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This page contains information regarding Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and thus may contain spoilers.


Just as Captain Pike thinks he’s figured out how to escape his fate, he’s visited by his future self, who shows him the consequences of his actions. (Season finale)

Summary

Teaser

"Captain's log, Stardate 1457.9. The Enterprise is on the edge of the Neutral Zone, a narrow band of space separating the Romulan Empire from the Federation. A remnant of a treaty of a hundred years ago, when a destructive war was waged between our two cultures. Enterprise and the USS Cayuga are here to help the outposts that guard the Neutral Zone with much needed retrofitting and supplies."

In his quarters aboard the Enterprise, Captain Pike is hard at work over the stove as Captain Batel enters, noting that they had spaghetti the previous evening. Pike corrects her by saying he was making pasta mama, saying that by adding eggs and parmesan cheese, lightly sautéed, one could turn leftovers into something new. Batel compares this idea to what they're doing with the outposts, and Pike considers that "not as tasty". Batel has heard rumors that the Romulans are developing new weapons, but Pike dismisses them as "bogeymen"; no one had ever seen a Romulan, or even knew what they looked like, yet they got blamed for events along the Neutral Zone. "Some actually their fault," Batel replies, before commenting that she thinks she missed the beard Pike had worn the last time they met. Pike thinks it belonged to a "different era of captain", but Batel had thought that was what he was going for, a "man out of time". She asks how he was holding up, and he remembers "somebody" told him he had better places to be, so he was trying to be there. When she asks how that was working, he replies simply, "You tell me." As much as she loved his being "mysterious", she had a "date" on the far side of the Neutral Zone; when he asks who with, she clarifies it was "not that kind of date". He tells her he was making osso bucco the following week. Batel admits she always looked forward to what the "Chris of tomorrow" would be, beard or no beard, and asks him to surprise her, before leaving to return to her ship.

In the conference room, Pike, Una, and Spock meet with Commander Hansen Al-Salah of Outpost 4, who reminds them that the outposts were on their own that far from the core worlds and asks how they intended to handle their supply chain problems. Una explains that under the proposed retrofit directive, each outpost would receive a state-of-the-art matter synthesizer that would create whatever they needed using the materials of the asteroids the outposts were built on. Spock adds they would also receive a full complement of automated mining craft. When Pike asks what he thinks of it, Hansen answers that it was all he had asked for the past five years. The door opens to reveal a young boy who was excited to meet Captain Pike. Hansen explains that his son Maat dreamed about joining Starfleet. On hearing the boy's name, Pike suddenly freezes, not hearing Maat's question about feeling the vibrations of the ship while at warp… then rises and quietly excuses himself. Hansen quickly apologizes for his son being so excited, but Pike assures him it was fine, saying he is feeling unwell, and that Una and Spock could handle what he needed.

As he walks back towards his quarters, Pike is almost in a daze, as he hears the sounds of the future he witnessed on Boreth in his mind, so much so that he almost doesn't hear Una calling to him until she was right next to him. She remembers that Maat was one of the names he mentioned, and Pike admits he hadn't expected it. He knows that two cadets will die in the accident that will cripple him, and Maat was one of them. Una assures him he does not need to face this alone and asks what he will do. He is not sure, but is determined to do something, as he enters his cabin.

Looking over the list of the names – children in the present, cadets in the future – Pike brings up Maat's picture, showing the boy as having been born on the outpost in 2248, and his achievements in science and sports. Pike begins to dictate a letter addressed to Maat, saying he was gratified to see he was interested in Starfleet, but believes he should know something about the future, the last word almost a question. "You'll figure out how to say it," a voice says behind him. "Trust me." Pike quickly turns, demanding to know who the stranger is. "Thought that would have been obvious," the other replies – revealed to be an aged version of Pike himself, wearing a Starfleet uniform from years in the future, with the insignia of a rear admiral. "I'm you."

Act One

Admiral Pike, from a possible future – and not a good one

Admiral Pike walks over to the counter and picks up one of the knives, apologizing to his younger self, saying the room brought back a lot of memories. Captain Pike begins to ask if it was some kind of joke; Admiral Pike finishes the sentence, and says it wasn't. The captain then begins to ask how he could believe it was actually him (the sentence again finished by the admiral). "You ever gonna let me get a word in edgewise?" Captain Pike asks irritably; Admiral Pike replies that he knew he was going to say that as well. Captain Pike has served long enough to know not to take the word of someone who just shows up in his cabin and claims to be his future self. Admiral Pike proves who he is by mentioning that Pike's first pony was named Sir-Neighs-a-Lot, he broke his leg in a rainstorm, and his parents had to put him down; the young Pike cried for a week afterward. Admiral Pike asks if he ever told anyone that, and Captain Pike makes clear he didn't, because it's hard to give a tragic backstory with a silly name (the latter part of the sentence being completed by the admiral again, who apologizes).

Admiral Pike gets to the point, saying that the letter Captain Pike was about to write was going to wreck the future. When Captain Pike asks how and why, the admiral lays out the facts again: Two cadets would die in that accident in seven years' time, and Maat would be one of them. Captain Pike was trying to figure out how to save both the cadets and himself, and the admiral reveals that he would do so – or rather, they would do so. He would write to all the cadets, telling them not to be there on that day, but like with all "time-bending stuff", it would have unforeseen consequences. Captain Pike doesn't see how saving the cadets and himself could be bad, seeing his future self there as being proof that he could pull it off. Admiral Pike agrees, and that was the problem. He points out that causality was complex, and that the letter to Maat was the first domino in a chain reaction of events that would lead to catastrophic results, altering the future in ways that they never intended to change. Captain Pike thinks his future self sounds like the Klingon monks from Boreth. "Who do you think sent me?" the admiral replies, adding that they had given him something to show his past self. He opens a small box, containing a time crystal, saying it would show Captain Pike the effects of changing his fate. The admiral grimly tells his past self that this was serious, "end of the world stuff", but he knows that the man he was would not put his own fate above the fate of the galaxy… which was how he convinced the Klingons to let him show his past self instead. When Captain Pike asks instead of what, Admiral Pike reminds him how Klingons preferred to solve their problems with a bat'leth, meaning they would kill Pike to preserve the timeline. Captain Pike hesitates, remembering his past experience with a time crystal vision, but reaches out and touches the crystal.

As the world reshapes around him, Pike suddenly finds himself elsewhere aboard the Enterprise, officiating at a wedding. Wrongfooted, he asks where he was in the ceremony, and the bride reminds him about what he had been saying about the tradition of captains officiating over weddings since the time of seafaring on Earth. Trying to get into the role but realizing he does not know the names of the two crewmen in front of him, Pike is grateful to be saved by the sound of the computer signaling red alert. Spock then calls from the bridge, identifying himself as "Number One" to Pike's confusion, before reporting that Outpost 4 was under attack by "a space vessel, identity unknown". Pike acknowledges, and heads to the bridge.

Pike arrives on the familiar but still different bridge, asking for a status update. Spock tells him that Lieutenant Uhura can brief him further. Pike sees some familiar faces – Mitchell and Ortegas at the helm – but still appears somewhat bewildered, as Uhura reports Outpost Four reporting the attack before the message terminated. Trying to adjust to the situation, Pike asks for updates from Outpost 2 or Outpost 3. Uhura reports that 2 has not responded to hails, and 3 has also gone silent. Ortegas reports they were eight minutes out from Outpost 4. Pike asks if the outpost identified the attacker, but Uhura reports no identification. Ortegas guesses it was the same attacker for all of them: the Romulans. Pike muses for a moment, saying they should not make guesses just yet, as he would like to avoid a war if possible. He asks to be alerted when they were two minutes out and asks Spock to join him in the ready room.

Pike discovers the year is 2266, seven years from the present he knows. Spock thinks this to be a Human joke, but Pike makes clear he is serious, calling it "time crystal stuff". Approaching it logically, Spock believes time travel unlikely, and thinks it more likely that Pike is compromised mentally, and as first officer it was his duty to assume command. Pike assures him he is not mentally compromised and asks what the logical solution would be in that case. As Spock is about to suggest going to sickbay, Pike proposes a mind meld to prove his sincerity. Spock kneels in front of his captain and begins the meld. He sees the accident that should have crippled Pike and is stunned by the realization. Calling his captain "Chris" (something he did not do in Pike's present), Spock tells him he carries the burden of a terrible future and reveals the accident in question occurred six months earlier. There were no cadets to save, and no one on the ship was even injured. Pike asks for Spock's help, believing he was sent to that moment in time for a reason. Spock posits that since the accident never occurred, Pike would remain captain of the Enterprise at a crucial moment in the ship's history. In the "prime timeline", some other captain would have commanded things differently, so Spock urges Pike not to command any differently than he normally would. Pike had thought the whole idea was to prevent a terrible future, but Spock believes they had to discover why the future Pike believed this to be a worse future. "So the only way to discover the terrible future is to live it," Pike sums up grimly.

The USS Enterprise arriving at Earth Outpost 4

The Enterprise arrives at the broken remains of Outpost 4, debris scattered all around. Ortegas holds position just outside weapons range. Spock detects only debris, no sign of any attacking ship. Pike orders him to triple-check before asking Uhura if there were any ships in range in case they needed backup. Uhura reports the USS Farragut is closest, a couple hours away, adding that it was La'an's ship. Pike is slightly surprised at this but covers by saying he had forgotten. Just then, Uhura receives a audio-only hail from Hansen at Outpost 4. This also surprises the captain, who had only spoken to the commander what felt like mere moments ago, but he asks for a status update. Hansen reports that Outposts 2, 3, and 8 were gone, destroyed by an unknown weapon. The transmission is interrupted by static in places, but the commander goes on to report that the outposts' deflector shields were at maximum, and that they were hit by "enormous power", and the first attack blew out their shields, worrying about what will happen if they attack again with their shields gone. Pike asks who or what attacked, but Hansen could not identify them, as it happened so fast, and the attacker had disappeared somehow. He switches to visual, showing the wreckage of his command post a mile beneath the solid iron asteroid, caused by the attacker's weapon. Pike asks if Maat was there with him. "No, thank God," Hansen replies. Pike asks what he could tell about the attacker. Hansen reports no identity, though he believes the weapon was some kind of high-energy plasma. Then the ship disappeared, but he is sure it is still nearby. Suddenly, his sensors detect movement nearby, and switches to the sensor feed. The attacker is a Romulan Bird-of-Prey, which appears for just a moment before firing off its plasma torpedo. The impact throws Hansen back in a burst of fire, before the asteroid itself shudders and explodes. The Bird-of-Prey then disappears again. Spock finds it interesting how they appeared just for a moment, perhaps necessary to use weapons. Ortegas insists they engage them, but Pike points out they had nothing to follow. Spock attempts to analyze the ship's movement patterns.

Mitchell then reports a warp signature incoming, with Uhura adding that they were being hailed by the Farragut, specifically by her captain, James T. Kirk. Pike is surprised to recognize him as Sam Kirk's brother, before he orders the channel open. Kirk greets his fellow captain and offers assistance, saying the Farragut had received Outpost 4's distress call and pushed warp nine as long as they safely could. He asks if they knew who the attacker was. Ortegas pipes up that they had a pretty good idea, but Pike firmly responds that they were attempting to determine conclusively. Spock offers a potential lead, mentioning that the ship has some kind of cloaking device, but still has a noticeable gravitational signature. Kirk asks if it can be tracked, and Spock replies that theoretically, they could determine its approximate location by detecting the microlensing of background stars. Pike asks where the intruder was now. Spock brings up the approximate location, saying they were moving at a "very leisurely maneuver", theorizing that since they had to decloak to fire, the cloaking device must also affect their sensors, meaning (as Kirk puts it) that not only could they not see the attacker, but the attacker could also not see them either. Spock projects its course as 111 mark 14, the exact heading a Romulan vessel would take back towards the Neutral Zone, and home. Ortegas thinks it obvious that the attackers are the Romulans, and they had to be taken out. Pike reminds her that Starfleet is clear about breaching the Neutral Zone, as it would be an act of war. Ortegas asks if destroying three Earth outposts was not also an act of war. Pike counters that if they attack the Romulans without authorization, the Federation would consider them expendable. Kirk agrees with Pike and offers another option: they could shadow the ship on a parallel course. If the Enterprise and the Farragut matched the Romulans move for move, the Romulans might consider them a reflection. Pike concurs, and orders Uhura to contact Starfleet to ask for permission to engage, before telling Kirk they would talk later. Once the channel closes, Pike tells Spock to have Sam Kirk come up to his ready room.

Sam asks if they were "off the record"; at Pike's nod, he acknowledges that Jim was always ahead of his class, and he was smart and highly skilled, but not above relying on charm or even luck. Pike calls him a "wild card". "A whole deck of 'em," Sam confirms, saying that Jim didn't like to take the path everyone else did, and he didn't like to lose. Pike wonders if they should be worried that he would start a war. Sam admits he considers Jim a "huge pain in the ass", but he is also as fine a captain as Starfleet has, even if he bends the rules all the time. Spock then calls Pike back to the bridge, as there was something he should see.

Uhura has detected a signal on an unused EM frequency coming from the comet Icarus IV, directly ahead of them. It was encoded, and Spock was attempting to decipher, but she believes it to be from the enemy ship. Spock reports the transmission was cut off, but they were able to make a copy, which he believes is the feed from the enemy bridge. Ortegas eagerly thinks this will mean they will find out what the Romulans look like. Pike has Spock put the transmission on screen. An image of the Romulan commander appears on screen, showing him to have pointed ears similar to Vulcans. All eyes on the bridge suddenly turn to Spock, most looking stunned, and Ortegas looking somewhat accusatory. Spock's only reaction is a raised eyebrow.

Act Two

Captain Kirk beaming aboard the Enterprise

As the Enterprise and the Farragut approach the comet, Captain Kirk beams aboard the Enterprise, where he is greeted in the transporter room by Pike and Sam. He hugs his older brother, before remarking on "quite the ship" they had there, something Sam translates as jealousy.

In the conference room, Pike notes the silence, and points out they would not get out of the problem by not talking about it. Ortegas agrees, thinking Spock should explain himself. Spock assures her he was as surprised by the Romulans' appearance as she was. Kirk agrees that it did seem suspicious – not the similarity, but the fact they would reveal it now. The Romulans knew the Vulcans and Humans were long-time allies, so perhaps they allowed the Starfleet ships to see the transmission in order to sow discord. Even ignoring the "pointy-eared elephant" in the room, Ortegas also points out they were about to lose their prey. Mitchell reports the Romulans would return to the Neutral Zone within an hour. Kirk does not think they could wait, and they had to make a choice there and now. Spock reminds them of the power of the Romulan plasma torpedo, and the weapon in conjunction with their cloak gave them a tactical advantage, even against their ships working in tandem. Dr. M'Benga asks what exactly they would be working in tandem for – to destroy the Romulan ship? If they were lucky enough to do that, wasn't that technically an act of war? Ortegas quietly reminds him that the Romulans started it, but M'Benga counters that they were not in a schoolyard; billions of lives were at stake. Pike assures them all that he wanted to hear their opinions. M'Benga is firmly against war. Ortegas agrees, but that means destroying the Romulans. Kirk wonders what would happen if the attacker returned to Romulus to report to their leaders that the Federation wouldn't fight back, saying he leans towards attack. If they allowed the Romulans to destroy their outposts without repercussions, they ran the risk of war. Pike remains sure there was another way forward. To Pike's surprise, Spock also believes they should attack. If the Romulans were an offshoot of Vulcans, and he believes they are, then attacking was their only option. He tells them that Vulcan had its own "aggressive colonizing period", savage even by Human standards. If the Romulans had retained this martial philosophy, then weakness was something they dared not show. Ortegas thinks there was hope after all, if she and Spock could agree.

Kirk adds a potential alternative Pike is looking for, asking Spock to project the comet's trajectory, with the Romulans headed for the comet's tail. While they couldn't be spotted while cloaked, particle distortion from going through the tail would reveal their location; both ships would be flanking from either side, penning them in and allowing them to lock on weapons. Pike thinks it a good plan.

"Captain's personal log, Stardate 1709.2. Per Captain Kirk's plan, we are mounting a pincer move. Our two ships will slowly drift closer as the Romulans remain unaware. When they pass through the comet's tail, giving us their exact location, we will be in weapons range. Kirk, however, has agreed to my plan to neutralize, not destroy, the Bird-of-Prey, leaving open the possibility of dialogue. And yet, I remain concerned this brash young Starfleet captain follows his own rules. I can't help but wonder: is Kirk the reason I was sent here? If I wasn't here to stop him, would we be led into a war?"

Pike orders Ortegas to maintain present course but be ready; she promises to keep her "foot over the gas", just in case. Spock still detects the Romulans' gravitational distortion. The Farragut is also in position and holding course, Kirk asking to hear the moment the Enterprise spots the Romulans. The two ships pass through the comet's tail… and see nothing. Kirk realizes something is wrong; Spock concurs, as they should have seen the Romulans by now. Suddenly, the Bird-of-Prey decloaks behind the Farragut. Both ships order red alert. As the Bird-of-Prey opens fire on them with its disruptors, Kirk orders attack pattern Tiberius 4, bringing the ship around to open fire on the Romulans. The Bird-of-Prey launches its plasma torpedo, which smashes through the saucer of the Farragut, disabling the ship. Kirk urges the Enterprise to fire phasers to draw the Romulans' attention, but Pike is concerned about hitting the Farragut, as well as being out of range. After a moment, however, he orders Mitchell to fire full phasers. One blast manages to clip the Bird-of-Prey's port nacelle. Pike orders hailing frequencies to try and keep the Romulans' attention. The Bird-of-Prey fires another plasma torpedo, and Pike calls for the crew to brace for impact. The torpedo hits, but not as seriously as to the Farragut; Mitchell reports damage to decks six, seven, and nine, and weapon control was down. Pike wonders how they were alive at all, as the weapon should have destroyed them. Spock speculates the weapon was less effective when fired at long range. Pike then asks for the status of the Farragut. The scans show the ship will lose life support within the next five minutes; Ortegas can get to them within thirty seconds. Pike calls Chief Kyle and tells him to warm up the transporters, as they were about to be tested to their upper limits.

Pike heads down to the transporter room, where La'an is leading a group of survivors from the Farragut. She calls for them to clear the pad, as there was one more group coming, before spotting Pike. To his surprise, she hugs him, saying she was glad to see him. Pike didn't remember her being much of a hugger, calling her "lieutenant"; she corrects him by saying she was a commander now. He then asks if she's spoken to Una; La'an looks confused, saying (as if he would know) that Una was not allowed contact. The last group beams aboard, including Captain Kirk, who demands to speak with Pike.

Alone in Pike's cabin, Kirk vents his frustration: "You flinched. You deliberated and we lost." Pike points out that they fired, and were fired upon, and that was why Kirk was still there. Kirk is struck by the idea that from the start, Pike wanted to cripple rather than destroy the Romulans. Pike coldly warns him not to question his combat readiness simply because they had differing viewpoints. Kirk does not back down, saying that Pike's caution meant not putting everything he had into the punch, which was a good way to lose; the enemy would see that and act accordingly. Pike wonders why all the rage over a second's delay. "Tell me I'm wrong, Captain, and I will back down," Kirk challenges him. Pike acknowledges that Kirk was more willing to take risks than he was but reminds him that he was saying that on Pike's ship, because he had lost his own. Kirk concedes that point, before adding that he had underestimated the Romulan commander, and would not do so again. Just then, Spock calls them both to the bridge.

Spock was able to get a scan of the Bird-of-Prey before it cloaked. It was trailing trilithium fragments, meaning their power supply was damaged – they would not be able to return to Romulus. Its heading was still taking it back towards the Neutral Zone, but the Enterprise could overtake them. However, the Enterprise's offensive capabilities are limited; the phasers were down, and the torpedo tubes took damage in the attack. Kirk points out the Romulans don't know that, but Pike counters that they would figure it out if the Enterprise pulled up on the Bird-of-Prey's "six" and couldn't fire. Pike orders hailing frequencies, acknowledging that the Romulans had ignored them thus far, but decides to "take a risk". As the channel opens, Pike identifies himself and his ship, saying that their two cultures had been at war for a hundred years, long enough where they didn't even question it. However, he believes they could make a different choice there and now. He offers a temporary ceasefire so that they could talk, for the first time in a century. After the channel closes, Kirk concedes Pike's move was "unexpected". Pike knows the Romulans want to destroy them, but they also wanted to get home, and knowing what the other wanted was key to a successful negotiation – assuming, Kirk points out, they can be negotiated with. They would soon find out: Uhura reports the Romulans are hailing them. "Captain Pike, it is good to make your acquaintance," the Romulan commander greets him.

Act Three

Pike knows the Romulans attacked the outposts on their side of the Neutral Zone, but also knows that their two cultures had been at war for generations without having been face-to-face. He doesn't know why the Romulans attacked Earth in the past, or what Earth did in retaliation, but knows only that they were still paying a bill written long before either of them were born. Perhaps it was time to reconsider the cost. He believes they had two choices: they could destroy each other with what power they had left or try something different – try to understand each other. If they didn't, the war between their peoples would continue unabated, and the cost for that was sure: Death. The commander acknowledges that their peoples were indeed different, as in Romulan culture, Pike's words would be considered weakness. He asks what purpose dialogue would serve, save to delay him, or indeed why he should listen to Pike at all. Pike points out that both ships were damaged; the Romulan cloak was unstable, which left them vulnerable to the Enterprise's weapons. Perhaps they had enough power to attack, or even to get back to Romulus without repairs. Conversely, perhaps the Enterprise could marshal its weapons and destroy them before they make it to the Neutral Zone, or even chase them across the border, destroy them, and get out before anyone's the wiser. The commander asks what Pike proposes. Pike offers a "good faith gesture": a two-hour ceasefire, so they could each repair their ships and bury the dead. After a tense moment, the commander agrees.

As the channel closes, Ortegas firmly believes the Romulans could not be trusted, having blasted the Farragut right in front of them. Pike quietly tells her to stand down, but Ortegas protests that they couldn't let the Romulans get away with it. Pike again tells her to stand down, much louder this time, and she meekly acknowledges. As Pike resumes the captain's chair, Spock reports the Romulans have stopped their forward motion. Kirk wonders what they were doing over there. "Hopefully, same thing we are," Pike replies grimly.

Aboard the Bird-of-Prey, the subcommander on the bridge protests against the ceasefire, calling it "Federation weakness", and asking if it was not the Romulan way to attack when given such an advantage. The commander is committed to the ceasefire and orders all hands to make repairs to the engines, otherwise they would not make it back to Romulus. The subcommander believes they should prioritize repairs to the weapons; the Federation had given them the advantage, and they should use it before the "ridiculous" ceasefire ended. The commander takes him aside to speak in private, trying to recall if it was the subcommander's fourth mission; the younger officer replies it was his third. The commander recalls serving with the subcommander's uncle Tarqan during the Reman campaign, something the subcommander was aware of; he calls his uncle's death a great victory for Romulus. The commander acknowledges Tarqan's bravery, but calls his commander a fool, forcing them to attack without weapons. He considers Tarqan's death a waste and calls it stupid, saying it made them weaker. Because he is old enough not to care what others think of him, he expresses the belief that pride was not something they could afford. On his ship, they would look at the world clearly, not based on ego. He again calls for engine repairs first, then weapons, before asking if the subcommander was arrogant enough to believe he knew better than his superior. The subcommander replies he is not. The commander thinks this good, as he needs his officers; he does not know if the "peace game" they were playing with the Federation would work, but he had to see it through, thinking it a good thing if they achieved it. "And if not?" the subcommander asks. "Then you'll get your war," the commander replies, before dismissing him back to his station.

In his ready room, Pike offers Spock coffee, looking over a PADD. When Spock replies that he drinks tea rather than coffee, Pike (without looking up) offers him tea instead. Spock declines, causing Pike to chuckle; he is reassured that Spock was still the same even in the future, before lamenting how so much had gone wrong: the loss of Outpost 4, the destruction of the Farragut. Any of those could bring the dark future he was warned about, but he can't help but feel something worse was coming. Spock reminds him that typically, no one can know the future in the moment; one could only follow one's instincts and hope the truth will present itself. Pike then asks what happened to Una. Spock reveals that she was sent to the Federation penal colony on Salius VI, where she has spent the last seven years. When Pike asks why, Spock mentions "her deception"; he is confused, having thought Pike knew about it years ago. The door chimes, heralding Captain Kirk. Spock leaves to personally supervise repairs on the phaser array. Pike is aware that Kirk wants him to change tack, but (mirroring the Romulan commander's exact words) pride was not something they could afford. Kirk admits he would have wanted to destroy them, but it wasn't his call. Where they were now, he didn't know if the Romulans couldn't be trusted, but he didn't know if they could, either, and neither did Pike. Pike concedes the point. Kirk offers a backup plan, just in case negotiations fail. The two-hour ceasefire gave the Romulans time to repair their ship, but being on the edge of the Neutral Zone, perhaps they could also summon reinforcements. What if the Enterprise did the same? Pike reminds him that they were on the far end of Federation space, and just reaching Starfleet took days; it would be weeks before any help arrived. Kirk counters that the Romulans didn't know that, before asking to borrow a shuttle.

Meanwhile, Spock is in a Jefferies tube, working on the ship's phaser array, before calling out to try it now. An engineer with a Scottish accent confirms that was the circuit the auto-repair was having trouble with, calling it "very fused". Spock reminds him that they had less than two hours to repair the phasers. "I'm an engineer, not a miracle worker, Mr. Spock," the engineer protests.

As they reach the two-hour mark, Pike asks for an update. Mitchell reports engines online, but weapons were still down. Spock reports only that they were "working on it". Uhura calls the two-hour mark, and a tense silence takes hold on the bridge for a moment before Pike orders a channel opened to the Romulan ship. He asks the Romulan commander if his crew has finished repairs; the commander answers by asking if Pike's crew has finished theirs. Conventional wisdom would call for them to resume hostilities, remembering how the commander had said doing anything else was a sign of weakness. However, there was one thing at which Humans were not weak: their willingness to see a partner rather than an enemy, which they considered an act of faith and strength, not a failure of character. He asks if the Romulans had that kind of strength. The commander admits that he too tired of endless war, which leads to a feeling of relief on the bridge. That feeling is soon broken by the arrival of multiple signals from the Romulan side of the Neutral Zone – dozens of Romulan warships coming out of warp.

Act Four

The commander is unpleasantly surprised by the arrival of the Romulan armada, having not called for them. The subcommander reveals he made them aware of their situation, again expressing his belief the Federation showed weakness, and that it was the Romulan way to strike; since his commander would not, he took matters into his own hands. The commander chastises him for disobeying a direct order, but the subcommander counters that if he had not engaged in negotiation, he would not have had to. Their mission had been to test the Federation's strength, and they showed that they lacked it, believing they should have destroyed the Enterprise the moment that became clear. The commander sees that the younger officer does not remember a time without war, but he does, asking who would win an endless war with the Federation. The subcommander is confident that the Romulan Empire would prevail, but the commander reminds him that an endless war, by definition, could not be won, lamenting that Pike would not trust his word now. The subcommander thinks that does not matter now, as Pike would soon be dead. The commander gestures to the security officers to take the subcommander off the bridge before turning back to the screen, a look of angry resignation on his face.

Aboard the Enterprise, Uhura reports the Praetor's flagship is hailing them. The female Romulan who appears on screen brusquely informs Pike that she was there to accept his unconditional surrender. "Nice to meet you, too," Pike replies before identifying himself, and asking who he was addressing. She identifies herself as the Praetor, the political leader of the Romulan Empire, and adds it was customary to kneel. Pike replies that as he was not Romulan, he hopes she will forgive him if he doesn't, then expresses confusion; the Enterprise was still on the Federation side of the Neutral Zone, as the Romulan fleet was still on theirs, and yet she demanded his surrender? The Praetor replies that the Enterprise is surrounded, and they had one minute to surrender or be destroyed. "You know, I don't like her," Pike sums up after the channel closes. Mitchell then reports a perimeter alert, dozens of ships incoming… Federation signatures. Captain Kirk hails from the lead ship, offering the "reinforcements" Pike requested; it had been a hundred years since anyone had seen the Romulans, and since they didn't know what Romulan ships looked like, he thought the Romulans might not know what theirs looked like either. He has assembled a fleet of automated mining craft and haulers, not one of them manned, but perhaps the Romulans might consider them a Federation armada. Pike compliments the "sneaky son of a bitch" for his ingenuity. Kirk hopes it's enough to bluff with, and that Pike doesn't get them into a real fight. Pike promises to do his best, before asking Spock for an update. Spock reports they were making progress, but the conduits were badly damaged. Pike urges him to work faster; they would need the phasers soon, or they would not need them at all.

The Praetor hails again, and Pike has Uhura keep a secure line open to Kirk so he can listen in. He asks Kirk if he was ready to sell their deception. "Ready as I'll ever be," the young captain replies. Pike orders the channel opened, revealing his armada of "Delta-class attack ships", and hopes he will not have to use them. The Praetor calls it an "act of unparalleled aggression" on the border of their territory, but Pike calls it a "standard training maneuver" along the border, just like what the Romulans were doing. What was an "act of unparalleled aggression", however, was the attack on their outposts along the Neutral Zone. The Praetor falsely claims ignorance, but Pike transmits the sensor record from Outpost 4 just prior to its destruction. The Praetor smugly observes this, before wordlessly issuing an order. A Romulan ship decloaks and breaks formation – the Bird-of-Prey the Enterprise had been chasing. The Praetor calls it a "culling", saying the commander should not have let himself be caught. Pike orders the channel to the Praetor paused, before hailing the Bird-of-Prey. The commander is pleased to speak to Pike again, assuring him he did not call for the fleet. Pike offers to beam his crew aboard, but the commander replies that it was not their way. He regrets that he met Pike in this way. "You and I are of a kind," he says. "In a different reality, I could have called you friend." Pike asks what purpose it would serve to die in this way, and the commander answers that he and Pike were "creatures of duty". "Just one more duty to perform," he says. He tells Pike not to be upset, as he has accepted his fate, but hopes his sacrifice will end the conflict between them. Returning to his station, the commander and his bridge crew brace themselves as the Romulan armada opens fire, destroying the Bird-of-Prey.

The Praetor hails again, saying that the fleet was stronger now, and she was ready to accept Pike's surrender. Pike asks if that was how she wished to end a hundred years of peace, but she scoffs, asking what peace meant to a Romulan… before thanking Pike for showing just what easy targets the Federation would be. The Romulan fleet begins opening fire, and Pike orders evasive maneuvers, before calling Kirk to return to the ship, as they were preparing to warp out. However, Ortegas reports warp engines are not responding. The drone fleet suddenly moves to engage. Pike realizes Kirk is directing them forward and asks what he was doing. "Covering your escape," Kirk replies, urging him to get the engines repaired. He has positioned the drones between the Romulans and the Enterprise. One of the Romulan ships fires a plasma torpedo which obliterates a drone close to the Enterprise, throwing most of the bridge crew to the deck. As they gather themselves back to their stations, Mitchell reports Kirk has beamed aboard, and Ortegas adds that engines are ready. "Hit it," Pike orders, and the Enterprise jumps to warp just as a plasma torpedo narrowly misses them. Damage reports come in from all decks, but the worst is yet to come: Uhura is monitoring a Romulan transmission on all subspace channels… they have declared war on the Federation. Mitchell reports that decks five, eleven, twelve, and twenty-two all reported breaches, and weapons control took a direct hit. Pike realizes Spock was in weapons control, and heads into the turbolift to sickbay.

Pike enters sickbay to see the wounded being brought in. Among the dead is the young bride-to-be, her betrothed looking dumbstruck sitting next to her. M'Benga sees him and nods grimly over towards another bed. Spock is grievously injured, his left leg torn off, his face hideously burned. Standing next to him is Nurse Chapel, visibly struggling to maintain her composure as she lists his injuries: massive cerebral trauma, major blood loss, spinal fractures, radiation burns across forty percent of his body. She wasn't sure he would recover from it, but if he did, he will not be the same. The horror of seeing what happened to Spock, knowing what fate had destined for him, affects Pike deeply.

Looking out from his cabin, a drink in his hand, Pike considers what he has seen… as his future self speaks up. He knows what the captain is thinking, as he had thought the same thing – that he traded his fate for Spock's. Admiral Pike warns that it gets worse: The war with the Romulans was still ongoing in the timeline he comes from, with millions dead. Not only did Pike start something that should never have been started, but the one chance for a lasting peace between the Federation and the Romulans in any timeline was lying in a biobed. Everyone liked to think their future is important, and for Pike, it is – just not the way he thinks. Time was complicated, but the Timekeepers have shown Admiral Pike something simple. Every time Pike tries to change his path, Spock dies… and he had things to do, "fate-of-the-galaxy type things". The admiral admits that paths diverge, but he was the result of a path that should never have been taken. Captain Pike thanks him, and the admiral jokingly asks how often people got to give their lives for someone twice in one day. As Admiral Pike opens the box with the time crystal, the door chimes. He chuckles, having remembered something. Captain Pike summons his visitor: Captain Kirk, who asks if he was interrupting something. When Captain Pike turns back, Admiral Pike is gone; he replies that he was "talking to himself" and offers Kirk a drink. As he pours the drinks, Pike thinks it strange, but he feels that he was meant to meet Kirk. Kirk admits to feeling the same thing. He had come down to check on Pike, feeling that he had tried for something better. "Tried and lost," Pike admits, as they clink glasses. Kirk asks if the thought had ever occurred to him that some fights could not be avoided; if he had chased down and destroyed the Bird-of-Prey, the war could have been prevented. "You're a good captain, Jim Kirk," Pike says, adding that the Enterprise would be glad to have him, but laughingly denies when Kirk asks if he was retiring. He asks about the young captain, about where he was from; Kirk replies that he grew up in Iowa, and his father George was first officer on the USS Kelvin.

After Kirk leaves, Pike picks up the time crystal and touches it again, returning to the moment he began writing the letter to Maat… then asks the computer to delete the file.

In the conference room, Pike is reviewing Jim Kirk's file to see what who he was in his present time. Kirk is presently a lieutenant assigned to the Farragut, and his commendations are extensive for one of his age and relatively short service; there is also a mention of being a witness to the massacre on Tarsus IV. The door chimes, heralding Spock. Remembering what he saw in the time crystal vision, Pike expresses how glad he is to see Spock, even though to Spock, he had only seen him moments ago. Spock reminds him of how he suddenly left the briefing, and his reaction to hearing Maat's name, wondering if it pertained to Pike's knowledge of his future. Pike replies only that the universe showed him that some fates were inescapable, and even if he could get out of his, it might just fall to someone else… someone he knew. Spock now sees why Pike was so glad to see him. Spock believes he owes Pike a debt of gratitude, although for precisely what, he did not know. Pike expresses how important Spock is to him, a feeling Spock reciprocates, calling him "Chris" for the first time. Smiling to himself, Pike returns to the bridge, taking the conn back from Una, and looking around his bridge, seeing the familiar people in the familiar places. As he settles back into his chair, Uhura receives a priority message from Starfleet Command; Captain Batel is beaming aboard, and they wanted both Pike and Una to meet her in the transporter room. Una is apprehensive, suspecting what is coming.

Pike greets Batel in the transporter room, having not expected to see her so soon. Batel is all business, but for the record, she apologizes for what she was about to do. The two security officers who beamed aboard with her move to take Una into custody. Batel informs Pike that under Starfleet code of conduct 587.63, Una is being placed under arrest for violation of the Federation's ban on genetic modifications; she is now known to Starfleet to be an Illyrian. Pike protests, saying (as he had when Una told him) that he didn't care what she was, she was his first officer. He subdues one of the security guards before Una stops him, saying she had known this might happen for years now. Batel assures Pike that she did not ask for this, and she truly was sorry. "So am I," Pike replies before they beam off the ship, "because this isn't over."

Memorable quotes

Log entries

  • "Captain's log, Stardate 1457.9. The Enterprise is on the edge of the Neutral Zone, a narrow band of space separating the Romulan Empire from the Federation. A remnant of a treaty of a hundred years ago, when a destructive war was waged between our two cultures. Enterprise and the USS Cayuga are here to help the outposts that guard the Neutral Zone with much needed retrofitting and supplies."
  • "Captain's personal log, Stardate 1709.2. Per Captain Kirk's plan, we are mounting a pincer move. Our two ships will slowly drift closer as the Romulans remain unaware. When they pass through the comet's tail, giving us their exact location, we will be in weapons range. Kirk, however, has agreed to my plan to neutralize, not destroy, the Bird-of-Prey, leaving open the possibility of dialogue. And yet, I remain concerned this brash young Starfleet captain follows his own rules. I can't help but wonder: is Kirk the reason I was sent here? If I wasn't here to stop him, would we be led into a war?"

Background information

Title

Cast and characters

Continuity

  • This episode depicts the events of TOS: "Balance of Terror" as they unfolded in an alternate timeline in which Pike prevents the accident that led to his severe disablement. In this case the encounter with the Romulan Bird-of-Prey led to a years long war between the Federation and the Romulan Empire.
    • Ortegas behaves very similarly to Lieutenant Stiles, who was the Enterprise's navigator during this incident in the prime timeline. Both jump to the conclusion that the attacking vessel is Romulan before it is proven, both advocate for firing on the Romulan ship, and both express distrust towards Spock after the Vulcan and Romulan similarities are revealed. Ortegas' gruff and officious demeanor is considerably different from the snarky but good-humored behavior she displays in the past, for reasons not revealed.
    • Immediately before the Enterprise goes to red alert, Pike is officiating a wedding in the cargo hold of the Enterprise, just as Kirk was between crewmembers Robert Tomlinson and Angela Martine. In this episode, it is Martine who dies as a result of the attack, rather than Tomlinson as in the prime timeline.
    • The Romulans on board the Bird-of-Prey in the alternate timeline appear to be northerners, as evidenced by their forehead ridges. In the prime timeline, the Romulans did not have forehead ridges, which made their appearance identical to Vulcans.
    • The relationship between the Romulan commander and sub-commander in this episode mirrors that of the commander and Decius in the prime timeline; like Decius, the sub-commander also dispatches a coded message to the Romulan praetor with an update on the engagement's progress, against the orders of his superior. However, in this timeline, the message is successful in drawing the Romulan fleet.
    • The episode establishes that Pike's accident takes place seven years after the events of SNW Season 1 (or, at least, this episode). This is a shorter timeframe than the ten years Pike suggests in "Strange New Worlds". In the alternate timeline, Spock says the accident took place "six months ago". Therefore, in the "prime" timeline, Pike's accident, Kirk being assigned command of the Enterprise, and the events of TOS: "Balance of Terror" take place within a period of six months. If the Season 1 episodes of TOS take place in chronological order, then the events of "The Menagerie, Part I" and "The Menagerie, Part II", which aired before Balance of Terror, also take place during that same six-month period. However, they were produced after it, and the production order is usually intended to reflect the chronological order they were intended to be viewed. In this case, The Managerie two-parts would be set after the mentioned six-months period. Coincidentally, seven years is also the number of seasons attained by TNG, DS9 and VOY.
    • In the alternate timeline, Pike's core crew remains fundamentally unchanged, with Spock, Uhura (now a lieutenant), M'Benga, Chapel, Ortegas, Mitchell and George Samuel Kirk still present and even sporting the same hairstyles as years earlier (though Chapel is now wearing a blue jacket with her uniform). Ortegas and Mitchell sit on opposite sides of the helm console to where they sit in the "present day". The main exceptions are Una (who is incarcerated) and La'an (now a commander serving aboard the Farragut until its destruction, and now wearing a gold command uniform rather than security red).
    • In the prime timeline, George Samuel Kirk left Starfleet when his brother became captain of the Enterprise (TOS: "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"); as James Kirk had not become captain of the ship in the alternate timeline, his brother remained aboard.
    • In the prime timeline, Kirk is not particularly familiar with Khan Noonien Singh in TOS: "Space Seed". In the alternate timeline, this likely changed given one of his main officers is La'an.
    • When Spock reveals the Romulan bridge in the alternate future, the same TOS theme music plays that was in "Balance Of Terror" when Spock did the same in that episode.
  • The alternate future Pike wears an updated version of the Starfleet uniform introduced in the late 2270s, with the rank insignia of a rear admiral. Aside from an archival photograph in Star Trek Beyond, this episode marks the first live action appearance of that uniform since VOY: "Flashback".
    • A photograph of Pike shaking hands with Robert April is also briefly visible. The circumstances are unknown, but presumably the image is from when Pike received command of the Enterprise from April. As such, this is the first time April has been shown in the context of being captain of the Enterprise. Both officers are wearing the style of Starfleet uniform not seen since TOS: "The Menagerie, Part II" (other than the recap that opens DIS: "If Memory Serves").
  • In the alternate timeline, Pike is still a captain, even though TOS: "The Menagerie, Part I" established he was a fleet captain and had already passed on the captaincy of the Enterprise to Kirk by the time of his accident. It is suggested that in the altered timeline, the promotion never occurred (meaning Pike would not have been present at the time of the accident, if it even occurred at all), which is why Pike remained in command of the Enterprise. And, furthermore, the altered future is where the prime version of Pike apparently meets Kirk for the first time, setting in motion the later decision to give command of the Enterprise to him.
  • In the alternate timeline, as in the prime timeline, Spock advises attack, reasoning that if the Romulans are indeed unreformed Vulcans, they will respect a willingness to fight back, even strike pre-emptively. Sarek provided similar advice to Michael Burnham a decade earlier regarding the Klingons, based on early Vulcan encounters with them. (DIS: "The Vulcan Hello")
  • The future Pike expresses knowledge of the role Spock played in Romulan-Vulcan reunification. He suggests that the prospect of rapprochement between the Federation and the Romulan Empire in the prime timeline is one of his primary motivations for changing the past. (TNG: "Unification I", "Unification II"; Star Trek; DIS: "Unification III")
  • Assuming Pike retains memories of his visit to the future, then he is now aware of the Vulcan/Romulan similarities, a fact that does not become general knowledge until Kirk's prime-timeline encounter with the Romulans.
  • Kirk mentions his father serving aboard the USS Kelvin, tying in with the backstory of Star Trek. Though the audio is cut off, he appears to state that his father later moved to Tarsus IV, tying into James Kirk's backstory established in TOS: "The Conscience of the King". In the prime timeline, George Kirk was known to be alive as of 2265, as Spock Prime had mentioned that the elder Kirk had lived long enough to see James become captain of the Enterprise.
  • This is the second Star Trek season finale to end with a main character being arrested as a cliffhanger. The first was the Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 2 finale, "First First Contact", in which Captain Carol Freeman was arrested on suspicion of collaborating in the destruction of Pakled Planet.
  • Una's arrest is foreshadowed by the disclosure of her Illyrian genetic modifications to Dr. M'Benga and Captain Pike in "Ghosts of Illyria". It may also be the incident referred to by Chief Miles O'Brien when he stated that Starfleet hadn't dealt with a case like that of Julian Bashir – i.e., a genetically engineered officer – "in a hundred years". (DS9: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume")
  • In the alternate timeline, the status of Janice Rand, Hikaru Sulu and Leonard McCoy is not established.
Apocrypha

Links and references

Starring

And

Special guest star

Guest starring

Co-starring

Uncredited co-stars

Stunt doubles

References

2160; 2233; 2248; 2254; 2266; April, Robert; arrest; Boreth; Cayuga, USS; comet; Delta-class; dictation; Earth; egg; EM frequency; encoding; Earth-Romulan War; Farragut, USS; Federation; Federation space; Grankite Order of Tactics; gravity; gravitational microlensing; Human; Icarus IV; inter-spatial mechanics; Illyrian; Iowa; Jefferies tube; Kelvin, USS; Kirk, George; Kirk, Winona; Klingon; matter synthesizer; Milky Way Galaxy; NCC; osso bucco; Outpost 2; Outpost 3; Outpost 4; Outpost 8; parmesan; pasta mama; Palm Leaf of Axanar Peace Mission; penal colony; praetor; Preantares Ribbon of Commendation; rear admiral; Reman Campaign; Republic, USS; Romulan; Romulan Empire (Romulan Star Empire); Romulan flagship; Romulan Neutral Zone; Romulus; Salius VI; Sir-Neighs-a-Lot; spaghetti; star Starfleet; Starfleet Academy; Tarqan; Tarsus IV; time crystal; trilithium; United Federation of Planets Citizen Database; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan (species); water polo; Zefram Cochrane Science Institute

Stellar cartography locations

Aaamazzara; Akaali; Algeron; Alpha Centauri; Altair; Andoria; Angel; Arcturus; Argelius; Argus; Azati Prime; Babel; Barradas; Benzar; blue; Bolarus; Calder; Cor Caroli; Crepuscula; Delta; Deneb (Kaitos); Deneva; Denobula; Drayken; Draylax; Earth; Earth Outpost Station; Epsilon Outpost; Epsilon Outpost 15; Eridani; Fellebia; Fesarius; FGC-347601; Galorndon Core; Garadius; Gideon; green; Hupyria; Hyralan; Inferna Prime; Kaferia; Kaleb; Lorillia; Madena; Maxia; Memory Alpha; Miri; Miridian; Mizar; Ophiucus; Orellius; Outpost 1; Outpost 5; Outpost 6; Outpost 7; Pi³ Orionis; Peliar Zel; Proxima; purple; Pyrithia; Qualor; Remus; Romii; Romulus system; Sauria; Science Station D-5; Sol; Starbase 1; Starbase 4; Starbase 9; Starbase 10; Starbase 22; Starbase 23; Starbase 25; Starbase 39-Sierra; Starbase 46; Starbase 62; Tagus; Talvath; Tarod; Tau Ceti; Teneebia; Tellar; Tomed; Tzenketh; Veda; Vega; Vulcan; Wolf 359; Yadalla; Zaran; Zetar

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