Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is actually going to happen.
After fans got a glimpse of Anson Mount as Captain Pike in season two of Star Trek: Discovery, the rumblings started. Then they got to see a little bit more of Rebecca Romijn’s Number One.
And then it turned out that Ethan Peck was pretty good as the iconic Mr. Spock.
In a weird turn of events, a major conglomerate listened to its fans when deciding the next project for its popular sci-fi franchise. CBS All Access announced this past week that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is coming. Presumably, the series will take place nine years before the events of Star Trek: The Original Series. And it will cover the adventures of Captain Pike and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
But for hardcore fans (guilty), just knowing Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is going to happen isn’t enough. We want to know what’s going to happen. And while we aren’t prognosticators by any stretch, we do have a wish list.
Here are five things we want from the newest addition to the Star Trek mythos.
One of the key things everybody remembers from TOS is the trinity. Kirk, Spock, and Bones.
After decades of doing ensemble pieces from The Next Generation through Enterprise, the franchise morphed into a two-man story. The J.J. Abrams films specifically highlighted the friendship between Kirk and Spock. And it gets narrower.
Discovery is mainly the story of Michael Burnham. And Picard is about – well, Picard.
But Star Trek: Strange New Worlds exists because the fans want to see three characters. Pike, Number One, and Spock. Probably in that order.
Where TOS used Spock and Bones as the angel and the devil on Kirk’s shoulder, SNW has a chance to show a different kind of trinity. Number One and Spock are both very emotionally grounded. Or, in the case of Spock, emotionally reserved. And while Pike showed himself in Discovery‘s second season to be the most well-rounded captain since Picard, it also showed that the captain can fly off the handle.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has a unique chance to use a familiar setting and characters and have them interact in unique ways.
Don’t Make The Spock Show
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds can take advantage of lessons learned from Discovery.
A lot of fans, myself included, considered the inclusion of Spock to the Discovery-verse to be an act of desperation. It turned out to be more than that, and it was genuinely important to Discovery‘s second season.
But for the purposes of SNW, Spock needs to be a little less essential. Given the time frame of the series, it’s okay for Spock not to know it all.
If I have my Star Trek math right, Spock is less than ten years into his Starfleet career at this point. Ethan Peck plays a really good problem-solving Spock. Now he has an opportunity to play a green, wet-behind-the-pointy ears Spock.
Above all else, SNW needs to treat Spock as just a member of the crew. An important member, no doubt. But it’s going to be a ginger tightrope act to keep the iconic Vulcan front-and-center without subtly screaming, “Look, it’s Spock!”
She’s Number One!
I feel like the trailers for season two of Discovery left most of us predisposed to like Anson Mount as Captain Pike.
And we were all going to be conflicted over how we felt about Ethan Peck’s Spock. I mean, it’s Spock. If it ain’t Leonard Nimoy, most of us Trekkies are going to raise some eyebrows of our own.
The absolute shocker among the legacy Enterprise characters was Rebecca Romijn as the enigmatic second-in-command, Number One.
We don’t know much about Number One. But here’s what we do know. She’s there in the original Pike-centric TOS pilot, ‘The Cage.’ By the time of TOS proper, she’s not there.
What happened in between, and where was she during the era of TOS? These are both questions Star Trek: Strange New Worlds can answer. They need to be interesting answers, but the potential is pretty tantalizing.
Keep It Episodic, And Do Like The Title Says
The key to making this show work is right there in the title. It’s not Star Trek: Where We’ve All Been Before.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds needs to seek out, well, strange new worlds. And by doing so, there’s an opportunity for Star Trek to return to a more episodic format.
This might be the era of long-form television storytelling. But that doesn’t mean that broad story arcs can’t be fueled by standalone episodes.
‘New Eden,’ the second episode of Discovery‘s second season, should basically be the template for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. In the course of investigating whatever the big bad or big issues of the season is, the Enterprise encounters something new. Or something that shouldn’t be where it is.
That’s what Star Trek is all about. A five year mission of exploring nebulae and gas giants with the unknown lurking around every corner. By no means should SNW hit the reset button at the end of every episode (looking at you, Voyager). But now’s as good a time as any for the writers of Trek to recognize the challenge and satisfaction of crafting a one-hour story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Klingons: Smooth Operators
Preface: This isn’t because I don’t like the Discovery Klingons. I think the Discovery Klingons are fine.
Honestly, if I had my way, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds wouldn’t feature the Klingons at all. Again, see the show’s title.
But this is Star Trek. There will be Klingons.
Having said that, we’re roughly nine years before the beginning of TOS. An era where the Klingons were guys with dark skin, fu manchus, and smooth foreheads. Just by announcing SNW, CBS has earned some good will from the fans.
It’s a little thing, but it feels like respecting canon (it hurt me to say that, because I’m not a guy who gives a crap about canon) is a solid way to return that good will.
Over the last couple of years, the Star Trek franchise has done a good job of giving us good news during difficult times.
The announcement of Star Trek: Picard last summer was a glimmer of hope in a terribly-divided world.
And now the announcement of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds comes when the world is gripped by fear of the coronavirus pandemic.
There’s no way of knowing when SNW will start shooting. But knowing that visits to strange new worlds is waiting for us on the other side of the global pandemic makes everything seem a little more hopeful.
All images courtesy of startrek.com.