Star Trek Guide

How Star Trek: Discovery Referenced Kirk and Brought Spock's Story Full Circle

The second season finale of Star Trek: Discovery was a game changer. The Discovery, it’s crew, and the show itself jumped 930 years into the future. Before she left, Michael Burnham left her brother, Spock, with an important piece of advice that resonates through Spock’s story in Star Trek: The Original Series and beyond.

“There is a whole galaxy out there, full of people who will reach for you,” Burnham tells Spock before she makes the jump into the future. “You have to let them. Find that person who seems farthest from you and reach for them. Reach for them. Let them guide you.”

For many classic Star Trek fans, this is a clear foreshadowing of Spock’s relationship with James Kirk. Those less familiar may assume it’s about Spock’s relationship with Captain Pike. That’s not quite right, as Discovery’s Spock actor Ethan Peck told in an interview that Spock views Pike more as a role model, where Kirk was more like a brother, perhaps, in retrospect, a new sibling to replace the one he lost.

“I think between Spock and Kirk they're almost like brother's, right?” Peck said. “It was such a magical trio between Kirk, McCoy, and Spock. They all brought these different sorts of archetypes of humanity, in my opinion. And between Spock and Pike, I think it's less defined. There's less of an exchange. I think that Captain Pike is an incredible leader, and Spock views him as that. And also, maybe secretly sees him as a mentor, as a human mentor. And that's sort of what I imagine. That's what I spoke with Anson [Mount] about when we talked about our relationship. So maybe Pike isn't quite aware that Spock looks up to him in such a way.”

Michelle Paradise wrote the finale (and will become Discovery’s co-showrunner in Season Three) and she confirmed to Entertainment Tonight that this was a deliberate allusion to Kirk. “Absolutely,” she said. “That is definitely Kirk.”

In a way, this brings Spock’s story full circle as he seems to pass this advice that Burnham gave him onto his younger self in 2009’s Star Trek. When the younger Spock asks Spock Prime why he sent Kirk back to the Enterprise instead of going himself, Spock Prime tells him it is “Because you needed each other. I could not deprive you of the revelation of all that you could accomplish together, of a friendship that will define you both in ways that you cannot yet realize.”


Knowing now how Spock’s relationship with Burnham ended, it’s easy to hear her advice to him in his advice to himself, as well as how his character arc really begins with Discovery in his mention of “faith” and “luck” later in the same scene.

What do you think of Discovery’s effect on Spock’s story? Let us know in the comments. Star Trek: Discovery will return for a third season on CBS All Access.