Perhaps KIRK will become the new number one in Strange New Worlds


Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Finale – “A Quality of Mercy”

James T. Kirk (Paul Wesley) could be the USS Enterprise’s new Number One in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2. Wesley’s incarnation of Kirk made a surprise debut in Strange New Worlds’ season 1 finale, “A Quality of Mercy.” However, this version of Captain Kirk, who was the commander of the USS Farragut, was deleted after Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) decided not to alter his tragic future where he will be disfigured in a delta ray accident. As a result, the reality where Pike’s mistake that leads to an endless Romulan War in his version of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Balance of Terror” will never come to be. Meanwhile, the younger Jim Kirk will return in Strange New Worlds season 2 just as the Enterprise needs a replacement First Officer.

Strange New Worlds’ season 1 finale ended with the cliffhanger of Lt. Commander Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn) being arrested by Starfleet. Number One’s backstory was finally revealed by Strange New Worlds episode 3, “Ghosts of Illyria”: Una is an Illyrian, which is a race banned by the United Federation of Planets for practicing genetic engineering and modifications. The Federation has ironclad rules against eugenics in order to prevent the creation of another supervillain like Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán). Una, who dreamed of traveling the galaxy, lied to Starfleet about her heritage. Although Number One has had an exemplary career and earned the prestige of being called the best First Officer in Starfleet, her deception was somehow discovered and she was taken into custody.

Related: Everything We Know About Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2

Una’s dilemma would logically not be resolved quickly by Strange New Worlds season 2. Number One’s plight is a thorny one that may result in Strange New Worlds’ version of a courtroom drama episode that Star Trek has traditionally done so well. Una may also spend some time in prison if her trial doesn’t go well. For however long it takes to resolve Una’s legal woes, the USS Enterprise and Captain Pike will need a new Number One to replace Una. Here’s why Lt. James T. Kirk could join Strange New Worlds season 2 and become the Enterprise’s new Number One.

Why Spock Wouldn’t Replace Una As The Enterprise’s Number One

Lt. Spock (Ethan Peck) may seem like the logical choice to replace Una as Number One but there are reasons why the Vulcan isn’t ready to be First Officer. At this point in his Starfleet career, Spock is the Enterprise’s Science Officer, which places him in charge of the Life Sciences division. But Spock’s interests are scientific pursuits and he is not on the Command track. As such, when Una Chin-Riley needed to be rescued from Riley 279 in Strange New Worlds’ premiere, Captain Pike didn’t tap Spock as his acting Number One. Instead, Pike raised Lt. La’an Noonien Singh (Christina Chong) to fill the role. La’an became Acting First Officer again in Strange New Worlds episode 4, “Memento Mori,” when Una was injured by a Gorn attack.

Although Spock (Leonard Nimoy) does become Captain Kirk’s (William Shatner) First Officer and also remains Science Officer in Star Trek: The Original Series, the younger version of the Vulcan isn’t on that unique career track (yet) in Strange New Worlds. Indeed, in spite of the close relationship between Pike and Spock and the high esteem the Captain holds for his Vulcan Science Officer, Chris apparently doesn’t see Spock as a logical fit for Number One. Pike was even surprised to learn Spock was Number One when he time-traveled to his version of “Balance of Terror.”

Why Kirk Becoming Pike’s New Number One Makes Sense

With Paul Wesley joining Strange New Worlds season 2, it’s safe to assume his role as Kirk would be significant and worthy of the Star Trek icon’s reintroduction. Having James T. Kirk simply come aboard the Enterprise as a guest star and not set him up for his future in a meaningful way would be a waste of material and his character. Una’s storyline is following its logical course by seeing Number One face the consequences for lying to Starfleet and, subsequently, it’s the ideal scenario to place Kirk on the Enterprise in her stead, especially with La’an unavailable because she’s been decommissioned and left the Enterprise.

Related: Strange New Worlds Just Proved Captain Kirk IS Better Than Pike

At this point in Kirk’s career, he’s a Lieutenant stationed on the USS Farragut, but Jim has also instructed at Starfleet Academy and served on the USS Republic. Kirk is already on a celebrated track to becoming Captain (one of Starfleet’s youngest at age 32). By Strange New Worlds season 2, Kirk is in his mid-20s but he’s a shooting star meant for Command and running his own starship. Placing Kirk on the Enterprise as Pike’s new Number One would be an impactful use of the character and it would pave the way for Kirk’s eventual takeover as Captain in six years’ time.

How Kirk Joining Strange New Worlds Season 2 Doesn’t Break Canon

One canonical hurdle for Strange New Worlds season 2 is the issue of when Kirk met Captain Pike. In the TOS two-parter, “The Menagerie,” Captain Kirk said he met Pike when he was promoted to Fleet Captain before noting that he took over the Enterprise from Chris. The simplest way to solve this would be for Pike to be promoted to Fleet Captain in Strange New Worlds season 2. Being raised up to Fleet Captain wouldn’t mean Pike has to be removed from the Enterprise’s Captain’s chair but it would be a logical laurel given Pike’s already legendary Starfleet career. Further, it would preserve Kirk’s comment in “The Menagerie” and allow Strange New Worlds season 2 to fill the heretofore unknown details of Pike and Kirk serving together on the Enterprise.

Pike Could Groom Kirk To Become Captain Of The Enterprise

When Pike and Captain Kirk parted at the end of Strange New Worlds’ finale, Chris told Jim that he felt they were meant to meet, and the younger Captain agreed. After they got to know each other, Captain Pike likely suspected that Kirk is the man who is meant to take over the Enterprise after Chris is gruesomely disfigured by his delta ray accident in 2266. Or, perhaps Pike decided that Kirk should be the man to be the next Enterprise Captain. To wit, Pike studied Lt. Kirk’s Starfleet service record to assess him. All of this happened before Una Chin-Riley’s arrested, but it leads nicely to the possibility that Pike will tap Lt. Kirk to transfer from the Farragut and serve as his new Number One on the Enterprise.

If this scenario comes to pass, Strange New Worlds would set up the direct continuation of the Enterprise by having Pike groom Kirk to replace him as Captain in the future, just as Pike served as Captain Robert April’s (Adrian Holmes) First Officer. Kirk appointed as Acting Number One would also allow him to work alongside Spock and finally show Trekkers how the future eternal best friends meet in Star Trek canon. Further, Kirk would work alongside Cadet Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), who may become an Ensign in Strange New Worlds season 2, Nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush), and Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), setting up why they will remain on the Enterprise after Captain Kirk takes over. Of course, it’s hard to believe Una won’t return to the Enterprise and resume as Number One sooner rather than later in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 but until she does, James T. Kirk may well be the officer who keeps the spot of Number One warm for her.