If you are a Star Trek fan, you fell in love after watching just one episode of the latest addition to the universe. Strange New Worlds had a lot to balance. It needed to weave in the events of Star Trek Discovery that put them all in place aboard the USS Enterprise while introducing any new faces and canonical names so integral to Gene Roddenberry’s world of collective harmony and peace. There was a lot of world to build, but we couldn’t help but be distracted by one specific name, Kirk.
Strange New Worlds was tasked with a considerable amount in the pilot episode and delivered everything with stylish and heartfelt panache. Finally, we have a Star Trek series that we can all get behind. For those who felt that Picard’s dark undertones were too overtly pessimistic or Discovery’s serialized format was too convoluted and self-involved, SNW is the answer. It is bubbly lite while still rooted in the seriousness of not just knowing but feeling your own death sentence on a bone-deep level. It also appears to be more closely aligned to the original Star Trek with its wacky new planet and alien race each week format.
For Star Trek purists, there couldn’t be better news. Only the first episode has premiered, but it is obvious creators Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman, and Jenny Lumet have been listening. The original series is beloved because of its flaws and often humorous tone. It was at times ridiculous, which made all the serious beats hit harder. SNW is poised to take up the mantle where TOS left off with a more evolved Captain and a modern crew. Largely this is possible by a great cast of extremely likable characters who already have an undeniable chemistry that is lived in and yet feels like it could develop into something even more profound over time.
As great as the ensemble cast is, the series is Anson Mount’s Captain Pike and his glorious head of salt and pepper hair. Seriously if there has ever been a better head of hair on Star Trek, I don’t remember it. As with every Star Trek that came before, the series lives and dies by our ability to connect with the ship’s leader, and this one is unlike any we have ever seen. Mount’s Pike has all the confidence of greats like Captain Jim Kirk coupled with Captain Picard’s empathy. A fact that is obvious from the beginning by his very female forward crew and willingness to admit his failings and insecurities. This is an enlightened Captain, and it’s easy to see why Spock and Jim would love him so much.
We have known there would be a new Kirk to grace our small screens for a while. Paul Wesley(Vampire Diaries) will step into the shoes made so great by William Shatner and, more recently, Chris Pine in Season 2. Throughout Strange New Worlds Episode 1, we heard mentions of Lieutenant Kirk, and everyone thought it would be Jim and his fast swinging fists and faster swinging hips. However, in a surprise move, his older brother Samuel introduced himself at the end of the first episode. So who is Sam Kirk, and what do we know about him.
George Samuel Kirk is James Tobias Kirk’s older brother by ten years. He first appeared in Star Trek TOS: Operation–Annihilate! where we see his dead body portrayed hilariously by William Shatner himself, sporting a terrible mustache. The USS Enterprise responded to a distress signal on Deneva, where Sam was working as a research biologist with his wife Aurelean and his three sons. Unfortunately, the Enterprise was too late. The parasite that infected the entire family killed almost all of them, but Bones was able to save Peter and remove the parasites.
Little is known about Sam beside his family lineage and the fact he loves a good ’70s stache. Star Trek’s Strange New Worlds’ Sam Kirk, played by Dan Jeannotte, has the same signature facial hair and is very familiar with Captain Pike, going as far as to call him Chris on deck. With what we know about Captain Pike, that is high praise. He will be reporting to Spock in the science department and has a comedic air about him that should inject a healthy dose of levity each week. It should make for an interesting dynamic to see a Kirk be subordinate to Spock.
There is some additional story from The Star Trek Enterprise novel Last Full Measure set in 2238, in which an elderly Trip who worked under Captain Jonathon Archer on the USS Enterprise NX-01 meets him at the Starfleet Memorial. Sam and his baby brother Jimmy behave like boys do and break the older man’s meditation. There is also some ground to be mined from the graphic novel series in which an alternate version of Sam lived with Jim and their Uncle Frank until Sam, known as George in this version, runs away to live with his grandfather.
This led to a rift between the brothers, with Jim feeling abandoned by his brother. Later, the brothers worked together when the Enterprise came to the planet and found George and his family living underground while trying to defeat the parasites. At the conclusion of the story, George’s entire family consisting of his wife and one son, is saved, and the Kirk brothers repair their relationship.
I have a feeling Sam Kirk will become a fan favorite who is beloved by his crew and his TV-land audience, and he will break everyone’s heart when his death acts as a catalyst for Jim Kirk’s appearance. It will carry the kind of emotional weight of Sarah Lynn’s death on BoJack Horseman and will tie in the original character trajectory of the original while propelling the overall story forward. Mark my words, people, we will be heartbroken by this man, so don’t get too attached regardless of how cute he is. Sam Kirk will be wearing a red jacket before the end of the confirmed two seasons of Star Trek Strange New Worlds, and we all know what that means.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.