Star Trek: Discovery ends the season with a bang (and a whimper)

Star Trek: Discovery ends the season with a bang (and a whimper)
What That Enterprising Finale Twist Means for ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 2
nThis article contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Star Trek: Discovery. It will also have a lot of dates extrapolated from conjecture and from Star Trek ancillary publications. We Trekkies love this stuff.

After 15 episodes, a lot of angst, a good deal of death and violence, some genetic manipulation, and a visit to a parallel universe, Star Trek: Discovery has closed out its first season. And while the season’s final episode wasn’t the first part of a two-part cliffhanger (a long-running Star Trek tradition), it did end with a final and unexpected surprise. As the USS Discovery is heading to Vulcan to pick up its new captain, they are approached by another Starfleet vessel which has issued a distress signal. The makers of the show probably took a great deal of delight in tantalizing the audience with their dramatic reveal; there’s a brief, incomplete close-up of the incoming ship’s call letters: NCC-17_ _.

This, of course, has had the minds of all Trekkies reeling, and rushing frantically to our Star Trek reference books (we all have Star Trek reference books, right?) to figure out exactly where the Enterprise was in 2256-2257 when Star Trek: Discovery takes place. It’s mentioned in the scene that Captain Pike is in command, and we knew from the start that this new Star Trek would take place in a time before Kirk (who, just to lay out the timeline, was born in 2233, and who didn’t take command of the Enterprise until 2264), but we have to go to the expanded universe stuff to fill in the gaps.

Where, we now must ask ourselves, has Captain Pike been with the Enterprise this whole time? Let us, dear obsessives, look back over what little we know about Pike and see what we can extrapolate. For the sake of clarity, I will not mention Pike as he was depicted in J.J. Abrams’ Kelvin timeline, as that’s an alternate reality and would just complicate matters. This is all Star Trek Prime.

Fullscreen Image Artboard 3 Copy Artboard 3 ESC 01 11 Click through for a closer look at Star Trek: Discovery’s version of the USS Enterprise… 01 11 Click through for a closer look at Star Trek: Discovery’s version of the USS Enterprise… Star Trek: Discovery – USS Enterprise Reveal Download Image Captions ESC To start: In 2256, the Enterprise had already been in commission for 11 years, having first launched in 2245. The first captain of the Enterprise, and the one who took it on its very first five-year mission, was a man named Robert April. To offer a fun real-world genesis: Robert April’s name was derived from Gene Roddenberry’s initial pitch for Star Trek back in 1964. Roddenberry suggested Robert April as the name of his show’s potential protagonist. Through typical re-writes, April was eventually changed to Pike, then again to Kirk once the show was picked up. In a strange case of cosmic synergy, this production note leaked its way into Star Trek canon, and now Robert April is the official “first captain” of the Enterprise (and was even seen on The Animated Series).

What That Enterprising Finale Twist Means for 'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 2
What That Enterprising Finale Twist Means for ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 2

What we knew previously: After five to seven years, Robert April handed the keys of the Enterprise over to Christopher Pike, who was in command from about 2251 until about 2263, having completed two full five-year missions (Then, according to what we know of the timeline, Pike was promoted, and Kirk took command of the Enterprise. The rest we’ve seen). I imagine retrofits and repairs account for the Enterprise’s multiple-years-long bouts of downtime.

What we don’t know: What Captain Pike was doing with the Enterprise from the time he took command (in the early 2250s) up to the events of the original Star Trek pilot “The Cage,” which took place in 2254.

Did You Catch the ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Finale’s Deep Cut Callback to the Original Series?

The crew of the Enterprise during “The Cage”: Pike, Spock, Number One and Tyler

Pike’s crew included his first officer Number One (named Una in the Discovery novel Desperate Hours), chief medical officer Dr. Boyce, Yeoman J.M. Colt, navigator Tyler, and, of course, science officer Spock. Spock, who we now know is also the adopted brother of Discovery’s Michael Burnham, is the only character who made it from the original pilot to the first Star Trek series with William Shatner.

We now know that, sometime prior to the events of “The Cage,” the Enterprise had a run-in with a now-familiar Crossfield class vessel called Discovery. As a Trekkie with an obsession with continuity, I can assuage any worries you may have: There’s no reason not to trust this. Everything we know about Captain Pike takes place during and after the events of “The Cage” (including the accident which robbed him of most of his physical faculties, as seen in the classic two-part episode “The Menagerie”), so it’s perfectly natural to assume that the Enterprise could have fought in the same war as the Discovery, and it’s most certainly reasonable to postulate that the two ships could have crossed paths.

Indeed, it’s almost likely. The crew of the Discovery would certainly know of the Enterprise (in fact, Burnham mentioned the ship earlier this season). Unlike the Discovery, the Enterprise was not considered a technological marvel, and was not extraordinarily equipped, feeling a lot more like a submarine than a spacecraft. In the eye of the Discovery, the Enterprise was likely more seen as a reliable war horse. I imagine it would be like someone with a new Tesla meeting someone with a 1971 Dodge Challenger. One is a slicker machine, but the other is a classic.

There is one problem, of course: Since Star Trek: Discovery has been rather cavalier in its alterations of Star Trek’s in-world technology, no matter how accurate we are with the timeline of the Enterprise, we sticklers for continuity (or “old whiners” as you may know us) will still have to make peace with the fact that this Enterprise is going to look very different than what we’re used to, and it’s going to have access to new tech that it didn’t have in its original iteration.

But then, Star Trek: Discovery is also introducing us to an Enterprise that is younger than any rendition we’ve seen before. Perhaps the Enterprise has been upgraded since “The Cage” but will be wrecked and rebuilt at some point and it will, only then, resemble the ship we know from the Captain Kirk era. And all of our Constitution class ducks will be in a row. Until we learn for sure, though, it’s merely a fun topic of academic nerd speculation.

Warning! This story contains spoilers from the Star Trek: Discovery Season finale. Read at your own risk!

Star Trek: Discovery Season Finale Finds A Mediocre Sweet Spot

Star Trek: Discovery’s Season 1 finale showed the USS Discovery directly in front of the USS Enterprise, and now Star Trek fans are wondering if Spock is headed to the CBS All Access series. Co-showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg were quick to get ahead of speculation and laid all cards on the table for the awesome way the show could handle Spock in Season 2, and while many things are possible, it looks like a Spock re-cast is not happening:

We certainly aren’t confirming that we’re even going to introduce Spock and we certainly are not casting that role, either. We live a lot in memory and flashback. The center of our show is always Michael Burnham. [W]e realize how incredible Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto’s performances were and what [Star Trek movie director] J.J. Abrams and the original series were able to pull off with that character. Finding another actor that could even come close to what Leonard Nimoy did with the original portrayal, we’d never want to go down that road.

It sounds like, at this point, Star Trek: Discovery is not looking for a new actor to portray Spock but at the same time not ruling out his presence. So how could they do that without pretending Spock is in the bathroom every time Burnham and Sarek are on the Enterprise? One method would be utilizing old footage of Leonard Nimoy to create a CGI double or perhaps recreate his voice with computers to create new dialogue for an off-screen interaction that doesn’t require a body. Provided no face-to-face interaction happens, Star Trek: Discovery could pull this off quite easily without risking alienating fans with a poor Spock casting. The move would also be appropriate, as canon has shown Spock and Sarek’s relationship at this stage to be very strained after Spock went against his father’s wish that he join the Vulcan Science Academy and instead joined Starfleet.

That said, Star Trek: Discovery fans recently learned Sarek denied his adopted daughter Michael a chance at the Vulcan Science Academy so that Spock could gain entrance, so it would be a waste if that topic was not breached between all three with everyone in such close proximity. If a casting had to happen to portray Spock, Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg sounded very high up on actor Zachary Quinto’s Spock portrayal when speaking to THR. That could mean the two are putting out feelers to see if Quinto would be up to appear on the series in Season 2, although having an actor who portrays the character in the film universe hop into the Prime canon timeline could be a can of worms the show might not want to open.

Star Trek: Discovery could also just decide it’s all too much trouble and find a way for Spock not to appear in the series. As previously mentioned, Sarek and Spock are at odds, and while Vulcans are supposed to be logical, Spock is half-human and may not want to see his father because he’s still angry.There’s also a chance that Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg say they don’t want to recast Spock now, and then a couple months later find the perfect actor to do so. Let’s just hope they do something with Spock, as teasing the Enterprise in the Season 1 finale and then having Spock presence at all in Season 2 would be a huge let-down for fans.

Star Trek: Discovery is confirmed for Season 2 at CBS All Access, but has no release date at this time. For a list of upcoming shows in 2018, visit our midseason premiere guide.

TV tonight: 'Star Trek: Discovery' Season 1 comes in for a landing
TV tonight: ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 1 comes in for a landing


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