As the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery grows ever nearer, some crucial details have been revealed on what the show will be about. We know the era (10 years before The Original Series), the lead character (a female lieutenant commander), and that the show will focus on an important "incident" in Federation history, one which has not been explored in depth before.
Naturally, these tidbits of news have sent fans into a flurry of speculation. Considering the era setting, many are wondering if we'll get to see characters we know and love in Discovery.
Thanks to some crafty hints from showrunner Bryan Fuller, it looks like this is more likely than you might expect. And we may even have met the lead character before...
Number One Gets Her Turn
Last week we speculated that the mysterious female protagonist could be Number One, Captain Pike's first officer in the unaired pilot of The Original Series. After recent updates, this may well be the case — whilst speaking to the radio show Nerd World Report, Bryan Fuller revealed that the protagonist of Discovery will be known as Number One.
"When we introduce our protagonist, she is called 'Number One' in honor of Majel Barrett's character in the original pilot. And as we were first talking about the series, talking to CBS, we said initially we will only call this character Number One."
In The Original Series, Number One's real name was never revealed, and while Fuller wanted to to continue this tradition in Discovery he continued to clarify that we will learn her name before the end of Season 1.
But is this the Number One we know and love? Fuller did not specify whether this character is the same as the one played by Majel Barrett. Considering Riker was also called Number One by Picard in The Next Generation, this lieutenant commander could be an entirely new character, taking the title of Number One only as an homage to Barrett's role.
There's also the fact that Fuller has previously hinted that the lead of Discovery will be a woman of color, explaining to Moviefone that she was inspired by Mae Jamison, the first female African American astronaut — who was herself inspired by Lt Uhura in TOS.
We probably won't find out until the casting is released, but it's possible that this Number One isn't actually a returning character. However, there are other classic characters we already know might appear.
Spock's Mother Has A Role
Amanda Grayson is a fascinating character. A teacher from Earth, Amanda met and married the Vulcan Sarek, and her appearances in The Original Series showed her to be a loving, compassionate woman — who nonetheless had a wry sense of humor and a sharp wit. Despite being unversed at first in Vulcan culture, Amanda was a quick study and adapted to their ways.
There's plenty left to explore with Amanda's character, as we still don't know how she met Sarek, and what role she played in the Federation.
As one of the first humans to marry a Vulcan, and live on Vulcan with her new family, there's no doubt that Amanda was a trail blazer — and she would have faced her fair share of prejudice from humans and Vulcans alike.
When speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour, Fuller said this of Amanda's potential role in Discovery:
"I love that character. I loved Winona Ryder’s portrayal of her [in the 2009 movie] and it’s a great character. It would be fun in some iteration of this show to incorporate her and her storyline. She’s not a central part of the show but we love that character."
Naturally, if we meet Amanda in Discovery, it's possible that we might see a younger version of Spock, too.
Early Androids & Starfleet's Use Of Articial Intelligence
Although The Next Generation was the only Star Trek show to feature an android as a main character, Discovery will explore this subset of beings too: During the press tour, Fuller revealed "there will be robots" in Discovery.
This is very exciting. Data's presence on The Next Generation raised a lot of questions about the status of artificial intelligence in the Federation, and Starfleet's perspective of androids. The episode "The Measure of a Man" addressed this, as Commander Maddox proposed to dismantle Data in order to research his composition, with the end goal to create a race of androids to serve the ships of Starfleet.
It seems ludicrous that Starfleet would support such a plan, as Data clearly possessed sentience and consciousness, but Picard was forced to plead against this in a Starfleet hearing, arguing that Data should be awarded the same rights as any other sentient beings in the Federation.
With this in mind, it's quite surprising to learn that Discovery will feature robots. Does Fuller mean mechanical robots like the droids in Star Wars, or is he referring to more sophisticated androids? It's worth noting that there was one person experimenting with androids and artificial intelligence in this era: Dr Roger Korby, who appeared in The Original Series episode "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
Korby disappeared in 2261, but before he went into hiding to complete his plans to replace the population of the galaxy with perfect android clones, he conducted his exobiological research while teaching at Starfleet Academy. With Discovery set around 2255, it's possible that the "robots" in Discovery are creations of Roger Korby.
In any case, it looks like the Federation's views on artificial intelligence may have been challenged long before Picard argued for Data's rights, as Discovery will reveal.
And The Rest...
While Fuller wants the first season of Discovery to focus on new characters, he did reveal to Moviefone that classic characters could appear "eventually". Here are the ones we think are the most likely candidates:
- T'Pol, from Enterprise — the Vulcan first officer became a Starfleet Commander in 2154, and was a prominent character in the Federation's fledging years.
- Dax — Jadzia then Ezri Dax were leading characters in Deep Space Nine, and with Dax's long history it's possible that one of the previous hosts could appear, most likely Tobin (a starship mechanic) or Emony (a gymnast with a romantic connection to Dr McCoy).
- Kor, Koloth, and Kang — these three Klingon warriors appeared in both TOS and DS9, and if Discovery explores clashes with the Klingons (as has been rumored), these characters would strike a connection to other Trek shows.
Of course, with the time setting there's a wealth of characters we know of that existed at that time, and it's almost impossible to guess which ones we'll see.
Which characters would you like to see return in Star Trek: Discovery? Tell us in the comments!