Everything Pike Changed From TOS' "Balance Of Terror" In Strange New Worlds

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' Season 1 Finale - "A Quality of Mercy"

Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) lives through his own version of "Balance of Terror" in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' season 1 finale, which is markedly different from what Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) experienced in Star Trek: The Original Series. In Strange New Worlds' finale, "A Quality of Mercy," a future version of Pike shows Chris what will happen if he changes his destiny where Pike is a delta radiation accident victim. The changes Pike inadvertently made in his version of "Balance of Terror" completely changed the Star Trek timeline.


Thanks to a Klingon time crystal, Captain Pike jumps forward 7 years into a future where he was never disfigured and, thus, remained Captain of the USS Enterprise. This puts Pike in command when a Romulan Bird-of-Prey armed with a cloaking device and a new plasma energy weapon destroys Starfleet outposts along the Neutral Zone in 2266. Star Trek fans immediately recognize this scenario as "Balance of Terror" and remember how Captain Kirk ultimately destroyed the Romulan vessel, but Pike is a different kind of Captain entirely.

Related: Strange New Worlds' Major Death Sets Up Scotty For Season 2

Strange New Worlds' finale highlights how Pike differs from Kirk. Instead of hunting down the Romulans, Chris decides the best way to prevent a war is to seek a peaceful negotiation. This ends up backfiring with tragic consequences, for the galaxy as a whole and for Spock (Ethan Peck) in particular.

How Pike's Enterprise Is Different From Kirk's In "Balance of Terror"

Strange New Worlds Finale Spock, Pike, Kirk

Because Pike remained as Captain of the Enterprise, most of his personnel from Strange New Worlds is the same. The key differences are Spock is now First Officer in the absence of Lt. Commander Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn), who was imprisoned by Starfleet for lying about being a genetically-engineered Illyrian. Dr. M'Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) and Nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush) remain as Pike's medical team, and Lt. Sam Kirk (Dean Jeannotte) is still serving on the Enterprise and isn't dead like Sam is destined to be in TOS.

Some things are different, however. Lt. Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia) is still the helmsman but her demeanor is darker, and she is as mistrustful of Spock as Lt. Stiles (Paul Comi) is in "Balance of Terror." Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) is now a Lieutenant and Communications Officer, so she doesn't quit Starfleet. Meanwhile, Scotty is the Enterprise's Chief Engineer as he is meant to be in Star Trek: The Original Series, although Mr. Scott is only heard and not seen in Strange New Worlds' season 1 finale. Further, the doomed Starfleet Outpost 4's Commander Hansen has been retconned to be Commander Hansen Al-Salah (Ali Hassan).

Kirk Is Captain Of The Farragut In Pike's "Balance of Terror"

Captain Kirk Bridge Strange New Worlds Finale

Pike never giving up the Enterprise means James T. Kirk became Captain of the USS Farragut instead. The Farragut played no role in TOS' "Balance of Terror" but Kirk's presence during the crisis is integral even in this new timeline. The Romulans are able to destroy the Farragut in Strange New Worlds' season 1 finale, but Kirk's crew is able to beam to the safety of the Enterprise. Although Dr. Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) is not seen, the most notable member of the Farragut's crew is La'an Noonien Singh (Christina Chong), who is now a Commander and possibly even Kirk's First Officer.

Related: Strange New Worlds Makes A Big Vulcan Change To Spock

Meanwhile, Kirk's demeanor is different in Strange New Worlds' season 1 finale, as the Captain lacks the swagger and bravado William Shatner displayed. Perhaps this is because Kirk didn't get to command the Enterprise, the flagship of the Federation, which robs this version of Captain Kirk of some of his bluster. Still, Kirk's instincts to seek and destroy the Romulan Bird-of-Prey prove to be correct in either timeline, although Jim is saddened when Pike's attempt to sue for peace with the Romulans tragically backfires and plunges the United Federation of Planets into an all-out war.

How Pike's "Balance Of Terror" Changed The Romulans And What Happened

Strange New Worlds Romulan Commander

The Romulans are even more aggressive in Pike's version of "Balance of Terror" than they were in TOS. The Romulan Bird-of-Prey not only destroyed the Outposts along the Neutral Zone but the aliens outsmarted both Pike and Kirk and destroyed the USS Farragut. In addition, the Romulan Commander (Matthew MacFadzean) isn't as wary as the Commander played by Mark Lenard was in TOS. It's not entirely clear if they are the same Romulan Commander, although his telling Pike that in another reality, they could have been friends as the Romulan in TOS told Kirk implies it's the same character.

Unlike in "Balance of Terror," the Romulan Praetor (Carolyn Scott) crosses the Neutral Zone and brings her fleet with her. The key difference is that because Pike didn't destroy the Bird-of-Prey the way Kirk did in TOS, it signaled to the Praetor that the Federation is weak and ripe to be conquered. Indeed, the Praetor even ordered the Bird-of-Prey to be destroyed by her armada as punishment for the Romulan Commander's failure. Pike's own failed attempt to forge peace with the Romulans instigates a war that continues for decades. Tragically, Pike avoiding his destiny of being injured by delta rays means Chris transfers his fate to Spock, who is critically wounded and disfigured when the Romulans' plasma weapon struck the Enterprise. Although Captain Kirk is meant to be victorious in TOS' "Balance of Terror," Pike living the same encounter in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is destined for disaster for Spock and the entire galaxy.