Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' first season finale introduced Paul Wesley as the latest actor to play Capt. James T. Kirk. The finale episode, "A Quality of Mercy," saw Kirk crossing paths with Capt. Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) in an alternate timeline where Pike remained in command of the Enterprise during the events of the Star Trek episode "Balance of Terror." Some fans felt that Wesley's Kirk lacked some of the boyish charm and cockiness present in William Shatner's original portrayal of the character (as well as Chris Pine's interpretation). But there's a reason for that. Strange New Worlds showrunner Henry Alonso Myers explains that this episode's Kirk is based specifically on the Kirk seen in the original "Balance of Terror" episode.
"[That version] is a little more of a shrewd, serious Kirk," Myers tells IGN. "What I really love about his performance is there's a kind of public persona that people imagine Kirk being that really isn't totally present except in big, big, broad moments from the Original Series. And he really tried to build it around who the character was in that moment."
Wesley has also talked about comparisons to Shatner's Kirk. He also backed up Myers' take on the character.
"In the season 1 finale, it's actually a Kirk that we've never seen because he doesn't really exist," Wesley tells Entertainment Weekly. "It's an alternate projected timeline of something. If Pike hadn't died and he was still commanding the Enterprise, what would this world look like? Of course, it doesn't exist. It's just in his mind. So he meets Kirk, and Kirk is not captain of the Enterprise. Kirk is captain of the Farragut. Kirk has never met Spock, he's never met Uhura, he hasn't gone through all the things that the original Kirk had gone through. So, in a way, it allowed me to... I'm not gonna say whatever I wanted, but it's a looser interpretation, right? We're not sticking to a regiment. So it was a little liberating because I didn't have as much pressure. I can't talk about season 2 too much, but it's a little bit more in line with a Kirk that we know, but it's pre-Enterprise. The most important thing is, to answer your question, is to maintain that sense of Kirk having this incredible gut instinct that he relies on, that is preternaturally accurate in a way, a morality, courage, charm, humor. We don't get to see as much of that humor in the season 1 finale because there's something very intense happening. Season 2, we get to explore a little bit more of Kirk."
Wesley will be at San Diego Comic-Con to participate in the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds portion of the Star Trek Universe panel in Hall H on Saturday. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' first season is streaming now on Paramount+. Its second season has already wrapped filming.