‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 2 Cast: Who Is Captain Christopher Pike?

The Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 cast is rapidly expanding. This week saw the announcement of two new roles, with Tig Notaro (In a World) cast as Chief Engineer Denis Reno of the USS Hiawatha and Anson Mount (Hell on Wheels) set to play Captain Christopher Pike of the USS Enterprise. While Notaro’s character is brand new, serving aboard an unseen ship, Mount’s character, Christopher Pike, has deep Star Trek roots, stretching all the way back to the very first episode of Star Trek: The Original Series.  

Christopher Pike was captain of the Enterprise before James Tiberius Kirk, taking over from the illustrious ship’s first captain, Robert April, in the 2250s and serving until 2262. His first appearance in The Original Series came in the first season two-parter “The Menagerie,” though his origins precede even that episode. Pike was first introduced in Star Trek ’s first, rejected pilot, “The Cage.”

In “The Cage,” Captain Pike, played by Jeffrey Hunter, chases a distress signal to Talos IV, where he falls into a trap set by big-headed psychic zookeepers known as the Talosians, who feed of the emotional reactions of their captives (including “aliens” in gorilla and chicken suits) to painful or pleasurable illusions. Their big plan seems to involve breeding Pike with a captive woman named Vina.

“The Cage” is a fascinating look into one possible future, where Star Trek is terrible. Moralizing, repulsively sexist and bland, it’s easy to see why Gene Roddenberry was sent back to the drawing board after this first pilot attempt. Much of “The Cage” feels like a funhouse mirror version of what Star Trek would become, especially the episode’s portrayal of Spock, who has a broader emotional range than Pike.

While “The Cage” wouldn’t air in its original form until 1988, some of the episode’s footage was recycled for “The Menagerie,” which reintroduced Pike, this time mute, disfigured and played by Sean Kenney. This is probably the most famous iteration of Pike, thanks to his beeping, Star Wars Imperial Mouse Droid-looking, oft-parodied wheelchair.

fry-christopher-pike-star-trek-discovery-futurama Christopher Pike in "The Menagerie" vs. Fry in an episode of "Futurama." CBS Television Distribution / 20th Television

“The Menagerie” writes Pike a depressing end. After his stint as captain of the Enterprise, Pike was injured during a training drill. Spock, risking his rank, returns Pike to Talos IV so the Talosians could envelop him in illusion once more, freeing him from his broken body. What had been a horrible prison in “The Cage,” staffed by psychic torturers, becomes Pike’s hospice in “The Menagerie.”

The most recent iteration of Captain Christopher Pike doesn’t fare much better. Rebooted in the 2009 Star Trek, this time played by Canada’s treasure Bruce Greenwood, Pike recruits Kirk into Starfleet and gets tortured by the Romulan war criminal Nero (Eric Bana). Then, in Star Trek: Into Darkness, he’s killed by Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch).

star-trek-2009-christopher-pike Bruce Greenwood as Admiral Christopher Pike in "Star Trek Into Darkness." Paramount Pictures

Except for “The Cage,” all of Christopher Pike’s appearances take place after the events of Star Trek: Discovery. Mount will play a Pike who has defeated the Talosians, but has yet to be irradiated in a training incident. We know from “The Cage” that Pike is a boring doofus terrified of hellfire, so presumably Discovery will pursue a new interpretation of the character in Season 2.