The Enterprise is back! Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing for Discovery is whole different conversation (that I touch on in this previous article) but The Enterprise brings with it a huge bunch of questions. How big of a role will the ship play in the show going forward? Will we see the inside of the ship? Which of the crew members from the first TOS pilot ‘The Cage’ will we see in Discovery season 2? I imagine the interior of the ship will stay hidden for the most part and that Captain Pike and Spock will beam over to the Discovery for a several-episode story arc that will begin the second season. Spock seems almost a definite with there being little reason for Burnham to be his adoptive sister and for Sarek to be onboard the Discovery if he’s not going to appear. Pike also seems likely considering he’s the Enterprise’s captain at this time (a couple of years after the events of ‘The Cage’ where he was portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter) and he gets specifically mentioned in the final scene of season 1. We know fairly little about Pike in the canon, his Kelvin Timeline counterpart may or may not be representative in the Prime Timeline, other than he was more sensitive and conflicted about his job than Captain Kirk. Oh, and he was a little bit sexist too; the line “I can’t get used to a woman on the bridge” springs to mind. So, who could play this modern version of Star Trek’s oldest captain? Below are my four casting suggestions:
Do I really need to show my reasoning for Jon Hamm as Pike? I remember writing about how I wanted Hamm to be the captain of the Discovery when the show was first announced but now that the role of Pike is available he’d be the perfect choice. Mad Men is one of my favourite shows and while Jon Hamm is a versatile actor, Don Draper is a similar to Pike in many ways. He’s sensitive and damaged on the inside despite his cool exterior, he’s a hit with the ladies and he’s sexist too. It remains to be seen if Pike’s sexism will be swept under the rug, some other things from ‘The Cage’ are ignored/changed later on in TOS, but Hamm is great at showing his flaws and negative opinions and yet still being charismatic and sympathetic. One of my favourite Mad Men moments is when Don fires Sal, a gay Sterling Cooper employee, after he is wrongly accused of sexual harassment towards a male client and at the end of scene Draper says, “You people”. It’s a sad moment that our lead character would be homophobic but Jon Hamm manages to sell the moment as much as he charms the audience and that conflict in the audience of how we should feel about this character now is what makes him such a good actor. It’s not just Pike I’m waving my Jon Hamm flag at either. I’m hoping he’s Batman now that Affleck seems to be done with the role and hell, if he could get the accent right he’d be a great James Bond when Daniel Craig gives up the role.
So this, along with a casting suggestion for Zachary Quinto as Spock, is an obligatory proposal for Pike. With the Kelvin timeline still ongoing (?) and Discovery trying to skewer the fans of those films for its own audience it makes sense for a little interconnectedness between the two. Sure, you want to keep the timelines separated and not confuse fans but with Pike dying in Into Darkness it seems logical that people will be able to realise this isn’t the same Pike or timeline. Greenwood was great as Pike in the two JJ Abrams movies and I’d like to see him tackle a different version of the same character; the differences between the two portrayals could actually differentiate the two timelines and make it clearer than having a new actor play the role. Despite having the same actor for Pike, we could still have new actors for his Number One, who has since been named as Una, and Dr Boyce if they should appear considering they were not in the Kelvin movies.
Discovery seems to be borrowing from Battlestar Galactica a fair amount. Maybe it’s just how sci-fi TV looks nowadays but the lighting, visual style and general vibe of Discovery matches with BSG, the ‘Ash Tyler is a secret Klingon’ subplot felt very Cylon inspired and even Rekha Sharma who played Tory Foster in Battlestar appeared in three episodes of Discovery as Landry/Mirror Landry. So why not have one more carryover from Battlestar Galactica by casting Jamie Bamber, Lee “Apollo” Adama, as Captain Pike. He’s a great actor who is used to the genre and will be embraced by fans, can play both the sensitivity and gruffness that ‘The Cage’ Pike had and he even appeared in the very first episode of the fan series ‘Star Trek Continues’ showing he’s a fan of the franchise.
I feel a little weird suggesting Jason Sudeikis for Pike; not because he’s primarily a comedy actor but because I’ve never really liked him. I’m sure he’s a nice guy but it’s rare I enjoy him in anything, he’s never made me laugh and his episodes of “It’s Always Sunny…” are the ones I rarely go back and rewatch. I’ve not seen ‘Race’ or ‘Downsizing’ yet but even though I don’t like his comedy that much I think he can be a fantastic dramatic actor (see his turn in ‘Colossal’) and I’d like to see him take on Star Trek. In the stuff I’ve seen him in he’s often in the ‘charming asshole’ role and while I’ve never found him charming, he does do asshole incredibly well and that’s a route the writers could easily take Pike in, playing up his sexist attitudes and not liking that Discovery has to come to the aid of the Enterprise.
Who do you want to see portray Christopher Pike in Star Trek Discovery? What did you think of Discovery’s debut season? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.
Bruce Greenwood? I can’t imagine anyone else right now that would fit.