Although the two series are set over 900 years apart, the bridge crew of the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds bears a lot of resemblance to the eponymous starship’s bridge in Star Trek: Discovery. Before she became a Captain, Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) led the USS Discovery on a one-way trip to the 32nd century at the end of Discovery season 2. Months later in the Star Trek timeline, Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) resumed command of the 23rd-century Enterprise to launch a new five-year mission of exploration.
Captain Pike had an unforgettable stint commanding the USS Discovery in Star Trek: Discovery season 2. Pike led Discovery to investigate the Red Angel, a time traveler who turned out to be Michael’s mother, Dr. Gabrielle Burnham (Sonja Sohn), and to rescue a psychically injured Lt. Spock (Ethan Peck). Along with Number One (Rebecca Romijn), Pike and Spock’s guest spots on Star Trek: Discovery proved so popular that Trekkers clamored for them to get a spinoff, which became Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. But Pike’s time in Discovery’s Captain’s chair may have influenced how he chose to staff the USS Enterprise’s bridge in Strange New Worlds.
How Pike’s Strange New Worlds Enterprise Bridge Resembles Burnham’s On Discovery
Pike’s bridge on Strange New Worlds‘ Enterprise looks a lot like Discovery’s in terms of the high percentage of female Starfleet Officers. Captain Burnham’s USS Discovery‘s bridge crew has a hotshot female helmsman, Commander Kayla Detmer (Emily Coutts), and a female operations officer, Commander JoAnn Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo). There’s also Lt. Commander Nillson (Sarah Mitich), the spore drive ops officer. For a time, Lt. Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) was also Discovery’s First Officer. There are a number of men in Discovery’s bridge crew as well, including Captain Saru (Doug Jones), but the female officers have proven to be heroic standouts to complement Captain Burnham.
Captain Pike’s Enterprise echoes Discovery’s bridge crew in Strange New Worlds. Pike has his own hotshot female helmsman, Lt. Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia), and sitting next to her in ops is usually a female crewman, often the First Officer, Lt. Commander Una Chin-Riley. Security Chief La’an Noonien Singh (Christina Chong) takes her station on the bridge across from Spock’s science station, and Cadet Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) also rotates into Communications. Just like on the Discovery, there are male officers too, but the women Pike surrounds himself with on the Enterprise’s bridge get lots of heroic moments.
Why Is Kirk’s Bridge Crew So Different From Pike’s
Captain Pike’s bridge is very different from how it will be staffed when Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) takes command of the Enterprise. As seen in Star Trek: The Original Series, Kirk’s bridge crew is primarily men. He replaces Ortegas with Lt. Hikaru Sulu (George Takei) and Ensign Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) becomes the semi-permanent man at Ops in TOS season 2. Aside from the occasional yeoman who wanders in and out, Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) at Communications is usually the lone female presence on Kirk’s bridge.
Of course, the real reason for this discrepancy is TOS was produced in the 1960s, which had vastly different societal standards than today. The Star Trek shows on Paramount+ reflect 2022’s values and are more progressive, with female characters not only having more agency and character development, but Captain Burnham and Admiral Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) also get to lead their own Star Trek series. It’s awkward that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will eventually lead into The Original Series, but maybe the show will present a credible in-universe explanation as to why Captain Kirk surrounds himself with a majority of men on the Enterprise bridge.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 and Star Trek: Discovery Season 5 premiere in 2023 on Paramount+.