Welcoming Capt. Pike of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (Trailer)

In the beginning, in the ?Star Trek? universe, there was only Captain Kirk. At least to the general public. William Shatner?s James T. Kirk was the smart leader sitting in the captain?s chair. He was stouthearted, eloquent, curious, fair. Kennedylike, even. He was a principled explorer committed to spreading New Frontier values to the 23rd-century stars.

And yet: Kirk could also be something of an interstellar Don Draper ? brooding, arrogant, a top-down manager who earned his privilege but also often presumed it. Despite being progressive for his era, he could be condescending to anyone but his top righthand men ? and sometimes creepily appreciative of the women he encountered.

But Kirk had actually been preceded as captain of the Enterprise by Christopher Pike ? a stoic, vague figure played by Jeffrey Hunter in a rejected 1964 ?Trek? pilot who made only a fleeting appearance in the original series, mainly so the pilot footage could be recycled. The character reappeared in two recent movie reboots, portrayed ably by Bruce Greenwood, but was never a foundational fixture of ?Star Trek? lore — until now.

?Trek? aficionados were thrilled this month to learn that Pike (now played by Anson Mount), his first officer ?Number One? (Rebecca Romijn) and the still-evolving, pre-Kirk version of Spock (Ethan Peck) would be following up their season-long stints on ?Star Trek: Discovery? with a brand-new show. Called ?Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,? it is set in the decade before Kirk takes command.

Captain Pike ? now framed through a creative lens that has captured 54 years of captaining by Kirks, Picards, Siskos, Janeways and Archers ? may be the finest, most intuitive leader that the ?Star Trek? universe has ever produced.

It?s not accidental that Pike is the son of a father who taught science and comparative religion ? an embodiment of the empiricism-faith equation that ?Star Trek? and its captains have always espoused. In many ways, in fact ? even more so than Chris Pine in the movie reboots ? Pike functions as James T. Kirk 2.0.

Both are utterly principled and committed to their missions. But where Kirk could be arrogant, Pike is steadfast. Where Kirk was expansive and welcomed attention, Pike is wary of it ? but seamlessly claims center stage when needed. Most of all, where Kirk was deeply committed to his responsibility to ship and crew ? crippled by it, even ? Mount?s Pike adds the view of himself as a humble servant-leader who derives his sense of command not only from the success of his mission but directly from the successes of his crew.

Of the many ?Star Trek? sequels and movies that have emerged over the decades, this will be the first live-action one to take place aboard the starship that started it all ? that original Enterprise. And smack in the middle, in a chair familiar to generations of fans, will sit Christopher Pike, charged with embodying everything in a half-century of ?Trek? that made captains effective and memorable.

In first developing the character that would evolve into Captain Pike, ?Trek? creator Gene Roddenberry described him as a complex personality with a sensitivity and warmth which the responsibilities of command often forces him to hide.

That was 1964. Today, for this latest captain of the Enterprise, sensitivity and warmth are no longer hidden. They?re right there front and center, along with all the complexity. And ?Star Trek?? which even in its darkest hours is about building a brighter future ? is better off for it.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on CBS.