The Star Trek prequel series Strange New Worlds follows Captain Pike and the crew of the Starship Enterprise in the decade before James T. Kirk took the captain’s chair and follows their mission to seek out new life and new civilizations. It’s been seen by fans as a throwback to the original format and spirit of the original series, and not just because it also features the familiar characters of Mr. Spock, Cadet Uhura, and a crew member, Ronu Noonien-Singh, who shares a last name with Star Trek’s uber-villain, Khan.
There’s one thing that anyone who has ever been involved with Trek can tell you, whether they’ve written for the shows, the spin-off comics, novels, or just attended a fan convention. And that is that the fans feel like these characters are their family, and like in any family, they are not shy about sharing their opinions about them.
Episode two, “Children of the Comet,” just dropped, and fans on the Star Trek subreddit have thoughts. User “AtticusBluebird” kicked off a discussion about the Captain Pike’s “family dinner,” his weird ritual, and also Captain Kirk’s scientist brother Sam (whom we one day see die in the 1967 OG episode “Operation – Annihilate!”)
“Love the ‘day in the life’ opening of the dinner for a good chunk of time before we get to the main problem of the week!
Pike repeating the names of the cadets he saves feels pretty dark and fatalistic. Interesting how he will deal with the knowledge over the season.
Enjoying Sam Kirk being a bit of a mentor to Uhura at the start of the away mission!”
The cadets that AtticusBluebird is talking about are a group of cadets that Captain Pike saves in his own future. In the Star Trek original series two-parter “The Menagerie,” we find that the accident leaves Pike a quadripalegic, but also that he sacrificed himself to save a group of cadets. In the Star Trek: Discovery series that precedes Strange New Worlds, Pike receives a vision of his own future at a Klingon monastery. Pike is seen in this episode reciting the names of the cadets he will save in his future accident.
User UncertainError responded, trying to explain what Pike was up to:
“I think the emphasis is that it’s Pike’s choice to save those kids and it’ll always be his choice right up to the moment he makes it. So it’s fate, but sort of not, just like what happened with the comet.”
User “treefox” brought it back to Discovery:
“In Discovery it felt like it was locking it in, sort of a Doctor Who concept where knowing your own future creates a paradox where you can’t avoid it.
Now it feels like they’re playing with the idea that it’s avoidable by having people encourage him to try and avoid it, but it feels more like people trying to reassure him without really understanding how much of an obstacle it is.”
And UncertainError responded:
“It’s locked-in in the sense that Pike can only ever be Pike. On Boreth he made the choice to sacrifice himself for those kids, and he’ll keep making that choice all the way to the end, because that’s who he is.”
UserMerdy1337 really liked this explanation:
“I like this interpretation ALOT thank you! I’m a firm believer that the universe throws certain things in our path as a matter of course. These things are meant to occur, but how we choose to face them dictates who we are and who we choose to be. We always have a choice, but for most of us, we don’t really – our characters will determine our paths. In my own life I can think of one big moment like this; I’m a humanist, atheist, pagan, activist, and ally/member of the LGBTQ community and always have been, but when I graduated teacher’s college in 2012, the only job available was at a Catholic school. Despite all my family and friends telling me I should take it, I knew I couldn’t – that if I did, I’d be turning my back on who I was. Sure, it would be a financially easier path, but (ironically perhaps) my soul would die. Technically, I had a choice, but I also couldn’t make any other one than the one I did. I think that’s what this season is setting up for Pike; that he COULD avoid his fate if he chose…but such a choice would involve sacrificing who he is on a fundamental level. And Pike could never do that. So therefore, it is locked in. To paraphrase Dinobot from Beast Wars; his choices are his own, yet ironically, he ultimately finds he has no choice at all. He is Pike. He is Starfleet.”
Meanwhile, user z4r4thustr4 was a fan of OG Star Trek character Uhura’s storyline:
“I kind of wonder if the ‘Cadet Uhura is wavering on remaining in Starfleet’ is an intentional callback to Nichelle Nichols wavering on staying on ‘Star Trek’.”
In the 1960s, Uhura actress Nichelle Nichols was unsure if she wanted to stay on Star Trek, feeling that her character didn’t challenge her as an actress. She had even gone so far as to write a resignation letter. Then at a civil rights function in Beverly Hills, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., introduced himself as her biggest fan, explained that Trek was the only show that he and his wife Coretta Scott King allowed their children to stay up and watch, and thanked her for creating a character with dignity and knowledge. She told him she was planning to quit, and according to Nichols, Dr. King responded:
“Don’t you see what this man is doing, who has written this? This is the future. He has established us as we should be seen. Three hundred years from now, we are here. We are marching. And this is the first step. When we see you, we see ourselves, and we see ourselves as intelligent and beautiful and proud… You turn on your television and the news comes on and you see us marching and peaceful, you see the peaceful civil disobedience, and you see the dogs and see the fire hoses, and we all know they cannot destroy us because we are there in the 23rd century.”
So she stayed.
User archiminos loves that story:
“That’s such an awesome story. I love that it was MLK who convinced her to stay on the show.”
Treefox had the comment of the day, with a response that got triple digit likes:
“‘Computer, identify this song’
We can finally give our phones the same commands as the Enterprise computer. WE ARE LIVING IN THE FUTURE.”
And Daves_Comics_N_Stuff responded with a cautionary tale:
“And I have my Alexa set up to respond when I say ‘Computer’…