Could a Star Trek series with Captain Pike be the next spin-off?
The second season of Star Trek: Discovery – affectionately called Disco by fans, because it's a better nickname than ST:D – drew to a dramatic finish with the two-parter 'Such Sweet Sorrow' last week.
Having rather dug itself into a hole with its various deviations from established canon (How come Spock never mentioned having an adopted sister? Why was the Spore drive never used in The Original Series? What happened to the USS Discovery?), Disco just about pulled off a course correction.
It sent Michael and her crew into the far-flung future, with the crew of the Enterprise ordered, on Spock's recommendation, to never speak of them again "under penalty of treason".
With that, Spock, Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and Number One (Rebecca Romijn) set course for a new adventure, back on track with events as established by the original series.
For Spock, that eventually means serving on the Enterprise under James T Kirk. For Pike, it means a devastating accident that leaves him paralysed, badly scarred and unable to speak. Number One's future beyond this point has never been depicted in Trek beyond appearances in various non-canon books and spin-offs.
For fans, there was enough wiggle room for a USS Enterprise series to feel like a credible and exciting prospect, with cries ringing out across the internet for Pike, Spock and Number One to get their own spin-off.
A Change.org petition urging CBS All Access to "consider adding another Star Trek series to [its] line-up" started up three weeks ago and is currently going strong with, at the time of writing, over 23,000 signatures. No mere drop in the ocean.
There's nothing story-wise preventing a Pike-led series from happening, either.
The last thing Trek wants to do is tie itself in more knots, especially after working so hard to disentangle itself from its last canon conundrum. But, as we explored previously, there's a substantial gap between Pike's tragic accident and where we left him, Spock, and Number One at the close of Discovery's second season.
The character of Pike (originally played by Jeffrey Hunter) first appeared in Star Trek's unaired pilot episode, 'The Cage', set in 2254, with the events of episode 'The Menagerie' – which reintroduced the character, scarred and in a wheelchair – taking place in 2267.
Pike's accident – getting caught up in a radiation leak – happened at some undetermined date in the late 2260s, with his Discovery appearances occurring in 2257. That still leaves roughly a decade's worth of story to tell.
The biggest obstacles to the spin-off would appear to be more practical in nature.
CBS TV Studios president David Stapf might have suggested that his "goal is that there should be a Star Trek something on all the time on [CBS streaming service] All Access" – ie a string of Trek shows running consecutively all year round – but it takes time to pull these kinds of things together.
Discovery was the start of something, birthing an entire new universe of shows including three animated series and the much-anticipated Picard spin-off with Patrick Stewart. But Picard – or whatever it ends up being called – won't premiere until late 2019, with a Section 31 spin-off fronted by Michelle Yeoh as 'Mirror' Captain Philippa Georgiou still "a good couple of years away".
The good news is that Trek overseer Alex Kurtzman, who set a five-year deal in June 2018 to expand the franchise, has responded to the demand for a Pike/Spock/Number One show, and he's making positive noises.
"The fans have been heard," Kurtzman told The Hollywood Reporter. "I would love to bring back that crew more than anything.
"One of the most gratifying things is to see how deeply the fans have embraced Pike, Spock, Number One and the Enterprise. The idea of getting to tell more stories with them would be a delight for all of us."
It's also clear that, for his part, Anson Mount is more than open to the opportunity of revisiting Pike:
But with the best will in the world, it'll still take time to hash out deals, get a green light and bring all the required pieces together.
If there is a Pike spin-off, it won't be happening anytime soon – in the meantime, a comic book miniseries exploring the gap between 'Such Sweet Sorrow' and 'The Menagerie' is coming from IDW Publishing.
We're still keeping our ganglia crossed for a live-action series, though. 50-plus years after 'The Cage' was passed up by NBC, there'd be a certain poetry to Captain Pike finally getting to front a series and take the USS Enterprise on bold new voyages.