Strange New Worlds–Captain Pike & crew to return in next Star Trek spin-off series

Like the split between fans of the third Star Wars trilogy and The Mandalorian, fans of Star Trek probably see themselves aligned to prefer either Star Trek: Discovery or Star Trek: Picard Or maybe there’s even a better contrast between Star Trek: Discovery’s first season worldbuilding vs. that series’ second season’s throwback concepts.  Was your favorite character the badass Mirror Universe Emperor Philippa Georgiou (formerly Federation Captain), played by the sly and fabulous Michelle Yeoh (the only actor onscreen who could actually immobilize someone in real life with her martial arts skill and the highest paid actress in Asia)?  Maybe it was the very Original Series-inspired engineer Jett Reno, who got the best dialogue and had the best style of any character in this decade of Trekdom, played by the brilliantly funny Tig Notaro?  Maybe it is the series lead, the very straight-laced Ant-Man and The Wasp-inspired sci-fi-meets-superheroine, Captain Michael Burnham, played by Sonequa Martin-Green?  Or maybe it is Anson Mount giving his own superhero performance as an early (and later?) famous Captain Christopher Pike of the familiar good ship Enterprise?  Turns out, if any one of the above fits the bill for you, Star Trek has something for you heading your way.

It’s been announced already that Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery has been filmed and will feature the key crew viewers met in the first season nearly 1,000 years in the future in a beta quadrant version of Star Trek Voyager following the events of last year’s season finale.  Somehow Michelle Yeoh will be taken on a Section 31-focused spin-off series to be filmed this year (barring delays).  And we now know fans of new Captain Pike’s Enterprise will get their wish as Mount, new Number One actor Rebecca Romijn and new Science Officer Spock actor Ethan Peck announced the news via social media.  The title is apt:  Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, taking a line from William Shatner’s original introductory dialogue for Captain James T. Kirk from the very beginning of Gene Roddenberry’s vision.

The three actors brought back to life for Star Trek fans for Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery really earned their new series thanks to good writing and Star Trek fans clearly expressing their desire for more.  All drawn from the pilot for the first episode of Star Trek filmed way back in 1964, Anson Mount took Jeffrey Hunter’s character we saw briefly and the popular character he became thanks to the first two Kelvin Timeline (aka JJ Abrams universe) movies played by Bruce Greenwood, and made it his own.  Fans found Mount, who has a stage presence, gravitas, and voice like Superman actor Henry Cavill, is believable as a by-the-book captain and someone who knows when he needs to be a little more pragmatic.  It’s an even bigger win after Mount’s headline role in the short-lived superhero series Inhumans. 

Rebecca Romijn brings pure genre street cred to the series, portraying the original Mystique in the X-Men movie franchise, headlining four years of The Librarians, and providing the voice of Lois Lane in the DC Comics animated universe.  Few characters are beloved as those played by Mrs. Roddenberry, Majel Barrett (that’s the computer voice you heard in the first six Star Trek series, plus Nurse Chapel, and Number One, long before her return as Lwaxana Troi years later).  But we all can agree we’d love to know more about the Number One she first created.

The biggest surprise of Star Trek: Discovery wasn’t the re-introduction of Spock (Star Trek loves to tap the past for new projects), since the star character of the series was raised as his sister.  But some of the best character development of both seasons comes when (Oscar-winning actor Gregory Peck’s grandson) Ethan Peck stepped into the role and had several personal encounters with Sonequa Martin-Green’s troubled heroine.  For many fans of Star Trek, Spock is Star Trek, and even if Peck doesn’t look like the late beloved actor Leonard Nimoy, and he’s not as recognizable as big-screen reboot actor Zachary Quinto, his character was believable and familiar enough, showing promise for future episodes.

Last year’s season finale also leaves plenty of room for the return of other favorite characters successfully returned from Star Trek’s past, including James Frain as Sarek (played primarily by Mark Lenard and later Ben Cross), Mia Kirshner as Amanda Grayson (played by Jane Wyatt and Winona Ryder).  Or even new characters like the fantastic Jaylah-inspired Queen Po, played by Supernatural’s Yadira Guevara-Prip.  Personally although I’m a fan of Doug Jones′s Lt. Saru and David Tomlinson′s Linus the Saurian, I am hoping the makeup crew ups its game and provides early appearances of M’Ress and Arex from the animated series.  And the Mirror Universe should still be on the table, so how about the Prime Universe’s Captain Lorca making a return?  Jason Isaacs′ first season turn at the character was like seeing Daniel Craig playing James Bond for the first time–his captain could be the greatest of all Star Trek captains given the right scripts and another chance.

And how about a new Montgomery Scott, who served 20 years in Starfleet before serving under Kirk, or a young Hikaru Sulu?  Will we see Pike’s crew members from the past, like John Hoyt’s character Dr. Phillip Boyce?  Peter Duryea’s Helmsman Tyler?  A transport chief and geologist based on Pike’s earlier appearance?

Expected to take place a decade before the original Star Trek series and intended to be more episodic and optimistic like the original series, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will be written and produced by several creators behind Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard.  And look for Jonathan Frakes to be back in the director’s chair.  The writing, sets, costumes, props, and cinematography of Star Trek: Discovery were all very close to those of the Enterprise of the last three Star Trek theatrical releases, so until we see an announcement for the next film, at least there will be something by way of the small screen for Star Trek fans.

With the COVID-19 pandemic under way, don’t look for a firm air date very soon for the new series.  The third season of Star Trek: Discovery is expected this year.

C.J. Bunce

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