Breaking down why Captain Pike is so haunted in the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ trailer

Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2 -- Ep#214 -- Pictured: Anson Mount as Captain Pike of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Russ Martin/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2 -- Ep#214 -- Pictured: Anson Mount as Captain Pike of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Russ Martin/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds unveiled a sumptuous trailer full of stunning visuals, a grizzled, haunted Captain Pike (Anson Mount), an eloquent voiceover by Number One played by Rebecca Romijn, and the shirtless back of young Spock (Ethan Peck).

So what does it all mean?

The visually enticing trailer for Paramount +’s Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has the look of a completely different series from Star Trek: Picard or Star Trek: Discovery. Incorporating a  vision of snow and colorfully ominous clouds conjoined with a Wild West call to action, Strange New Worlds encompasses the grand Western feel of the movie Unforgiven, with rugged Pike being called back from his embittered rut (and on horseback!). This is coupled with the exploratory episodic feel of The Original Series and The Next Generation, with each chapter its own independent story.

The new trailer is gorgeous, with confidence that exudes poised storytelling that speaks well about the series debut set for May. So much so, that it impressed another Starfleet captain, who sent along with her congratulations via Twitter:

What’s up with heavily-bearded Pike?

Captain Christopher Pike is holed up in his cabin, with clips of the trailer showing him embracing the frontier, cowboy existence while at other times brooding, before seemingly being called back into the fold after what looks like a self-exiled sabbatical. This probably has something to do with the future vision he received in the Star Trek: Discovery episode, “Through the Valley of Shadows,” that will later culminate in his paralyzed, disfigured future that robs him of the ability to speak (“click once for yes, two for no”), confining him to the cheesy daylek-shaped device we see in TOS episodes, “The Menagerie, Part 1 and 2” played injured by Sean Kenney and originally by Jeffrey Hunter (the original captain in the pilot of The Original Series).

Star Trek: Discovery showed us the details of the Starfleet accident in its second season, when Christopher Pike ventured to the Klingon world Boreth and retrieves a Klingon Time Crystal. We finally got to see the fateful events that lead to Pike’s paralysis. The disturbing vision shown to Pike on Discovery is a testament to his bravery in the face of horror, as he’s told that if he takes the crystal, he will seal that fate forever. Pike, however, accepts the consequences in order the save the Federation, saying, “You’re a Starfleet captain, you believe in service, sacrifice, compassion, and love.” It’s what we expect that the stalwart Captain Pike would do, but that doesn’t diminish his sacrifice at all. It’s also one of the reasons the character is so revered.

But in the SNW trailer, it’s clear that the decision to forego any chance of altering that fate has taken a serious toll on the captain. What or who inspires him to wake out of his funk and lure him back to the captain’s chair?

“Chris, I need you back, captain,” says a male voiceover at the start of the trailer, which some sleuths have deduced is Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun).

Much like Picard’s storyline that surrounded Jean-Luc’s call back to action in Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is sure to outline Pike’s journey back from the abyss initially. From the look of the dangerous landscapes revealed in the trailer, once the crew is back together aboard Enterprise, fans will likely be exposed to all kinds of exciting narrative storytelling reminiscent of the best of The Original Series, with the bonus of improved effects luxuriously displayed in the trailer.

In addition to the fascinating Captain Pike, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds offers a stellar cast fans have developed a fondness for from Discovery and Short Treks, including the excellent young Spock (Ethan Peck), Una Chin-Riley/Number One (Romijn), Dr. M’Benga (Olusanmokun), young Cadet Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) and Nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush), Lt. Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia), as well as Hemmer (Bruce Horak).

Intriguingly Christina Chong rounds out the crew, playing La’an Noonien Singh, who was confirmed to be related to Kirk’s great nemesis, Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban and Benedict Cumberbatch in the Kelvin timeline movies). In the alternate timeline movies, Pike is played by Bruce Greenwood and is killed by Cumberbatch’s Khan (in the Mirror Universe, Kirk kills Pike), although that probably won’t play into the timeline of SNW.

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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premieres on Paramount+ Thursday, May 5th, with weekly episodes to follow on Thursdays. SNW will help fill in the gap between Enterprise’s events on Discovery and Captain Kirk (William Shatner) taking over on The Original Series. My fond hope is that a young Kirk will also eventually be cast and make his way onto Strange New Worlds in a surprise cameo in later seasons.