Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

That Major Cameo In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Means More Than You Might Realize

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" is a treat for "Star Trek" fans, and there are several reasons for this. These include the return to an episodic format, the retro-futuristic set, the reinterpretation of beloved characters, countless Easter eggs, and, of course, the chance to fill in the gaps in the lore of the Federation and Starfleet. And "Strange New Worlds" wasted very little time in dangling these revelations in front of us.

For example, in the very first episode – also titled "Strange New Worlds" – a recently returned Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) is seen repeatedly asking the whereabouts of a Lieutenant Kirk. Anyone even vaguely familiar with "Star Trek" will think they know who they're expecting.

In the episode's closing moments, though, we finally meet this hitherto elusive Kirk. Only it's not the Kirk we were expecting. This isn't James Kirk (who we already know will be played by Paul Wesley) — It's his brother, Sam (Dan Jeannotte). "How's the family?" asks Pike, who also informs the crew that he'll be working in the field of life sciences, under the supervision of Spock (Ethan Peck), no less. It's a fun little tease, stringing us along a little further. But it also signifies much more than that.

Sam Kirk dies in The Original Series

Go back to "The Original Series," in particular the Season 1 finale, "Operation — Annihilate!" This is when Captain Kirk (James, that is, played of course by William Shatner) and the crew of the Enterprise receive a distress call from Deneva, a Federation colony, requesting help in fighting a deadly mind parasite. Among those residing in the colony is James' brother, whose full name is George Samuel Kirk. When James and the rescue party arrive, he finds his brother Sam (also Shatner, though sporting a mustache), already dead. 

The events of "Operation — Annihilate!" take place, like the rest of "The Original Series," about a decade after those of "Strange New Worlds." This means that there is now a second character on board Pike's Enterprise whose doom has been foretold to us. By now, just about everyone is aware of Pike's own fate, the catastrophic accident that leaves him paralyzed, speechless, badly scarred, and bound to a brainwave-operated mobility scooter (via IGN). It's covered in the harrowing episode of "The Original Series," "The Menagerie," and reconfirmed in the "Star Trek: Discovery" episode "Through the Valley of Shadows." Only this time, it's in the form of a premonition.

Much of Pike's arc, through the first episode and first season of "Strange New Worlds," is his effort to come to grips with the gruesome accident, still a decade off. Is his fate written in stone? Or is he able to change it now that he knows of it? Sam Kirk's own story might provide a hint. Perhaps we should all keep an eye on him.