Anson Mount and Rebecca Romijn on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' "bigger and better" second season

Captain Pike.
(Image credit: Paramount+)

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds' second season is currently beaming onto TV screens worldwide. The new series sees the USS Enterprise once more embarking on thrilling adventures across the galaxy, this time taking on Klingons (with a more classic design to their Star Trek: Discovery predecessors), a court martial for Number One (Rebecca Romijn), the return of James T. Kirk (as played by Paul Wesley), and the hotly-anticipated crossover with animated series Lower Decks. There's a lot packed into the run - a result that Captain Pike star Anson Mount says, in an exclusive interview with GamesRadar+ alongside his co-star Romijn, is indicative of the show's broader creative horizons.

"We've started to take bigger swings this season, I think we've earned the trust of the network now," he nods when asked if the show feels bigger this year. "[Showrunners] Akiva Goldman and Henry Alonso Myers, their mantra continues to be, 'Star Trek can be a lot of things.' So, we're not just playing with the stories that we tell, but the ways in which we get there. We've had a lot of conversations about genre and what we can get away with, which is tremendously fun and mischievous."

It may seem odd now, given how much of an instant critical hit Strange New Worlds' first season was, that the show had to earn the network's trust, but as Romijn reminds us, the second season was already filming before the first run had even aired - and that success was not a given.

"We weren't sure if we'd gotten it right," Romijn admits. "But then the reception to it was just fantastic, and we were filming together so we celebrated that. It was a chance to pat each other on the back a little bit and go, 'OK, let's make it bigger and better!'"

Una on trial

Una on trial.

(Image credit: Paramount+)

One of the genres that the show does explore this year is the courtroom drama, as seen in last week's superb second episode, 'Ad Astra Per Aspera', which put Romijn's character, Una Chin-Riley/Number One, on trial for being genetically augmented, something that is treated with fear and disgust in the usually egalitarian Federation. Star Trek has form with trial stories, of course, with episodes like The Next Generation's 'The Measure of a Man' and 'The Drumhead', or Deep Space 9's 'Tribunal', standing amongst the most beloved episodes in all of Star Trek. 

"I just thought what it represents, with Una finally living authentically and putting humanity on trial - this is what Star Trek does so well," says Romijn of the episode. "We're still dealing with these very human aspects of prejudice and persecution. Even though we're in this utopian universe where we're supposed to be away from that, there are some things that we still can't get away from."

A bombshell moment in the episode comes when it's revealed that the person who turned Number One over to the Federation was none other than Una herself. "I think she unburdened herself at that moment," says Romijn. "It was a coming out episode. Hopefully after this we'll see a freer Una who no longer lives with this secret that she's been lugging around."

Crossing over with Lower Decks

Mariner and Boimler.

(Image credit: Paramount+)

At the other end of the spectrum is episode 7 - the much-teased crossover with animated show Lower Decks, directed by Riker actor and all-round Star Trek legend, Jonathan Frakes. Mount and Romijn are not at liberty to reveal any details of the how and why these two very different shows collide, but both are excited by the end results.

"Anson thought it was going to be like Roger Rabbit," Romijn laughs, when asked how they reacted to the news that they'd be meeting the two-dimensional crew of the USS Ceritos. 

"Yeah, I was literally smiling at Akiva as he was explaining that we were going to do this episode," says Mount. "But in my head I was thinking, 'Oh my god, he's lost his mind...' And then he explained it all and I was like, 'Oh, that's brilliant!'"

"They come to life and Tawny Newsome (who plays Ensign Mariner) and Jack Quaid (Ensign Boimler) are just fantastic," says Romijn. "They have this background in improv and so they really played with the material and never did anything the same way twice. They had to sort of adjust from being on the animated show to being on our set, which is a different tone, but that was helped a lot by Jonathan Frakes, he was great."

Although the tone is "pretty broad!" according to Mount, Romijn confirms that there is still a mission of the week to be resolved. "The stakes are high, but yes, it's hilarious."

Kirk to Enterprise

Kirk and La'an.

(Image credit: Paramount+)

Of course, Pike isn't the only Captain of the Enterprise to feature in Strange New Worlds. Returning in this week's episode, 'Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow', is Paul Wesley as the legendary James Tiberius Kirk

Although Pike encountered an alternate universe version of the character in the season one finale, 'A Quality of Mercy', this season will mark the first time the two heroes have met in the "real" timeline. What does Pike make of his brash young successor?

"It's a good question," Mount muses. "You get the sense that because Pike has seen the reality in which Kirk is already a captain that he sees beneath Kirk's bluster and machismo. He sees that there is a real, sensitive, tuned in soul, who's not just hyper-intelligent, but also has a real grounded-ness. I think Pike learns to trust that this is a good guy who's going to have his his crew's best interests at heart. He wants to make sure that he's putting the ship in good hands."

Looking back, moving forward

Captain Pike in the captain's chair on the Enterprise bridge.

(Image credit: Paramount)

Throughout our interview, both actors mention that Strange New Worlds' showrunners are keen to hear their ideas for the series. "The door always seems to be open," says Romijn. "We keep coming up with ideas and genres, and they're very open to that."

One of those ideas would, if it ever makes it to the screen, explore the origins of Pike and Number One's tight bond. When asked where they'd like to take the Enterprise next, both Mount and Romijn are united. 

"We would really like them to explore our origin story together," says Romijn. "We think that we went to Starfleet Academy together and that's where we became close."

"Yeah, the same class, we're the same age," nods Mount. "So, it would make sense and we'd like to do that story."

With Strange New Worlds already confirmed for a third season and both actors eager to get back on set as soon as production resumes, perhaps it's only a matter of time before we see that story told. In the meantime, the rest of this season promises more laughs, danger, and a little heartbreak as the crew of the USS Enterprise continue to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is streaming now on Paramount Plus. You can find out how to get the platform, how much it costs, and more in this handy guide.

Will Salmon
Comics Editor

Will Salmon is the Comics Editor for GamesRadar/Newsarama. He has been writing about comics, film, TV, and music for more than 15 years, which is quite a long time if you stop and think about it. At Future he has previously launched scary movie magazine Horrorville, relaunched Comic Heroes, and has written for every issue of SFX magazine for over a decade. He sometimes feels very old, like Guy Pearce in Prometheus. His music writing has appeared in The Quietus, MOJO, Electronic Sound, Clash, and loads of other places and he runs the micro-label Modern Aviation, which puts out experimental music on cassette tape.