As has become something of a tradition with articles about the frequently postponed #StarTrekDiscovery, buried in Entertainment Weekly's report on Sasha's fate in The Walking Dead was another yet plot hint about the new show — and it confirms something fans have suspected for months.
Even before the lead character of Star Trek: Discovery was named, we theorized that she may turn out to be the enigmatic Number One, a cult-fave character from The Original Series. Later, official announcements referred to Discovery's female lead as "Number One," though they didn't confirm whether Martin-Green's character was indeed the same person as was previously portrayed by Majel Barrett.
Now, we seem to have the answer to our questions about Martin-Green's Number One, courtesy of a crafty hint from #TheWalkingDead showrunner.
The Return Of Number One
Number One is a little-known yet much-loved character from Star Trek lore. Barrett's character initially appeared in the unaired Star Trek pilot episode, featuring Christopher Pike as captain, Number One as the first officer, and Spock as the chief science officer. NBC didn't respond well to either Spock or Number One, and Gene Roddenberry compromised, axing Number One but fighting to keep Spock — a wise choice, as he would become one of the most iconic parts of the franchise. Barrett went on to play Nurse Christine Chapel in The Original Series and Lwaxana Troi in The Next Generation, as well as voicing the Starfleet computer.
Although she was cut from the show, as the first female first officer in Star Trek Number One nonetheless has a certain cult status — and she did briefly appear in The Original Series episode "The Menagerie" as part of a flashback sequence set aboard the USS Enterprise thirteen years previously, which incorporated her scenes from the unaired pilot.
Although it hasn't been officially been confirmed, we may know whether Discovery's Number One is the same one from The Original Series, thanks to a crafty hint from The Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple:
"Sonequa Martin-Green can do anything... She can fulfill the duties of a Lieutenant Commander on a Constitution-class starship whilst battling walkers, Saviors, and whatever gets in Sasha’s way. We’ve had to juggle before. I will certainly juggle for Star Trek any day of the week. Okay, maybe not on Sunday."
Although this looks like a mere passing comment, Gimple's statement contains a huge clue about Discovery's plot because, and here's the kicker — the USS Discovery is not a Constitution-class starship. But the USS Enterprise is.
Ghosts Of Starships Past
There are many starships in the #StarTrek fleet, with the classes changing over time. The Next Generation's Enterprise-D is a Galaxy-class ship, while the Constitution-class is recognizable as the classic design of the NCC-1701 Enterprise.
This fact transforms Gimple's comment from a casual reference to Trek lore, to a crucial spoiler: If, as Gimple says, Martin-Green's character serves aboard a Constitution-class vessel, it's highly likely that this ship is USS Enterprise — making her the same Number One as the character we met in The Original Series. To carry this forward into wild speculation (and let's face it, now that Discovery has been delayed again, we've got nothing better to do as we wait for the show to finally make it to air), it looks like Discovery will tie neatly in to The Original Series.
"The Menagerie" flashback scenes are set thirteen years before the events of The Original Series — and just three years before Star Trek: Discovery. So it seems likely that the new show will tell the story of what Number One did after she served under Pike on the USS Enterprise, bridging the gap between "The Menagerie" and The Original Series — and making Discovery a neat homage to Roddenberry's original plan for Star Trek.
In the Early Voyages comic, which explores the adventures of Captain Pike and his trusty Number One, it's revealed that Barrett's character has the rank of Lt Commander, just like Discovery's Number One. Notoriously closed-off emotionally, the original Number One was nonetheless brilliantly intelligent, known as the top intellect of her generation. This fits well with the concept for Martin-Green's Number One — the new show will develop her character as she is forced to adjust her perceptions based on her discovery of new life and new civilizations.
Discovery seems set to give new life to a character that was cut from The Original Series, and though it may have taken over 50 years for Number One to finally get her time in the spotlight, Discovery looks set to make up for plenty of lost time.