Star Trek: Discovery may be setting up a spinoff that centers on the adventures of Captain Pike and Spock aboard the USS Enterprise. Discovery‘s versions of both classic Star Trek characters have been well received, and after getting a glimpse of the Enterprise bridge in season 2’s penultimate episode, fans are wondering if we really have to say goodbye to Pike and company so soon.
CBS All Access has made no secret of the fact that Star Trek is going to be the beating heart of the streaming service going forward. In the wake of Discovery‘s success, several other upcoming Star Trek series have been announced, including the animated comedy Lower Decks, the Michelle Yeoh starring Section 31 spinoff, and the much celebrated return of Patrick Stewart to the franchise in an as-yet-unnamed Jean-Luc Picard series.
All of those shows certainly have potential, but the notion of a TV show taking place on the original Enterprise with Pike and Spock has a different kind of allure. But is it something CBS would want to pursue? Does it fill a hole in their longterm strategy for the franchise? Let’s break it down.
- This Page: Captain Pike’s Popularity & Star Trek’s Presence In 23rd Century
- Page 2: The Kelvin Movies & The Enterprise
Captain Christopher Pike is a towering figure in Star Trek lore, but he’s never really been allowed to take center stage. The character was abandoned after the first pilot for Star Trek: The Original Series, with Jeffrey Hunter’s brooding captain ditched in favor of William Shatner’s swashbuckling James T. Kirk. That pilot footage would be brilliantly repurposed in the classic two-part episode “The Menagerie,” but that was for all intents and purposes the end of Pike’s story. Bruce Greenwood played an older, more soulful version of Pike in the J.J. Abrams reboot films, serving as a father figure to Kirk who ultimately died at the hands of Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness.
Anson Mount’s Pike has been a very different animal. After the crew of the Discovery were betrayed by their Mirror Universe former captain, Gabriel Lorca, Pike’s easy charm and sense of morality – as well as has implicit trust in Michael Burnham – have re-centered the show and solved many of the character problems that plagued Star Trek: Discovery season 1. Mount is dynamite in the role, and even if we know what grisly fate awaits him, he would canonically be the captain of the Enterprise for another decade or so. Petitions for Mount’s Pike to be given his own show have begun to spring up, and it would seem like a natural progression for both the character and CBS’s growing slate of Star Trek projects.
At this point, it would be a major surprise if Star Trek: Discovery season 3 didn’t take place in the future, perhaps as far as a thousand years past the 23rd century. The Picard series will take place at the twilight of the 24th century, and it’s unclear which era of Star Trek lore Lower Decks will occupy. If Discovery does leave the 23rd century behind, it will presumably have to jettison a lot of the recurring characters and subplots that are specific to that era, many of which are still unresolved.
The easiest way to pick up those threads would be throw a Pike/Spock show. Both characters are already familiar with most of the major players of the era, so there wouldn’t be much need to reintroduce concepts to the audience. It would also uphold a sort of Star Trek tradition, where one show introduces a new species or conflict, only for it to be further explored in a spinoff series. Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced the Bajorans, Cardassians, and Trill before Star Trek: Deep Space Nine went on to more fully define those species. A Pike/Spock series that stood in opposition to the creeping amorality of Section 31’s influence on the Federation would be a great way to grapple with some of the weightier questions that Discovery too often chooses to punt on.
Page 2 of 2: The Kelvin Movies Are Done & The Enterprise Is Worth Seeing Again
It’s still possible there will be more Kelvin timeline films, but the prospect seems fairly unlikely these days. Star Trek Beyond underperformed at the box office, and Chris Pine walked away from the negotiating table after Paramount attempted to lowball his salary for a proposed fourth film. The Star Trek film series is essentially mothballed at the moment, and there’s been no real indication that’s going to change anytime soon.
That could be used to CBS’s advantage. Star Trek’s film and TV rights were split by corporate reorganization about a decade ago – CBS controls the TV rights, Paramount controls the movie rights. Rumors have persisted for years that the two corporate entities have been waging something of a cold war over Star Trek, squabbling over who controls what aspects of the franchise. If Paramount isn’t even developing any Star Trek projects, any studio spats over use of iconic elements like the Enterprise and Spock would seem like a moot point.
The general setup of the Enterprise’s mission of exploration also just lends itself better to television than it does films, as it’s an ongoing story. It’s been 15 years since audiences were able to tune in to a weekly show about the Enterprise exploring the galaxy – and that was the widely reviled Star Trek: Enterprise. A Pike/Spock series would give the franchise an opportunity to get back to basics, while still building on the innovations introduced by Discovery.
There are plenty of intellectual and corporate strategic reasons to pursue a series set on Captain Pike’s Enterprise, but there’s also one that is purely visceral. In the first part of the Star Trek: Discovery season 2 finale, “Such Sweet Sorrow,” we get our first look at Discovery‘s version of the iconic Enterprise bridge, and it is a sight to behold. Unlike the “Apple Store” redesign seen in the Kelvin films, the Discovery Enterprise – commanded by Rebecca Romijn’s Number One while Pike has been away – is a tasteful update of the TOS bridge. It’s much larger and with modern lighting and design elements, but also unmistakably the bridge of the NCC-1701, with red/orange railing and authentic reproductions of the old set’s knobs and lights.
The production team did an amazing job melding the style of Discovery with the retro 60s feel of TOS, and it’s almost painful to think we’re never going to see that set used after this season of Discovery ends. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Whether they meant to or not, CBS has created the foundation for a great series that fans are dying to see. And while Mount’s Pike has been getting the lion’s share of the praise, Ethan Peck’s Spock has been nearly as remarkable, and Peck has had to play with a decidedly more famous and beloved character than Mount. Peck’s ability to maintain the core of the character established by the late Leonard Nimoy – while saddled with mental instability and a scraggly depression beard – has been a real achievement, and he deserves to take a stab at the more traditional iteration of the Vulcan science officer.
There’s no guarantee CBS will pursue a Pike/Spock series. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman seems to have a fairly good idea of where he wants to take the Star Trek franchise, and he’s yet to really acknowledge the fan desire to see a full series about Pike’s Enterprise. But the pieces are all there, and while Star Trek: Discovery has been a success, it’s been a controversial, polarizing one. If CBS wants to earn some goodwill and gift themselves a surefire hit, all they need to do is re-board the Enterprise.
Next: Discovery (Finally) Has A Proper Star Trek Crew In The Season 2 Finale