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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Static Thoughts - 7 Cameos to Expect in Star Trek Discovery

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Currently, we don’t know much about the upcoming Star Trek Discovery.  There’s been a lot of outdated information thrown around in the wake of Bryan Fuller’s departure from the project.  Combine that with the show’s string of delays and the show’s early positive buzz has given way to a low background hum.  However, I’m still hopeful the series will turn out good, and there is at least one thing we know about it- the time period of its setting.  The one consistent piece of news about Star Trek Discovery so far has been that the show will be another prequel to the original Star Trek series. 

A lot of folks have taken this news hard given the last time this was tried it gave us Star Trek: Enterprise, but I actually enjoy Enterprise, so I’m willing to look on the bright side, in particular, all the doors this time period opens up.  Specifically speaking the show will be set after the events of Enterprise but prior to Star Trek, the original series.  Given that I’m a massive Trekcionado, I’ve come up with 7 things from across the Star Trek franchise we can expect to cameo in Star Trek Discovery. 

This is kind of a bizarre entry in how much it’s the product of the new Trek films.  Captain Pike was in the original series and actually holds a moderately important role in Trek canon but he was never as visible as he was during his time in the reboot series.  He was the captain of the original Star Trek pilot episode Cage and then appeared later in a catatonic state in the episode ‘Menagerie.’  That was pretty much the long and short of his role in the original series and, given that, I wouldn’t really expect him to pop up in a new Trek show as only hardcore fans really care about him.  

However, then he appeared in the new Star Trek films as a major supporting character indoctrinating Kirk into Star Fleet.  Given his prominence there I would definitely expect a version of Captain Pike to make his way into the upcoming show.  We know that Star Trek Discovery is set in the original timeline IE separate from the continuity of the recent films so they’d be free to give us a take on Pike that’s somewhere between his kindly friend of the family turn in Star Trek (2009) and the more undefined version we got from the original Star Trek pilot. 

This is one of a handful of ideas that I think we’ll see in Star Trek Discovery that were originally meant to be part of the unproduced fifth season of Enterprise.  For those not in the know, the Romulans, one of the major villain races in the Star Trek canon, fought a prolonged nuclear war with the Earth in the last days before the formation of the Federation.  It’s referred to in TOS as one of the bloodiest conflicts in the modern history of Earth, a war of violent nuclear attrition in which neither side even laid eyes on the other.  

A lot of the ground work for this conflict was laid in Enterprise, with the Romulans trying to torpedo relations between the Vulcans and the humans before any kind of alliance was formed, with a lot of Vulcan animosity tracing back to Romulan influence.  I’m not sure we’ll the entire Earth-Romulan war, as was planned with Enterprise, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of our characters were veterans of the war or if its immediate fallout informed this series, both figuratively and literally. 

This is probably the most likely entry on this list as it’d require the least work from anyone involved.  Scott Bakula is still alive and doing acting gigs, with his own NCIS spin-off currently bounding through the airwaves, so getting him to come be on an episode or two of Star Trek Discovery would be an easy sell.  We know Archer was alive up to the early days of the TOS era in the new movies thanks to Scotty referencing him in the 2009 reboot so it stands to reason he’d still be around in the main timeline too.  

Getting Bakula on board to come out and tell Xindi or Romulan war stories, maybe even touring the new ship, would be a great bone to the fans and a nice way to build a sense of continuity between Discovery and the previous universe of Star Trek TV.  They could even expand this if they wanted to, bringing in some of the other members of Enterprise that are still around.  

Sadly, the show’s best character Trip Tucker wouldn’t work and it’d be difficult to justify bringing back Jeffrey Combs’ Shran but you could easily bring back Dr. Phlox or Hoshi Sato or even T’Pol if Discovery’s getting too fun and needs a wet blanket for an episode. 

Another scarpered idea from Enterprise season 5 was to further explore the origins of the group known as Section 31.  Section 31 owe their origins to Deep Space 9, the objective best Star Trek series, even though that show was never totally clear about how they functioned.  

We knew they were a group acting outside of the Federation and Star Fleet but with tacit approval from Star Fleet command.  Their mission is to protect the Federation from all threats by any means necessary, specifically setting themselves apart from the Federation in terms of morality. 

Where the Federation holds themselves to a high ethical standard, Section 31 is willing to go to any distance to protect the Federation, mainly because they believe in the Federation’s message of tolerance and socialist utopia even if they don’t think that ideology is fit to protect itself.  It’s a real knife edge of a concept but a good one and, thanks to Enterprise, we know Section 31’s origins go back to the founding of the Federation and extend into the remnants of Earth’s special forces and intelligence agencies.  

At a time when the deep state intelligence agencies have grown more opaque, less trusted, and shockingly instrumental to our national identity Section 31 would be a great facet of the Star Trek universe to explore. 

One last entry from the Enterprise days.  The Borg are probably Star Trek’s most popular villain this side of Khan, they’ve never transitioned to the ally side of the table save for a few episodes of Voyager and even then they ended up double crossing everyone anyway.  They’re the perfect ratings bump and the fact Enterprise already introduced them to the pre-TOS era is the perfect answer for how to get them into Discovery.  If you’ve never seen Enterprise, the idea is that when the Borg traveled back in time in Star Trek: First Contact a few of them ended up lost in the past and were later re-activated by human scientists.  

The Borg were defeated by Captain Archer and his crew but not before they sent a message to their civilization deep in the Delta Quadrant.  Enterprise season 5 had intended to further explore the origins of the Borg, which would fit with Voyager’s established idea that the Borg had been visiting the Alpha Quadrant prior to their first contact with Picard.  Any episode that dealt with them would need careful handling but it could end up a real gem for a new Trek show. 

This one is a very hardcore Trek nod but it’d be a great edition and possibly a nice way to settle a long-standing legal feud.  So, the character of Garth of the Izar was introduced in the original series episode ‘Whom the Gods Would Destroy.’  He was a Federation general who won the pivotal battle of Axanar and became a legend.  Sometime later he was driven insane and committed to a Star Fleet asylum for the criminally insane, which is where he was in TOS.  However, the timing of his major battle would mean he was most likely active during the period Star Trek Discovery is set.  

It’s never been officially stated what happened at Axanar, only that it’s the reason the Federation held together and that humans and Vulcans are able to work together.  There are all kinds of theories, from a Klingon attack to a Vulcan/Earth conflict, and some fans took it so far they made an entire fan movie about it.  

2014’s Prelude to Axanar was a fan film with a ludicrous budget and actual stars built around the titular battle.  It was due for a release before it entered litigation hell against Paramount Pictures, but a chance to get some elements or actors from it into canon via Discovery would be a nice finale to the story. 

There are a lot of unique elements from the original series that, by all logic, would’ve existed well before they were discovered by the Enterprise.  They’re all fine and dandy elements to bring, but the Galactic Barrier is something else.  When the initial Star Trek pilot ‘Cage’ was founded too cerebral and lacking, NBC commissioned Roddenberry to produce a second pilot with almost all new characters save for Leonard Nimoy’s Spock.  

That episode, entitled ‘Where No Man Has Gone Before,’ was about the Enterprise encountering a kind of energy barrier at the edge of the galaxy.  Upon crossing the barrier they found crewman Gary Mitchell was transformed into a being with increasingly god-like powers that Kirk eventually had to defeat, which served to set the tone for the rest of the show. 

The main thing setting the galactic barrier apart from the rest of the TOS ephemera is its place in the real world history of Star Trek but there is one other interesting element.  In the episode it’s established that the Barrier had first been discovered by another ship, the USS Valiant.  The Valiant had encountered the same events as the Enterprise, with one of their crewmen developing omniscience and being driven malevolent by it.  

However, in the Valiant’s case the Captain was unable to defeat the crewmen and instead detonated the ship.  I’ve always maintained that that plot sounds perfect for a horror adaptation so if Star Trek Discovery wanted to finally give us the last flight of the USS Valiant in a one-off episode I’d definitely be on board.   

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