Star Trek Strange New Worlds was right about Pike and Kirk


Anson Mount as Captain Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Captain to the bridge.
ScreenshotDecisive

Time and circumstances mean that before the miracles of Strange New Worldsthe thought of seeing Star Trek Captains Pike and Kirk together was an unlikely thing. After all, Pike only existed in the realm of trek‘s original pilot, itself subsequently reimagined for an episode that forever closed the door to his future on the show. But Strange New Worlds enjoyed the opportunity to merge these two legends.

Image for article titled Strange New Worlds' Captain vs.  Captain Scene is Star Trek's new gold standard

Ask a Star Trek fan of their favorite captain and sure, they may give you some noble reasons, but they’ll probably just as much elevate their choice by belittling the other captains who have led generation after generation Star Trek show. Sometimes we have to imagine that for our pick to be as truly good as we think it is—the Starfleet ideal—the other captains we’ve met must be flawed in some way.

So when Strange New Worlds‘ The delightful finale of the first season, ‘A Quality of Mercy,’ made up for the shock of the introduction of Captain Kirko of Paul Wesley a little earlier than we expected, I mentally braced myself in a way that surprised me. Used to be Strange New Worlds is about to get his own hero a little dirty now that he can get his hands on the most iconic one Star Trek character ever? How would the series, already busy So much in his finale, dealing with the specter of Kirk’s legacy as you pit him against the captain we’ve come to know and love in this first season?

Image for article titled Strange New Worlds' Captain vs.  Captain Scene is Star Trek's new gold standard

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And for a moment it almost seemed like “A Quality of Mercy” wawill go there. As a run-through of the episode of the plot of trek “Terror Balance” icon reaches a climax from the classic episode – the Company chasing his Romulan enemy by using a comet’s wake to see through his cloaking technology – Pike takes a worse turn in the original role of Kirk, the latter in this alternate retelling of the scenario aboard his own commando on the USS Farragut† Pike is confused when the Bird of Prey is nowhere to be seen once the two ships navigate around the comet. Pike hesitates where Kirk instinctively reacted in the original episode – and is duly rewarded for his break with a surprise attack from the Romulans, one that cripples the Farragut and let the Company severely compromised in the process. After the necessary decision to Farragut crew to the Company is made and Kirk thanks Pike for his help, the two share a private conversation in Pike’s quarters… and Kirk goes in on Pike for his hesitation.

It’s the most candid we’ve ever seen Strange New Worlds hero go against one of their own. Crucially, though, “A Quality of Mercy” doesn’t treat this as a failure for Pike, or perhaps just as crucially, that Kirk is wrong for wanting to be more tactically aggressive against the Romulans, as he ultimately is in “Balance.” A lesser episode would have portrayed Pike’s overriding willingness to compromise and peacefully end conflict as a naive mistake, or Kirk’s. aggressiveness as a basic, impulsive streak that Starfleet officers should rebel against. A lesser episode would indeed have made Kirk and Pike’s foil a wedge of conflict between them in this regard, but thankfully this isn’t what we have. Instead, Kirk and Pike’s respective weaknesses are not played as such, but as strengths, and the two captains never argue about who has the right idea. They’re just both good men with two different approaches, and may they coexist rather than the episode that somehow represents the perfect path to success highlights the bond of respect we see growing between them.

Image for article titled Strange New Worlds' Captain vs.  Captain Scene is Star Trek's new gold standard

ScreenshotDecisive

Because really, we finally see in this new timeline that neither captain’s approach worked. Pike’s desire to bring the Romulans to the table and negotiate a peace not seen for a hundred years is noble, but it prevents him from being as tactical as Kirk in working out the goals of the Romulan- ship. And while he comes so close to finding common ground for the Federation and the Star Empire to build on, his plan could never explain that a whole host of other Romulans aboard that ship are ready and willing to take on a ​to start a fight. Even Kirk, who plays out his aggressive tactics by assembling a fleet of remote mining vessels to act as Federation backup when Romulan reinforcements arrive, can find no opening against the overwhelming aggression of the Praetor and her troops. Both men’s belief in the way out of their situation hits a wall in the sense that sometimes things just don’t go the way you planned, and sometimes failure is the only option. The Company and Kirk escape badly wounded, but the Romulans are victorious and encouraged to wage a war with the Federation that, should this timeline continue, could claim the lives of billions.

And yet at the end of “A Quality of Mercy” Pike and Kirk part ways with a down-to-earth respect for each other. As brash and such a sore loser as we might sometimes characterize Jim Kirk in our heads, he never beams at Pike in their understated farewell that would have worked his way. Pike never criticizes Kirk for his aggressive tactical acumen delivered too little or too late or escalated the situation to the point that it broke as bad as it did. They accept that the other just had other ideas with merit, and regret that they didn’t get a chance to get to know each other before an almost hopeless scenario like the one they found themselves in.

Thereby, Strange New Worlds navigated one of the biggest proverbial elephants in the room with confidence. Who has Pike vs. Need Kirk when you can just have them both?


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