Star Trek: Strange New Worlds marks a return to old-school Star Trek storytelling. The series spins out of Star Trek: Discovery, which pioneered prestige-style serialized storytelling in the Star Trek universe for the streaming era. Star Trek: Picard followed suit, exploring Jean-Luc Picard's next chapter over what the producers described as a television seasons-sized movie. Though Akiva Goldman has worked on both of those series, now serving as co-showrunner on Picard, he's had a craving for the episode Star Trek storytelling he remembers from his first brushes with the franchise as a viewer. Speaking to TrekMovie, Goldman confirms that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will return to that mode, with one catch regarding its characters.
"[W]e are returning fundamentally to episodic storytelling," he says. "What is unique about this particular Star Trek show in the current Star Trek Universe is that it is fully episodic. Now, when I say 'fully' I'm slightly exaggerating in that the character arcs are still serialized. It's not like Jim Kirk will see Edith Keeler die one week and be fine the next week as it was in The Original Series.
"Our characters will carry with them what they suffer from, or what they learned, from episode to episode. But the stories are episodic. And that allows us to do something that The Original Series is quite good at, to give you slightly different tones. And to give you—for lack of a better word—hidden morals of the story. Like an O. Henry turn, like a Twilight Zone that gives you a kind of pop that really is the province of episodic storytelling."
Goldman adds that the mix of self-contained plots and season-long character arcs allows for an interesting shifting focus among the show's ensemble cast. Rather than carrying each character's story through each episode, the spotlight will fall on different characters in different episodes.
"This Star Trek really is an ensemble piece," he says. "But what we do, which is a little different than the other ensemble pieces that are currently in play, is we don't actually try to tell everybody's story every week. We sort of move our focus around a bit. So you might easily look at an episode and say, 'Oh, that was really Pike episode' or 'That was really a M'Benga episode.'"
What do you think of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds returning to episodic storytelling? Let us know in the comments. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will debut on Paramount+ in 2022.