Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has been a massive hit with seasoned Star Trek fans and newcomers alike. Telling the tale of some of the USS Enterprise‘s earliest adventures, Captain Pike, Spock, and Number One have endeared themselves to audiences everywhere.
Much of the show’s success is thanks to the excellent casting; every character feels developed and vital to the show, from those we already know well, such as Spock (Ethen Peck), to newcomers like La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong). At the helm is Captain Pike, played by Anson Mount. After a hugely popular appearance on Star Trek: Discovery, few had doubts about Mount’s ability to lead Strange New Worlds, with many fans already calling Pike their new favorite captain.
However, Mount is uncomfortable receiving accolades, telling Esquire that Strange New Worlds is a genuine team effort. “There’s a lot of trust and camaraderie,” Mount says. “We’re having an absolute blast. We really tickle the shit out of each other.”
That enjoyment comes across onscreen, where the Enterprise crew genuinely feel like friends and colleagues, something absent from other recent entries in the franchise. However, for a while, it was uncertain that there even would be a Strange New Worlds. “But they didn’t tell me those conversations [for a spin-off] were happening. Thank God. It was interesting that they were clearly making a tremendous expenditure for the Enterprise bridge set,” Mount recalled. “Ethan [Peck] and Rebecca [Romijn] and I were all like, ‘It would be a shame to waste all that money.'”
"I called [Star Trek boss] Alex Kurtzman to talk about something innocuous. I don’t even remember what it was. He phoned me back two days later and said, “Hey, I think we got a show.” They were originally going to try to fast-track it, but then, of course, the pandemic hit. We didn’t hear anything for a long time."
Anson Mount talks Strange New Worlds season finale
While Strange New Worlds had already impressed many fans, it was the final two episodes of season 1 that won over many doubters. With Chief Engineer Hemmer killed in the Alien-inspired “All Those Who Wander” and the finale, “A Quality of Mercy,” calling back to The Original Series episode “Balance of Terror,” the show hit all the right notes.
Key to the story was a double role for Mount as Captain Pike and an alternate version from the future, complete with a red movie-era uniform. Mount says he was careful not to “overdo it” with the part. “I’m what they call an outside-in actor,” he said. “I start with the body. I just wanted to find the places where the movement was not as easy, and the voice was different. It was necessary to differentiate it a bit because I had scenes with myself. It was just necessary for the clarity of the scene. I wanted a voice that sounded like it had given up a little bit after lots of emotional turmoil.”
The finale also gave fans their first glimpse of Captain Kirk, played by Paul Wesley. Mount said he’s particularly fond of the scene where Pike asks Kirk to “Tell me about yourself.”
"Pike understands that his older self wasn’t just showing him he’s the wrong guy in the wrong place. It’s also about showing him who the right guy would be. Pike is thinking, “If this guy is going to carry on my legacy, if he’s going to take on my baby, I want to know something about him and see what’s beyond the bluster."
While many may forever see Kirk or Picard as the quintessential Enterprise captain, many may now begin to see Pike in that role. However, all three are very different, and Mount believes he knows what sets Pike apart:
"There are very few things that I know for sure. But one thing that I told [showrunner] Henry [Alonso Myers] is that at the end of all of this, we think the defining quality of Kirk is machismo or bravado. The defining characteristic for Picard, perhaps, is intellect. I would like that defining quality for Pike to be the heart. That’s the best I can put it. Hopefully, Pike can give Kirk just enough of that heart for Kirk to avoid making the kinds of mistakes that he makes in this episode."
What’s next for Anson mount and Strange New Worlds?
With season 1 having concluded and season 2 well into production, many fans wonder where Strange New Worlds and Captain Pike go next. As we closed out “A Quality of Mercy,” we found Number One under arrest, La’an gone from the ship, Hemmer dead, and Pike having learned a valuable lesson.
“I would say he’s more resolute after the finale of Season One,” Mount said. “He tried out the idea of having his cake and eating it too. It didn’t work, and strangely, when he realizes there’s no honorable way out, that’s a relief. The older Pike made it very clear: you still have a choice. But to somebody like Pike, it isn’t a choice. So this is a choice that almost makes itself, and it is a tremendous relief. He doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. His job now is to make every day count as much as possible. There’s a lot of freedom in that.”
Strange New Worlds has received acclaim from critics and fans alike, with the show still having a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many fans are upset that there are only 10 episodes a season, unlike the franchise’s first four live-action Star Trek shows. However, Mount has no intention of leaving anytime soon and wants Strange New Worlds to sit alongside Star Trek‘s biggest hits.
"To be honest with you, this job is a dream come true. But to give the Trek culture something back, I think there has to be a significant body of work to be on par with the Kirk era and the Picard era. Otherwise, I think they will feel shorted."
Season 1 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is available to stream now on Paramount+. There is no firm release date for season 2, but it’s expected to be released in 2023.