The Star Trek: Discovery showrunner has just dropped another tantalizing tidbit about his upcoming prequel series.
It was yesterday, Sept. 8, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek's premiere on NBC, that Bryan Fuller revealed via Twitter that a classic episode of that show is a "touchstone" for the new one's story arc:
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That's right, "Balance of Terror." The 14th episode broadcast in Season 1 -- it first aired on Dec. 15, 1966 -- it's widely regarded as one of the best of the entire franchise and regularly shows up in lists of Top 10 Star Trek episodes.
The segment follows a cat-and-mouse game between the Enterprise and a Romulan warship after the latter attacks a string of Federation outposts along the border, known as "The Neutral Zone," between Federation and Romulan space. One wrong move by either Captain Kirk (William Shatner) or the Romulan commander (Mark Lenard, pre-Sarek) could ignite a second Federation-Romulan War 100 years after the first one wreaked havoc in the galaxy.
What makes "Balance of Terror" one of the finest Treks of all time is not just the escalating tension between the two vessels, but the subplots that all feed into the central conflict. For example, even as they hold the fate of the galaxy in their hands, Kirk and the Romulan commander both experience a growing admiration for each other; the Romulan commander, meanwhile, faces potential mutiny if he doesn't show the proper strength against the Enterprise.
At the same time, two weapons officers on the latter ship have to put off their wedding once the Romulans attack; and finally, the uncanny resemblance between Vulcans and Romulans -- who have never been glimpsed by anyone from the Federation before -- bring bigotry, nationalism and suspicion directly onto the bridge of the Enterprise.
Fuller could be hinting at a few things here, but I think we can rule out an extended conflict with the Romulans, unless he wants to screw around with the established timeline, since Discovery takes place just 10 years before the original series. Is he hinting at a large-scale conflict with some other equally militarized race? Possibly, especially since Discovery's first season will be serialized and not standalone episodes.
Or -- and I think this is a likely scenario -- he could be implying that Discovery will focus on the smaller stories happening among the ship's crew members (and possibly others), with that bigger arc or conflict playing out in the background. Since he's already stated that the ship's captain will not be the main character, that sounds plausible to me.
What do you make of it all? Discuss below as we await the arrival of Star Trek: Discovery in January 2017 on CBS All Access.