Ending months of speculation that had begun as soon as we saw the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 in Episode 15 of Star Trek: Discovery, CBS All Access announced today that actor Anson Mount will be joining the cast for Season 2 as Christopher Pike, Captain of The Enterprise. Mount jumped on Twitter to make his own announcement:
“Cat’s out of the bag. Yep, I have officially joined Starfleet, a dream I’ve had since around the age of 8 when I first discovered TOS [Star Trek, The Original Series] syndicated on my local access channel in middle TN [Tennessee]. And I couldn’t be more excited about playing PIKE!”
Anson Mount is an American actor better known for his work on television. From 2011-2016 he was seen in the AMC western drama Hell on Wheels where he played Cullen Bohannon. In the Fall of 2017, he appeared as the superhero Black Bolt in Marvel’s The Inhumans. This is his first time working on a Star Trek series.
During the recent WonderCon panel, Discovery showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg suggested that Pike and the Enterprise would become a significant part of Season 2. However, they stopped short of saying whether Science Officer Spock – who was a young member of Pike’s crew – would appear as well. Although Discovery is set roughly a decade before the beginning of TOS, the events depicted in The Menagerie are stated to have occurred thirteen years before James T. Kirk succeeded Pike as captain. That would mean those events happened three years before Discovery Season 1. Harberts said the opportunity to bring Pike onto Discovery would allow the writers to “delve into and flesh out a character who I think is a pretty darn heroic and selfless captain.” This statement gives one the impression that Pike will be a reoccurring character throughout Season 2.
Mount is the fourth actor to portray Captain Christopher Pike. The others are film actor Jeffrey Hunter (The Searchers, King of Kings), Sean Kenney, who played Pike as a paralyzed and speechless Fleet Captain in TOS episode The Menagerie, and Bruce Greenwood who played Pike in the J.J. Abrams-directed film reboot. Mount does bear a striking resemblance to Jeffrey Hunter.
Pike was first introduced as the lead character in the unaired 1965 Star Trek pilot, The Cage. Hunter’s Pike was portrayed as a respected and experienced Starfleet officer who was expressing some disillusionment with the weight of his responsibilities. A recent mission to Rigel VII had resulted in the death of three crewmen with seven others severely injured. The guilt of those deaths was weighing on his mind. In the pilot Pike questions whether to resign his commission in order to pursue a different type of life. His debate is put on hold when they receive a distress call from those claiming to be the survivors of a lost survey vessel and are redirected to Talos IV. NBC found the first pilot to be “too cerebral,” and in an unprecedented move, ordered a second pilot be produced. Hunter was encouraged to shoot the new pilot but declined the offer. He told the press:
“I was asked to do it, but had I accepted, I would have been tied up much longer than I care to be. I have several things brewing now and they should be coming to a head in the next few weeks. I love doing motion pictures and expect to be as busy as I want to be in them.”
The new pilot reworked the ideas Gene Roddenberry had introduced and added more action for a new captain at the helm, James T. Kirk. The rest is history.
Footage from the unused pilot was eventually incorporated in the two-part story, The Menagerie. The new story would take place thirteen years after the events depicted in The Cage. Spock kidnaps his former captain to return him to Talos IV. By that time Pike was promoted to fleet captain. He is severely injured while rescuing a group of cadets from an explosion on a training vessel. Exposure to delta ray radiation would leave him paralyzed and unable to speak. His only way to get around and communicate was through a brainwave-operated wheelchair.
Mount will be the third actor to reintroduce an established Star Trek character from the original series to a new generation of fans. Just as Discovery’s writers did by casting Rainn Wilson in the role of Harry Mudd and James Frain as Spock’s father, Sarek, we predict Captain Pike will play a significant role in the upcoming adventures of The Discovery. We can’t wait!