Star Trek: Discovery wrapped up its first season with a pretty amazing hook for season two. It’s bold, to say the least, and it raises a few questions. Which we’ll discuss below, so, needless to say, spoilers ahoy!
First of all, for those who haven’t seen it, we leave you with a lovely parting GIF, courtesy of Swear Trek aka Saru’s biggest fan club on the internet:
So, at the very end of the episode, after everything the Discovery team has been through, they find their new captain is on Vulcan. But, as they head to that planet to pick him (or her) up, they get a distress signal, drop out of warp, and find themselves face to face with none other than the USS Enterprise. And no, they don’t fudge it; it’s the NCC-1701.
Needless to say, this is before Kirk took the helm; remember, Discovery takes place about a decade before the original series. In fact, they even mention the original head of the Enterprise, Captain Pike — a role originated by Jeffrey Hunter — by name. This is a deep, deep throwback to the first pilot of the original series that NBC rejected, which ultimately got the title “The Cage” and featured an almost entirely different crew. Majel Barrett, the voice of The Next Generation‘s computer and Gene Roddenberry’s wife, played a harsh, practical Number One, and instead of Bones, the medical officer was Dr. Phillip Boyce. Only Leonard Nimoy’s Spock, who has a smaller role and is far more emotional, stuck around from that pilot, and it’s not entirely clear that Burnham’s adopted brother has a berth on this particular Enterprise. Although, considering Sarek’s reaction, and the fact that Spock was estranged from his father for nearly two decades, he might well be on the ship.
It’s a pretty fascinating step, and to some degree expected; Discovery has been salted with references to the franchise, and really, with Sarek around, the show had to deal with the issue of Spock at some point. But revisiting the Enterprise nearly a decade before we first met it, even when there are plenty of blanks to fill in, is still a bold move even by this show’s standards.
The main question is who’s going to fill the shoes of this crew. Jeffrey Hunter, who died four years after shooting “The Cage,” is a tough act to follow as Pike. Bruce Greenwood took over the role in the Star Trek reboot movies, but since the main attributes are mostly piercing eyes and a square jaw, and it’s probably only for a few episodes, they could easily go big. Perhaps Jon Hamm would like a little time to boldly go?
Similarly, thanks to her many, many roles on Star Trek, Majel Barrett (who also played Lwaxana Troi in The Next Generation and nurse Christine Chapel in the original series) has made Number One a tough role to fill. And if the show wanted to stick with going big, Jenny Slate would be an interesting choice. Finally, there’s the question of young Spock, and whether the show will go there. It’s tempting to ask if Zachary Quinto could take the role, especially as the show has firmly established that individuals look the same across universes. That said, he’s quite busy, so they may resort to an unknown.
Either way, it’s a great wrap-up to the season, and it leaves us on edge for season two. Where, hopefully, Burnham finally gets a break, although we’re not counting on it.