One can’t help but assume that “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” was the result of a fan write-in campaign. The kicker at the end of the final episode of the first season of “Star Trek: Discovery” was that Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and the U.S.S. Discovery met up with the U.S.S. Enterprise, leaning as hard as possible into the show’s ever-present nostalgia factor. Given the timeline of “Discovery,” James T. Kirk would not yet be captain of the enterprise, but Christopher Pike — originally seen as the lead character of “Star Trek” in the unused-for-many-years 1966 pilot — would be.
We met Capt. Pike (now played by Anson Mount) at the beginning of the second season of “Discovery,” and he became a major character in that season’s story arc. We also saw the new Enterprise design, met Number One (originally played by Majel Barrett in the 1966 pilot, now played by Rebecca Romijn), and we met a young Spock (Leonard Nimoy replaced by Ethan Peck), who was also Michael Burnham’s brother(!).
Pike is captain of the Discovery for this season, Spock plays a major role in the story, and fans wallowed in all the glorious, glorious nostalgia. Peck and Romijn also feature in an episode of “Short Treks,” which was a ploy by Paramount+ to keep people subscribed in between “Star Trek” seasons. Fans were so enamored of the Enterprise and the new versions of the pilot characters, especially the ultra-handsome Anson Mount, that shortly after the season wrapped, Paramount announced it would give a whole series to Pike aboard the Enterprise; Peck and Romijn would return; and other familiar faces from “Star Trek” would be re-cast for an old-school, episodic Trek series — “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.” We got our first look at the “Strange New Worlds” trailer today, but let’s look closer.
If one looks at Kirk, at Captain Archer from “Star Trek: Enterprise,” and at the new Pike, one sees a trend of “Star Trek” occasionally dipping back into an archetypal image of the colonial white hero. While “Star Trek” is explicitly an anti-colonialist show — as exemplified in the Prime Directive, assuring that Starfleet was never to see themselves as “saviors” of the “uncivilized” — the shows, especially in the 1960s, gave off a whiff of old-world frontier-bound adventure novels. Those novels were typically colonialist power fantasies, so many of their trappings have leaked into sci-fi that was inspired by them centuries later. As such, we get images in “Star Trek” of Kirk chopping wood by a cabin (“Generations”), or Kirk riding a horse into battle (“The Final Frontier”).
In the new trailer for “Strange New Worlds,” we see Pike on horseback riding on a ranch past a snowy mountain. Action mounts when Mount mounts his mount by a mount. But, to remind you that this is a sci-fi show, a shuttlecraft speeds by. Anson Mount is clearly the sex appeal of the show, giving off a great deal of Silver Fox energy. As the author is classy, he will implore the reader to make their own déclassé “mount” joke here as well.
From the looks of the above photo, “Strange New Worlds” will also visit Spock’s home planet of Vulcan, first seen in the episode “Amok Time,” but expanded considerably for “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” and revisited in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.” The orange color and the shapes of the structures are, at the very least, evocative of Vulcan.
With Spock on board, “Strange New Worlds” will have every opportunity to reference the character’s experiences only previously alluded to. Although audiences met Spock as a young boy, a young man, an adult, an older diplomat, an even older diplomat, and the bearer of red matter, there are still a few moments in his life to explore, and, dangit, “Strange New Worlds” will explore them all if they can, including the time he spent on Vulcan.
If the above picture is not Vulcan, I will humbly accept my mistake.
Playing with time
The above shot of a seemingly 19th-century court has no context yet, so we can only speculate as what it means. A Trekkie’s gut response may be that the boy is none other than Trelane (William Campbell) from “The Squire of Gothos,” a “Star Trek” episode about a playful, childish deity who enjoyed dressing in Earth’s high-class fineries and talking about war. This reaction, however, may merely be evocative. The boy in the picture may be at the center of a larger story, or a guest character.
It should be mentioned that “Strange New Worlds” aims to tell hour-long stories in an episodic format, eschewing the model of modern TV which prefers long-form story arcs. The snippets presented in the “Strange New Worlds” trailer, then, are likely from separate episodes, teasing mini-stories rather than a tapestry marked by its enormity.
One of the great inconsistencies of “Star Trek: Discovery” was its technology. Set before the time of Kirk, “Discovery” already had holographic interfaces, nimble, quick-moving ships, rapid-fire weapons, and other technology that has not yet been invented in the given “Star Trek” timeline. “Discovery” backpedaled furiously to explain some of this tech away, notably when Capt. Pike announced in one episode that he hated holographic communication, and ordered that all the technology be removed from the Enterprise. A similar coverup was used to explain why such an astonishing, unique ship like the U.S.S. Discovery — a ship capable of transporting anywhere in the galaxy in an instant — was never mentioned in any other capacity in “Star Trek.” Such a ship would be otherwise referred to constantly by “Star Trek” characters, given how scientifically-curious they tend to be. It turns out the records of the ship had to be erased to discourage a malevolent computer from taking over the galaxy. Also, the ship was thrown nearly 1,000 years into the future.