Star Trek: Discovery spent much of its first season reintroducing fans to the world of televised Trek, a world that existed only in reruns and reboot films until it returned to the airwaves last September after a 13-year absence. Season 2 of Discovery—set to premiere on January 17—is looking to continue that tradition by reviving characters and elements that reach back to the beginnings of the franchise.
Discovery’s first season ended with a surprising but nostalgic image, as the show’s titular ship came bow-to-bow with the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike. Pike first appeared on-screen in the Original Series two-parter “The Menagerie“, an episode that was constructed from scenes from “The Cage“, Star Trek’s first, unaired pilot. “The Cage” seems to be the primary inspiration for Discovery’s second season, as Commander Michael Burnham and the crew of the Discovery will welcome aboard characters from “The Cage”, including Pike, “Number One”, and most intriguingly, a Vulcan named Spock.
In an interview after the Star Trek: Discovery panel at this year’s New York Comic Con, Discovery co-creator and executive producer Alex Kurtzman provided more details about the direction of the show’s upcoming second season and the ways that elements of “The Cage” will be used to bring Discovery in-line with established canon. Says Kurtzman, “One of the things that I’ve really enjoyed in my time working on Star Trek is looking at stories that have been told but then really examining them for the gray areas, the areas where certain things can be filled in or built on, without violating canon.” One of those “gray areas” is the pre-TOS backstory of Spock, who appears as a relatively minor character in the action of “The Cage”. Near the end of the Discovery Season 2 NYCC trailer, we get a glimpse of an, unconscious, bearded Spock (played by Ethan Peck), and Kurtzman hinted that he isn’t yet the seasoned and logical Vulcan we’ve come to know. An encounter with season 2’s mysterious Red Angel leaves him shaken mentally and emotionally, and the Discovery crew will find him “totally unsure of himself and trying to figure out how to make sense of the mystery and where he fits into the world,” says Kurtzman.
In addition to Spock, “Cage” characters Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and “Number One” (Rebecca Romijn) will appear as series regulars in season 2. “Number One” was originally played by Majel Barrett, actress and future wife of series creator Gene Roddenberry, and was the first female character in the franchise to be shown in a command role. Captain Pike is probably best known as the tragic, space wheelchair-bound character from “The Menagerie”, but during the era in which Discovery takes place, he’s still the healthy and intrepid captain of the starship Enterprise. The planet on which “The Cage” is set is expected to return, as well; when asked if Discovery would be visiting new worlds in the upcoming season, Kurtzman replied, “Talos. We’re going to Talos.”
“The Cage” isn’t the only hit of nostalgia that the writers of Discovery will be drawing on for future installments. Space-faring conman Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson), who first appeared in the TOS episode “Mudd’s Women”, is set to return for his own “Short Trek” on January 3rd. The Mirror Universe version of Burnham’s mentor, Philippa Georgiou, will also appear as an agent of Section 31, the top secret Starfleet division first seen in the Deep Space Nine episode, “Inquisition”. CBS is also currently developing a number of additional Trek series: a Patrick Stewart-starring show featuring the further adventures of Jean-Luc Picard, a series set at Starfleet Academy, a limited series featuring Khan Noonien Singh, and a rumored animated series set in the Star Trek universe. All are part of CBS’s initiative to, in the words of CBS TV Studios president David Stapf, give fans “a Star Trek something on all the time on All Access,” CBS’s on-demand streaming service, which launched in the fall of 2014.
If the prospect of so many new Trek shows seems overwhelming, Kurtzman and fellow executive producer Heather Kadin are aware of the importance of each show finding its own voice and niche in the universe of Trek. According to Kadin, “You shouldn’t tune into Discovery and wonder if you flipped the channel, that it was Picard. [Each show] should feel different, they should have different messages coming from different people.” To realize this goal, the producers of Trek have sought out new voices from a range of media, from Kavalier and Clay author Michael Chabon, to Rick and Morty writer Mike McMahan, to Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz, the writing team behind The O.C. and Gossip Girl. On the subject of diversity in storytelling, Kurtzman said, “We want to make sure you’re getting a different experience every time you watch a different Trek show.”
It’s both an exciting and scary time to be a Star Trek fan. The prospect of many, many more episodes of Trek is an enticing one, but long-time Trek fans will remember how tired the franchise felt in the late ’90s and early ’00s, after producing DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise in rapid succession. Additionally, like many fandoms, Trekkies have a complicated relationship with canon. We want original stories . . . but we tend to freak out when new shows try to add to the sacrosanct record of what’s come before, leaving new Trek series writers in a “cage” of their own. However, by returning to Trek’s roots to tell the untold stories of figures like Pike, “Number One”, and young Lieutenant Spock, the second season of Discovery will be free to explore strange new worlds and characters, while still showcasing and respecting the classic ones we know and love.
Source: Trek Movie