Since its unveiling at San Diego Comic-Con’s Star Trek 50th Anniversary panel, the latest serialized entry, Star Trek: Discovery created a good deal of controversy and curiosity. Between the upcoming show's name, the positive and negative reactions to the new ship, and the vagaries around plot, characters, and setting, fans aren’t quite sure what to make of the latest Trek. What we do know about the new series is its place in the Prime timeline, rather than the Kelvin timeline of the reboots – much to the delight of old school Trekkies.
The most recent reports about the show point to a female captain, possibly of a non-white ethnicity, as well as an even newer report that suggest the timeline of the new series has been uncovered thanks to some sleuthing encouraged by none other than series executive producer Bryan Fuller.
Ain’t It Cool News recently discussed the new Trek series with Fuller, and during their luncheon tête-à-tête, the producer dropped some hints as to the Discovery’s locale on the Prime timeline. Fuller hinted at clues to the show hidden in the ship registry, saying:
“There’s a big clue in the number of the ship [NCC-1031] that indicates when we’re set.”
Aside from the jokes Fuller made about loving Halloween during Comic-Con, Trek fans have already been picking apart the U.S.S. Discovery for clues about the new show. The new ship’s call sign is listed as NCC-1031. If there’s any logic to the Star Trek canon of ships, 1031 comes well before 1701, the registration of the legendary U.S.S. Enterprise commanded by one James T. Kirk. Assuming Fuller wasn’t being contrarian and assuming that the universe follows along the Vulcan-like (and human) lines of logical reasoning, a lower-numbered ship precedes a higher-numbered one. In that case, the new Star Trek series will take place before the original Enterprise’s five-year mission began.
When asked about the rumored connection (once again, due to the call sign) between the Discovery and Starfleet’s covert wing Section 31, Fuller remained equally coy, saying:
“There are aspects of our first season that, depending on how well versed you are in that mythology, you could either read into it a connection or not.”
While Fuller doesn't reveal any officially sanctioned details, his hints could be very telling. As stated earlier, there are no strict rules governing Starfleet registry numbers in the Star Trek universe. Nonetheless, running ship numbers from NX-01 (Enterprise) to NCC-1701 (Star Trek) to NCC-2000 (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) to NCC-74656 (Star Trek: Voyager) certainly makes it seem as though the Discovery was built before the first Enterprise. If this is true, it would place the show squarely between the Enterprise series and the 1966 classic that kicked everything off.
However, a series set between Enterprise and the first series wreaks havoc with the existing canon. Most classic starships had numerous iterations and refits – at least some record of their construction and service exists within the storied history of Starfleet. Without any prior knowledge of the Discovery's call sign or model and make of ship (although there are other mentions of ships named Discovery in-canon), Fuller’s enigmatic response to Section 31 could clue viewers in as to the reason the design of the ship – and its asteroid shipyard home – aren’t included in Federation annals.
Fortunately, Fuller will supposedly “spoiler it up” about Star Trek: Discovery during the Star Trek’s Television Critics Association panel on August 10. Hopefully, he’ll bring with him further clarification as to the ship, its crew, and its non-cryptic designation within the Prime timeline.
The new Star Trek series will debut on CBS All Access and Netflix in January 2017.