Star Trek: Discovery has shown Captain Christopher Pike's dark future to Pike himself - which makes him an even more tragic character. The commander of the Starship Enterprise, who is currently assigned to the U.S.S. Discovery, is infamously doomed to spend the rest of his life confined to a wheelchair about a decade from the events of Star Trek: Discovery season 2. But in this week's episode, "Through the Valley of Shadows", Pike not only found out what will happen to him, but heroically chose to sacrifice his own future to save the galaxy.
By adding Pike (Anson Mount) and Spock (Ethan Peck), to Star Trek: Discovery season 2, the CBS All-Access prequel series has used the opportunity to make Star Trek's unaired pilot "The Cage" more important than ever before. Most of what fans knew about the legendary Captain Pike is tied to the events of "The Cage" and The Original Series' season 1 two-parter, "The Menagerie", which revealed Pike's grim fate: an accident exposed the captain to delta rays and left him confined to a wheelchair, unable to move or speak. It would have been a horrific ending to the Starfleet hero, were it not for Spock working with the aliens on Talos IV so that Pike could live in an illusionary world where he's still healthy alongside his love Vina.
In "Through the Valley of Shadows", fans learned Pike actually knows what his destiny will be and that he willingly locked himself into it. When a fourth red signal appeared over the planet Boreth, Pike embarked on a dangerous mission to be the first human to enter its Klingon monastery. Dedicated to worshipping the Klingon diety Kahless, the monastery also has a secret purpose: its Timekeepers protect the planet's time crystals, which grow naturally on that world. Pike needed a time crystal to complete the Discovery's mission to send the remaining sphere data into the far future and away from Control, the A.I. that has taken over Section 31 and seeks to end all sentient life in the galaxy.
Pike was guided into the monastery by Tenavik, the albino Klingon who is the son of Voq/Ash Tyler and L'Rell and is now fully grown thanks to exposure to the time crystals. However, the Starfleet Captain was warned that to take a time crystal requires a great sacrifice unique to each person; for Pike, the time crystal showed him the pivotal future event that would ruin his life (which fans had never seen before). At some point between 2266-2267, Pike commands a Starfleet training vessel that suffers a ruptured battle plate. Pike evacuates the trainees but is trapped in the room and exposed to delta rays, which leaves him horribly disfigured. Discovery-era Pike then came face-to-face with his future self trapped in a black wheelchair, his face literally melting from his skull.
Although the captain was understandably horrified, Pike steeled himself to complete his mission, even though if he chose not to, he could have prevented the timeline where this tragedy befalls him. Reminding himself, "You are a Starfleet Captain. You believe in service, sacrifice, compassion, and love", Pike took the raw time crystal and willingly sacrificed his own future to ensure "an ending I hadn't foreseen for myself". Pike wholeheartedly believed this was the only way to save the galaxy and he did the noble thing. In the previous Star Trek: Discovery episode, "Perpetual Infinity", Dr. Gabriel Burnham, who is the time-traveling Red Angel, warned Pike that he wasn't going to like his future. Of course, she was right, and Pike now has to live with the knowledge of what's to come for him.
It seems a sad ending befalls Pike in every reality; in the Kelvin timeline of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movies, Pike (Bruce Greenwood) also ends up in a wheelchair thanks to Nero before he dies by phaser fire in Star Trek Into Darkness. Thankfully, Star Trek: Discovery season 2 has given Pike far more credence. Anson Mount's heroic Pike not only lives up to his legend but fans now know the depth of his sacrifice. By willingly choosing the galaxy over a grim future for himself, Captain Pike proved that he truly embodies Star Trek's highest ideals.
Star Trek: Discovery streams Thursdays @ 8:30pm on CBS All-Access and internationally the next day on Netflix.