Warning! SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery's Finale!
Star Trek: Discovery's season 1 finale boldly went there! Yes, the episode concluded with the jaw-dropping sight of the Discovery coming nose-to-nose with the U.S.S. Enterprise!
The newest Star Trek series was no stranger to utilizing callbacks to Trek canon. Discovery is set roughly a decade before the five-year mission of Captain James T. Kirk and the Starship Enterprise, but Discovery's lore was deeply intertwined with The Original Series. Michael Burnham herself is the ward of Ambassador Sarek; she grew up in his household on Vulcan alongside Spock. Discovery consistently referenced TOS throughout season 1; as a prequel series, Discovery ended up introducing major Star Trek players like the Klingons, Harry Mudd, and even Tribbles many years before the Starship Enterprise would ultimately encounter them.
However, fans wondered all along if Discovery would directly reference the U.S.S. Enterprise, Star Trek's most famous vessel - and how it would happen. Little did we suspect the shocker Discovery would spring upon us at the closing moments of the season finale "Will You Take My Hand?"
The crew of the U.S.S. Discovery was basking in the glow of their greatest victory. Thanks to the efforts of Michael Burnham, the Klingon War came to an end. What's more, Burnham successfully argued for the resumption of the core principles that Starfleet and the United Federation of Planets were built upon: to explore the galaxy and seek out new life and new civilizations. Burnham's reward for her key role in saving the Federation was to have her criminal record as Starfleet's first mutineer expunged by order of the President of the Federation. She is Commander Michael Burnham once more.
The triumphant Discovery was en route to Vulcan to both deliver Ambassador Sarek back home and to pick up her new Captain. Suddenly, a priority one distress call was received along with a garbled communication. When the call sign of the ship signaling appeared - N-C-C-1-7- - what was once merely a possibility now became reality!
The U.S.S. Enterprise dropped out of warp and came face-to-face with the U.S.S. Discovery!
Who Is Captain of the Enterprise?
While it was an absolute thrill to see the Enterprise, the commander of the Constitution-class starship is not James T. Kirk in this era. The Discovery received a hail from Christopher Pike, who was Captain of the Enterprise immediately preceding Kirk. However, Pike himself was neither seen nor heard in the episode. Fortunately, Discovery's producers have plenty of time to cast the role played by Jeffrey Hunter in The Original Series and by Bruce Greenwood in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness.
The appearance of the Enterprise must mean, however, that Discovery is also set to introduce Mr. Spock! Therefore, a new actor will wear the legendary Vulcan ears of Star Trek's signature character (unless the producers are somehow able to finagle Zachary Quinto to reprise the role for the series).
Spock is certain to appear alongside Captain Pike in Discovery season 2 because at this point in canon, the year is 2257 and Spock has been serving aboard the Enterprise as Science Officer for a few years. In fact, their most famous adventure together on Talos IV (as seen in Star Trek's first pilot "The Cage", which was recut as The Original Series two-parter "The Menagerie") took place in 2254 - 2 years before Michael Burnham was court-martialed for starting the Klingon War at the Battle at the Binary Stars. "Will You Take My Hand?" takes place a year after Discovery's pilot episode.
With both Sarek and Michael Burnham aboard the Discovery and Spock on the bridge of the Enterprise, the stage is now set for a historic reunion of the franchise's most beloved Vulcan family to kick off Star Trek: Discovery season 2. This should prove fascinating!