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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' Showrunner On Incorporating A Recent Real-Life Event And Its Impact On The Franchise

Anson Mount, Rebecca Romijn and Ethan Peck in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
(Image credit: Paramount+)

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 episode “Strange New Worlds.” Read at your own risk!

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds made its grand debut after rave reviews from critics, and now Paramount+ subscribers can see if the latest Trek series is worth the hype. The series premiere got off to a hot start with Captain Pike and crew navigating a messy First Contact situation gone awry, which was resolved by Pike referencing a real-life event in recent United States history. The premiere references the U.S. Capitol insurrection that took place on January 6, 2021, about a month before Strange New Worlds began filming. 

In the episode, Pike explained to a species that obtained warp technology and wanted to weaponize it to solve a long-standing conflict that they’re making a huge mistake. He then utilized video screens to broadcast how Earth looked in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ time period, and then flashed back to the 21st century. As Pike talked about people divided by conflict, the screen featured actual imagery from the Capitol attacks. I asked showrunner Henry Alonso Myers if they originally planned for that to be in the episode when filming began, and he explained:

No, it wasn’t. Look, Star Trek has always been a show that deals with social issues and we really didn’t want to shy away from that. It was really important for us to make sure that piece, it’s an essential piece of the Roddenberry legacy. As we’re looking at how to reinvent and reuse all those things for the 21st century we were trying to figure out how this story could speak to our time. Whenever you do sci-fi, it inevitably speaks to the present. The stories of the original series are really about the social issues of the 1960s. Just the act of doing a science fiction show that deals with social issues, whether we intend it to or not, always means that it’s going to deal with the present.

The purpose of highlighting the event, as Henry Alonso Myers described, is for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds to send a message to the viewers. As he mentioned, doing so honors Gene Roddenberry’s legacy, which is something fans often care about when discussing Trek

Some fans might not be worried about the reference to the January 6 insurrection, though the explanation did present some discrepancies in Star Trek canon. Pike also mentioned that the Eugenics War and World War III, both key events in franchise lore, happened after 2021. However, past Trek works always depicted that the Eugenics War happened in the '90s, with the rise of Khan Noonien Singh and the Augments. Henry Alonso Myers discussed the decision to move those events further out in the timeline and said:

There’s a lot of challenging canonical timeline things that get messed up between all of the many [Star Trek] shows and movies that have been made about this [time] period. Between DS9 and Next Gen, and Voyager and Voyage Home. . .we tried very hard to adhere to canon. Sometimes it’s impossible. In the original series, you know, the Eugenics Wars happened in the 1990s. We all lived through the 1990s, we know that the Eugenics Wars, to our knowledge, didn’t happen. At least, certainly not in the way they’re described in Star Trek. But, we don’t want to imply that was not real because Khan is an important character. So, you look for ways to kind of push forward.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds features the new character La’an Noonien Singh, who has some connection to the iconic Star Trek villain. As such, it seems Strange New Worlds had a decision to make, and rather than reconcile the inconsistencies with the original Eugenics War timeline, they seemingly decided to push the events out further. 

It’s possible that touching on such a controversial real-life moment will garner a response from many people, and lead to some discourse about Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ messaging. Henry Alonso Myers assured that the message they’re sending is not inflammatory and broke down Pike’s message to the species:

That moment was really about trying to suggest that right now we’re in a big moment of conflict. Perhaps this conflict that we live in is something that could lead to a terrible future that we all know canonically [happened in Star Trek]. We asked this question, ‘How is this story relevant to our time and our people’. . and the message that Pike gives is there’s a choice that society has. And that choice is they can come together and build something hopeful, or they can choose their own destruction...All that we’re trying to do is say that this is a message that is as relevant now probably as it was for the '60s and I hope would be relevant for the future. Future generations will see the episode, God willing, and they may not make a connection with that moment, but they’ll understand the message because the message is the thing that we really wanted to get out.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 will run for ten episodes and is already renewed for Season 2. The series’ episodic structure certainly lends it to be a great entry point for fans, and with a slightly different James Kirk appearing in Season 2, there’s a lot to look forward to. Hopefully the first episode is just the start of a long run for the series, and fun for the fandom. 

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds releases new episodes on Paramount+ on Thursdays. It’s the latest of many new Trek shows appearing in 2022, which will hopefully be good as what’s come so far.

Mick Joest
Mick Joest

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.