It’s been over three years since we met Anson Mount’s Captain Christopher Pike, Ethan Peck’s Science Officer Spock, and Rebecca Romijn’s Number One on Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, and now they’re back in their own series, the latest Paramount+ series that definitely lives up to (very high) expectations.
When Star Trek: Strange New Worlds begins, Pike is wrestling with the fate he saw that awaits him, one akin to death. “We knew that we couldn’t really get into the nitty gritty of the show unless we dealt head-on with that very real experience,” Mount tells TV Insider. “Given the choice of seeing that and not seeing that, I think most people would choose to not see that. How do you live with that? How is that going to affect you, especially when someone is in charge of hundreds of other lives? Can he trust his own instincts? Can he trust that he’s going to be able to put that out of his mind and then later on, is that perhaps maybe a quality that could make him a better captain?”
The events of the other Star Trek series also greatly affected Spock, who will never see his sister, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), again after she led Discovery into the future. While she is “an emotional touchstone” for Spock, he “has a great ability to compartmentalize his feelings, less so as we get into it with this show, because he is struggling between his emotional and logical sides, between his human and Vulcan sides,” Peck says. Expect to see “a searching Spock,” one who is “searching for himself” when Strange New Worlds begins. According to Peck, “that will be a theme for this character throughout the duration of the series.”
As for Number One since we last saw her, she “is not very good at downtime,” Romijn shares. “Turns out Una doesn’t ever take downtime. She gets herself into some trouble. So while everybody else has been taking their downtime [since we last saw them], she’s gone off and needs a little bit of help getting herself out of a bind.”
On the Enterprise, these three will be joined by characters both familiar and new to Star Trek, some also with things from their past they must face. Among the familiar is Nyota Uhura. “One of the greater challenges that she’s dealing with is the idea of belonging and putting down roots somewhere,” Celia Rose Gooding says of her character. “We find Uhura at a point where she doesn’t really know if the Enterprise and Starfleet is for her and she’s trying not to do too much to sort of plant down roots. She’s just trying to get through and fill her days with something instead of sitting and stewing and dealing with the loss that she’s experienced in her life. She’s fighting the human instinct to want to connect, but she doesn’t want to connect to the point where it’s gonna hurt if she decides to depart.” Expect to see her looking to Chief of security La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) as a “beacon” in Season 1.
La’an is dealing with “her childhood trauma,” Chong previews. “She’s coming face to face literally with the demons that that took away her family and everyone she loved. She’s also learning how to open up her heart and to live rather than just survive. [She’s] trusting that just because in the past, having family, they then die for her, that isn’t necessarily going to be the case [with her new family on the bridge].” While she’ll be connecting with everyone, Una is like “an older sister” and “Pike is helping her to grow and evolve.” You will see her “have her version of fun.”
Speaking of fun, Lt. Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia), the pilot of the Enterprise is definitely having some. In Season 1, “you see these layers and more and more to her. You see that she’s a combat veteran, you see her fighting skills, you see that she’s an incredibly confident, skilled pilot,” Navia says. “And then you start to see some of those emotions, but she’s wonderful in that she’s been through a lot and you know she’s been through a lot, but she doesn’t really wear that on her sleeve. But she’s also not hiding anything.” She gets along well with everyone, but especially Pike. “There just needs to be so much trust between the pilot and the captain, and you get to see some really great banter between the two of us and you get to see how much we trust each other,” she notes.
Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) are in sick bay. That is “our domain, our home, which we welcome a lot of people into with open arms,” Bush says. “It’s been such a delightful process of discovery, developing our relationship as characters, ‘cause obviously we are quite close in the way that we work, we support each other, and there’s a lot of care and a lot of trust between us, both personally and professionally. It’s been such a joy to, at once, develop a friendship with Babs offscreen and then meet as characters and see the nuances and the differences in our relationship as characters. We run a tight ship, but a warm ship in the sick bay.”
Olusanmokun agrees. “We just get a chance to play, and we keep it really connected and empathetic and stay on top of the job of taking care of people in that sick bay,” he says.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Series Premiere, Thursday, May 5, Paramount+