Star Trek: Discovery in its second season cast Anson Mount as Capt. Christopher Pike. Pike was the captain of the USS Enterprise before James T. Kirk took command for its famous five-year mission. Jeffrey Hunter played Pike in the original pilot episode of Star Trek, “The Cage.” The studio then shot a new pilot with William Shatner as Kirk. “The Cage” didn’t air until 20 years after Star Trek’s original run, but footage from the pilot appears in the two-part Star Trek episode “The Menagerie.” Discovery already revisited “The Cage” and “The Menagerie” once, bridging the beginning and end of Pike’s story as fans know it. It does so again in this week’s episode, “Through the Valley of Shadows.”
This article contains SPOILERS for the Star Trek: Discovery Season Two episode “Throughout the Valley of Shadows.” Continue at your own risk.
In “The Menagerie,” Spock, who served under Pike aboard the Enterprise, commandeers the ship with Pike onboard and sets a course for Talos IV. Pike suffered severe injuries from radiation while rescuing cadets after an accident on a training vessel. His body is scarred and paralyzed. He’s confined to a moving chair, and, despite a functional mind, can communicate only through crude lights and beeping sounds.
“The Menagerie” tells its audience of Pike’s accident, but it does not show it happening. “Through the Valley of Shadows” shows it not only to its viewers, but to Pike years before the event will take place.
In “Through the Valley of Shadows,” the USS Discovery follows one of the mysterious signals it has been tracking to Boreth. Boreth is a planet sacred to Klingons and the site of a monastery. It is also home to the rare mineral known as “time crystals.” Pike believes that if Discovery obtains a time crystal, it can help stop Control from eliminating all sentient life in the universe.
Given the sensitive politics at play, Pike decides to go himself to retrieve the time crystal. There, he’s greeted by the Timekeepers who guard the crystals. One of them -- the son of L’Rell and Voq, aged by his work with the time crystals -- guides Pike to the crystals. He's warned that there will be a price to pay if he wants to take a time crystal back with him.
Upon touching the time crystal, Pike sees a vision of his future. He sees the accident that scars and cripples him as well as a vision of the chair that he will sit in after the accident. He snaps out of the vision, and the Timekeeper tells him that he can avoid this fate by leaving the crystal behind. Taking the crystal makes this future unavoidable. Pike remembers that he is a Starfleet captain. He recalls everything that means to him. He refuses to throw it all away to avoid an unpleasant future. He takes the time crystal from Boreth back to Discovery.
This adds a new wrinkle to Pike’s story. It makes what was random misfortune into a willing sacrifice, restoring Pike’s agency in deciding his future. His ultimate fate, per "The Menagerie," is being allowed to live out his remaining days in a telepathic paradise on Talos IV. That end feels more earned now than ever.
What do you think of this new revelation in Pike’s story? Let us know in the comments. New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery become available to stream Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS All Access.
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