How 'Star Trek: Discovery' Used Classic 'Star Trek' Footage in "If Memory Serves"

Star Trek: Discovery’s most recent episode, “If Memory Serves,” surprised fans with its use of classic Star Trek footage.

Rather than the usual “Previously, on Star Trek: Discovery” recap, fans were treated to a “Previously on Star Trek” segment that recapped events from the show’s original pilot episode, “The Cage,” complete with footage from the episode and classic Star Trek music.

The recap ends with a cut from Jeffrey Hunter’s Capt. Christopher Pike to Discovery’s Anson Mount playing the same character. Editor Scott Gamzon took to Twitter to explain how the recap was made, revealing the idea began as a flashback scene for Pike during the episode.

"As I was cutting the episode I was wondering if we would revisit the footage from ‘The Cage’ / ‘The Menagerie’ and rewatched both multiple times,” Gamzon tweeted. Footage from “The Cage” was repurposed in “The Menagerie,” a two-part Star Trek: The Original Series story.

“[Executive producer] Olatunde Osunsanmi suggested that we attempt some sort of flashback for Pike at the beginning of the episode utilizing the TOS footage in a hyper-stylized way,” Gamzon continued. “Ultimately, the flashback version proved a bit too confusing. Upon viewing, executive producer Alex Kurtzman suggested creating a recap using the TOS footage. I then incorporated the idea of also making this seem a flashback for Pike by using the match cut from Jeffrey Hunter’s Pike to Anson Mount’s Pike. Finally, I suggested using the original TOS score and Kurtzman came up with the vision of 1960s era transitions which our VFX team then created.

“This is what I love about my job - the incredible collaboration that leads to some really great and creative storytelling.”

“The Cage” is set three years before Discovery’s second season. In the pilot, the Enterprise investigates a distress call from the planet Talos IV, which turns out to be a trap. The Talosians, the last survivors of a once-advanced race, take Capt. Pike prisoner. The Talosians destroyed themselves and their planet in a nuclear war. The survivors used their enhanced mental abilities to create illusions indistinguishable from reality. They became addicted to their own illusions, but also grew bored with their own imaginations. To rectify that problem, they began luring and capturing other species to use as the basis for new illusions to watch. The Talosians offered to create a paradise-like illusion for Pike to live out his life in, alongside a human woman named Vina. The captain of the Enterprise refused. The Talosians were convinced to release Pike, and the Enterprise departed.

“If Memory Serves” is a kind of sequel to that story. Burnham brings Spock, Pike’s Science Officer in “The Cage,” back to Talos IV so that the Talosians can show Burnham the apocalyptic vision of the future in Spock’s mind. Pike reconnects with Vina and returns to Talos IV to retrieve Burnham and Spock before Section 31 gets to them.

What did you think of the recap in “If Memory Serves”? Let us know in the comments.

New Star Trek: Discovery episodes become available to stream Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS All Access.

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