orb to alter the past to his advantage. What results is a genuinely fun romp, and seeing the two crews from two different eras coming together was quite something. I’ve always held Trials and Tribble-ations in high esteem ever since I first watched it!
On the technical side of things, Trials and Tribble-ations was incredibly ambitious for its time. Using the same technology that had been used to place Tom Hanks alongside real-world historical figures for the film Forrest Gump – which had been released only a couple of years earlier – the creative team managed to seamlessly blend the Deep Space Nine characters into The Original Series. Some excellent work with costumes and sets – including a recreation of the original USS Enterprise’s bridge – really sold the illusion.
The only character from Trials and Tribble-ations to appear in Strange New Worlds is Spock, with the episode taking place after Pike’s tenure in the captain’s chair. But as a celebration of all things Star Trek, and one of the few stories to bring together the 23rd and 24th Centuries, it’s one you shouldn’t miss! There are also some interesting time travel and timeline-integrity angles to the story’s frame narrative that may just prove interesting to viewers who pay attention.
Episode #3: Q & A Short Treks Season 2
Q & A steps back in time to before the events of Strange New Worlds and Discovery Season 2 to show us Spock’s arrival aboard the USS Enterprise while still an ensign. It’s a cute short story that shows off a younger Spock while also introducing us to Una – a.k.a. Number One. Una had far less screen time than Spock or Pike in Discovery’s second season, so Q & A was one of the first stories to feature her in a big way.
There are some great shots of the internal workings of the USS Enterprise’s turbolifts – something that a geek like me is always going to be interested in! In fact, Q & A must be one of the very few episodes, along with parts of The Next Generation’s fifth season episode Disaster, to make a turbolift its primary setting. That format could feel restrictive, but Q & A makes it shine through some excellent character work and occasionally hilarious writing.
Q & A was one of three episodes of Short Treks to bring back Pike, Spock, and Una – and these short stories began to expand upon their roles and set the stage for Strange New Worlds. They were also experimental; teases to fans that also served to see whether the much-requested “Captain Pike show” was a viable concept. Short Treks did some genuinely interesting things in its second season – which is why I’ve argued that the concept should absolutely be revived!
Captain Pike is less of a presence in Q & A than he would be in Ask Not, but that’s no bad thing. We got to spend more time with Una, and seeing her in her role as first officer – in part through the eyes of a young Spock, fresh out of Starfleet Academy – was fascinating!
Episode #4: Unification, Parts I-II The Next Generation Season 5
We just talked about how interesting it was to see young Spock when he was first assigned to the Enterprise – so now let’s jump forward in time by more than a century to see a much older Spock in a completely different chapter of his life! The two-part episode Unification brought Spock into The Next Generation in a truly interesting story that built upon the Vulcan-Romulan connection that had been introduced in The Original Series.
I adore crossovers, and aside from a brief cameo in the premiere of The Next Generation, this was the first crossover involving main characters that the franchise had attempted. Its success laid the groundwork for the likes of Relics, Flashback, Defiant, Caretaker, These Are The Voyages, and many more.
Unification found a way to give Spock genuine development to reflect decades of his life that we hadn’t seen on screen. It was great to see him alongside not only Captain Picard but also Data – the two characters share many characteristics and filled similar roles in their respective series. The mystery at the heart of the episode and subsequent revelations about Spock’s work and the Romulans’ schemes made for a story that was tense, dramatic, and exciting.
Strange New Worlds isn’t all about Spock, but seeing what his life would be like decades after the events of the series is worthwhile. It puts into context not only the stories that unfold around Spock, but his own actions, behaviours, and thoughts. The Spock we meet in Unification is different from the Spock of Strange New Worlds – but not unrecognisable.
Bonus Episode #4½: Unification III Discovery Season 3
The two-parter became a three-parter when Discovery added to the legacy of Unification in its third season. Taking Spock’s work with the Romulans as a starting point, Unification III shows us how subsequent generations of Romulans and Vulcans looked to Spock as an inspiration. His legacy is all over this story – and it would carry through into future episodes of Discovery in its third and fourth seasons.
Spock would go on to be an important part of Vulcan history, remembered fondly even centuries after his death for the process that he started. Seeing Michael Burnham react to that was sweet, and knowing that Spock has a legacy within the Star Trek timeline that extends far beyond his own lifespan is something incredibly meaningful.
Episode #5: Arena The Original Series Season 1
An absoloute classic of The Original Series, Arena features Captain Kirk’s iconic battle against an unnamed Gorn captain – the first Gorn encountered in Star Trek. I might be in the minority here, but I absolutely adore the way the rubber-suited Gorn looks. There’s something menacing about its tyrannosaurus rex-like head, its silvery, almost insectoid eyes, and its sharp crocodilian teeth. But at the same time, there’s a light-hearted campiness to the way the Gorn comes across on screen thanks in part to the limitations of 1960s special effects – and perhaps also due to the bold pattern on his (or her?) costume!
There’s more to Arena than just the scuffle at Vasquez Rocks, though! There’s a more philosophical side to the story, one that shows how far humanity has come by the 23rd Century – and how far there is still to go to make progress. Despite the conflict, both Spock and Kirk demonstrate a willingness to try diplomacy and show mercy – something that impresses the highly-advanced Metrons.
The way in which Captain Kirk was able to outsmart and defeat the Gorn captain shows his ingenuity at its best – and presents a contrast between “brains” and “brawn” that made it clear how even a strong and physically imposing enemy can be defeated. There’s a great metaphor there for dealing with bullies!
Arena is one of those episodes that I believe every Trekkie – even those who aren’t fans of The Original Series – needs to see at least once. Despite the Gorn not becoming a recurring villain in The Original Series or even during The Next Generation era, the original design of these reptilian aliens has become iconic, and as a story that fully encapsulates the Star Trek franchise’s approach to science-fiction, Arena has it all.
Episode #6: Damage Enterprise Season 3
Damage comes quite late in the fully-serialised story of Enterprise’s third season, but it’s worth a watch regardless. At this point in the story, Captain Archer and his crew are running out of time to prevent the Xindi from launching a super-weapon against Earth, and Archer’s desperation to do anything to complete his mission forces him down a very dark moral path.
In essence, Captain Archer must choose between failure – which will almost certainly lead to the total annihilation of Earth itself – and his morality, leading to him basically turning to theft and piracy in order to survive in the harsh Delphic Expanse. It’s a fascinating story that features a brand-new alien race, but also one that’s an introspective character piece focusing on Archer’s decisions.
There are other story threads in play in Damage, including T’Pol’s exposure to Trellium-D – a compound toxic to Vulcans that caused her to begin to lose control over her emotions. The way in which Vulcans suppress their emotions in favour of logic is something that Enterprise explored in depth, and it’s a fascinating part of Vulcan culture that subsequent Star Trek projects have also touched upon.
Enterprise’s third season was a tense and exciting one overall – and Damage is one of the highlights for its strong character work and examination of how Starfleet’s enlightened morality can end up falling by the wayside when the going gets tough. Captain Archer is pained by the decision he makes – but that doesn’t stop him from making it.
Episode #7: Through the Valley of Shadows Discovery Season 2
Although I’d encourage you to watch Discovery Season 2 in its entirety, I felt that Through the Valley of Shadows was really the only episode that had a significant impact on Strange New Worlds. It’s here where Captain Pike has to make a decision about his fate and his future that sets him on a particular path – one that will culminate in devastating disability.
Although Pike was willing, in the moment, to make the sacrifice in order to obtain the time crystal, the decision he made has a huge impact on him. With only a couple of episodes left in Season 2, Discovery didn’t have a lot of time to address how this would affect him – but Strange New Worlds certainly does, and this is really the starting point for Pike’s season-long arc.
Discovery’s second season was a big improvement on its first, and I think it’s fair to say that bringing Captain Pike and Spock into the show in a big way was a masterstroke! Through the Valley of Shadows reframes Pike’s accident and disability in an entirely different way, and while there are sci-fi trappings of time-travel macguffins and talk of fate and destiny, what lies just under the surface is a story that I find incredibly relatable.
I’ve been Captain Pike at this moment. Sitting down with a doctor, hearing bad news about my health, knowing that things won’t get better but will get worse, that my ability to do basic things like walking will become increasingly difficult… these are all experiences that I’ve personally had and that I saw reflected in Captain Pike. Whether intentional or not, the decision to have him become aware of his future – and choose to embrace it for the greater good – kicked off a story about disability and declining health that really resonated with me. Its approach to this complex topic was sensitive, understandable, and darkly beautiful.
Episode #8: Prime Factors Voyager Season 1
Prime Factors flips Starfleet’s Prime Directive on its head. The Prime Directive is Starfleet’s most important standing order, and it states that “no starship may interfere with the normal development of any alien life or society.” We’ve seen the Prime Directive – and the principles upon which it is based – play a huge role in episodes of practically every Star Trek series, with captains having to decide whether to interfere, how to interfere, and what the consequences may be.
Prime Factors takes the opposite approach, and asks how it would feel to our heroes if they were on the other side of this kind of policy. How would Starfleet react to being denied a request for help or trade because it conflicted with an alien society’s principles? The resultant episode was absolutely fascinating.
At this relatively early point in Voyager’s run, the fact that Captain Janeway and her crew really are stranded on the far side of the galaxy with no way to get home is beginning to sink in. Prime Factors is one of several episodes that teased the crew with a potential way to complete part of that journey – before yanking it away again.
The episode is also an interesting one for Harry Kim, who we get to see at his most eager to get home, and for the relationship between Captain Janeway and Tuvok. Although Chakotay would really take over the role of “trusted advisor” as Voyager got settled, initially it was Tuvok who was being established as Captain Janeway’s closest confidante and most reliable friend.
Episode #9: Balance of Terror The Original Series Season 1
Balance of Terror is the episode that first introduced the iconic Romulans to Star Trek – as well as revealing their connection with the Vulcans that we talked about in Unification above. Inspired by war films – particularly naval war films and those set aboard submarines – from a generation earlier, there’s a really tense, claustrophobic feel to the conflict between the Enterprise and this new, terrifying threat.
Balance of Terror expertly sets up the background of Federation-Romulan relations and uses that to create tension and conflict on the bridge of the Enterprise when a surprising connection between the Romulans and Spock’s own Vulcan people is revealed. The episode also raises the stakes by giving the Romulans not one but two super-weapons: the devastating plasma torpedo and a cloaking device. This was the first on-screen appearance of a cloaking device in Star Trek.
Of particular note here is Captain Kirk’s approach to the conflict. After discovering the Romulan vessel and its technology, Kirk decides to pursue it, hoping to intercept it before it can cross back into Romulan space. Was this uncompromising approach the right call?
Balance of Terror is a fascinating episode for its tone, for its approach to bigotry and prejudice in the enlightened future Star Trek presents, and for its introduction of a faction that would go on to play a major role in the Star Trek franchise. It’s another episode of The Original Series that I consider to be a must-watch for all Trekkies.
Episode #10: Star Trek 2009 Kelvin Timeline film
Technically a film rather than an episode, 2009’s Star Trek kicked off the Kelvin timeline with a soft reboot of the franchise. It’s a textbook example of how to write a successful reboot, and after the Star Trek franchise had begun to fade and lose viewership toward the latter part of Enterprise’s run, the 2009 reboot came along and definitively proved that there was still plenty of life in it yet! We wouldn’t have Discovery, Strange New Worlds, and the rest of modern Star Trek without this film and its two sequels.
For our purposes today, though, 2009’s Star Trek shows us a different timeline with alternate versions of Captain Pike – who plays a prominent role in the story – as well as Spock and Uhura. Seeing these versions of the characters and noting their differences and similarities to their prime timeline counterparts could be worthwhile going into Strange New Worlds.
Star Trek 2009 also chronicles the next chapter of Spock’s life after the events of Unification (which we took a look at above). Spock’s relationship with the Romulans and his plan to help them avert a catastrophe are what led to him being dragged into the alternate reality, and the meeting between the older and younger versions of the character is a powerful moment.
Seeing Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and others in their Starfleet Academy days was a concept that Gene Roddenberry had toyed with even as far back as The Original Series in the 1960s. 2009’s Star Trek took that concept and put a spin on it, updating the franchise for the 21st Century and introducing it to legions of new Trekkies. It’s a good film in its own right, and one whose legacy is the rejuvenated Star Trek franchise that we’re continuing to enjoy today.
So that’s it!
Those are my picks for ten episodes to watch before Strange New Worlds to prepare for what the series will bring – or afterwards, if you prefer, to lend some context to some of the character arcs and storylines.
There are at least ten more episodes and films that I could’ve chosen; it wasn’t easy to whittle down the list to the ten picks above. Having already seen Strange New Worlds Season 1, I confess that I picked several different episodes that I might not have chosen otherwise. But that’s the benefit of hindsight!
As I said in my spoiler-free review of the first season, Strange New Worlds is utterly fantastic and well worth a watch for Trekkies and newcomers to the franchise alike. I can’t praise it highly enough – and I can’t wait for Season 2!
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is available to stream now on Paramount+ in countries and territories where the service is available. New episodes are being released weekly on Paramount+ in the United Kingdom. Further international distribution has not been announced at time of writing. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds and all other episodes, films, and shows discussed above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: Although there are no major plot spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1, spoilers are present for other iterations of the Star Trek franchise, including Discovery Seasons 1-4 and Short Treks.
Despite Paramount’s best efforts to keep Strange New Worlds away from fans in 95% of the world, I’ve been able to watch the first season over the past ten weeks. With the finale recently airing and the curtain falling on the show’s first season, I thought it would be worthwhile to share my spoiler-free thoughts on each of the episodes.
I had hoped to write full reviews of every episode of Strange New Worlds as they aired, as well as perhaps concocting a few theories along the way, but the show’s unavailability internationally has made that difficult. As much as I love Star Trek and want to see it succeed, I felt unable to offer Paramount and the series my support due to the offensive and misguided way the corporation has treated its non-American fans – treatment that is regrettably still ongoing at time of writing.
However, stay tuned in the weeks and months ahead, because I daresay I will eventually publish individual episode reviews. Paramount+ has finally landed here in the UK – though it didn’t bring all of Strange New Worlds with it – so I can go back and re-watch the episodes any time. As Paramount+ continues its international rollout, I hope that Trekkies who avoided piracy will be able to watch the show.
The international broadcast situation and Paramount’s failings in that regard feel all the more egregious because of just how damn good Strange New Worlds has been across its first season. This is the Star Trek show that fans have been asking for and waiting for, a show that recaptures the episodic nature of The Original Series and The Next Generation but updates it with season-long arcs and modern trappings. It’s a show that feels so very similar to those classic stalwarts of the Star Trek franchise, and one that definitely has huge potential to reach out across the growing divide in the fan community to bring back into the fold people who felt disappointed or uninterested in Discovery, Picard, and even Lower Decks.
Strange New Worlds updates the look of Star Trek, retaining some visual elements from Discovery and the Kelvin films, but blends that look with a very classic aesthetic with a clear inspiration from The Original Series. After the bland all-blue uniforms of Discovery, the bold primary colours are unapologetically back. The USS Enterprise is brightly-lit and colourful too, with some wonderful sets that have updated the look of areas like the bridge, sickbay, and engineering while retaining key design elements to make it clear that this is a Star Trek show.
The use of practical special effects and puppets has created some really incredible creatures and aliens, some of which have had a genuinely “old-school” feel that reminded me of some of the alien races from The Original Series and The Next Generation era. These effects have combined with some excellent CGI animation and increasingly creative use of the expensive AR wall. It’s clear that Paramount’s visual effects artists are becoming more and more comfortable with this fancy piece of kit, and Strange New Worlds has found some fun ways to blend in the AR wall and make it seamless.
Like classic Star Trek shows have always done, Strange New Worlds tried its hand at some very different genres across Season 1. There was plenty of sci-fi, exploration, and action, but the show also dipped its toes in comedy, drama, warfare, and even horror at one point. Combined with a diverse range of planets to visit and alien races to meet, this gave Strange New Worlds an incredibly varied feel. A worse show might’ve ended up feeling jumpy or even unsettled, but the characters at Strange New Worlds’ heart kept it on track throughout thanks to some truly wonderful writing and world-building.
The theme music that has been composed for Strange New Worlds jumped right up the list to become one of my absolute favourite Star Trek themes. I felt an influence from the classic Superman theme by John Williams that blended perfectly with elements from The Original Series theme to create an exciting, adventurous up-tempo piece of music to really set the stage for every new episode. It’s a wonderful piece of music that I just know is going to become a celebrated part of the franchise.
I’d happily recommend Strange New Worlds to any fan of Star Trek, and I’d challenge even the most ardent Discovery-hater to give it a fair shake. More than that, I feel that Strange New Worlds has huge potential to bring in new Star Trek fans alongside Lower Decks and Prodigy, as it’s a very accessible show. Perhaps folks who’ve tried Star Trek in the past and found it wasn’t to their taste won’t be swayed, but for anyone who’s been on the fence or curious about where to start, Strange New Worlds would make for a wonderful and engaging first contact.
For longstanding Trekkies like myself, Strange New Worlds feels like a return to a long-forgotten format, but not in a way that’s regressive. Strange New Worlds has taken the episodic, exploration-oriented format that was at the heart of the franchise in its golden age but updated it for 2022, keeping things like character growth and arcs while still finding ways to play in different genres and with different aliens and settings. It’s the best of both worlds, and while the series builds on what Discovery, Picard, and even Lower Decks and Prodigy have achieved, for me it surpasses all of them.
I’ll hold up my hands and admit to having found a few nitpicks across the first season, including a couple of character arcs that either felt under-developed or rushed, but generally speaking the quality was high and the episodes outstanding. It’s rare for me to be able to say this, but Strange New Worlds hit ten for ten in its first season – ten genuinely great episodes that I thoroughly enjoyed.
What I’ll do now is briefly summarise my spoiler-free thoughts on each of the episodes in turn.
Episode 1: Strange New Worlds
The season premiere was an episode that showcased Captain Pike. We got to see his internal struggle as he wrangled with the knowledge of his impending disability, and we got to see him at his best as he resumed command of the Enterprise. There are parallels to Picard Season 1, particularly the contrast between where Pike began the story in terms of his emotional and mental state and where he finished it; finding his place and restoring his confidence were absolutely crucial parts of the episode.
Strange New Worlds was a strong premiere and a great way to kick off the series. It took Star Trek back to its roots and showcased the exploration and missions of first contact that were key parts of the shows that we remember. There were moments of action and humour as we were introduced to most of the new crew for the first time, and what resulted was a solid foundation for the season to build upon.
Episode 2: Children of the Comet
Children of the Comet had an interesting premise and pitted the Enterprise against an adversary who was able to easily overpower the Federation flagship – and yes, Strange New Worlds has confirmed that the Enterprise is the flagship in this era! There were some truly outstanding visual effects both practical and animated, and we got to see a really beautiful episode that, as the title suggests, focused in large part on a comet.
Uhura was a big part of this story, and this new, younger version of the character has a lot of space to grow into the person we remember with fondness from The Original Series. Celia Rose Gooding stepped up and put in an outstanding and complex performance as we saw the young cadet navigate her first away mission to a very alien environment.
Episode 3: Ghosts of Illyria
I have to confess that I’d almost entirely forgotten about the Illyrians prior to watching Ghosts of Illyria. The alien race appeared once in Enterprise’s third season – so I really recommend checking out the episode Damage for context before watching this one! Nothing in Damage is essential, but having that extra bit of background was definitely useful.
This was a big episode for Una Chin-Riley – a.k.a. Number One – as well as for the relationship between Captain Pike and Spock. Ghosts of Illyria also told us something important about Dr M’Benga that would go on to define his arc across much of the rest of the season. There were some clever and innovative concepts here, and what resulted was a fun episode.
Episode 4: Memento Mori
Memento Mori raised my first real nitpick of the season! But despite that, it was a tense and thoroughly enjoyable ride that drew inspiration from battles in classic Star Trek stories like Balance of Terror and The Wrath of Khan – as well as the war films that served to inspire those episodes. Throughout Memento Mori there was a sense that everyone was in danger and that not all of our favourite characters would make it out alive.
We got to see Captain Pike at his absolute best in Memento Mori, showing off why he’s long been considered one of Starfleet’s finest commanders. It was also a great episode for Lieutenant Ortegas – the Enterprise’s navigator – and for La’an Noonien-Singh, who had to confront her own inner demons and traumatic memories.
Episode 5: Spock Amok
An episode about Spock confronting his conflicted inner nature and the way he feels about the human and Vulcan sides of his heritage doesn’t seem at first like it would be the foundation for a comedic story, but Spock Amok ended up being absolutely hilarious with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments that could rival even Lower Decks for its unapologetic sense of fun. Spock Amok had emotion at its heart, though, with Spock’s struggle played for more than just a cheap laugh.
The episode’s B-plot featured Captain Pike attempting diplomacy with an unusual alien race who felt like they couldn’t possibly be from any other science-fiction franchise. In that sense, Spock Amok is a Star Trek episode through and through!
Episode 6: Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach
This episode’s title feels like it was lifted directly from The Original Series – as does the concept it brings to the fore. Captain Pike finds himself caught between his feelings for an alien woman he met in the past and his duty to the Federation. There’s a continuation of Dr M’Benga’s character arc from earlier in the season, one that flips the idea of the Prime Directive on its head in a way that reminded me very much of the Voyager Season 1 episode Prime Factors.
Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach pushed the limits of narrative complexity within a single episode, with a dramatic mystery involving the attempted kidnapping of a young boy who was destined to play a key role in the leadership and future of his planet. A worse episode could’ve made its central mystery feel convoluted or even rushed, but Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach balanced this complexity perfectly, despite having other storylines in play.
Episode 7: The Serene Squall
I didn’t think I was going to enjoy The Serene Squall based on its premise and the teases we got prior to its broadcast – but I was wrong! The crew face off against space pirates in what was both a tense and fun story that also found time to throw in an unexpected twist. Perhaps the resolution to the narrative was a tad rushed in its final act, but that would be my only real criticism.
There was an incredibly powerful moment with Spock early in the episode that reframed his internal human-Vulcan split, and without giving too much away, it was something I found absolutely fascinating – and more than a little relatable! I think Spock’s characterisation here was the highlight of the episode for me, and pairing him up with Nurse Chapel was a great creative choice.
Episode 8: The Elysian Kingdom
The Elysian Kingdom is two very different episodes rolled into one. On the one hand, there’s a funny, almost pantomime story in which the entire crew – sans Hemmer and Dr M’Benga – take on roles from a children’s story book. On the other, there’s an intensely emotional story with Dr M’Benga.
The Elysian Kingdom follows on from episodes like Mirror, Mirror or Bride of Chaotica insofar as it allows all of the main cast a chance to play around and step out from their usual roles. I have no doubt that it was an incredibly fun episode to work on – and that comes across in the performances from practically everyone involved. My only real gripe is that the final act and conclusion wrapped up very quickly.
Episode 9: All Those Who Wander
Of all the episodes in Season 1, the most important one to go into un-spoiled has to be All Those Who Wander. It’s an incredibly powerful episode with a thrilling horror theme, and there’s clear inspiration from the film Alien throughout. It’s also an episode that builds to a shocking emotional climax – and I won’t say any more about that lest I risk spoiling it!
Star Trek can do horror really well, as episodes like Empok Nor demonstrated years ago. For me, All Those Who Wander takes the horror angle right up to the edge of my personal comfort zone – but never beyond it. It’s not the most kid-friendly episode, that’s for sure, but it’s an incredibly tense and thrilling ride from start to finish with a wonderfully atmospheric setting.
Episode 10: A Quality of Mercy
Captain Pike receives a visit from, well, “The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.” That’s about the best way I can describe A Quality of Mercy! There are some outstanding visual moments that really show off the USS Enterprise, a callback to a classic episode of The Original Series, and a storyline that furthers Captain Pike’s season-long arc.
A Quality of Mercy sees Season 1 end on a high note – and with a little tease for something more to come. It’s an action-packed episode with some real emotional punches, and a love letter to fans of The Original Series in particular. All in all, an absolutely outstanding episode and a great way to close out one of the best seasons of Star Trek ever put to screen.
So that’s it!
Strange New Worlds is off to a roaring start, and I can’t wait for Season 2 already! Good news in that regard – the show’s second season recently finished filming and will be broadcast next year. Here’s to Season 3 – and beyond! Hopefully Paramount will have gotten its act together by then, ensuring that this amazing series is available to audiences all around the world.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the show that fans had been asking for since Captain Pike and Spock appeared in Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery in 2019. Its mere existence would already be a massive win for Star Trek fans and proof that Paramount is willing to listen to feedback, but the fact that the show has been such an amazing experience across its first season and exceeded expectations that were already sky-high is absolutely fantastic!
Not only has Strange New Worlds Season 1 laid the groundwork for future stories with Captain Pike and co. aboard the Enterprise, but I feel it offers a template that future Star Trek projects should take a serious look at. The serialised season-long stories of Picard and Discovery have been interesting – and some have worked better than others – but Strange New Worlds’ more episodic approach has been absolutely wonderful, allowing for a more diverse array of stories that both revisited elements from Star Trek’s past while also introducing us to brand-new aliens, planets, and cultures.
I was bitterly upset that Paramount’s pathetic and indefensible “America First” attitude cut off Strange New Worlds from so many of the fans who campaigned to make it happen, and unfortunately I can’t deny that that has tainted the experience. But if we can look past the corporate nonsense, Strange New Worlds itself has been an absolutely phenomenal show, one that I hope will continue for at least four more seasons to fulfil Captain Pike’s promised “five-year mission.”
Whether you’re new to Star Trek or whether you’ve enjoyed past iterations of the franchise, it’s easy to recommend Strange New Worlds. I sincerely hope you’ll give it a try.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 is available to stream now on Paramount+ in countries and territories where the platform is available. Episodes are being broadcast weekly on Paramount+ in the UK. Further international availability has not been announced. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of Paramount Global. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for The Book of Boba Fett. Minor spoilers are also present for Solo: A Star Wars Story and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
President of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy recently made a statement that has drawn a lot of attention. In an interview with magazine Vanity Fair, Kennedy stated that one of the lessons that the Disney-owned studio learned from the lukewarm response to Solo: A Star Wars Story in 2018 was that recasting classic characters isn’t possible. In her words, “it does seem so abundantly clear that we can’t do that.”
This has kicked off a discussion online, not least among fans of the Star Wars franchise and Solo in particular. Today I want to add my two cents to the conversation and use the debate around Kennedy and Solo to talk about recasting characters in a general sense, as well as touch on some alternatives that studios have turned to in recent years.
First of all, I encourage you to read the full piece in Vanity Fair so you’re aware of what was said and its context. Online debate often centres around a single phrase, soundbite, or fragment of a sentence, and it isn’t always clear how someone’s words were intended. In this case, for example, Kennedy seems to have been talking about the need for Star Wars to move on – something I’ve talked about at length here on the website – and expand beyond the confines of the “Skywalker Saga” and the handful of familiar characters who made up those stories.
I absolutely agree with that sentiment! The Star Wars galaxy is such a vast and exciting setting, one with thousands of years of history, an uncertain future, thousands of planets, trillions of inhabitants, and so much potential! So far, the Star Wars franchise has doubled-down on showing us the same handful of characters and the same tiny sliver of that setting over and over again, and I for one am starting to get sick of it! Star Wars can be more than Luke Skywalker – if it’s willing to put in the effort.
So in that sense, I agree with Kathleen Kennedy! But taken as a starting point for a discussion about recasting characters, I couldn’t disagree more.
It’s profoundly ironic that Kennedy made this statement during the build-up to the broadcast of Obi-Wan Kenobi… a series that centres around a character who was recast from the original Star Wars films! The Star Wars prequel trilogy recast a number of characters – and recast characters were even ham-fistedly edited into the so-called “special editions” of the original films, with the original voice of Boba Fett being re-dubbed, the original Emperor Palpatine being overwritten in The Empire Strikes Back, and most notoriously, the Force ghost of Anakin Skywalker being changed in Return of the Jedi.
Disney and Lucasfilm panicked in the late 2010s. The divisive reaction to The Last Jedi and underwhelming numbers for Solo: A Star Wars Story saw the Star Wars franchise refocused to bring back a lot more of what corporate leadership hopes will pass for nostalgia. This accounts for the existence of shows like The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as certain narrative decisions in The Rise of Skywalker. It isn’t the first time that corporate cowardice has got in the way of entertainment, and it likely won’t be the last.
I’d argue that the wrong lesson has been learned from Solo if Disney and Lucasfilm believe that the biggest takeaway is that they should never try to recast characters. Alden Ehrenreich’s performance was far from the worst thing about that film, and if audiences and Star Wars fans felt that he “didn’t feel” like Han Solo, the blame needs to be placed with the way the script was written and the way the story was told. Solo was a fairly clumsy overplaying of the nostalgia card in my view; a film with an interesting premise that was hampered by shoehorning in characters from the original trilogy and that made the same mistake with Han Solo as the prequel trilogy had with Anakin Skywalker: overexplaining his backstory.
But all of that is incidental. Even if we accept the premise that Solo was a failure and that the performance of its lead was a significant factor – neither of which I’m fully on board with, but I’ll grant for the sake of argument – is the right response really to say that no classic characters should ever be recast again? That seems like a horrible overreaction!
The Star Wars franchise has done some very interesting things with digital de-ageing and CGI character creation. The way Luke Skywalker was brought to screen in The Book of Boba Fett as an entirely CGI character was technologically stunning, and at first I thought I was watching a lookalike. The technology needed to create CGI characters and perfectly replicate the face – and even voice – of real actors is already here, and while Disney may be a pioneer of the technology, they’re far from the only ones to be using it. We’ve recently seen digital de-ageing make an appearance over in the Star Trek franchise, for example.
I’ve had an article in the pipeline for well over a year that I really ought to get around to finishing one of these days! It’s all about CGI characters in film and television, because I’m convinced that we’re not far away from a film or TV series bringing back to life a dead actor to play a leading role. I can already picture a snooty director who insists that the lead role in their film could only ever belong to someone like Lawrence Olivier or Orson Welles and decides to digitally recreate them rather than cast someone else!
That’s connected, in a way, to what we’re talking about here. Some actors and performers are so iconic that I can absolutely see a time – perhaps very soon – when a film or TV series will use a CGI lead mingling with real actors. A digital creation with a fake face and fake voice that are indistinguishable from the real thing. And as that technology improves and becomes more accessible, it may even become possible for amateurs to do something similar. Imagine a Star Trek fan-film where a fully-realistic CGI Captain Picard is the lead. We’re edging closer to that kind of reality!
But is Sir Patrick Stewart inseparable from Captain Picard? Is Mark Hamill the only possible Luke Skywalker? Or are these roles – and many others across the realm of entertainment – more than just one actor? Look at Shakespeare as an example: how many actors have taken on the role of Hamlet, Prospero, or Richard III? And even in cinema, how many different performances have there been of characters like Count Dracula or Ebenezer Scrooge?
If the argument is that certain characters can only ever be portrayed by one person, doesn’t that limit them and restrict them to a single possible interpretation? There have been very different takes on iconic characters over the years, and while audiences may have a preference for one or another, that doesn’t mean that only one interpretation is valid. Taking a character and giving them to a new actor expands the potential of that character.
In the Star Trek franchise we’ve seen the main characters from The Original Series recast for the Kelvin films, and while I know of some Trekkies who absolutely hated that idea, as time has passed since the 2009 reboot, more of those folks have come around. 2009’s Star Trek did a lot of things right as a reboot of the franchise, and a big part of its success was down to the way those classic characters were reinterpreted.
Some Star Trek characters have been recast multiple times – by my count, Strange New Worlds features the fourth actor to play Captain Pike and the third to play Spock. Early reactions to Strange New Worlds have been incredibly positive – and the series has even drawn praise from some fans who hadn’t enjoyed anything else that modern Star Trek has had to offer. Recasting Pike, Spock, and other classic characters has clearly not harmed Strange New Worlds.
And the same could be true for Star Wars. Maybe Solo wasn’t the best film the franchise has put out, but that shouldn’t mean that experimenting with different takes on classic characters should be entirely shut down. There’s scope for new actors to take on the roles of Luke, Leia, and others – just as there was for Ewan McGregor to become Obi-Wan Kenobi or Alden Ehrenreich to become Han Solo. Arbitrarily deciding that recasting can never work off the back of a single underwhelming film is an unnecessary overreaction – especially considering that recasting has already worked in Star Wars, with an upcoming series standing as testament to that fact.
At the same time, there’s a place for digital character creation, recreated characters, and CGI characters, and I fully expect to see a lot more of that type of thing in the years ahead. For my two cents, digital de-ageing and CGI characters probably work best as side-characters rather than main protagonists – and I think Star Wars has got away with using them in that context so far. It will be a new challenge to see a film or TV series where the leading role is taken over by a CGI character.
So in conclusion, I’m glad that Kathleen Kennedy is finally willing to consider expanding the Star Wars franchise beyond the tiny fragment of its wonderful and vast setting that we’ve seen so far. That part is the good news! However, I don’t agree that there’s no place for recasting characters in a general sense. New actors have the potential to bring a new interpretation to the role, and if you look across at other films, franchises, and TV shows, it’s abundantly clear that recasting can and does work.
All properties and franchises discussed above are the copyright of their respective studio, distributor, corporation, etc. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
I held off writing this for a while, even as the prospect of Strange New Worlds getting an international broadcast slipped further and further away. I didn’t want to jump the gun and come across as being too aggressive or too critical of Paramount Global – the corporation that owns and mismanages Star Trek. But with only a week to go, it’s patently obvious that Paramount has no plans whatsoever to broadcast Strange New Worlds outside of the United States and the handful of other countries where Paramount+ is available.
At the time of the Discovery Season 4 mess last November, I felt hopeful that the backlash from fans might’ve prevented this. But I guess I should’ve known better – this isn’t the first time we’ve been in this situation, after all. Lower Decks Season 1 was the first casualty of the Paramount board’s ineptitude. That show’s lack of an international broadcast in the summer of 2020 hurt it immeasurably.
Then came Prodigy Season 1 in 2021, another series with real prospects to expand the Star Trek franchise far beyond its usual fanbase. That opportunity was squandered by Paramount’s decision to withhold the series from international broadcast. That decision was made so much worse by the fact that Prodigy is branded as a Nickelodeon co-production – and with Nickelodeon channels available in well over 100 countries, fans were rightly asking why they couldn’t watch the show along with their American friends.
Finally, only a few weeks after the Prodigy mess came the Discovery Season 4 calamity. Paramount literally paid Netflix money out of its own pocket to take the show away, preventing fans all across the world from watching it. They announced this “deal” with barely 48 hours’ notice, leading to a massive backlash from fans and even some of the actors and creative team. You’d think they’d have learned a thing or two from that mess, especially when it tanked their share price.
But alas, it’s only April 2022 – less than six months later – and here we are again. Paramount has decided that it doesn’t want its international fans to pay for Strange New Worlds – it would rather we pirated the show instead. Fine by me.
It’s not like there weren’t options if Paramount wanted to make Strange New Worlds available to international viewers. Here in the UK, for example, Paramount Global owns the following: Channel 5 and its associated channels 5Select, 5Action, 5USA, 5Star, and the My5 catch-up service, Nickelodeon and its associated channels Nick Jr. and Nicktoons, Comedy Central, MTV and five MTV spin-offs, the Horror Channel, the Smithsonian Channel, CBS Drama, CBS Justice, and CBS Reality. Several of these are free-to-air, with the others being available on subscription via cable or satellite providers.
In addition, Paramount Global owns PlutoTV, the online television network where Discovery Season 4 was made available. And speaking of Discovery Season 4, Paramount was able to make deals with Amazon Video, Google Play, and even YouTube to allow viewers in some countries to pay to watch. In short, Paramount Global could have made Strange New Worlds available. They had every opportunity and numerous options for doing so.
On top of all that, the Star Trek franchise has been subjected to some truly pathetic scheduling decisions over the past few months, and these schedules now seem even worse in light of the lack of an international broadcast for Strange New Worlds. Compounding the decision to cut off international fans, Prodigy’s first season has been butchered, cleaved into small chunks of episodes that have made it harder than necessary for the show to gain any kind of traction.
But worse is the situation with Discovery, Picard, and Strange New Worlds. Why have these shows overlapped one another? Discovery and Picard ran concurrently for three weeks, and Picard’s season finale will be broadcast the same day as Strange New Worlds’ premiere. Why? If these three shows had been better-scheduled, split up by just a few weeks, then maybe there’d have been more time to get Paramount+ ready for the next phase of its international rollout. The UK and Europe have been promised Paramount+ by the end of Q2 – well that’s only a few weeks away, so if Picard Season 2 had been delayed by 4 weeks, and Strange New Worlds by another 3-4 weeks, maybe more fans would’ve been able to watch. How did this happen? And are the inept schedulers still making decisions? Seems like a firing offence to me.
By choosing not to take advantage of the global media empire that it literally owns, refusing to do deals with other corporations, and screwing up the scheduling of its own shows, Paramount has chosen to push fans toward piracy. Not only that, but the hurt and anger that has been generated by these decisions over the past couple of years will make it so much harder to convince fans to sign up for Paramount+ if the incompetently-managed service is ever ready to be rolled out.
Streaming platforms do not exist in a vacuum. The option fans have is not “pay for Paramount+ or don’t watch anything.” Piracy exists, and the only way that companies like Netflix and Disney have been able to make a success of the streaming model is by offering a good service at a low price. Paramount+ already fails the “good service” test – according to what I’m hearing from subscribers in the United States – so charging fans a higher price than Netflix, Amazon, or Disney for a worse product isn’t exactly going to incentivise folks to sign up.
Despite that, when a film, television series, or video game is made available to watch, I’m firmly in the camp that says “pay for it.” I don’t want to be a pirate. From both a moral perspective and as a point of simple practicality, I believe that everyone from actors, writers, and directors to producers and executives should be paid for the work that they put into creating an entertainment product. But when a corporation takes that option away and piracy becomes the only way to access that content, then I’m all for it. In such cases as these, it is quite literally the only option.
That’s the position Paramount has placed fans in. They had options to broadcast Strange New Worlds on channels and networks that they owned from as far afield as Angola and Mozambique to the UK, Western Europe, and beyond… but they actively and willfully chose not to. They did so knowing that many fans wouldn’t wait for Paramount+… and if they didn’t realise that many of us would turn to piracy, then they’re even more incompetent and out of their depth than I thought.
It’s become increasingly obvious that Paramount as a whole needs a good clear-out. 20th Century thinking is trying and failing to lead the corporation into the mid-21st Century, and executives and leaders clearly know nothing about a global media landscape that has been entirely transformed over the past couple of decades. Their attempt to launch their own streaming platform a decade too late in a massively competitive market was already a blunder all but certain to end in failure; the fact that Paramount+ is being handled so poorly is just hastening its demise. The anger and hurt caused to fans around the world – and not just fans of Star Trek, either, but fans of shows and franchises as diverse as Halo and iCarly – will be a weight around the corporation’s neck going forward. With inflation and other financial issues hitting hard in the short term, it’ll be ever more difficult to find subscribers for such a mediocre platform.
Paramount’s “America First” fetish would even make Donald Trump blush, and the corporation’s decision to gatekeep its own shows, segregating its audience geographically, is a colossal mistake. It’s one that Paramount+ may never recover from. And you know what? If a streaming platform with this level of ineptitude and mismanagement fails, it will deserve to fail. If a corporation with such a blinkered, short-sighted approach and an atrocious corporate attitude fails, it will deserve to fail too. My only concern as a fan of Star Trek is that Paramount+ may very well drag the Star Trek franchise down along with it.
The United States has been Paramount’s exclusive focus thus far, so much so that even when Paramount+ rolled out to countries like Australia, new episodes of shows like Prodigy weren’t broadcast there. Australian Trekkies who’d paid for Paramount+ were told that they’d have to wait for Discovery Season 4, and then Prodigy Season 1… so what exactly was the point of signing up? Did anyone at Paramount consider that question, or were they too fixated on America to care – or even notice?
I have tried my best to support Star Trek over the years. I signed up for Netflix in 2017 entirely because Discovery would be shown there, and I’ve likewise paid for Amazon Prime Video to watch Picard and Lower Decks. Over the span of more than thirty years I’ve bought Star Trek films and episodes on VHS, then the entire collection of every pre-2005 series on DVD, several on Blu-ray, and enough merchandise to sink a small boat. I’ve done my part to contribute financially to this franchise that I love… and even so, even with all the money I’ve already spent and all of the problems that I know Paramount+ has, I was ready to spend more. But Paramount saw fans like me offering up our cash and told us to fuck off.
The actors and the creative team who worked so hard to bring Strange New Worlds to life don’t deserve to find themselves in the middle of a stinking corporate mess, but in a way they’re caught in the crossfire. We should all be able to come together and celebrate the broadcast of a series that was only made possible because of Star Trek fans – many of whom are not American. But instead, we’re arguing about it. Strange New Worlds has become the latest in a line of own goals from Paramount, and there’s no way that the toxicity that they have created won’t spill over into criticisms of the show and everyone involved.
This mess could’ve been avoided. Paramount could have learned the lesson from just a few months ago, and spent the intervening time figuring out the best option for broadcasting Strange New Worlds in all of the different countries and territories around the globe. Instead they pissed away that time doing nothing of the sort, dragging the Star Trek fan community back to the same old arguments we had during the Discovery mess.
Paramount has options to broadcast Strange New Worlds internationally, either on channels and platforms that it already owns or by agreeing licenses with other corporations. It has had more than enough time to figure out what to do, and should’ve been spurred into action by the clusterfuck surrounding Discovery Season 4. And failing all of that, Paramount has had weeks now in which to break the news to Trekkies; to tell us something and respond to the many questions that have been asked about the series. They’ve done none of that – and the explanation is simple. They don’t care about or respect any non-American fans or viewers.
So our recourse is piracy, as it always has been. When a corporation misbehaves like this, and treats its biggest fans and biggest supporters with such blatant disrespect, they haven’t just encouraged piracy, they deserve to have their shows pirated. They deserve the financial hit, the hit to viewing figures, and quite honestly, Strange New Worlds deserves to fail. Under this appalling team of corporate fuckwits, Star Trek as a whole will fail. And when we’re picking up the pieces in a few years’ time, asking where it all went wrong, we’ll be able to look back on these decisions and recognise that it was here that Paramount screwed up.
I constantly hope for better from Paramount – and I’m constantly let down. So I’m going to do what they clearly want me to do: I’m going to pirate Strange New Worlds. And you should too.
Piracy is probably against the rules where you live, so when you do pirate Strange New Worlds, do so carefully. Here’s where I’d usually tell you that the Star Trek franchise is someone’s copyright, but fuck it. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, and Star Trek: The Original Series.
Though we still haven’t seen a trailer for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1, which is on the schedule for next year, last week’s Star Trek Day broadcast finally introduced us to members of the crew of the USS Enterprise who will be joining Captain Pike. Along with Pike, Spock, and Number One, who are returning to their roles from Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery, we briefly met six other characters.
We’ll look at each of these characters in turn to see what we can gleam and if we can figure out anything about the direction of any of Strange New Worlds’ plotlines, but first I wanted to cover an omission. Ever since Strange New Worlds was announced last year, fans had been speculating about who may or may not join Captain Pike on the Enterprise, but one character I felt had a strong chance of making an appearance was Cadet Sidhu.
Cadet Sidhu was introduced in the Short Treks episode Ask Not in 2019, and played a major role in that story alongside Captain Pike. Though Ask Not was primarily a vehicle for Anson Mount to reprise his much-loved role, almost any story aboard the Enterprise could’ve been invented for that purpose. To tell a story that focused on Cadet Sidhu and her being assigned to the USS Enterprise felt like a deliberate character introduction, and even though Strange New Worlds hadn’t been announced at that point, the series was clearly something that Star Trek was building up to.
I felt that Ask Not was a strong story, and that Sidhu actor Amrit Kaur put in a solid performance. It was a little surprising to see that she wasn’t part of the main cast at Star Trek Day, and while it’s still possible the character could return in some form, the inclusion of Cadet Uhura – whose role we’ll come to in a moment – seems like it’s potentially occupying a very similar space to the role that Sidhu might’ve played. Although the two characters are in different departments – Sidhu in engineering, Uhura in communications – in terms of narrative structure and character roles it seems unlikely that Strange New Worlds would have space to do justice to the stories of two cadets. If Sidhu is included, then, it seems certain that her role will be much less prominent than I’d have initially expected.
Now that we’ve covered one non-appearance, let’s look at who will definitely be part of Season 1! The character about whom we know the least right now is Erica Ortegas, played by Melissa Navia. This lieutenant appears to occupy a role on the bridge, perhaps in either the helm or navigation positions in front of Captain Pike. Wearing a red shirt, however, could mean she has a role as a security officer, tactical officer, or engineer either in addition to or instead of a permanent role on the bridge.
Lieutenant Ortegas does not appear to be connected to any known Star Trek characters, either from The Original Series era or any other Star Trek production, so that speculation is really the extent of what we know! We can assume that she’s of Spanish, Latin American, or Hispanic-American origin simply based on her name and casting, which would make her the first major character in the franchise to be from one of those backgrounds.
Interestingly, the name “Ortegas” is not new to Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry’s original pitch for Star Trek, prior to commencing work on The Cage, included a character named José Ortegas who would occupy the role of the ship’s navigator. By the time The Cage entered production, however, this character had been changed. José Tyler (whose first name wasn’t mentioned on screen) replaced Ortegas. This subtle nod to Star Trek’s origin is incredibly sweet, and if we can infer anything at all from this connection, it could mean that Lieutenant Ortegas will indeed occupy the role of navigator on the bridge.
Up next is the other character who appears to have no connection that we’re aware of to anyone else in Star Trek: Hemmer, played by Bruce Horak. Horak was not part of the announcement of the cast of Strange New Worlds earlier in the year, so his inclusion was a bit of a surprise for more than one reason! Most interestingly, though, Hemmer appears to be an Aenar – an Andorian race first encountered in Enterprise.
Most Aenar were known to be blind, and actor Bruce Horak is himself legally blind. This aspect of Hemmer’s character wasn’t discussed at all during Star Trek Day, which was a little odd considering it’s a significant step for the franchise. The character of Geordi La Forge in The Next Generation was also blind, but in his case a visor allowed him to see. Hemmer will potentially be the first blind character on Star Trek whose sight hasn’t been restored through technological means. What that means for his role aboard the ship isn’t clear, though.
Hemmer was wearing the red shirt of the security or engineering departments, and the very brief clip of him appeared to show him in a different area of the ship. Perhaps we can infer from that that he isn’t a bridge officer and may work in engineering. The Aenar in Enterprise were known to have extensive telepathic abilities, which could give Hemmer an edge when it comes to things like diplomacy or even a medical field. Hemmer is already a fascinating character, and I love the nod to Enterprise. His inclusion is a positive one for the visually-impaired, and for folks with disabilities of all kinds. Not only that, but it was done in a very “Star Trek” way – casting a character who is a member of a blind race of aliens doesn’t tread on the toes of things like Geordi’s visor and the prospect of offering a cure for blindness in Star Trek’s optimistic future.
Now we’re coming to characters who may be a little more familiar. La’an Noonien-Singh, played by Christina Chong, shares a family name with Khan Noonien Singh (albeit with a hyphen, though that could be a mistake). It seems incredibly unlikely to me that that’s a coincidence, so the question it raises is to what extent is La’an connected to Khan? At this point in the timeline, Khan is still in stasis aboard the SS Botany Bay. He wouldn’t be encountered by the Enterprise and awakened until after Captain Kirk assumed command of the ship, so La’an seemingly can’t be a direct relation.
It’s possible that she’s a distant descendant, then. Though Khan was genetically augmented, the practice was banned after the Eugenics Wars and thus it seems unlikely that La’an could be an augment herself. However, genetic traits found in Khan may still be present after several generations and she may have increased strength or mental faculties as a result.
One storyline that could be interesting for a character like La’an is how she might want to move away from her family history. Assuming that she does have a family connection with Khan, the choice to either embrace or reject his legacy could be something we see the character struggle with at points. Some people struggle with a family name and family legacy, and this can be a source of drama in fiction. Though Kylo Ren’s story went completely off the rails in the Star Wars franchise, it began with lofty ambitions of depicting a man struggling with different parts of his family history. Perhaps we’ll see something similar with La’an Noonien-Singh.
Other than that implied connection with Khan, all we can say about La’an is that she’s also wearing the red uniform of either the security or engineering divisions. Either could be a good fit if there’s any kind of genetic legacy from Khan and his augments – a security officer with enhanced strength and endurance would have an advantage, and an engineer whose brain works faster than everyone else would likewise be an incredibly useful asset to any engineering team.
Those three characters are brand-new to Star Trek – even though there are connections to the rest of the franchise. Strange New Worlds also re-introduced us to three other characters who are returning! These three all appeared in The Original Series. We’ll begin with Dr M’Benga, who appeared in just two episodes. When Dr McCoy was absent, Dr M’Benga appeared to be in charge, so he could’ve been the deputy chief medical officer by the time of The Original Series.
Though never confirmed on screen, the character’s first name was intended to be Joseph, and Dr M’Benga would’ve been born in Uganda in Africa. By the time of Geordi La Forge’s birth around a century later, an organisation called the African Confederation was known to exist, so it’s possible that Dr M’Benga may have originated from there as well. The actor taking on the role, Babs Olusanmokun, was born in Nigeria, so it’s possible that Dr M’Benga’s origin could be changed to give him a west African ancestry.
The Original Series clarified one thing about Dr M’Benga – he was somewhat of an expert on Vulcan physiology having spent some time on Vulcan. It’s possible that we could see him strike up a friendship with Spock based on that, or prove useful if Spock requires medical attention. Given Dr M’Benga’s status by the time of The Original Series I’m not convinced that he’ll be the chief medical officer – if so, why would he seemingly have taken a demotion to serve under Dr McCoy a decade later?
Dr Boyce, who we met in The Cage, appeared to be a friend and confidante of Captain Pike as well as the Enterprise’s chief medical officer. It’s possible this character may yet return in some form, and that Dr M’Benga is again a deputy. Or perhaps Dr Boyce has taken a leave of absence leaving Dr M’Benga in charge temporarily. Of the returning characters from The Original Series, Dr M’Benga offers the creative team behind Strange New Worlds the most freedom. We saw him on only a couple of occasions, so his character is still largely unwritten.
Staying in sickbay, we come to Nurse Chapel. Along with Una (Number One), Nurse Christine Chapel was played by Majel Barrett during The Original Series and was a mainstay in sickbay alongside Dr McCoy. Jess Bush is taking on the role for Strange New Worlds, and presumably will share a number of scenes with Dr M’Benga. The two characters knew one another by the time of The Original Series, and even worked together to treat Spock in the episode A Private Little War.
Despite appearing in twenty-five episodes of The Original Series, as well as in The Animated Series and two films, I’d argue that Nurse Chapel is still quite an underdeveloped character open for Strange New Worlds to explore in more depth. Many of her appearances in The Original Series were as an assistant to Dr McCoy, and learning more about her as a person away from her medical duties could be something the new show does.
There’s also the romantic feelings that Nurse Chapel developed toward Spock. Does she have a crush on him at this early stage? If not, perhaps the series will show how that came to be. Though I’m sure her characterisation won’t just be about that – the trope of female characters having nothing to think about but men is a tired one that needs to be retired – it could be one element among many that we see. Chapel was engaged to a man named Roger Korby by Season 1 of The Original Series, and this relationship could also be explored.
As a character that we’re at least a little familiar with, Strange New Worlds will have to tread somewhat carefully with Nurse Chapel. Though there is scope, as mentioned, to dive deeper into her characterisation and learn more about her, there are some constraints based on what we know of her from The Original Series that the show will have to respect.
Finally we come to the character that got many fans incredibly excited. Strange New Worlds was even trending on Twitter for a time following the reveal that Cadet Nyota Uhura will be a member of the crew. With the exception of Spock and, to a degree, Captain Pike, Uhura is the character fans are most familiar with, as she appeared in sixty-nine episodes of The Original Series, all but three episodes of The Animated Series, and all six films starring Star Trek’s original cast. She also appeared in the alternate reality Kelvin timeline films.
As such, there’s less scope to reshape or change Uhura’s character than there is for any of the others. However, as Discovery did with Spock in Season 2, there’s a lot of potential to show where Uhura came from and how she came to grow into the person we came to know and love during The Original Series. She can’t be too fundamentally different, but she can certainly start in a different place and slowly become the person we’re more familiar with. This was Spock’s journey, in some respects, in Discovery.
We know from both her original depiction and her Kelvin timeline depiction that Uhura has a knack for alien languages. Perhaps her unique skillset is what landed her a role on the Enterprise to begin with, as it seems unlikely that a cadet would ordinarily be a regular on the bridge! In that sense we could see her akin to Hoshi Sato from Enterprise – still finding her feet on the ship, but confident in her particular field.
A young cadet or newly-graduated officer is a character archetype that Star Trek shows have used in the past to great effect. Wesley Crusher, Harry Kim, and Sylvia Tilly come to mind first and foremost, but I’d also point to Dr Bashir in his first appearances, as well as Pavel Chekov, D’Vana Tendi, and the aforementioned Hoshi Sato as great examples. These kinds of characters present a strong contrast with the more experienced members of the crew, and can offer different perspectives as a result. Not only that, but any character who’s new aboard the ship makes for a great introduction and point-of-view character for us as the audience. It’s possible that Uhura will fill this role at the beginning of Strange New Worlds.
Before we wrap things up we can also talk about Una Chin-Riley, also known as Number One. She’s Captain Pike’s first officer, and though we spent a little time with her in Discovery Season 2 and Short Treks, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about her. Her depiction in The Cage was as a rather unemotional, straight-laced person. In particular the Short Treks episode Q&A showed us that there is a fun side to her – and this is something we could definitely see more of. Number One seems like someone with a very professional attitude, and perhaps a very clear line between friends and co-workers. Captain Pike and Spock may have bridged that line – but who else will?
Rebecca Romijn, who plays the character, told us that Una is “way more complex” than we might expect, which is tantalising to say the least! She also said that Strange New Worlds will take the opportunity to “flesh out” the character in more detail, which sounds fantastic. Though the original portrayal – and to an extent what we’ve seen in Discovery – does act as a constraint on where the character could go, I think there’s still plenty of scope to explore who Number One is.
The uniforms have been redesigned for Strange New Worlds, with most characters sporting a V-neck variant without the high collar or much of the piping and stitching seen in Season 2 of Discovery. Number One appears to have her own unique variant with a zip collar and black undershirt, and more black or dark patches on the sides of the torso. It’s not clear why she gets a special uniform – or indeed if this is what she’ll wear most often. But it’s interesting, and makes her stand out from the rest of the crew.
Of course we also have Captain Pike and Spock returning as well – but I daresay you know at least a little about both of them already! We didn’t really learn too much more about either of them at Star Trek Day, though there was talk of Captain Pike potentially inviting members of his senior staff to his quarters and cooking meals for them. That seems like a neat addition to his character. In Discovery Season 2 we came to see Captain Pike as the embodiment of Starfleet’s values and the epitome of what it means to be a leader. I daresay that side of his characterisation will remain.
When it comes to Pike, one element of his story that I’m most interested in is how he’s going to handle the knowledge of his impending accident and disability. He chose that future for himself in Discovery Season 2, and now it’s locked-in. As someone who’s disabled and suffers from a complex set of health issues, I’ve been in the position of knowing something is wrong and only going to get worse. I’ve heard bad news from a doctor, knowing there’s nothing I can do to change the outcome. Seeing how Pike will respond to being in a comparable situation has to be one of the things I’m most anticipating when it comes to his role in Strange New Worlds.
However, I’m also looking forward to spending time with Pike himself outside of that. There’s more to him than just one storyline, and we could see him, for example, attempt to make contact with Vina on Talos IV again, or furthering his friendships with Spock and Number One. I’m curious to see him interact with some of the other members of the crew, particularly those we remember from The Original Series era.
Finally we have Spock. As the character we know best, and as someone who’s been a major part of Star Trek for practically its entire history, there’s far less scope to radically change Spock. Additions can be made to his character – as we saw with Michael Burnham in Discovery – but at a fundamental level, who he is as a person is set in stone.
We may see Spock’s human and Vulcan sides in conflict in Strange New Worlds as he tries to bury his emotions. At Star Trek Day, producer Akiva Goldsman made reference to The Cage and how Spock was depicted there. How “smiley Spock” became the character we know, perhaps influenced by the loss of Michael Burnham, could be one element of his character that the new show will explore.
I think it’s more important for Spock to stay true to his past characterisation than it is for any of the others. Spock has appeared in The Original Series and its films, The Next Generation, and the Kelvin timeline films, and was a major character much of the time. There is still scope to explore unknown aspects of his character – and we could see, for example, how or why he came to have a falling-out with Sarek – but generally speaking this is the character that Strange New Worlds has to be the most careful with.
Production has now finished on Season 1 of Strange New Worlds. Though I fully expect a second season is already being worked on behind closed doors, there’s been no official announcement as of yet. If the show follows a similar pattern to Discovery and Picard, it might not be until the first season is about to premiere that we’ll learn a second is going to happen. Regardless, I think it’s a safe bet right now that, after all the effort and work that’s gone into Season 1, Strange New Worlds won’t just run for a single season!
Promising a return to a more episodic format, and bringing back Captain Pike and Spock after their excellent roles in Season 2 of Discovery, Strange New Worlds was already high up on the list of shows I’m most excited for. But I have to say, after seeing the casting announcements (and, perhaps, because Picard Season 2 has dropped down a little) it’s now officially right at the top! 2022 can’t come soon enough, to be honest!
Each of the new characters look genuinely exciting and interesting, and the series seems to be doing a good job at walking the line between staying true to Star Trek’s past and carving out its own niche. That isn’t always going to be easy, and the producers have certainly taken on a challenge by bringing back fan-favourites like Uhura. But everything I’ve seen and heard fills me with confidence that Strange New Worlds is going to be utterly fantastic. I cannot wait to see the show when it premieres next year.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will be broadcast on Paramount+ in the United States (and other regions where the platform is available) in 2022. Further international distribution has not yet been announced. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the Star Trek franchise, including the following upcoming series: Strange New Worlds Season 1, Picard Season 2, Lower Decks Season 2, Discovery Season 4, and Prodigy Season 1.
Yesterday was Star Trek Day! And in case you missed it, ViacomCBS held a live event that was streamed online and via Paramount+ showcasing and celebrating all things Star Trek! We’ll break down the big news in a moment, but first I wanted to give you my thoughts on the event as a whole.
This was the first big in-person event that many of the folks involved had been able to attend since 2019, and there was talk of the pandemic and its enforced disruption on the various shows that have been in production over the last couple of years. There was also a lot of positivity from presenters and interviewees not only about Star Trek – which was to be expected, naturally – but also about being back together and simply being able to hold a major event of this nature. The positivity of hosts Wil Wheaton and Mica Burton was infectious, and the event was much better for the role the duo played in hosting the panels and introducing guests.
That isn’t to say that Star Trek Day was entirely without problems, though. To be blunt, the event dragged on a bit too long (it ran to over three hours) and several of the panels and interviews were the worse for being conducted live instead of the pre-recorded, edited, and curated segments and panels we’ve had to get used to in the coronavirus era. Several of the guests seemed unprepared for what should’ve been obvious questions, and there were too many awkward silences and pauses while people gathered their thoughts and responded to the hosts. Such is the nature of live broadcasting – and it sounds rather misanthropic to criticise it!
During what I assume was an intermission on the main stage we were treated(!) to a separate pair of presenters on the red carpet reading out twitter messages and posts from the audience. This was perhaps the segment that dragged the most; one of the presenters even admitted to not being a regular Star Trek viewer (she hadn’t seen Discovery at all) so unfortunately this part of the show was less interesting as the pair were a little less knowledgeable about the franchise. If it had been made clear that this section of the broadcast was going to last as long as it did I might’ve taken a break as well!
Overall, though, despite running a bit too long and the ending feeling a little rushed (something we’ll talk about later), Star Trek Day was a success. It didn’t only look forward to upcoming projects like Strange New Worlds and Picard Season 2, but it looked back at every past Star Trek series, inviting members of the casts of those shows to talk about what made them – and the franchise – so great.
As a true celebration of all things Star Trek, the broadcast has to be considered a success. And although a pre-recorded event could’ve been edited and streamlined to cut to the more interesting parts and to give interviewees a chance to gather their thoughts, it was nice to see many of the folks we know and love from Star Trek back together and able to spend time in person with one another. Hosts Wil Wheaton and Mica Burton did a great job at making us as the audience feel included, as if we were there at Star Trek Day right along with them. For those few hours – even through awkward moments and segments that seemed to run a little too long – it felt like being a member of the Star Trek family. As someone with few friends, I appreciated that immensely. For those few hours last night – and yes, even though Star Trek Day didn’t start until 1:30am UK time I did stay up to watch it – I felt like I, too, was an honorary member of the Star Trek family, and that’s a feeling I would never have been able to get anywhere else.
Now then! Let’s talk about the various panels, trailers, and interviews. Over the coming days I’ll be taking a closer look at some of the announcements and trailers in more detail (as well as perhaps crafting a few of my patented and often-wrong theories), but for now I want to try to include an overview of everything that was included in Star Trek Day.
We’ll come to the biggest announcements and trailers at the end, but first I wanted to talk for a moment about the music. Star Trek Day had a live orchestra on its main stage, and we were treated to live renditions of Star Trek theme music past and present – as well as a medley that kicked off the event. I was listening to Star Trek Day on my headphones, and the music sounded beautiful. Composer Jeff Ruso (who composed the theme music to Discovery and Picard) picked up the conductor’s baton, and the medley he arranged was really an outstanding celebration of all things Star Trek.
Star Trek Day both began and ended with music, as Isa Briones (Star Trek: Picard’s Soji) sang her rendition of Irving Berlin’s 1926 song Blue Skies to close out the broadcast.
There were five “legacy moments” spread throughout Star Trek Day, and these celebrations of past Star Trek series were genuinely moving. Actors George Takei, LeVar Burton, Cirroc Lofton, Garrett Wang, and Anthony Montgomery spoke about their respective series with enthusiasm and emotion. Cirroc Lofton paid tribute to his on-screen dad Avery Brooks, talking about how Deep Space Nine showed a single dad balancing his work and family commitments. He also spoke about Deep Space Nine’s legacy as the first Star Trek show to step away from a starship and take a different look at the Star Trek galaxy.
The themes of diversity and inclusion were omnipresent in these legacy moments, and all five actors spoke about how Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry have promoted diversity since the very beginning. George Takei spoke about Gene Roddenberry’s vision for Star Trek, how sci-fi had previously been something often seen as just for kids, and how putting a very diverse cast of characters together was groundbreaking in the 1960s. It’s always amazing to hear George Takei speak, and even fifty-five years later he still has a grace and eloquence when speaking on these topics. As someone who has himself been at the forefront of campaigning for diversity and equality, he does so with a gravitas that few can match.
Garrett Wang spoke about how Voyager could be a “refuge” for fans; a place to go where everyone could feel included and like they were part of the family. The way the show combined two crews was, I would argue, one of its weaker elements, but Wang looked at it through a different lens, and I can see the point about how Voyager put those folks in a difficult situation and brought them together to work in common cause. He also spoke in very flattering terms about Captain Janeway and Kate Mulgrew – who is returning to Star Trek very soon.
Anthony Montgomery was incredibly positive about Enterprise, and how the series embodied the pioneering spirit of exploration. I loved his line about how Enterprise, although it was a prequel recorded later than many other shows, laid the groundwork and filled in much of Star Trek’s previously unvisited stories and unexplained lore. Above all, he said, Enterprise was a “fun” show – and it’s hard to disagree! The orchestra concluded this speech with Archer’s Theme – the music heard over the end credits for Enterprise – which is a beautiful piece of music. If I were to remaster Enterprise I’d drop Faith of the Heart (which is a nice enough song, don’t get me wrong) and replace it on the opening titles with Archer’s Theme. The orchestra played it perfectly.
LeVar Burton talked about The Next Generation, and how Star Trek was reinvigorated for a new era. The Next Generation was the first spin-off, and it came at a time when spin-offs didn’t really exist in the sci-fi or drama spaces, so it was an unknown and a risk. Burton also spoke about The Next Generation’s sense of family, and how Star Trek can be a unifying force in the world.
Far from being mere padding, the five legacy moments saw stars of Star Trek’s past pay tribute to the franchise and the shows they were part of. There were consistent themes running through all five speeches, particularly the theme of inclusion. Star Trek has always been a franchise that strives to include people who are “different” – people like myself. For many fans, that’s one of the things that makes Star Trek so great. To see some of the biggest stars acknowledge and celebrate that aspect of Star Trek was wonderful, emotional, and rather cathartic.
Each of the five actors spoke with love, positivity, and enthusiasm for the franchise that made them household names. Anthony Montgomery’s incredibly positive attitude in particular shone through – he was beaming the whole time and seemed genuinely thrilled to have been invited to speak and to celebrate Enterprise.
If Star Trek Day aimed to celebrate all things Star Trek, then the legacy moments went a long way to making that ambition a reality on the night. The speeches were pitch-perfect, as were the orchestral renditions of all five Star Trek themes, and I had an unexpectedly good time with these moments. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the programme listed on the website; I didn’t really have any expectations of what the legacy moments would include. They surprised me by being one of the most enjoyable, down-to-earth parts of a hugely entertaining evening.
Let’s talk about news and announcements. That’s what you’re here for, right?! That was certainly what I was most interested in and excited for when I sat down to watch the Star Trek Day broadcast – though, as mentioned, I was taken aback by some of the other elements present that I wouldn’t have expected!
First, a non-announcement! Wil Wheaton interviewed the head of production on Star Trek, Alex Kurtzman, early on in the evening. Kurtzman didn’t have anything to say about the Section 31 series, nor about the upcoming Star Trek film due for release in 2023. However, he mentioned something that I found really interesting: a Starfleet Academy series or project. This isn’t anything close to an official announcement, of course, and he and Wil Wheaton talked about it in abstract terms. But a Starfleet Academy series has been something Star Trek has considered in the past; Gene Roddenberry was quite keen on a Starfleet Academy spin-off prior to developing The Next Generation. Watch this space, because it’s at least possible that a project centred around Starfleet Academy will get off the ground under Kurtzman’s leadership.
There were no brand-new shows or films formally announced at Star Trek Day. While I wasn’t necessarily expecting such an announcement, and Kurtzman’s earlier statement that no new show will be worked on until the current crop have run their course would seem to exclude it, there are multiple pitches and projects that have been rumoured or talked about over the last few years. The Section 31 series was absent again, as mentioned, and that’s more bad news for a series that feels like it isn’t going to happen. There were also no mentions of the likes of Ceti Alpha V, Captain Proton, or Captain Worf – just some of the heavily-speculated or rumoured pitches believed to be floating around over at ViacomCBS.
We did get release dates or release windows for several upcoming seasons, though! After Lower Decks Season 2 draws to a close in mid-October there’ll be a couple of weeks with no Star Trek, but then Prodigy will be available (in the United States at least) from the 28th of October. Shortly thereafter, Discovery Season 4 will kick off – it will premiere on the 18th of November in the United States and on the 19th internationally. Finally, Picard Season 2 is scheduled to arrive on our screens in February next year – presumably shortly after the season finale of Discovery.
All of this is great news! There was no release date for Strange New Worlds, but I think we can assume it will follow within a few weeks at most of Picard Season 2, which would put it perhaps in May or June 2022 at the very latest. But there will be a whole lot of Star Trek on our screens this autumn and winter, well into the first half of next year. Wil Wheaton said it best: with so many new Star Trek projects in production, we’re living through a new golden age of Star Trek right now!
I was a little surprised when the Discovery panel ended without revealing a new trailer or teaser for Season 4. Michelle Paradise, Wilson Cruz, Blu del Barrio, and Ian Alexander talked about how the show is fostering a sense of family in the 32nd Century – and that we will see Gray get a “corporeal” body in Season 4 somehow, which is great! But I have to say I’d been expecting a new trailer; the show is only a couple of months away after all. Perhaps we’ll get that nearer to the time. There wasn’t any mention of Season 5 either, but it’s possible that announcement will come as the marketing campaign for Season 4 ramps up.
Wilson Cruz seems like such a positive person in every interview I’ve ever seen him participate in, and he brought a lot of positive energy to the stage in Star Trek Day as well. There was talk of the Stamets-Culber relationship being revisited in Season 4, which is great – Stamets and Culber really form the emotional core of the show. He also spoke about how Dr Culber is embracing new roles in Season 4 – the role of counsellor to others aboard the ship as well as a parental role for Adira and Gray.
Gray’s storyline has the potential to be one of the most powerful in Discovery as the show moves into its fourth season. Being trans or gender-nonconforming can make one feel invisible – something I can speak to myself – and this is literally shown on screen by Gray’s invisibility. The powerful story of discovering how to be seen, and to do so with the help, encouragement, and support of one’s closest friends and family has the potential to be an exceptionally powerful story, one which I can already feel resonating with me. Blu del Barrio and Ian Alexander spoke very positively about their on- and off-screen relationships, and they seem like they work exceptionally well together as a duo. I can’t wait to see what Season 4 will bring for them both.
I’ve already got a Prodigy theory! The show’s co-creators talked about how Prodigy Season 1 begins with the kids on a never-before-seen planet described as being “far removed and mysterious.” It sounds like we aren’t seeing a planet that the USS Voyager visited in the Delta Quadrant – something backed up by scenes seemingly set on that world in the trailer – and the USS Protostar appears to have crashed “inside” the planet. Did it crash during the final leg of Voyager’s journey home through the Borg transwarp network? Or perhaps during one of Voyager’s other flights – the space catapult from The Voyager Conspiracy or Kes’ telepathic launch in The Gift, for example. More to come on this, so stay tuned!
So we got a release date for Prodigy in the United States, but as I’ve said on a couple of occasions now it seems as though Prodigy isn’t going to be broadcast anywhere that doesn’t already have Paramount+. Considering that the series is a collaborative project between Star Trek and Nickelodeon (itself a ViacomCBS subsidiary), it should surely have been possible to secure an international broadcast on the Nickelodeon channel – a satellite/cable channel here in the UK and in many other countries. It’s a disappointment that, once again, ViacomCBS does not care about its international fans. It’s not as egregious a failing as it was with Lower Decks, because as a kids’ show Prodigy’s primary audience won’t really notice the delay. But for Trekkies around the world, to see Prodigy teased then find out we have no way to watch it is disappointing, and there’s no way around that.
Despite that, the Prodigy panel was interesting. Dee Bradley Baker, who voices Murf – the cute blob-alien – seems like he’s a real Trekkie and spoke about the franchise with passion. It was so much fun to see him perform Murf’s voice live, as well! Brett Gray, who will take on the role of young leader Dal, seemed overjoyed to have joined a franchise – and a family – with such a legacy, and I liked the way he spoke about how the young crew of the USS Protostar will grow as the season progresses.
The show’s co-creators – brothers Dan and Kevin Hageman – spoke about how Prodigy won’t be a series that talks down to children, but rather aims to be a series with plenty to offer for adults as well. The best kids’ shows manage this – and the Hagemans have received critical acclaim and awards for their work on Trollhunters and Ninjago, so there’s a lot of room for optimism. They both seemed to have a good grasp of the legacy and role Star Trek plays and has played for young people, and I think the show is in safe hands.
The Prodigy trailer was action-packed and exciting! We got a glimpse of the villainous character played by John Noble – and heard his distinctive voice – as well as got a much closer look at the USS Protostar than we had before. Perhaps the most exciting moment, though, was seeing the Janeway hologram for the first time! Janeway’s role in the show seems like it will be that of a mentor; the kids will make their own calls and decisions, but Janeway will be on hand to offer advice – at least that’s my take at this stage.
There were some funny moments in the trailer, too, which will surely produce a lot of giggles from Prodigy’s young audience. “Just hit all the buttons” until the phasers fire was a great laugh line, and the ship losing artificial gravity was likewise hilarious. There was also a crash-landing that reminded me very much of a scene in the Voyager episode Timeless. I’m really looking forward to Prodigy and to spending time with the young crew of the USS Protostar.
The Lower Decks panel was perhaps the funniest of the night. It was also the one where the interviewees felt the most comfortable and did their best at participating and answering questions; there were none of the awkward silences or long pauses that made me cringe during other panels. Noël Wells, Eugene Cordero, and creator Mike McMahan initially took to the stage before being joined in truly spectacular fashion by Ransom voice actor Jerry O’Connell. The cast members clearly get on very well together, and this came across as the four talked with host Mica Burton about the first four episodes of the season as well as what’s to come in the remaining six episodes.
Wells and Cordero talked about how they see their characters of Tendi and Rutherford becoming friends and bonding over “nerd” things – geeking out together over things like new tricorders, engineering, or how best to do their work was a hallmark for both in Season 1. I’m not so sure how I feel about Mike McMahan saying that the rest of the season plans to go “even bigger” with some of its stories. Lower Decks can be overly ambitious, at times, with the number of characters and story threads it tries to cram into a twenty- or twenty-five-minute episode, and this can be to the detriment of some or all of the stories it wants to tell.
However, McMahan spoke about the episode Crisis Point from Season 1 as a kind of baseline for how big and bold the show wants to go in the second half of Season 2. That episode was one of the best, not just for its wacky over-the-top action, but for its quieter character moments. If the rest of Season 2 keeps in mind the successful elements from episodes like Crisis Point, then I think we’re in for a good time!
The mid-season trailer was interesting! Here are just some of the things I spotted: the Pakleds are returning, Rutherford seems to get a “Wrath of Khan-inspired” moment in a radiation chamber, Tendi was transformed into a monster that seemed reminiscent of those in Genesis from Season 7 of The Next Generation, Boimler and Mariner are involved in a shuttle crash, Mariner rejoins Captain Freeman on the bridge, there was a scene in which Boimler easily defeated some Borg that I assume must be a dream or holodeck programme, a Crystalline Entity was seen, the creepy bartender with the New England accent was back, and Boimler and Mariner shared a joke about the utility of phaser rifles. I’m sure there was more – but those were the key things I spotted! The rest of Season 2 will hopefully continue to hit the highs of the past few weeks – and there’s another episode coming out very soon here in the UK that I can’t wait to watch!
It was very sweet for Star Trek Day to take time to discuss Gene Roddenberry’s legacy, coming in the centenary year of his birth. His son Rod, and former Star Trek stars LeVar Burton, George Takei, and Gates McFadden joined Wil Wheaton to talk about Gene Roddenberry, and this was one of the most touching moments in the entire event. There were some laughs as George Takei told us about his first meeting with Gene Roddenberry and how he came to land the role of Sulu – including how both he and Gene mispronounced each others’ names! Gates McFadden seemed to have been talked into joining the cast of The Next Generation by Roddenberry, having initially wanted to return to the stage and join a play. Rod Roddenberry’s reminiscence of the design process for the Enterprise-D was hilarious – apparently his mother thought the ship looked like “a pregnant duck!”
LeVar Burton, who had been a Star Trek fan prior to joining The Next Generation, spoke about how he was overwhelmed at first when meeting “the Great Bird of the Galaxy,” and how a small role on a made-for-television film introduced him to producer Bob Justman, who later arranged for him to meet with Gene Roddenberry during pre-production on The Next Generation. All of these anecdotes went a long way to humanising Gene Roddenberry the man – we can often get lost in the legacy and philosophy he left behind, and how Star Trek and the world he created has influenced and impacted us, but this was a rare opportunity to hear small, personal stories about the man himself. I greatly appreciated that.
George Takei got one of the biggest applause lines of the evening when he spoke about the importance of Star Trek’s fans, in particular Bjo Trimble, on popularising The Original Series and getting a nationwide fan community started. Decades before the internet came along to make fandoms and fan communities a part of many peoples’ lives, Star Trek was already developing its very own devoted fan community thanks to people like Bjo Trimble, and for George Takei to take time to acknowledge the role fans have played in Star Trek’s ongoing success was wonderful to hear.
As I’ve said before, The Motion Picture was the culmination of this fan-led journey for Star Trek, but the film also laid the groundwork for much of what we’d come to know as Star Trek in the eighties and nineties. Many sets and design elements were in continuous use in some form from The Motion Picture’s premiere in 1979 right the way through to the cancellation of Enterprise in 2005, and much of the aesthetic and feel of Star Trek is owed to what The Motion Picture pioneered. George Takei acknowledged that, and that was a pretty cool moment. The Motion Picture is one of my favourite Star Trek films, and a 4K remaster was briefly shown off as well – the 4K blu-ray set of the first four Star Trek films is out now, so Star Trek Day took a moment to plug it!
The panel that seemed to get the most online attention was, I felt, one of the worst and most cringeworthy to watch! The Strange New Worlds panel was followed up by a pre-recorded video that introduced new members of its main cast, who joined Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, and Rebecca Romijn. Among the newly-revealed characters were an Aenar (an Andorian race introduced in Enterprise) a possible descendant or relation of iconic villain Khan, and three characters from The Original Series who are returning to Star Trek: Dr M’Benga, who appeared in a couple of episodes, Nurse Chapel, and the one who got the most attention: Cadet Nyota Uhura!
Uhura blew up online after the announcement, and it’s fair to say that I was not expecting this! There was scope, I felt, for Strange New Worlds to bring back classic characters, but the choices they made seem to be pitch-perfect. I’m especially excited to see more from Dr M’Benga – he was a minor character who feels ripe for a deeper look. The same could also be said of Captain Pike and Number One!
As I predicted a few months ago, the uniforms for Strange New Worlds have been slightly redesigned from their Discovery style. I was never wild about the asymmetrical collars; they worked okay on Discovery’s all-blue uniforms but looked perhaps a little clumsy on the recoloured uniforms worn by Pike and the Enterprise crew. So to see the teaser show off a redesigned style that keeps the bold primary colours but ditches the Discovery style was pretty great! As with any new uniform I think we need time to see them in action and get used to them, but there’s already a lot to like. In addition to the V-neck style worn by Pike and Spock, we saw a white medical variant worn by Nurse Chapel, another medical variant with a broad crew collar worn by Dr M’Benga, and a zipper style worn by Number One. Starfleet uniforms – like any aesthetic or design element – are of course subject to personal taste, but from what we’ve seen so far I like the Strange New Worlds uniforms.
The Strange New Worlds live panel was not the best, though. Anson Mount, who is usually so full of life and happy to talk about all things Trek, sat in silence for large parts of it, deferring to the rest of the panel to answer questions. He may have been trying to avoid jumping in too fast or dominating proceedings, but it led to several very awkward silences that weren’t fun to watch. I got the sense that perhaps he wasn’t feeling well.
The producers – Akiva Goldsman, who has previously worked on Picard, and Henry Alonso Myers – gave us a few tidbits of information about the series. I was very pleased to hear so much positive talk about returning Star Trek to a more episodic format. Goldsman, who had been instrumental in crafting Picard’s serialised story during Season 1, seems quite happy to return to episodic television. There are a lot of advantages in a show like Strange New Worlds – i.e. one about exploration – to using a more episodic format. Episodic television can still see wonderful character growth – I’d point to Ensign Mariner in Lower Decks as a recent Star Trek example – so it was great to see how positively the cast and crew talked about that aspect of Strange New Worlds.
The producers and cast seemed very keen to embrace the legacy of The Original Series in more ways than one. Without looking to overwrite anything, they want to bring their own take on classic characters, and I think that’s great. Spock benefitted greatly from the expanded look we got at him in Discovery’s second season, and there’s no reason to think characters like Nurse Chapel or Cadet Uhura won’t likewise get significant character development that plays into the characters we know and love from their roles in The Original Series.
In terms of aesthetic, Strange New Worlds is trying to walk a line between embracing the 1960s style of The Original Series and also updating the show to a more modern look. There was talk about the design of sets, in particular Captain Pike’s quarters, and how the designers had been keen to return to the 1960s for inspiration. Likewise hair and nail styles were mentioned by Rebecca Romijn for Number One – a ’60s-inspired, “retro” look seems to be on the cards for the character, but not to such an extent that it becomes distracting. Walking that line is a challenge – but one I’m glad to see the show tackling!
We didn’t get a full trailer for Strange New Worlds, and the character introductions were cut in such a way as to minimise what we could see of the USS Enterprise. However, we did get a decent look at the transporter room set, which looks really cool, and when we met Dr M’Benga we got a glimpse of what I assume to be sickbay – and it looks like the colour scheme from The Original Series is still present in some form. We also got to see the logo and typeface for Strange New Worlds.
So an underwhelming panel in some respects led to one of the biggest reveals of the night! Uhura, Chapel, and Dr M’Benga make welcome returns to Star Trek, that’s for sure. And there’s a particular genius to choosing these three characters in particular: they’re all ripe for more development and exploration. Uhura was a mainstay on The Original Series, but compared with the likes of Kirk and Spock there’s still plenty of room to explore her characterisation, background, and learn more about who she is in a way that will inform the original character and portrayal. Likewise for Nurse Chapel and Dr M’Benga – in many ways these two characters are near-blank slates for the new writers and producers to mould into their own creations.
I’m more excited today for Strange New Worlds than I was 24 hours ago, and that’s really saying something! I loved how Mount and the producers spoke about how his portrayal of Pike and Pike’s leadership style led them to redesign parts of his quarters so he could accommodate more of his crew around the table. Cooking was a big part of Captain Sisko’s character in Deep Space Nine, and I picked up at least a hint of that in some of the things said about Pike.
The panel also discussed how the USS Enterprise is a “star of the show” in many respects, and how episodic storytelling will allow the series to return to Star Trek’s roots in terms of producing entertaining stories with morals. As I’ve said before, Star Trek has always used its sci-fi lens to shine a light on real-world issues, and to learn that Strange New Worlds is embracing that is fantastic news.
Spock’s characterisation was mentioned by Ethan Peck and the producers, and there was talk of how we’d see different facets of his personality. The Cage was mentioned as showing us “smiley Spock,” and I liked how the producers have a keen knowledge of how Spock and other Vulcans perceive and experience emotions – Spock is an emotional person, even if he suppresses those emotions much of the time. An exploration of that aspect of his character – informed by his experiences in Discovery Season 2, perhaps – will be truly interesting to see play out.
Finally we come to Star Trek: Picard. This was the final event of the evening, and unfortunately the way it was teed up felt incredibly rushed. Jeri Ryan – who will reprise her role as Seven of Nine in Season 2 – raced onto the stage to introduce the new trailer, and it just seemed very obvious that the people running the event were acutely aware of time constraints and wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. There was no Picard panel, no appearance from Sir Patrick Stewart (even by video-link or in a pre-recorded message), and though the trailer was very interesting the way Picard Season 2 was handled felt rushed right at the end of Star Trek Day – ironic, perhaps, considering the rushed way Season 1 also ended!
We’ll get to the trailer in a moment, but it was great to see that Picard Season 3 has been officially confirmed. We knew this was coming – Season 3 is already in production, and filming has already begun. But to get an official confirmation was good, and it drew a huge cheer from the audience. There’s clearly a big appetite for more Picard!
Onward, then, to the trailer. This is one that I’ll have to return to for a more detailed breakdown in the days ahead, but for now here are my summarised thoughts.
A return to the 21st Century is not what I would have chosen. Time travel isn’t my favourite Star Trek storyline, and in particular time travel stories which return to the modern day can feel awfully dated very quickly. Look, for example, at Voyager’s two-parter Future’s End, or Star Trek IV as examples of that. Star Trek feels like the future – one of the reasons I love it so much – and when it comes back to the modern day I think it risks losing something significant. It’s possible that only a small part of the story will be set in the modern day, but even so I wasn’t exactly wild about this story element, unfortunately.
We knew from the earlier trailer that there has been some kind of change or damage to the timeline. It now seems as though Q may be more directly involved, as Picard blamed him for breaking the timeline. Whatever the change was, it seems to be centred in our own 21st Century (though it could be anywhere from 2020-2040, I guess) and resulted not in the creation of the Federation but a “totalitarian state” by the 24th Century. I don’t believe that this is the Mirror Universe that we’re familiar with, but rather a change to the Prime Timeline itself – perhaps caused by Q, but earlier comments seemed to suggest that Q wasn’t to blame, so watch this space.
In voiceover we heard Laris questioning Picard’s motivation for wanting to join Starfleet or leave Earth, something we’d seen him talk about in episodes like Family and again in Generations. She seemed to question whether he’s “running” from something in his past – could it be some darker impulse or perhaps a family secret that’s connected in some way to the creation of the totalitarian state? Could it be, as I suggested recenly, tied into World War III?
One of the things I was most curious about was the role of the Borg Queen, whose return had been signalled a few days ago via a casting announcement. It seems as though Picard has access to the incarcerated remains of a Borg Queen – somehow – and that she may be vital to allowing the crew of La Sirena to travel through time. Rather than the Borg themselves playing a role in the story, then, this may be a battle involving Picard and Seven – victims of assimilation – and a captured, damaged Borg Queen.
There’s a lot more to break down from the Picard trailer, and in the days ahead I’ll put together my thoughts in more detail – as well as perhaps fleshing out a theory or two. For now, I think what I want to say is that I have mixed feelings. The big drawback I can see is the modern-day setting for part of the show. I hope I’m proven wrong, but to me Star Trek has never been at its best with these kinds of stories, and I’m concerned that it’ll stray from being a Star Trek show into something… else.
On the other hand, there are many positives. The return of Laris, who seems to have an expanded role compared to where she was in Season 1. Q’s mysterious time-bending role, too. Is he the villain of the piece, or is his latest “trial” something that he believes will help Picard and humanity? What role will he play – ally, adversary, or something in between? The “totalitarian state” definitely channelled some elements of the Mirror Universe, but also seems to have put its own spin on this concept, taking it to different thematic places. I’d be curious to see what role the Picard of this timeline has in the government of the totalitarian state.
So that’s all I have to say for now. In the days ahead I’ll take a closer look at the Picard trailer, as well as talk about other things we learned at Star Trek Day.
Although it was a late night and a long broadcast, I had a good time with Star Trek Day overall. There were some moments that didn’t work well, some unprepared interviewees and some segments that dragged on too long, but on the whole it was a fun and incredibly positive celebration of Star Trek. I came to the broadcast hoping to see more from upcoming shows, but I was blown away just as much by the celebration of Star Trek’s past as I was by the look ahead.
The hosts, presenters, and most of the speakers and guests showed off their passion and love for Star Trek in a very positive way. There was a lot of talk about returning the franchise to its roots, celebrating the legacy of Gene Roddenberry and his original vision for Star Trek and what made it so appealing to people of all ages across multiple generations. As we look ahead to Star Trek’s future in 2021, 2022, and beyond, taking these moments to look back at what got Star Trek to where it is today was fantastic, and well worth taking the time to see. Above all, Star Trek Day shone with passion and positivity, and that’s just what the franchise needed as it marked its fifty-fifth birthday. Here’s to the next fifty-five years of Star Trek!
Star Trek Day was broadcast online and on Paramount+ on the 8th of September 2021 (9th of September 2021 in the UK). At time of writing the event can be re-watched on the official Star Trek website; panels and trailers are supposed to be available via Star Trek and Paramount+ official YouTube channels. Clips may also be available via official social media pages and channels. The Star Trek franchise – including all properties and series mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-3, Short Treks, Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Lower Decks, and for other iterations of the Star Trek franchise.
Though Strange New Worlds Season 1 is still probably a year or more away from being broadcast, it’s never too soon to start thinking about the next live-action Star Trek show! Each Star Trek project brings something new and different to the table, but Strange New Worlds’ purported return to a more exploration-focused, episodic kind of storytelling is something I’m incredibly interested in and excited for. When I think about upcoming television series that I’m most excited about, Strange New Worlds has to be very close to the top of the list!
In addition to the three cast members reprising their roles from Discovery, we learned earlier in the year that five other major roles have been cast – but we didn’t learn anything about the characters, nor about any recurring or returning characters either. Strange New Worlds is currently in production, but was entirely absent from Star Trek’s First Contact Day digital event in April. We haven’t really heard much solid news from the production for a while!
Despite that, I thought it could be fun to look ahead to Strange New Worlds’ premiere, and this time we’re going to consider some of the factions present in the Star Trek galaxy that Pike and his crew could encounter! This isn’t going to be a comprehensive list of every Star Trek race or species, just those that I personally consider plausible for the new show.
As always, please keep in mind that I don’t have any “insider information.” I’m not stating that any of these factions will definitely appear in Strange New Worlds, all we’re going to do today is look at some factions from past iterations of Star Trek and think about where they could be in the mid-2250s. That’s all!
With that out of the way, let’s jump into the list!
Number 1: The Andorians
As a founding member of the Federation, the Andorians are a firm ally in this era. Despite that, however, episodes like Journey to Babel in The Original Series showed that there is still a degree of mistrust particularly between Andorians and Vulcans. Much of what we know about the Andorians actually comes from Enterprise, where they featured far more prominently than in any other Star Trek series to date. After appearing in The Original Series and in the background in a couple of films, the Andorians were absent for practically all of The Next Generation era.
It would be amazing if one of Strange New Worlds’ main or recurring characters were Andorian! Having an Andorian crew member would be a first for any Star Trek show, and that could be a lot of fun. It would also be possible for the series to delve into Federation politics in a similar way to Journey to Babel, looking at how Andorian relations with other Federation members have improved – or not – over the years. Though he would be well over 100 years old by this point, it’s not inconceivable that Shran, the Andorian commander who tangled with Captain Archer in Enterprise, could still be alive in this era, and perhaps he could make an appearance.
Number 2: Arcadians, Ariolos, Arkenites, and others!
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home – and several other films starring the cast of The Original Series – followed the Star Wars trend of designing cool-looking aliens and then leaving them in the background or in minor supporting roles. The higher budget afforded to the films allowed for more aliens and different-looking aliens, but subsequent Star Trek projects haven’t brought back races like the Arcadians, Ariolos, Arkenites, and more.
However, Discovery Season 3 briefly featured a Betelgeusian character – the Betelgeusians were another race seen in the background of a film before being ignored in subsequent Star Trek projects. So I think there’s the possibility that one or more races only ever seen in films like The Voyage Home could appear in Strange New Worlds. Perhaps Captain Pike and the crew make first contact with one of them!
Number 3: The Bajorans
The Cardassian Empire would not occupy Bajor until the late 23rd or early 24th Century, meaning that in the 2250s Bajor and the Bajorans will be very different to the way we remember them from Deep Space Nine. Pre-occupation Bajor operated a strict caste-based hierarchy, with very little mixing between castes. Bajorans were known to be artistic, creative, and deeply spiritual, as well as pioneers of space exploration.
This is tied to a pet theory I have that Captain Pike will make first contact with a previously-established Star Trek faction! I feel that the Bajorans are absolutely one of the contenders for such a mission of first contact, and it could be absolutely fascinating to learn more about the Bajorans and how they were prior to the Cardassian occupation. The Bajorans have recently been referenced in Discovery Season 3, so the creative team behind Star Trek clearly haven’t forgotten all about them! Perhaps that could be a hint at a more significant role in an upcoming project?
Number 4: The Barzan
By the mid-23rd Century, at least one Barzan – Nhan – served in Starfleet. Nhan served under Pike’s command on the Enterprise, and though Pike and some other members of the crew know her true fate – that she left the 23rd Century behind to head into the far future with the crew of Discovery – officially she was killed in action during the battle against Control.
I wonder whether Pike might visit Barzan II to pay respects to Nhan, or to convey the news of her being lost to her family. That could be an interesting story, as well as a way for Strange New Worlds to keep a thread of continuity going with Discovery. Despite Nhan’s departure from Discovery midway through Season 3 I’m hopeful she could return. The Barzan were not a Federation member by the mid-23rd Century, so there’s the possibility that Nhan’s death could complicate Federation-Barzan relations.
Number 5: The Benzites
The Benzites have only appeared on a few occasions, so I think there’s scope to explore more of their culture and perhaps even show how they came to make first contact with the Federation. The first Benzite we met in Star Trek was in The Next Generation Season 1 episode Coming of Age, where Mordock beat Wesley Crusher to a place at Starfleet Academy. A couple of other Benzites were seen later in The Next Generation and in the background in Voyager and Lower Decks.
All we know about the Benzites is that they were not members of the Federation, and that they had maintained relatively limited diplomatic contact prior to the 24th Century. They’re another possible candidate for a mission of first contact, in my opinion!
Number 6: The Betazoids
Betazed – the Betazoid homeworld – appears to be relatively close to Earth and Vulcan, at least according to dialogue in Deep Space Nine. If that’s the case, it stands to reason that humans and Betazoids may have already been in contact with one another prior to Captain Pike’s mission of exploration. They were also known to be a Federation member by the mid-24th Century. Another possible candidate for a mission of first contact? Maybe!
Betazoids have telepathic and empathic abilities which have been shown to be very useful to Starfleet in other Star Trek shows, so perhaps a Betazoid main or recurring character could fill a Troi-like role aboard the Enterprise. I think this is less likely, but it’s a possibility!
Number 7: The Borg
Star Trek has made a mess of Borg-Federation contact thanks to revelations in Generations, Voyager, and Enterprise that humanity had contact with (or knowledge of) the Collective prior to Captain Picard making “official” first contact with them. I think it would be very difficult for Strange New Worlds to successfully pull off a Borg story without treading on too many toes, but at the same time I think it could be amazing to see Captain Pike face off against the Borg!
Perhaps this would work best as a time travel or even parallel universe story; perhaps Pike and the Enterprise accidentally cross into an alternate reality where the Borg were successful in assimilating Earth in the 21st Century (as seen in First Contact). They would need to find a way to get home, and may not even be aware of the name of their adversary. A long-shot for Season 1, perhaps, but a possibility! In the 23rd Century in the prime timeline, the Borg should be confined to the Delta Quadrant. They may not have transwarp technology by this point, though their technology should still outpace the Federation considerably.
Number 8: The Bynars
Interestingly, though the Bynars were only ever seen on screen in The Next Generation Season 1, they were mentioned by name in Enterprise. The Federation were thus at least aware of the Bynars’ existence by the mid-23rd Century, and it’s possible that they had attempted to make first contact with the semi-synthetic race.
Given that modern Star Trek has dedicated a fair amount of time to exploring the relationship between organic and synthetic life, and how the possibility exists for that relationship to turn into conflict, bringing back the Bynars – who are a race connected to a “master computer” on their homeworld – could make for an interesting continuation of that theme.
Number 9: The Caitians
This feline-inspired species initially appeared in The Animated Series, and has recently been seen in Lower Decks, where Dr T’Ana is a Caitian. Their only live-action appearance to date has been in The Voyage Home, but with the Caitians returning to Star Trek in a big way thanks to Lower Decks, perhaps the time is right for them to make a major live-action appearance again.
The Caitians were presumably Federation members – or at least allies – by the time Kirk assumed command of the Enterprise, so it’s at least plausible to think that there could be other Caitian Starfleet officers during Pike’s tenure. It would be an interesting opportunity to learn more about a race that Star Trek has shown off on a few occasions but never really dug into.
Number 10: The Cardassians
As with the Bajorans above, the Cardassians are a faction we know very well from their appearances in Deep Space Nine. What we haven’t seen, however, is first contact between the Federation and the Cardassians, which is something Captain Pike and the Enterprise could be responsible for! There was conflict between the Cardassians and Federation in the early or mid-24th Century, but aside from that – and their occupation of Bajor – much of early Cardassian history is unknown.
Cardassia Prime and Bajor are relatively close to one another, so it’s possible Captain Pike could encounter both if the Enterprise finds itself in that region of space. I really like the idea of Strange New Worlds showcasing first contact between the Federation and a race that we got to know in the 24th Century, so I think the Cardassians could be a great inclusion in the new series.
Number 11: Chameloids
Chameloids were shape-shifters, but were not affiliated with the Dominion. The only known Chameloid seen in Star Trek appeared on Rura Penthe in The Undiscovered Country. This individual played a role in Captain Kirk and Dr McCoy’s escape from the Klingon prison colony.
Shape-shifting aliens have been seen on a few different occasions in Star Trek (excluding Odo and the Founders, of course) and make for interesting adversaries. Perhaps Pike and his crew could encounter a Chameloid – they may even be responsible for “Martia” ending up on Rura Penthe!
Number 12: The Deltans
We’ve only ever met one Deltan in Star Trek: Ilia, a Starfleet officer in The Motion Picture. The Deltans – and Ilia – were originally created for Phase II, the project which would eventually morph into The Motion Picture in the late 1970s. They were intended to be a somewhat ethereal race, older and wiser than humanity and offering a different perspective on the galaxy.
Deltans were also presented as very sensual, both in their sole appearance in The Motion Picture and when they were referenced in Enterprise’s fourth season. Considering that second mention in Enterprise, Deltans and humanity had encountered one another long before the events of Strange New Worlds. Perhaps Pike and the crew could lead a diplomatic delegation, or witness the Deltans joining the Federation?
Number 13: The Denobulans
The Denobulans are a race only ever seen in Enterprise, and perhaps Strange New Worlds could tell us why that is! Though I wouldn’t want to see any harm come to Dr Phlox’s people, it’s possible that some kind of disaster befell them in the years after Enterprise, accounting for their absence in the 23rd and 24th Centuries.
If that’s not the case, it would be great to learn what became of them! It seems likely that the Denobulan homeworld was relatively near to Earth and Vulcan, and given their friendly relations with Earth in Enterprise, perhaps the Denobulans became a Federation member relatively early on. A Denobulan could even join Pike’s crew as a main or recurring character!
Number 14: The Edosians
This three-legged, three-armed race were originally seen in The Animated Series, where Lieutenant Arex was an officer under Kirk’s command. Like many elements from that show, the Edosians seemingly vanished – until Lower Decksbrought back an Edosian character last year! It was great fun to see another Edosian Starfleet officer then, and it may be the first of many Edosians that we’ll see going forward.
It was prohibitively expensive in the late 1970s and 1980s to bring an Edosian character to life in live-action, but times have changed and I’d argue that it’s more than achievable in 2021! It’s possible that Arex himself could make a return, serving under Pike’s command on the Enterprise, or perhaps Pike and the crew will encounter other Edosians out in space. Whether they’re Federation members or not is unknown, but maybe Strange New Worlds can clear that up!
Number 15: The El-Aurians
At least one El-Aurian – Guinan – visited Earth in the 19th Century, and based on the fact that the Federation came to the aid of El-Aurian refugees in Generations, they must’ve either been relatively near to Federation space or been able to travel there easily. The El-Aurians were assimilated by the Borg in the late 23rd Century, but Strange New Worlds potentially offers the opportunity to see the El-Aurians in their prime, before the Borg decimated their people.
Guinan is going to be making a return in Picard Season 2, so the El-Aurians are clearly still a factor in upcoming Star Trek projects! Having Pike and his crew encounter the El-Aurians could be a way for Strange New Worlds to tie itself to Picard and the 24th Century.
Number 16: The Kalar
Captain Pike has already encountered the Kalar once! During the events of The Cage, Pike recalled an attack by Kalar warriors during a mission to Rigel VII, blaming himself for the deaths of three officers under his command. In Discovery we saw Pike revisit events with the Talosians and Vina, so perhaps it’s possible to bring back the Kalar too!
The Kalar were depicted as an un-advanced race incapable of spaceflight with technology that looked similar to the early medieval period or dark ages on Earth. It seems unlikely they’d have made any significant advancements since Pike’s earlier encounter with them, but it’s not impossible to devise a compelling reason to revisit Rigel VII.
Number 17: The Kelpiens and Ba’ul
Captain Pike played a huge role in the development of the Kelpiens and Ba’ul in Discovery Season 2, arguably violating the Prime Directive to aid the Kelpiens by putting the entire species through vahar’ai – a biological evolution which transformed the meek, fearful Kelpiens into apex predators.
There will be massive consequences for what Pike did, and while Saru is arguably the best character for close examinations of the Kelpiens, Pike’s monumental role in shaping their future – and that of the Ba’ul, with whom the Kelpiens share a homeworld – could mean that a revisit to Kaminar is on the cards. The Ba’ul may blame Pike and the Federation for upsetting the delicate balance they had worked so hard to establish, seeking revenge. Or Kaminar may have descended into war, with the Kelpiens and Ba’ul at each others’ throats requiring Pike’s intervention.
Number 18: The Klingon Empire
Even if it doesn’t happen in Season 1, I feel certain that Strange New Worlds will eventually feature some Klingon stories! Federation-Klingon relations are rocky after the end of the war seen in Discovery’s first season, and it would be interesting to see how Pike, L’Rell, and others try to maintain the peace in the years before Kirk’s five-year mission.
When considering Pike’s personal story, it was on the Klingon world of Boreth where he secured his fate – his impending disability – in exchange for a time crystal. Pike’s own views and relations with the Klingons are thus particularly complex, and as he comes to terms with what he saw in the vision the time crystal gave to him he may seek out advice from Klingons, or he may even try to revisit Boreth.
Number 19: The Lurians
The best-known Lurian in Star Trek is Deep Space Nine background character Morn. The first trailer for Discovery Season 3 in 2019 seemed to imply we’d see the Lurians return, as a Lurian guard was shown chasing after Booker and Burnham, but it turned out to be just a cameo! The Lurians were not Federation members as of the mid-24th Century, but appeared to maintain reasonably good relations.
Morn became a Star Trek icon during Deep Space Nine’s run, and I can’t decide if that means bringing the Lurians back in a major way would be a good thing or not! Perhaps it would be best to leave them be, a somewhat mysterious, enigmatic people, rather than bring them into the modern day and risk overexplaining them and losing the magic.
Number 20: The Malurians
The Malurians suffered a tragic fate in The Original Series, being wiped out by a self-aware probe. They also appeared in Season 1 of Enterprise, and seemingly conducted morally questionable actions! The Malurians were visited by the Federation shortly before they were rendered extinct, so it’s possible that the Federation in this era had some kind of relationship with them.
We don’t know very much about the Malurians, but their ultimate fate puts them in a rather unique position in this era. Perhaps we’ll learn that Pike and the crew helped the Malurians settle a small colony somewhere, paving the way for their survival!
Number 21: The Miradorn
The Miradorn made an appearance in Deep Space Nine, and were shown to be a race of twins – or at least where twins were commonplace. These sets of twins operated as two halves of a single person, with a very deep connection to one another. As of the mid-24th Century they appeared to be an independent power, maintaining relations with both the Federation and the Ferengi.
The Miradorn are another interesting race that I consider to have first contact potential. The twin aspect of their culture makes them different from many other Star Trek races, and they have a neat design that’s different without being excessively complicated.
Number 22: The Nausicaans
In the late 23rd and 24th Centuries, the Nausicaans were known as a violent people, often seen as pirates or criminals. They operated in an area of space relatively close to Earth and Vulcan, as they had been encountered by humanity in the 22nd Century. In addition to their criminal activities, Nausicaans in the 24th Century were occasionally seen as mercenaries and bodyguards.
The Nausicaans could appear in their typical pirate role in Strange New Worlds, becoming an adversary for Pike and the Enterprise to overcome. Or we could see them step out of that role for a change, with the show exploring more of Nausicaan culture.
Number 23: The Nibirians
The Nibirians were seen in Star Trek Into Darkness – and thus their only appearance is in the alternate reality. However, given how similar the two realities are, it’s a safe bet that the Nibirians exist in the prime timeline. In Into Darkness they were shown to be a stone age people, very early in their development.
Given that the Nibirians were under threat from a volcano in Into Darkness, maybe Pike and the crew will have to come up with a creative way to save them, just as Kirk did in the alternate reality. If a return to the Kelvin timeline is on the agenda – which I doubt, but you never know – this could be a way to connect current Star Trek to the alternate reality.
Number 24: The Orions
The Orions have recently featured in Season 3 of Discovery, and of course with Tendi in Lower Decks! In addition, Captain Pike has somewhat of a history with them, having encountered Orion slaves during the events of The Cage. For both of those reasons they seem like a contender to make an appearance in Strange New Worlds!
The Orions were an independent power in the 23rd Century, with at least some Orions involved in criminality, slavery, and the Orion Syndicate – a major organised crime outfit. They seem like they could be villains, then, but an interesting twist could be to make an Orion a crew member on the Enterprise, or an ally of Pike and the crew.
Number 25: The Pahvans
Captain Pike wasn’t involved in the USS Discovery’s mission to the planet Pahvo during the Federation-Klingon war, but I feel there’s scope to revisit these noncorporeal, pacifist aliens. Pahvo had a unique “transmitter” which allowed Discovery to detect cloaked Klingon ships, and thus the planet unintentionally played a role in the war.
It’s possible that Pahvo was attacked by the Klingons in retaliation, but the planet was marked on a star chart seen in Picard Season 1, which suggests the Federation may have maintained some kind of diplomatic relations with the Pahvans into the 24th Century. Regardless, there are perhaps leftover story threads from Discovery that Strange New Worlds could potentially pick up with the Pahvans.
Number 26: The Q Continuum
It seems as though the Federation’s first encounter with the Q was when Picard and the Enterprise-D met Q during the events of Encounter At Farpoint, but we also know that members of the Q Continuum had visited Earth in the past, including during the American Civil War in the 19th Century. It’s thus possible that Pike and the crew could encounter a Q without realising who or what they’re dealing with!
With Q coming back in Picard Season 2, having the Continuum appear in some form in Strange New Worlds would be a way for the two shows to work together. This one is definitely more of a long-shot, but it’s not impossible!
Number 27: The Romulan Star Empire
Any story involving the Romulans in Strange New Worlds would have to keep their true nature – as descendants of the Vulcans – a secret. Because no Romulan characters could appear on screen alongside Pike and the crew that naturally constrains the kinds of stories that can be told. However, in the episode Minefield, Enterprise managed to pull off an interesting Romulan story without going too far, so it can be done!
The Romulans were a belligerent power in this era, having already fought a major war with Earth less than a century earlier. Though there is peace between the Romulans and Federation, there are no formal diplomatic relations and there seems to be a lot of tension. The Romulans have recently been explored in a major way in Picard Season 1, and to a lesser extent in Discovery Season 3. They’re a major Star Trek faction, up there with the Klingons and Borg, so I can’t help but feel Strange New Worlds might try to find a way to include them – somehow!
Number 28: The Saurians
Linus, a secondary character in Discovery, is a Saurian – a race first seen in the background in The Motion Picture. The Saurians may well be Federation members by this time, and if they’re serving in Starfleet there could be other Saurian officers aboard the Enterprise. Despite Linus having made a number of appearances, we don’t know very much about his people.
The Saurians are a faction we could learn more about in Strange New Worlds. Pike and the crew could even visit the Saurian homeworld, perhaps to convey news about Linus being declared killed in action. It would be interesting to see more Saurians and learn more about their place in the Federation.
Number 29: The Selay
We don’t know very much about the Selay. They appeared once in The Next Generation Season 1, and had a couple of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it background appearances in a couple of other episodes, but that’s it. Their appearance in Tapestry means that they had encountered the Federation by the early 24th Century, so perhaps they could appear in Strange New Worlds.
Modern Star Trek has taken several races that we don’t know much about and expanded on them. The design of the Selay – snake-like and very reptilian – is interesting, and the faction is ripe for an in-depth look!
Number 30: The Skagarans
In Enterprise we learned that the Skagarans had visited Earth in the 19th Century, where they had abducted a group of humans to use as slave labour. There’s potential in that kind of storyline to either see Pike and the crew come up against an enemy who uses slaves, or to explore a post-slavery society and look at some of the long-lasting implications of keeping slaves in the past. This would allow Strange New Worlds to do something Star Trek has always done: use science fiction to examine real-world issues.
It would also be neat to bring back a faction from Enterprise in a major way, as this is something that hasn’t yet been done in modern Star Trek.
Number 31: The Suliban
Speaking of factions from Enterprise that could return, how about the Suliban? Though initially antagonistic toward Earth, this was mostly driven by the interference of time-travellers from the future. Without that undue influence, perhaps Suliban-Federation relations have improved. I wrote once that it was possible that the Suliban had gone into some kind of isolation – which would account for their absence in the 23rd and 24th Centuries – so perhaps we could see that happen in Strange New Worlds.
I’d love to see an expanded role for the Suliban in Star Trek. Perhaps they could even be Federation members by this era, with Suliban officers serving aboard the Enterprise. It would be great to revisit a faction we only encountered in Enterprise, at any rate.
Number 32: The Talosians
Discovery Season 2 brought back the Talosians in a big way, and Captain Pike played a major role in that storyline. Considering Pike’s feelings for Vina – a human inhabitant of Talos IV – it’s at least possible that he may keep in contact with the Talosians, even though he’d have to do so in secret for fear of breaching Starfleet regulations.
In this era, Talos IV was off limits to Starfleet due to the Talosians’ attempts to kidnap Pike and their powerful telepathic abilities. Revisiting the planet isn’t entirely impossible, though, as I reckon Pike would head there if the Talosians asked for his help.
Number 33: The Tellarites
Along with the Vulcans, Andorians, and humans, the Tellarites were the fourth founding member of the Federation. Despite that, however, they had a complicated relationship with the other races, particularly the Vulcans.
The Tellarites are the one Federation founding member that we know the least about. They’ve only made a few appearances in Star Trek, often in minor or background roles, and aside from a few episodes in Enterprise and their first appearance in The Original Series, we haven’t seen much of them at all. I’m not sure how well a Tellarite main character would work simply because their deliberately unkind aesthetic doesn’t lend itself well to fitting with a character audiences want to root for – but in a way it would be interesting for Star Trek to try to overcome that hurdle!
Number 34: The Tholians
The Short Treks episode Ask Not confirmed that the Tholians and Federation had been in conflict during this era. If Cadet Sidhu appears in Strange New Worlds as a significant character, including the Tholians could be an interesting story for her as she was the sole survivor of a Tholian attack.
The Tholians are one of the more “alien” races that we know of in Star Trek, being insectoid in appearance and coming from a high temperature environment that leaves them unable to tolerate standard environments. They could certainly appear in an adversarial role in Strange New Worlds.
Number 35: The Trill
The Trill are a conjoined species – one part is humanoid, the other a symbiont. The symbionts are longer-lived than their hosts and can easily live for centuries. Discovery Season 3 recently revisited the Trill homeworld, and it would be neat to see the Trill return in Strange New Worlds as well.
It would even be possible for Dax to make an appearance. The Dax symbiont had a number of hosts before Jadzia and Ezri in Deep Space Nine, and it was certainly alive in the mid-23rd Century. Regardless of whether that happens, we know that the Trill were Federation members by the 24th Century, and Strange New Worlds could depict their early interactions with the Federation.
Number 36: The Vulcans
Obviously we know that Spock is going to be a major character in Strange New Worlds! Over the course of Star Trek’s history we’ve already learned a great deal about the Vulcans, their history, and their culture. There’s still scope to expand that, though, and with Spock as a potential way into new Vulcan stories, I wonder if we’ll get to see more.
Spock’s relationship with Sarek could be explored, and it would be a way for James Frain to reprise his role from Discovery. We could also see more Vulcans joining Starfleet and serving in a wider variety of roles than just “science officer!”
Number 37: The Xindi
As with the Suliban above, the Xindi have only appeared in Enterprise so far. We know a little more about their future, however, including that they eventually joined the Federation. Though their absence from Star Trek shows set in the 23rd and 24th Centuries suggests that may not have happened for a while, it’s possible that it happened earlier than we think!
Otherwise we could see the Xindi as another race that have isolated themselves and cut off diplomatic ties. Perhaps one of Pike’s missions will be to re-establish relations with the Xindi after decades without contact. The Xindi are five different races sharing a homeworld, and there’s potential to use that setting to explore the way different cultures interact and work together.
So that’s it! Some factions from Star Trek’s past that could appear in Strange New Worlds.
This has been a long one so I won’t drag things out much longer! Suffice to say that there are many different races, cultures, and factions from past iterations of Star Trek that could appear in some form in the new series. Obviously the show can’t fit all of those on the list above into its first season, but I hope there’ll be some attempts to revisit at least one or two factions we got to know in other Star Trek shows and films.
Hopefully it won’t be too long before we get to hear more news about Strange New Worlds – or even see a trailer! Whenever that happens make sure to check back as I daresay I’ll break things down here on the website. The show is definitely one I’m looking forward to!
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will be broadcast on Paramount+ in the United States (and other regions where the platform is available) in 2022. Further international distribution has not yet been announced. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-3.
Today we’re going to take a look at something that’s been bugging me for a couple of years, ever since the finale of Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 in April 2019. I didn’t start working on this website until November ’19, so I haven’t written up full reviews of Season 2, nor have I spent much time breaking down all of the various story points. This will be my first big foray into that! Rather than just a critique of what could be argued to be a plot hole or “goof,” though, I want to turn this into a theory, particularly one that could have an impact on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – the upcoming series set on the USS Enterprise with Captain Pike, Spock, and a new cast of characters.
Ever since I watched Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2, something has stuck in my mind. Immediately before Burnham and the USS Discovery left the 23rd Century behind and headed into the far future we’ve seen depicted in Season 3, they were engaged in a climactic battle alongside Pike and the USS Enterprise against the Control AI. In addition to a fleet of Section 31 starships that were unmanned, Control had also possessed (or assimilated) the body of Section 31 commander Captain Leland. Control used Leland’s body to board the USS Discovery at the battle’s climax to attempt to retrieve the Sphere data – the macguffin that was the cause of the fight in the first place.
The relationship between Control and Captain Leland was not sufficiently explained on screen, in my opinion, and this has a bearing on what comes next and why I have an issue with Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2. But based on what we saw during the episode, it seems as though Control was somehow tied to Captain Leland’s body in a very significant way, such that when his body was crippled by Georgiou inside the USS Discovery’s Spore Cube, it had an impact on the battle raging outside.
This is the moment where I feel there’s an issue. The entire reason for sending Burnham and the USS Discovery on a one-way mission to the far future was to keep the Sphere data safe from Control, but when Georgiou defeated Captain Leland, Control appeared to also be defeated – or at least sufficiently incapacitated as to be unable to continue the battle. This all happened before the USS Discovery entered the time-wormhole.
So, with that in mind, why did Pike, Saru, or even Burnham not stop? Surely at the very least they could have paused what they were doing to consider their next moves. Aboard the Enterprise, Pike was able to easily destroy the disabled Section 31 ships, removing any immediate danger, and with Captain Leland incapacitated and clearly not going anywhere, the Sphere data was also safe. Before sending the ship and crew to an unknown destination with no way back, did no one realise that the battle may have already been won? Was there no reason to send Burnham and the ship into the future?
This is what I’m terming “the big mistake” for the purposes of this theory.
Although Burnham had already used the Red Angel suit to open the time-wormhole, I would absolutely argue that, based on what we saw on screen, the battle against Control had taken a decisive turn before either she or the USS Discovery actually crossed the threshold, and that there was time for Saru, Pike, Spock, or someone to point that out. They were preoccupied with the jobs that they had to do, but when it became obvious that Control was at least incapacitated – if not outright defeated – I think that warrants pause from everyone concerned. They were in the process of making a life-changing decision for Burnham and the crew of Discovery, yet for some reason no one seemed to realise that it may have ultimately been unnecessary.
So let’s break it down even more, for the sake of clarity, and follow events step-by-step. I don’t usually do time-stamps, but I think this is important so we’re all on exactly the same page. If we begin at exactly 51 minutes, 30 seconds into Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2 – at least on the Netflix version (I assume it will be roughly the same on Paramount+ and Blu-ray too) – we see Burnham getting ready to open the time-wormhole. In the shot of her flying through space near the raging battle, we see the Section 31 ships beginning to slow their rate of fire with a consequent drop in the number of explosions. This is the first indication that something was changing.
At 51:54, Saru gives Detmer the order to follow Burnham’s lead. The USS Discovery moves through a field of debris (presumably caused by the battle) and then we get our first look at the time-wormhole a few seconds later at around 52:06. At this point, neither Burnham nor the ship are anywhere close to crossing the event horizon and entering the time-wormhole.
Just before 52:30 the action cuts to Captain Pike on the Enterprise’s bridge, watching Burnham and Discovery preparing to enter the wormhole. Trailing in Discovery’s wake are Section 31/Control drones, chasing after them. After Saru and Pike exchange goodbyes at 52:40, and Dr Culber tells Stamets that “we’re on our way,” at 52:57 we come to the scene at the heart of my argument – and of this theory. In Discovery’s engineering bay, the possessed Captain Leland is trapped in the Spore Cube by Georgiou.
Seemingly admitting defeat, Control-Leland tells Georgiou – in true clichéd villain style – that “this does not end here!” Georgiou then finishes the job of killing him, using the powerful magnets in the Spore Cube to force the nanites out of Leland’s body. This action cripples Control, and severs the link between it and its fleet.
53:39 sees Control-Leland hit the deck, dead. The nano-bots spill out of his corpse, and though it’s not clear exactly what will happen to the human Leland, or whether he could be saved, this is a major blow for Control. Less than ten seconds later, at 53:48, the USS Discovery and Burnham can both be seen, still outside the time-wormhole, and Control’s fleet suddenly stops pursuing them.
On the bridge of the Enterprise, Una (Number One) notes this at 53:51, informing Captain Pike that “they’re all dead in the water.” Again, this is before either Burnham or Discovery have entered the time-wormhole. Even if no one on Discovery realised what was happening – which is possible given everything else going on – the crew of the Enterprise certainly had, and there was still time to contact Discovery.
At 54:00, Georgiou contacts Captain Saru, and this is the moment where he could have made a decision too. Georgiou informs him of Leland’s death, but uses a very interesting phrase: “Control is neutralised.” Discovery has not yet entered the wormhole, and on the bridge, Saru is already aware that the reason for doing so no longer exists. Pike is aware that their reason for heading into the future no longer exists. They have already won the battle. By Georgiou’s own admission, the threat Control had posed is unequivocally over.
At 54:16, Burnham and the USS Discovery are seen reflected in the glass of Siranna’s starfighter, still not inside the time-wormhole nor having crossed its event horizon. These are the crucial seconds at the core of the theory, because it’s in these few seconds that the decision to leave the 23rd Century behind could have been called off. With the Enterprise destroying what remained of Control’s fleet, and with Leland dead, there was no immediate way for Control to access the Sphere data – and yet no one on either ship seems to have realised that.
Even if we say that Control was not totally killed off, and that its servers remained active at Section 31 HQ (or elsewhere, if you prefer) and thus that Control was still out there and potentially able to regroup, the fact remains that the immediate threat had passed. The battle had been won, even if there was still more to do to win the overall war.
No one mentioned this in Discovery Season 3. After a brief reference to Georgiou destroying the remains of Leland in the episode Far From Home, and a short conversation about Control with Admiral Vance in the episode Die Trying, their reasoning for going to the future was never discussed nor elaborated on. Burnham, when pressed about it by Book in That Hope Is You, maintained that it was the “only way” to save the galaxy, so she clearly hadn’t realised what was going on behind her – but that makes sense as she was busy operating the Red Angel suit and keeping the time-wormhole stable.
Saru and Pike have no such excuse, in my opinion. Both commanders clearly and demonstrably knew that Control and/or its fleet were incapacitated, and I believe that should have led to one or both of them bringing an immediate halt to events to take stock. If Control was disabled, there was no immediate need to head to the future. With Leland dead, the Sphere data was safe, at least temporarily. With the battle won, everyone could have taken a moment to breathe and assess the situation, perhaps planning to go to Section 31 HQ and permanently destroy whatever remained of Control. Instead, everyone simply sat back as Burnham and Discovery raced into an unknown future – a future, I would argue, they did not need to travel to.
There’s a way this could come back in either Discovery Season 4, Strange New Worlds Season 1, or both: if Saru and/or Pike realise that they made a big mistake.
Given what he went through to make the Red Angel suit possible, I would suggest the person this would affect the most would be Captain Pike. In the episode Through the Valley of Shadows, Pike obtained a time crystal from the Klingons, but did so at great personal sacrifice – solidifying for himself a future of permanent disability. How would he feel knowing that it was all for naught; that if he replays the events of the battle in his mind, he could see that Control was already beaten and that there was no need for the time crystal?
One theme Strange New Worlds is certainly going to pick up on is Pike’s knowledge of his impending disability. As a disabled person myself, this is something I’m really interested in seeing come to life on screen. I can relate to what Captain Pike is going through, because I’ve had the experience of sitting in a room with a doctor and being told things about my health and my future that are unavoidable. I get that sense of inevitability, of knowing things won’t get better but they will get worse. This is something genuinely interesting and that has the potential to be inspirational through Anson Mount’s wonderful portrayal of Pike. But I also wonder if we’ll see him wrestle with feelings of regret or remorse, feeling that his fate and future are his own fault. If he knows (or believes) that the battle was won in Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2 without the need for time travel – and thus, without the need for the time crystal he sacrificed so much to obtain – will those feelings be worse for Pike?
Though we didn’t see much of this in Discovery Season 3, with Season 4 on the horizon there’s a chance for the circumstances of Discovery’s jump into the future to be revisited. Even if nobody aboard realised it at the time, it’s possible that someone will have subsequently had the revelation that their one-way trip to the future, sacrificing so much and leaving their loved ones behind, may not have been necessary. Perhaps this will become an issue for Captain Burnham or Saru, with a disgruntled crew member taking out their anger on them for forcing them into a post-Burn future that they didn’t have to inhabit.
So that’s it. My theory, based on what we saw in Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2 is this: the defeat or disabling of Control toward the end of the battle means that Burnham and Discovery didn’t actually need to go to the far future – at least, not immediately. At the very least, pausing to take stock would have been worthwhile.
It seems possible to me that this could be brought back as a story point – even if it’s just in a relatively minor way, such as with a line or two of dialogue acknowledging it – in either Discovery or Strange New Worlds, as it’s a story which impacts major characters from both shows.
Having delved deeply into this battle from an in-universe point of view, now let’s step back and acknowledge that this is, in effect, a “plot hole” or production-side issue. The writers and producers of Discovery Season 2 wanted to send the ship and crew into the far future, partly due to negative fan feedback involving so-called canon problems during Season 1. But at the same time, they also wanted to make sure that the Control storyline was 100% wrapped up and concluded before Season 3 kicked off.
Unfortunately, in my opinion at least, the way they chose to accomplish those two goals has opened a plot hole. In the mad rush to wrap up Discovery Season 2 in what was already a feature-length episode, an inconsistency has been created within the plot of the show. If Burnham and Discovery had gone into the future, and in the final few minutes of the episode we saw Pike, Spock, and the crew of the Enterprise finish defeating Control, there would be no problem. But because it was Georgiou, aboard Discovery, who killed Captain Leland, and because this unexplained link between Leland’s body and Control seems to have crippled the entire fleet, we have a problem.
Overall, for most viewers who don’t spend as much time thinking about (and nitpicking) Star Trek as much as I do, it probably passed by unnoticed. But even in 2019 I was having conversations with fellow viewers – including some who I would call “casual” viewers as opposed to hardcore Trekkies – who noticed this very issue. The fact that no one – not Pike, Spock, Number One, Georgiou, or Saru – thought to call off the journey to the future, even temporarily to assess the new facts, is a plot hole.
However, it’s a plot hole that could be plugged by incorporating it into future stories. Captain Pike could be affected by it, as previously mentioned. As could Spock or Number One on the Enterprise, as they saw the battle end before Burnham and Discovery entered the time-wormhole. It could also become an issue for anyone aboard the USS Discovery – perhaps with their mood and mental health suffering, they replay the events of the battle in their mind and come to the conclusion that they were forced to travel to the future unnecessarily. That’s my theory, anyway!
Whether any of that will come to pass, or whether both shows will proceed ignoring this issue is anyone’s guess right now. I would think that, if Discovery wanted to acknowledge this criticism, Season 3 would’ve been the time to do so, and the fact that it didn’t happen may mean that the writers and producers are keen to move on and put Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2 behind them. But I’m not 100% convinced of that. I think there’s scope to incorporate what feels like a plot hole into the storylines of either upcoming show in a way that would make sense.
As I said at the beginning, this is something that’s been on my mind since I first saw the episode a couple of years ago! Even on first viewing, it seemed patently obvious to me that someone should have realised what was happening before Burnham and Discovery left, speaking up to put the brakes on. It really does feel that, based on the sequence of events and how they unfolded on screen, Burnham and Discovery could have remained in the 23rd Century.
Despite all of this over-analysing of a few minutes of the episode, I really enjoyed Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2 – and Discovery Season 2 as a whole. It’s a fantastic season of television well worth a watch, and this theory, despite being something that’s bugged me for a while, is really just a glorified nitpick!
Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-3 are available to stream now on Paramount+ in the United States and on Netflix in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The series is also available on Blu-ray. The Star Trek franchise – including Discovery, Strange New Worlds, and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-3, and for other iterations of the franchise.
At this very early stage, with Strange New Worlds having only just entered production, we don’t know what storylines the series might include. It’s far too early to speculate, especially because we don’t even know who most of the main characters will be. But that won’t stop me!
I’ve been kicking around this theory since Strange New Worlds was announced last year, and while I’ve mentioned it on a couple of occasions I think it’s time to spin it out into its own official theory! I have already made some suggestions and preliminary predictions for things we might see during Season 1 of the upcoming series, but this is my first standalone pre-season theory.
So here goes: Pike and the crew will find a way to cross over to the Mirror Universe to save the Prime Universe version of Captain Lorca.
To briefly recap, Captain Lorca was the original captain of the USS Discovery back in Season 1 of Star Trek: Discovery, but the character we met wasn’t the Prime version, he was from the Mirror Universe. We wouldn’t get to know that until the latter part of the season, but a transporter accident saw Lorca swap places with his Prime counterpart sometime prior to the events of Season 1.
While it was stated by Admiral Cornwell that Prime Lorca would not have survived in the Mirror Universe this was never confirmed on screen, and judging by the reaction of characters like Mirror Tilly and Mirror Georgiou to Lorca’s reappearance, they didn’t believe him to be dead or imprisoned. Thus Prime Lorca’s fate is unknown – which means he could be brought back.
Let’s go over the evidence in favour of Lorca’s survival first, then we’ll see if we have any evidence that Strange New Worlds might include a storyline of this nature.
Firstly, we never saw Lorca die on screen. Only one character – Admiral Cornwell – assumed he was dead, and then the subject was dropped as the crew had to focus on ending the Klingon War. This opens the door to Lorca’s survival, as in almost any film or series, a character should not be assumed to be dead unless we as the audience see that for ourselves! Star Trek has, on occasion, sprung surprises like this, bringing back characters who had “died” – such as Tasha Yar in The Next Generation Season 3 episode Yesterday’s Enterprise. The existence of different timelines and different versions of characters means we cannot be sure that practically anyone is truly dead and gone!
Secondly, in Discovery Season 1, when the crew crossed over to the Mirror Universe, nobody native to that universe expressed surprise about Lorca’s presence. If the Prime version of Lorca had arrived and been killed or captured, at the very least we’d expect Empress Georgiou to have commented on his reappearance. If she believed him to be dead or languishing in one of her torturous prisons, she wouldn’t have simply allowed Burnham to bring Lorca to her aboard the ISS Charon – surely she would have considered that to be a trap.
We know from The Original Series episode Mirror, Mirror that transporter accidents – which Lorca is said to have experienced – don’t kill people. If Mirror Lorca arrived in the Prime Universe, it stands to reason that Prime Lorca crossed over to the Mirror Universe at the same moment. Characters in Season 1 made this same assumption, and I think we can be relatively sure that Prime Lorca did in fact end up there.
When he arrived, he would have immediately come under attack by Terran forces. However, there was also a significant contingent of Lorca loyalists, and if he could have survived the initial battle and gotten his bearings, he could certainly have gone into hiding to avoid Empress Georgiou’s assassins.
This is semi-confirmed by the recent Discovery Season 3 episodes Terra Firma, Part 1 and Terra Firma, Part 2, in which Georgiou revisited a version of the Mirror Universe via the Guardian of Forever. In those episodes, Lorca’s absence was a pretty significant story point, and his planned coup attempt was brought up numerous times by Mirror Universe characters. These events supposedly took place during Discovery Season 1, shortly before Mirror Lorca’s return to the Mirror Universe. Prime Lorca had therefore already crossed over, and doesn’t seem to have been captured or killed.
If we’d learned in Terra Firma that Lorca was dead or imprisoned, that would be that. But his absence leads me to believe that he survived his initial encounter with Georgiou’s forces. After getting his bearings and realising he’d ended up in a different reality, Lorca’s first instinct would have been to find a way home. However, priority number one in such a situation is to survive to fight another day, and going into hiding to avoid further attacks makes a lot of sense.
Just as Mirror Lorca was able to pass as his Prime counterpart, Prime Lorca may have been able to convince those around him that he was the Mirror version. We saw Kirk, Dr McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura manage to do so in Mirror, Mirror – and Spock remarked that it was “far easier for you, as civilized men, to behave like barbarians than it was for them as barbarians to behave like civilized men.” Survival in the Mirror Universe can be accomplished.
If Lorca were able to convince even a handful of loyalists to go into hiding, perhaps commandeering a shuttle or ship, they could have disappeared and gone off the grid shortly after his arrival. This would have the added benefit of giving Lorca time to regroup and figure out what happened and how to reverse it. At the very least, he would want to try to send a message back across the divide to the Prime Universe.
In the Mirror Universe, the existence of the Prime Universe was known to senior Terrans. The crossover of the USS Defiant (as seen in Star Trek: Enterprise) gave them a century’s head start on learning about their Prime cousins. Just as Michael Burnham was able to learn about the Defiant during Season 1, Lorca may have been able to come by this information too – especially because his Mirror counterpart seems to have been aware of the two universes.
So the pieces begin to fall into place. Lorca was resourceful, and may have been able to avoid detection long enough to survive. Following Mirror Lorca’s coup and Empress Georgiou’s disappearance, we don’t know what became of the Imperial throne or who the new Emperor is. It stands to reason, though, that with Mirror Lorca dead the heat would be off, and perhaps Prime Lorca would have been able to leave his hiding place and finally send his message across the divide.
In short, it all hangs on those crucial first few moments after his arrival. If Lorca could survive in the Mirror Universe long enough to get his bearings, I firmly believe he could have passed himself off as his Mirror counterpart, gone into hiding to avoid Georgiou’s assassins, and laid low while he planned his next moves. When he learned of Georgiou’s death, breaking cover long enough to send a message would have been risky, but possible.
We don’t know exactly how communication between universes would work. But as mentioned, Lorca is a resourceful individual, and with the Mirror Universe’s knowledge of the Prime Universe, it stands to reason he could have figured out something. And if he could send a message asking for help, well that’s where Pike comes in.
We know for a fact that Captain Pike is aware of the existence of the Mirror Universe. As he departed the USS Discovery for the final time, Georgiou told him she was from there. His cheeky wink suggested he already knew of its existence – and of her origin – but even if he didn’t and was bluffing, after that moment we can say definitively that he knew of its existence. Given his rank, he could have learned more from Starfleet about the Mirror Universe – Discovery’s crossover was well-documented, after all.
Captain Pike would not leave any Starfleet officer behind, so if he picked up Lorca’s distress call – or was assigned to rescue him by Starfleet – he would figure out a way to do so. It’s in his nature to want to help, and as we saw across Discovery Season 2, Pike exemplifies the best of Starfleet. As two captains serving at the same time, it’s possible Pike and Lorca knew each other, or even that they were friends. This relationship could be explored, and would give Pike an added incentive to rescue Lorca.
So the question now is how? How would Pike cross over to the Mirror Universe to retrieve Lorca? There are two reliable ways we know of to access the Mirror Universe (not including a warp core leak in a wormhole): the transporter and the mycelial network. With the USS Discovery gone (and the USS Glenn destroyed) using the mycelial network is clearly not possible. So that leaves the transporter.
By recreating the conditions of Lorca’s transporter accident, perhaps Pike could figure out a way to cross over and enter the Mirror Universe – and crucially, a way to get home again afterwards. However, this method means that Pike and a small team would be effectively on their own in the Mirror Universe, with no ship and no backup!
Discovery reintroduced the Mirror Universe in a big way, and while it’s never been my favourite setting within Star Trek, it seems that the Mirror Universe episodes have gone down well with fans. It’s at least possible that Strange New Worlds would want to try its own Mirror Universe story, and I can’t think of any that would be better than rescuing Captain Lorca.
Spock’s presence may complicate matters, though. In Mirror, Mirror he seemed entirely unaware of the Mirror Universe when Kirk and the others crossed over, so perhaps he would have to be kept out of such a story. It wouldn’t be impossible to accomplish this; perhaps the mission is classified so only officers of a certain rank can know, or perhaps Spock was away on another assignment or injured and unable to participate. If a suitable in-universe reason could be found, it would be possible to keep Spock out of this story – preserving Star Trek’s internal timeline.
On the production side of things, Jason Isaacs – who played Lorca – has indicated he’d be up for a return to Star Trek, and as mentioned the Mirror Universe has been popular within the franchise in recent years. There are no practical reasons that I can see which would make a story like this impossible.
So that’s the extent of this theory – at least for now! Captain Lorca is alive, stranded in the Mirror Universe. He sends a message to Starfleet, and Pike is sent to rescue him. This story could be a lot of fun, and bringing back Lorca would be a really interesting move, one which could have repercussions for Strange New Worlds, the Section 31 series, and any other 23rd Century Star Trek projects. Lorca could go on to be a recurring character in any and all of these shows.
Obviously we don’t know at this stage whether this will happen in Season 1 – or at all! However, it would be a great big connection between Discovery and Strange New Worlds, tying together two parts of the ongoing Star Trek franchise, which you know I’m always in favour of.
Lorca was an interesting character in Season 1 – the hardball Starfleet captain who didn’t always play nice. It seems as though the Prime version was similar, in many respects, to his Mirror counterpart, which is one of the main reasons Mirror Lorca was able to avoid detection for so long. This kind of character is uncommon in the franchise, and bringing Lorca back would be a lot of fun, even if it was just for a single episode.
If we don’t see Lorca return in Season 1, I’m still going to keep my fingers crossed. Perhaps he’ll make an appearance in Season 2 or in the Section 31 series instead!
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will be broadcast at some point in future on Paramount+ in areas where the service is available. Further international distribution has not yet been announced. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds, Discovery, and other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. The video referenced in this article can be found below.
No sooner had I published my article making a few preliminary predictions (alright, guesses) for Strange New Worlds – my first piece on the upcoming series since July last year – than ViacomCBS dropped the biggest news so far about the latest Star Trek show! What an odd coincidence, eh?
The short video confirmed the rumour that the series has officially started production in Toronto, which is fantastic news. There had been speculation that filming had started, but there were also competing rumours that production hadn’t yet begun, so getting confirmation on that is great. It also firmly debunks the lie spread through some anti-Star Trek groups that the series (and other upcoming Star Trek productions) were cancelled or not going ahead!
In addition to the news that the series was officially in production, we also got to meet five new members of the Strange New Worlds cast. We’ll very briefly look at each in a moment, but first let’s assess the group as a whole.
Firstly, those of you who are good at maths will have worked out that the addition of five new cast members brings the total for Strange New Worlds’ main cast to eight. Discovery had seven during Season 3, and Picard also had seven during its first season, so eight characters is not completely out of the ballpark for a modern Star Trek production! In a series that will almost certainly run somewhere from 10-15 episodes, eight major characters is probably about the maximum number that Strange New Worlds could get away with, though.
Picard Season 1 dedicated several of its episodes and large portions of its runtime to its new characters, and while that was great and generally done very well, it meant that when we got to the season finale and rushed through a huge amount of story (leaving a number of things unresolved) some of that felt wasted. In short, what I’m trying to say is that today’s Star Trek shows have fewer episodes per season than they used to in decades past, and a shorter runtime naturally means you can fit in fewer stories – and arguably fewer major characters. Eight feels like a comfortable fit – but I would be wary of trying to cram in too many more!
Notable by her absence was Amrit Kaur, who played Cadet Sidhu in the 2019 Short Treks episode Ask Not. At the end of that short story, Cadet Sidhu was assigned to a role in engineering aboard the Enterprise, and while it was presented as a standalone story, by introducing a character in that manner, with Strange New Worlds clearly in mind at the time the episode was made, it felt like a deliberate move. Ever since the series was announced last year I felt relatively certain that Sidhu would be back, and while it’s possible she will be included in a future announcement, or reappear as a guest star, I admit I was a little surprised not to see her included here.
The cast members who we briefly met continue Star Trek’s longstanding tradition of diversity in its main characters. Babs Olusanmokun was born in Nigeria. Christina Chong is of mixed Chinese-English ancestry. Celia Rose Gooding is African-American. Melissa Navia is Colombian-American. And Jess Bush is Australian. Quite the mix!
The cast will have more women than men for the first time in the franchise’s history, which is certainly very interesting. On-screen representation continues to improve, and Star Trek has had a long and proud tradition of these big, diverse casts. Strange New Worlds continues that tradition, and the cast looks to be shaping up very well.
I’m afraid that I’m completely unfamiliar with all five of the new faces, though several of them have had roles in films and shows that I’ve heard of or seen parts of, so that’s good. The new cast members will have the opportunity to grow into their roles without bringing too much baggage with them, which is one benefit to bringing on board new faces.
We don’t yet know what roles any of the five will play. Surely we can expect to find at least one non-human in there, but which of them will take on that role and in what capacity is something we still don’t know. Every Star Trek series to date has introduced us to new alien races, as well as brought at least one new alien race into its main cast, and I see no reason why Strange New Worlds won’t do the same.
The final point of note is that, of the characters from The Cage, who were officers aboard the Enterprise under Pike’s command, none of them seem to fit with the new cast. Perhaps Yeoman Colt could be the character one of the new female leads is taking over, but none of the new cast fit with characters like José Tyler, Dr Boyce, or other officers present in that episode. I’ve said several times that I was sure Strange New Worlds was not simply going to recast everyone present in The Cage, and that the creative team would surely want to add in their own new characters, but it’s still worth noting that it doesn’t seem at this stage that any of those original characters are returning in a major way.
So that’s about all I have to say, really. By sheer coincidence this announcement came a few hours after I published my preliminary Season 1 predictions, which is kind of amusing! Hopefully we’ll learn soon what roles these folks are going to play. It looks like a fun group, and unless there’s some shocking announcement to come – like a returning cast member from a previous Star Trek series, or the inclusion of a Hollywood superstar – it feels like this announcement has rounded out the main cast. Eight major characters is more than enough for a series like this, though hopefully we’ll see a few secondary characters given screen time and development as well.
Strange New Worlds is off to a decent start, and I’m looking forward to the moment when I’ll be able to sit down and watch it! Stay tuned, because if we get any more information about the show, the characters, or anything else of note, I’ll be sure to take a look.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will be broadcast on Paramount+ in areas where the service is available. Further international distribution has not yet been announced. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-2, Short Treks Season 2, Star Trek: Picard, and other iterations of the franchise.
It’s been a while since we looked at Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the upcoming Captain Pike series. But with production on Season 1 seemingly imminent – or perhaps having already begun, depending on what sources you use – I thought it would be fun to look ahead to what the first season of the show may hold.
At this stage, Strange New Worlds has only been commissioned for a single season. However, I would be absolutely stunned if we didn’t get an announcement preceding its Season 1 premiere that it had been renewed; this is the pattern ViacomCBS has had with both Discovery and Picard. I’m hoping, then, that Strange New Worlds will become an ongoing series, perhaps following Discovery’s path and running for four seasons, five, or even more. There’s certainly enough potential content for the show to get through, and while being a prequel is a constraint in some respects, that didn’t stop Discovery, Enterprise, and even the Kelvin films finding new and different stories to tell.
Just as I did for Discovery Season 4 and Picard Season 2 I’m going to make a few guesses – which I’m officially terming “preliminary predictions” – for Strange New Worlds Season 1. My usual caveat applies – I have no “inside sources,” nor am I claiming that anything listed below will definitely happen. These are guesses – educated guesses in some cases, perhaps, but guesses nevertheless.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the list!
Number 1: The uniforms will be redesigned.
With the exception of Star Trek: Voyager, every Star Trek series to date has introduced new variants of the Starfleet uniform for its crew. While we have seen Anson Mount and Ethan Peck sporting their Discovery uniforms in recent promotional spots for Paramount+, I’m not convinced that Strange New Worlds won’t at least tweak that design.
And perhaps that’s all it will be – a minor tweak or alteration of the uniforms worn by the Enterprise crew in Discovery. But we could see a more radical change, perhaps one designed to bridge the gap between Discovery-era uniforms and those seen in The Original Series. We could see, for example, the high collars scrapped in favour of the crew neck style seen in The Original Series.
The uniforms worn by the Enterprise crew in Discovery were little more than recoloured versions of the Discovery uniforms, and if you look closely, you can see the detailing around the shoulder and down the sides. In my opinion, though these uniforms were preferable to Discovery’s all-blue look, they ended up looking like dyed Discovery uniforms rather than their own thing. This is something that could be addressed, even if only by making small changes to some of the detailing and stitching.
Regardless, I think that when we start to see promos for the new series, one thing we’ll notice is some kind of new uniform variant.
Number 2: Cadet Sidhu will be part of the Enterprise crew.
The 2019 Short Treks episode Ask Not – whose writer, Kalinda Vazquez, is now writing a Star Trek film – brought back Captain Pike. But it also introduced us to a Starfleet cadet, and at the end of the action-packed, uplifting story, she was assigned to a role under Pike’s command aboard the Enterprise.
Almost any story could have been chosen to bring back Captain Pike for a mini-episode, but Ask Not spent most of its time setting up Cadet Sidhu’s character. She has a potentially interesting backstory, being the sole survivor of a Tholian attack, and as a young, talented cadet she could fill a fairly typical Star Trek role in the new series.
We’ve seen the “young and eager” role filled by characters like Harry Kim, Sylvia Tilly, and even Wesley Crusher in past iterations of the franchise, and having someone like that presents a contrast with older, more experienced characters like Captain Pike and Number One. Cadet Sidhu also has a husband, who could potentially be a recurring character, and her background with the Tholians suggests she may not be quite as naïve and inexperienced as other cadets, potentially giving her more to say and do.
Of the main cast that we know of at this stage, all three roles are played by white American actors – Anson Mount as Pike, Ethan Peck as Spock, Rebecca Romijn as Number One. Every Star Trek show going back to The Original Series has proudly shown off a diverse cast, and bringing in someone of Indian heritage would be great. Amrit Kaur, who plays Sidhu, would be the first person of Indian heritage to be a main cast member in the history of the franchise, which would be groundbreaking in itself.
Number 3: There will be a non-Starfleet crewmate.
One of the best things Discovery Season 3 did was introduce the character of Cleveland Booker. Book served as our guide to the 32nd Century in some ways, but also shook up the rigid hierarchy of the Starfleet crew by offering an outside perspective.
Several Star Trek shows have experimented with non-Starfleet characters in various roles, and aside from Book I’d point to Quark in Deep Space Nine and even, to some extent, Neelix in earlier seasons of Voyager as successful examples. I don’t expect Strange New Worlds to put together a Picard-style team where no one is a serving Starfleet officer, of course, but bringing in one major character who exists outside of the ship’s command structure would be potentially interesting.
There are many ways this could be done, and many different roles such an individual could occupy. I’m thinking perhaps of a chef-type role, maybe someone who oversees the mess hall and is friendly with the crew. But there’s also potential to bring in an alien character who is perhaps aboard the ship as an observer or diplomat.
The possibilities are open-ended – as is almost everything with Strange New Worlds – but I certainly think that bringing at least one “outsider” into the crew can be a great storytelling device, one which could take the show to different thematic places.
Number 4: There will be a significant callback to Star Trek: Enterprise.
Aside from a couple of Okudagrams and throwaway lines, modern Star Trek has essentially ignored Enterprise. The franchise’s first prequel currently feels disconnected from the rest of the franchise; cut off in the 22nd Century all by itself. There’s potential for Strange New Worlds to rectify this, and having a significant crossover with Enterprise would be something fun to see.
A few months ago I suggested that the Andorian Shran or main character T’Pol from Enterprise could still be alive and active in the era in which Strange New Worlds is set. Either character – or both – could thus cross over and appear in the new series. That would be a hugely significant moment, as it would firmly tie in Enterprise with the ongoing Star Trek franchise.
Discovery could have done something similar to pay homage to Enterprise in either of its first two seasons, but with the show now set far in the future, any crossover potential has gone away. Strange New Worlds is currently the only 23rd Century series, and while the untitled Section 31 show or a future series may share the setting, that’s hardly a sure thing. So if the creative team at ViacomCBS want to bring up anything from Enterprise any time soon, this is by far the best place to do it.
If a main character crossover isn’t on the cards, there are still myriad other ways to acknowledge Enterprise in a major way. We could see Pike and the crew revisit a location first seen in Enterprise, or see the return of races like the Denobulans, Suliban, or Xindi, none of which have ever been mentioned outside of Enterprise.
Number 5: Ash Tyler will return.
Of Discovery’s main cast from Seasons 1 and 2, only Ash Tyler didn’t travel into the future with Burnham and the rest of the crew. He remained in the 23rd Century, and at the end of the Season 2 finale we learned he would be appointed head of Section 31. It’s been assumed ever since (not only by me but by other fans and theory-crafters) that Tyler was intended to appear in the upcoming Section 31 series. However, as we recently learned, that show may be on hold for at least the next couple of years.
Ash Tyler’s story arc across Discovery’s first two seasons is arguably complete. He came to terms with what happened to him, his transition from Klingon to human and the two sides of his personality that created. He also went on a rollercoaster ride in terms of his relationship with Burnham. But there’s still a lot of potential in Tyler, and one thing in particular that leads me to believe that he could – in theory – have a role to play in Strange New Worlds.
The character above is José Tyler, one of the original officers under Pike’s command in The Cage. Now I’m not expecting everyone we met in The Cage to be recast and appear in Strange New Worlds, but the possibility of a family connection between José and Ash seems like it could be fun to explore. Perhaps they’re brothers or cousins. If so, how would José react to the fact that Ash isn’t really Ash any more? That could be a huge source of conflict, and putting the two characters together to work through that might be a story worth telling.
Ash Tyler could also be part of a Section 31-related story, or even a story that sees the Enterprise picking up the last remaining pieces of the battle against Control. Ash shares a secret that only Pike and the Enterprise crew know – what really happened to the USS Discovery. As the head of Section 31, might he leverage that against Pike somehow to force him to take on a dangerous mission? There are, once again, almost an unlimited number of ways Ash Tyler could be used in the context of the new show. I doubt he’ll be a major starring character, but having him back for an episode or two seems a real possibility.
Number 6: The Enterprise will make first contact with a familiar race.
One of the promises Strange New Worlds has made is that it will be a return to the kind of Star Trek that The Original Series, The Next Generation, and Voyager did so well, with stories focusing on exploration. Over the course of those series, the captains and their crews made numerous first contacts with alien races, and if Strange New Worlds is to make good on its premise, making at least one first contact seems inevitable.
If we look at Enterprise as the other major Star Trek prequel series, we saw first contact with established races like the Klingons, Romulans, and even the Ferengi – though Archer didn’t know who he was meeting in that last case. The point is, Enterprise went back and showed us how humanity first encountered many familiar Star Trek races – and this is something Strange New Worlds could do too.
I’ve written about this a number of times here on the website, but I adore Deep Space Nine, and particularly the Bajorans and Cardassians. We’ve never seen the Federation make first contact with either of them, and it could be very interesting to see how it went. The Cardassians would likely still be a militaristic state, but we know that the Bajorans prior to the Cardassian occupation were very different – operating a caste-based society that the Federation would surely disapprove of.
If not the Cardassians or Bajorans, there are many other Star Trek races which had already been contacted either by the time of The Original Series or The Next Generation that we could see Captain Pike and his crew meet for the very first time. Among them could be the Gorn, Tholians, or even a relatively obscure race like the Sheliak, who only appeared in a single episode. In my opinion, making first contact with an established race would tie Strange New Worlds in to the wider franchise, and that’s something that I firmly believe every Star Trek series needs to be doing.
Number 7: Spock will mention Michael Burnham at least once.
Season 2 of Discovery explored in some detail the relationship between Burnham and Spock. They were raised as siblings on Vulcan by Sarek and Amanda, and Burnham appears to have been quite influential in Spock’s life and in his development. At the end of Season 2, Spock stated his intent to travel to the future with Burnham, and while we know that was never going to happen because of his other appearances in the franchise, it indicates how close they were.
Burnham’s loss is akin to a bereavement. Although the final red burst confirmed that she safely made it to the 32nd Century, Spock will never see Burnham again (barring some other time travel story!) so she’s gone from his life. How will that affect him? While Spock may, on the surface, appear to simply brush off the events of Season 2, he went through a heck of a lot. The loss of Burnham may be the worst part, but being accused of murder, having his mind scrambled, travelling to Talos IV, and being hunted by Control will have all taken a toll.
Burnham had her “Spock episode” with Unification III midway through Discovery Season 3, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Strange New Worlds reciprocates somewhat and gives Spock his own “Burnham episode” – or at least a Burnham moment. Moving on completely as if everything he went through in Discovery Season 2 never happened wouldn’t sit right, so I’m sure there will be at least some reference or acknowledgement of Burnham from Spock.
It may not be a complete story, rather just a line or two of dialogue in which Spock mentions how much he misses Burnham. But I do expect to see some kind of reference or connection. Despite Spock being a long-established character within Star Trek, Strange New Worlds is a spin-off from Discovery, and this version of the character in particular is tied to Burnham very strongly. Making note of that would also be a reminder to the audience that Discovery is Strange New Worlds’ sister show – another of those little ties between ongoing parts of the franchise that I mentioned.
Number 8: Pike will have to deal with the knowledge of his impending accident and disability.
Captain Pike not only saw his future at the Klingon monastery on Boreth, but he actively chose to accept his horrible fate in exchange for a time crystal. This happened toward the end of Season 2, and with the battle against Control to prepare for, he didn’t have much time to really stop and think about what that means. But Strange New Worlds will surely slow things down – at least some of the time – giving him pause for thought.
In the moment, Pike did what he needed to do and embraced his dark future. Will he regret that? Will he be worried at every turn, looking over his shoulder for the moment where his accident will occur? If so, who will help him snap out of it? It would be very easy for someone in his position to fall into depression – after all, what he’s going through is akin to being diagnosed with a terminal disease.
We have seen Star Trek tackle this subject before, but only in the format of one-off episodes. Having a main character who is aware of his impending health collapse and disability could be something that’s absolutely worth exploring. In a way, I can relate to Captain Pike. Over the last decade or more I’ve seen my own health gradually decline, and while it isn’t quite the same thing (Pike’s accident takes him from full health to total disability in a heartbeat) I’ve been in the position of hearing a doctor tell me really awful news, knowing that there isn’t anything I can do to fix it.
Star Trek usually does things by analogy, so rather than Captain Pike being diagnosed with a real-world life-limiting condition, he’s seen a vision of his future disability in a time crystal. But the impact it could have on him from a psychological point of view is comparable, and this could, in my opinion, be a great way for Star Trek to explore the complexities surrounding incurable illness, long-term health conditions, disability, and even terminal illness. There are many, many ways such a story could go, and I’ll be fascinated to see what direction the show takes with this.
Number 9: There will be either a time-travel or parallel universe story.
Time travel has been a part of Star Trek going back to Season 1 of The Original Series, and we’ve seen a number of episodes take place in both the past and future. With Strange New Worlds sending Pike and the Enterprise off on a mission of exploration, they could easily encounter any of the temporal phenomena that we know exist out there in space.
I’ve never been wild about time travel in Star Trek, and often the episodes in which it features aren’t my favourites. Using time travel to visit contemporary Earth inevitably dates a story, too – just look at Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home or the Voyager two-part episode Future’s End as examples of that! But just because time travel isn’t my personal favourite story element doesn’t mean it can’t work well, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Strange New Worlds pursue a story of this nature.
The main candidate when considering time travel has to be the aforementioned contemporary Earth, in this case, Earth circa 2021! But we’ve seen time travel stories set in the 1890s, the 1930s, and even a dark vision of the 2020s! It could also be fun to see the crew shot forward in time, and perhaps having to rely on the help of a time-travelling future Starfleet to get home.
Alternatively we could see a parallel universe story – though hopefully not the Mirror Universe! The Mirror Universe is potentially home to the prime version of Captain Lorca, and rescuing him could be an interesting story. But there are many other parallel universes – including the alternate reality where the Kelvin films are set. Could that set up a crossover with the alternate reality versions of Pike and Spock?
Number 10: The show will acknowledge current events.
The big story of 2020 was, of course, the pandemic. But there are other significant ongoing events, such as the issue of race in the United States, that Strange New Worlds could try to tackle. Star Trek, despite what some people want to tell you, has always been a franchise with a keen interest in contemporary events. Going all the way back to The Original Series, Star Trek has used its sci-fi setting to look at real-world events, and I wonder to what extent Strange New Worlds will try to do that.
In a series that aims to be more episodic than other recent Star Trek projects, Strange New Worlds could certainly dedicate at least one episode to looking at a major current event. The pandemic is something we have yet to see appear in fiction in a big way. The issue of race, on the other hand, is something we’ve seen tackled many times in many different ways.
A story touching on issues raised by the pandemic could look at, for example, a planetary society suffering from disease, but where a significant number of people refuse to take precautions – something we’ve seen all across the world to varying degrees. Or it could look at the long-term impact of isolation through a character or set of characters who haven’t had any outside contact for a long time.
Any series that plans to look at aspects of the ongoing pandemic has to tread carefully, in my opinion, to avoid appearing to sensationalise current events or to be seen to be exploiting the situation. But as one of the biggest events of the 21st Century so far, the coronavirus pandemic will be explored in art and entertainment many times in the years ahead, and there’s no reason why Star Trek shouldn’t tackle it – provided it does so tactfully.
Number 11: The Klingons will make an appearance.
Federation-Klingon relations went on a rollercoaster in the 23rd Century, to say the least! From ignoring one another to all-out war to a peace conference, the two factions did it all. One thing we have yet to see is the way in which the Klingons changed following the war depicted in Discovery – and no, I don’t mean the prosthetic makeup!
When L’Rell took power at the end of Discovery Season 1, she sued for peace with the Federation, after which Federation-Klingon relations appear to have thawed, at least a little. Yet within a decade or so, the Klingons were once again incredibly antagonistic toward the Federation, with conflicts and battles fought during this era.
Perhaps we could see something happen between the Klingons and Federation to set them on this antagonistic path. Captain Pike has built up some degree of goodwill with the Klingons, but seeing this evaporate would be a potentially interesting story. We could also welcome back Mary Chieffo as L’Rell in a story focusing on the Klingon Empire.
Just like we need to see Section 31 disappear and move underground, we also need to see the Klingons and Federation move apart. Another all-out war is not required, but seeing the situation deteriorate and even the cutting off of diplomatic relations would “reset” the Klingons closer to the way they were in The Original Series.
So that’s it.Ten Eleven preliminary predictions for Season 1 of Strange New Worlds. As I said when the series was first announced, 2022 seems like a reasonable guesstimate for when it’ll premiere, and that was backed up by the news we got a few weeks ago about which shows are in production and how far along they are. So while it’s definitely early to be considering what we might see from the new show, it’s not too early! Who knows, it could be this time next year that Strange New Worlds makes its debut!
I hope this was a bit of fun. And just to re-emphasise what I said at the beginning: I don’t have any “insider information,” this is just guesswork from a fan. Nothing more! So don’t get upset if none of what I suggested above ultimately comes to pass!
I’m really looking forward to Strange New Worlds. It seems to be offering more of a “classic” take on Star Trek when compared to recent projects, and I’m 100% there for that! The franchise has expanded, and there’s plenty of room for serialised drama and even animated comedy, but taking Star Trek back to its roots is definitely something I’m keen to see. That doesn’t mean every project should try to do the same thing, but it does mean that Strange New Worlds is close to the top of the list of shows that I’m most excited about!
If we get any major news, casting information, or a trailer be sure to check back as I’m sure I’ll have something to say. Other than that, all we can do is wait!
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is coming to Paramount+ at some point in the future. International distribution has not yet been announced. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds, Discovery, and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.
Spoiler Warning: There will be spoilers ahead for the Star Trek franchise, including the most recent seasons of Discovery and Picard.
Excitement for a series led by Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike had been sky-high since the second season of Discovery was on the air early last year. The series was finally announced a few weeks ago, and if you somehow didn’t know, it’s going to be called Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I took a look at a few ideas for the upcoming series shortly after it was announced, but today I wanted to get specific. We’re going to be looking at some characters from past iterations of Star Trek that it could be fun to see return in some way.
Some of the characters on this list could join the main cast – though with three of its main roles taken up with re-cast characters, I feel sure that the creators of the show will want to put in some brand new ones of their own too. Others would make great secondary or recurring characters – if Strange New Worlds is to have a large secondary cast like Deep Space Nine had. And of course, some characters would be interesting to see just as one-offs.
This article shouldn’t be interpreted as me having some kind of “insider information”; I don’t, and quite frankly I doubt anyone else in the blogosphere or on social media does, so you should always take any such claim with a grain of salt! This is pure speculation, as well as a bit of fun.
Number 1: Alternate reality Pike and Spock
In 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, the alternate reality version of Captain Pike (played by Bruce Greenwood) was killed. However, by setting any potential crossover before this event, such as shortly after the events of 2009’s Star Trek, for example, it would be possible for the prime timeline and alternate reality versions of the characters to cross over… somehow.
We know from 2009’s Star Trek that travel to the alternate reality was possible by traversing a black hole, so perhaps something like that could happen. It would definitely be expensive to bring in Bruce Greenwood and Zachary Quinto – as film stars they command a higher salary – but if contracts could be negotiated, and a suitably engaging story written, I think it could be fun to see the two versions of the characters team up.
The kind of story I’m thinking of would follow a similar theme to the classic Mirror, Mirror or Discovery’s first season – the Enterprise, or just Pike and Spock, accidentally cross over to the alternate reality and have to work out how to get back – enlisting their alternate reality counterparts for help.
Number 2: James T. Kirk
In the alternate timeline mentioned above, we saw how Kirk and Spock met at Starfleet Academy. However, in the prime timeline we’ve never seen their first meeting. It could be interesting to see a young Ensign or Lieutenant Kirk meet Spock for the first time, and there are many ways this could be included.
However, the way I think it would work best would be in the series finale. And I know, thinking about the finale of a series that hasn’t even premiered yet is very premature! But hear me out because I like this concept. After what will hopefully be a number of successful seasons of Strange New Worlds, Captain Pike gets promoted and will be leaving the ship. The final moments of the finale could see Captain Kirk coming aboard the Enterprise for the first time – and this could be a great moment to use the CGI seen in films like Rogue One to have the character look like a young William Shatner. Shatner himself could even do Kirk’s voice.
That’s one concept that I really think could be cool. But we could also see a young Kirk as a guest star, perhaps as someone who is a junior officer aboard another ship that the Enterprise works with. We know that Kirk served on a ship called the USS Farragut before becoming captain of the Enterprise, and that name-drop could be a great reference to The Original Series.
Number 3: T’Pol
Aside from one brief reference in Discovery, there hasn’t been much acknowledgement of Enterprise in modern Star Trek, despite the fact that the events of that show are canon in both the alternate reality and Discovery. With Strange New Worlds taking place over a century after Enterprise, most of the human characters will probably no longer be around – though there was a hint in the alternate reality of an “Admiral Archer”. However, Vulcans are very long-lived, and it’s quite possible that T’Pol would still be alive and active in this era.
As the first Vulcan to work extensively with humans and Starfleet, T’Pol could offer invaluable advice to Spock as he joins the crew of the Enterprise. Or she could be a senior figure within the Federation – perhaps at Starfleet, working on research, or even taking on a role similar to Spock’s in The Next Generation era, working as a diplomat.
If T’Pol were a senior diplomat or ambassador, she could join the crew of the Enterprise on a mission of first contact – and this could be a great story to show off first contact between the Federation and one of Star Trek’s established races, like the Cardassians. A story like this would tie all three of Star Trek’s main eras together: the 22nd Century, represented by T’Pol, the 23rd Century, represented by Pike, Spock, Number One, and the Enterprise crew, and the 24th Century, represented by a race like the Cardassians that we got to know in that era.
Number 4: Commodore Decker
William Windom played the role of Commodore Matt Decker in one of the best episodes of The Original Series: The Doomsday Machine. Decker is a broken man in that story, having witnessed the loss of his entire crew. He becomes consumed by revenge and tries to take down the planet-killer himself. But in Strange New Worlds, we could see Decker before that catastrophe, as the level-headed senior officer we know he was.
He could retain the rank of Commodore, perhaps serving as the senior officer for the region of space that the Enterprise is assigned to – making him, in effect, Pike’s boss! Or, as Strange New Worlds is taking place a decade or so earlier, we could see Decker as a captain or even a first officer, making a one-off appearance or even becoming a recurring character.
It would be great to put Decker in a story that pays homage to – and foreshadows – his later role in The Doomsday Machine, but it can’t be something too obvious and overt. So no return of the planet-killer please!
Number 5: Sarek
James Frain put in a creditable performance as Sarek across Discovery’s first two seasons. With that show now leaving the 23rd Century behind, it would be possible to keep Sarek as a recurring character in Strange New Worlds.
We know from Spock’s comments in The Original Series and The Next Generation that he and his father don’t get along particularly well. Yet in Discovery they seemed to be doing okay together – perhaps Strange New Worlds could explore how the relationship between father and son soured and why, as of The Original Series, Sarek and Spock were maintaining a cool, logical distance from one another.
It would also be a way to keep Discovery in the minds of the audience. Strange New Worlds is but one part of an expanding Star Trek franchise, and convincing fans of one show to hop over and try others is arguably the key challenge for the team behind Star Trek. With the franchise split up into different eras and timelines, finding ways to get some consistency is important and recurring characters have the potential to be an important link between shows.
Number 6: Benjamin Sisko
Wait. Stop. Don’t skip ahead! I know this one seems a little “out there”, but bear with me because it could be amazing. I wrote a few weeks ago that Strange New Worlds could potentially encounter the Bajorans, making first contact with them decades before the Cardassian occupation of their world. That alone could be a fascinating story, especially because we know Bajor in that era was very different: a strict, caste-based society.
In What You Leave Behind, the finale of Deep Space Nine, Benjamin Sisko is saved by the Prophets – the noncorporeal aliens who live in the Bajoran wormhole – and disappears from normal spacetime, going to stay with them. He promises to return, and because of the Prophets’ non-linear view of time, he could return anywhere, at any time.
That means he could return from the domain of the Prophets years before he left – such as during the era when Captain Pike commanded the Enterprise! I know this is a bit out of left-field, but Star Trek has shown with Discovery’s second season that bringing characters back and telling stories that tie into much older iterations of the franchise isn’t something it’s frightened of trying. Heck, that’s how we came to have Captain Pike and Strange New Worlds in the first place! With a brief recap of Deep Space Nine, like the recap we saw in the Discovery Season 2 episode If Memory Serves, Sisko could be introduced to the audience and his presence explained.
I’ve long felt that seeing Sisko’s return could make for a fascinating story, and while it would make more sense in many ways to bring him back in Star Trek: Picard or another 24th or 25th Century series, it’s a story that could be made to fit in Strange New Worlds too.
Number 7: Shran
As I mentioned when talking about T’Pol, Enterprise has very few ties to the rest of the Star Trek franchise at the moment. We don’t know exactly how long Andorians live, but Shran was alive at the end of Enterprise, and as a father to a young child, can’t have been especially old by Andorian standards. It’s at least possible that he’s still alive as of the era of Strange New Worlds, though he would be well over 100 by this point.
Similar to T’Pol, we could see Shran taking on an elder statesman kind of role, and we’d perhaps learn that he had been instrumental in convincing the Andorians to ally with humanity and the Vulcans, making him an important founding father of the Federation.
I could see Shran in this kind of role, and perhaps a story that included him could see him bringing a wayward group of secessionist or renegade Andorians to heel. He could even be teamed up with T’Pol in some kind of big diplomatic mission which the crew of the Enterprise are roped into.
Number 8: A character played by a cast member from The Original Series
A few weeks ago I wrote an article looking at comments by William Shatner that he’d love to reprise his most famous role and play Captain Kirk again. I doubt that will happen – not least because Kirk died in Star Trek Generations – but it got me thinking about the potential for Shatner, or another main cast member from The Original Series, to play a new role in Star Trek.
At time of writing, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, William Shatner, and George Takei are still alive and thus could potentially return to the franchise in some way. Takei played a role in a horror series called The Terror in 2019, so he’s still active as an actor. And Walter Koenig has recently produced a Star Trek fan film called Star Trek Renegades. Koenig and Takei also played roles in the Star Trek fan series Star Trek New Voyages in the mid-2000s.
All four are in their eighties – Shatner will be 90 next birthday. Sir Patrick Stewart, who is himself almost 80, has shown that older actors can still put in exceptional performances, so it isn’t impossible to think that any of these actors could make a return to the franchise that made them household names. With time marching ever onward, there won’t be many more opportunities. It would require a story that was really crafted to make such a role prominent and wholesome, but I think it could be done – and based on what Shatner had to say only a few weeks ago, at least one of them would be willing to do it.
Number 9: Dr Boyce
This character only appeared in The Cage (and in reused footage in The Menagerie) and was the Enterprise’s doctor during Pike’s tenure in command. While it could be possible to bring in a different ship’s doctor (such as Dr Nambue, who was the USS Shenzhou’s doctor in Discovery’s premiere) I think Dr Boyce is a prime candidate for re-casting.
Strange New Worlds has promised to be a series in the mould of classic Star Trek shows of the past, and if that’s the case a chief medical officer will be essential. Dr Boyce seemed to have a good relationship with Captain Pike in The Cage; the relationship between Dr McCoy and Captain Kirk was foreshadowed here. This could be a great way to give Pike a McCoy-esque older figure to lean on for advice and to serve as the show’s moral compass.
Dr Boyce – and indeed most of the characters from The Cage – are practically blank slates, so while his surname and approximate age would be constraints, the rest of the character could be up to the new show’s creators to explore and expand.
Number 10: José Tyler
Speaking of The Cage, one character it introduced who hasn’t been since since is the young Lieutenant Tyler. Given the first name José in the novelisation of the episode, Tyler is similar to Dr Boyce in being an almost-blank slate for the new show.
However, one thing that is interesting with this character is that he shares a surname with Ash Tyler – the character introduced in Discovery. While Discovery’s version of Tyler is actually a Klingon named Voq, there’s the potential for Strange New Worlds to explore that relationship. Are they brothers? Cousins? What would José make of the revelation that Ash is a Klingon? How would he react to that? There’s a lot of potential for interesting stories, and it would be a way to include Ash Tyler and potentially the Section 31 organisation that he now leads.
If the currently-untitled Section 31 series retains a 23rd Century setting – and isn’t following Discovery into the far future – then Ash Tyler looks almost certain to be a part of that show. Tying it to Strange New Worlds would keep the two 23rd Century shows together, and there’d be great potential for crossovers.
Number 11: Ash Tyler
At the end of Discovery Season 2, Ash Tyler was appointed head of Section 31. The diminished, arguably decimated organisation – in the wake of what happened with the Control AI – will have to be carefully managed, and in addition we really need to see it disappearing and going underground – so that by the time of Deep Space Nine it’s truly in the shadows. But that seems like something to see happen in the upcoming Section 31 series!
If Tyler is included in the Section 31 show, having him appear in Strange New Worlds would be a crossover, tying the two shows together as already mentioned. Something like that makes a lot of sense, and as a character we know Captain Pike knows quite well from his time in the captain’s chair of the USS Discovery, there could be a continuation of that somewhat frosty relationship.
Characters from Discovery seem far more likely than any others to crop up in Strange New Worlds, and though the main crew have left this time period, Tyler and others who remain could be interesting to see return.
Number 12: The prime timeline version of Captain Lorca
I mentioned this when I looked at some story ideas for Strange New Worlds a few weeks ago, but just to recap: the version of Captain Gabriel Lorca that we got to know in Discovery’s first season was in fact from the Mirror Universe. He was killed there while attempting to seize power, so he obviously won’t be coming back. But the prime timeline version of the character still exists – most likely trapped in the Mirror Universe.
While it was suggested in Discovery that Lorca would have been killed shortly after the accident which sent him to the Mirror Universe, that was purely speculation, and as he was known to be a fairly rough character, it’s at least possible he would have survived – even if he ended up incarcerated.
If it were demonstrated to Captain Pike that Lorca is alive, surely he’d want to launch a mission to rescue him! This would make for a great two-part story, and after Lorca has been retrieved he could even go on to be a recurring character in later episodes and seasons of Strange New Worlds.
Number 13: Dr Richard Daystrom
In The Original Series Season 2 episode The Ultimate Computer, Dr Daystrom is the computer scientist who has developed an AI capable of running an entire starship. We’ve seen the Daystrom Institute – which was named in his honour – appear prominently in Star Trek: Picard, so bringing the man himself into Strange New Worlds would be a neat little connection – one of those threads running through the franchise.
While I don’t expect Strange New Worlds to spend much time dealing with the fallout from Discovery’s second season storyline, we could find out that Dr Daystrom was one of the scientists who had worked on the Control AI. His new work on shipboard computers – which will culminate in the M-5 computer seen in The Original Series – could even be a result of seeing how Control went wrong.
Dr Daystrom was a great character in The Original Series. In the 1960s, seeing a black man as a senior scientist was something genuinely different and pioneering, and actor William Marshall played the role expertly. I would love to see a role for him in some way in Strange New Worlds.
Number 14: Arex
This one is a complete long-shot, but we’ve never seen Arex – or indeed any Edosian characters – outside of The Animated Series. The Edosians were a race which had three legs and three arms, and Arex was an Edosian officer who served on the USS Enterprise when it was under Kirk’s command. James Doohan – better known as Scotty – provided the character’s voice. While animating a “tripedal” character was easy, it was prohibitively expensive to try to recreate Arex when Star Trek returned to live-action in the late 1970s, and his character was never mentioned.
Interestingly, Nepenthe – the seventh episode of Star Trek: Picard – mentioned the Kzinti, who were a race only ever seen in The Animated Series. As I wrote when I picked out a couple of episodes from The Animated Series as part of my Ten Great Episodes articles, the show is considered a full part of the Star Trek canon, which means Arex is too.
Today’s special effects – both physical and digital – are much better than they were in the 1970s, and having a character like Arex in a live-action show no longer faces the obstacles it once did.
Number 15: Samuel T Cogley
First encountered by Captain Kirk in The Original Series first season episode Court Martial, the old-fashioned lawyer – based on famous American lawyer Clarence Darrow – is a fascinating character, and one who has seen homage paid to him in the show Futurama. Cogley was based at Starbase 11, where he successfully defended Kirk against an accusation of murder in his court-martial.
Court Martial was the first of a number of Star Trek episodes across multiple series which showed that the franchise can do courtroom drama incredibly well. While I hope Captain Pike won’t need Cogley’s services, someone might – and the result could be another great piece of drama.
Number 16: Colonel Worf
As we saw with returning characters in Deep Space Nine, Klingons are almost as long-lived as Vulcans. Colonel Worf – played by Michael Dorn – was intended to be the grandfather of the Worf we’re most familiar with from The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. The character played a role in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, where he served as the defence attorney for Captain Kirk and Dr McCoy during their rigged trial on Qo’nos.
Discovery’s first season brought back the concept of Klingon Great Houses – and the House of Mogh, to which the more familiar Worf belonged, was certainly among them as of the mid-24th Century. Colonel Worf could have played a role in the Klingon-Federation war, and even if he isn’t the head of his house in this era, he could still have a role in a Klingon-focused episode.
While Michael Dorn wouldn’t be suitable for the role of a much younger Colonel Worf, he could perhaps play his father – our Worf’s great-grandfather. Are you confused yet?
Number 17: Montgomery “Scotty” Scott
There’s a case to be made for practically all of The Original Series main cast having roles in Strange New Worlds. But one character who could be included in some capacity is Scotty. He could be an assistant engineer under Pike’s command – such a long record of service aboard the Enterprise could explain why he was so knowledgeable about the ship and its systems by the time Kirk took over.
The Enterprise needs a chief engineer if Strange New Worlds is to have a similar setup to Star Trek shows of the past. While I wouldn’t necessarily place Scotty in that role, he could certainly be working in engineering in some capacity while Pike was in command. Even if he wasn’t a main character, Scotty could be there in a recurring role; a nice little nod to returning fans, but without doing anything quite as dramatic as has been done with Spock.
Number 18: John Gill
The Original Series had a number of episodes with premises that modern Star Trek almost certainly wouldn’t touch. One of these was Patterns of Force, an episode in which John Gill – a Federation historian and anthropologist – introduces Nazism to a developing planet. At the time Patterns of Force premiered, the prevailing theory that John Gill was said to have been inspired by was that Nazi Germany was a very efficient state – a claim challenged by more recent historical analysis.
While I don’t want to see Gill arguing in favour of Nazism in Strange New Worlds, we could see him engaged in other historical or anthropological research – he was, at the time, one of the Federation’s leading experts in those fields. Pike and the Enterprise could even convey him to Ekos – the planet he’d become führer of.
Number 19: Cadet Sidhu
Cadet Sidhu appeared in the Short Treks episode Ask Not, where she was subjected to an intense test by Captain Pike. After passing the test, she was assigned to a role in engineering aboard the Enterprise.
Ask Not was partly a vehicle for Anson Mount to reprise his popular role as Pike. But almost any story could have been written for that purpose – bringing in a new cadet and assigning her to the Enterprise feels like a deliberate character introduction, and we could certainly see Sidhu return.
Number 20: Admiral Anderson
If you read my write-up of Discovery’s premiere, you’ll know I felt Admiral Anderson’s main scene – in which he makes a charged racial comment to Michael Burnham – was one of the story’s weakest points. However, I’d like to give the character a second chance – not because I like him, but because I think there’s great potential to have an Admiral who’s kind of a jerk.
That character archetype – the self-centred, egotistical power-abuser – is one which practically all of can relate to having had a boss, manager, or teacher like that at some point in our lives. If Anderson had been handled better – and Discovery’s premiere as a whole had been a better story – we could have got that from him then. As it is, maybe we could have another chance.
While Anderson’s ship was destroyed, many escape pods evacuated beforehand so I’d say there’s a better than average chance Anderson was among the survivors. Every Star Trek show has used admirals to great effect in a select number of episodes, and Strange New Worlds will need a senior flag officer at some point in its run. Why not Anderson?
So that’s it. A few characters from past iterations of Star Trek who could – but most likely won’t – appear in Strange New Worlds. There are others, of course, including some I would probably never expect! Star Trek: Picard caught me off-guard by bringing back Seven of Nine and Hugh, two characters I would never have thought the producers of the show would seek to include. Some of the team who worked on Picard are also taking senior roles behind the scenes of Strange New Worlds, which I honestly just think is great. Picard did a great job of walking the line between being something new and bringing back characters and story elements from Star Trek’s past – something I hope Strange New Worlds will do too.
On the whole, I’d say some of Discovery’s characters – like Ash Tyler – are probably more likely than some of the others mentioned on the list to make a return in the new series. But as with Seven of Nine and Hugh in Picard, the producers sometimes like to be unpredictable, and we could see any one of a hundred or more characters make some kind of return – or have no returning characters at all!
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is currently in early production and will premiere on CBS All Access in the United States in the future. Plans for international distribution have not yet been announced. The Star Trek franchise – including Strange New Worlds and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.