A last-minute arrival of the USS Enterprise in the season finale of Star Trek: Discovery was a big surprise for fans. But perhaps even ore surprising is the fact that the iconic ship's design had to be altered for legal reasons.
Much more than some simple fan service, the appearance of Captain Pike's Enterprise conveniently set up the second season of Discovery and a much bigger version of the already expansive Prime Universe. However, if viewers looked closely enough, they might notice that Discovery's Enterprise wasn't quite like the original.
“Back in April of 2017 the task of the Enterprise making an appearance came to be and work was to start right away," designer John Eaves explained in post on Facebook. "The task started with the guideline that the Enterprise for Discovery had to be 25% different otherwise production would have most likely been able to use the original design from the 60's but that couldn't happen so we took Jefferies original concepts and with great care tried to be as faithful as possible. We had the advantage of a ten-year gap in Trek history to retro the ship a bit with elements that could be removed and replaced somewhere in the time frame of Discovery and the Original series.”
The Jefferies design referred to is the one that was used on TOS, which as Eaves went on to explain, led to a legal predicament for when coming up with Discovery's prequel version.
“After Enterprise, properties of Star Trek ownership changed hands and was divided, so what was able to cross TV shows up to that point changed and a lot of the crossover was no longer allowed. That is why when JJ [Abrams]'s movie came along everything had to be different. The alternate universe concept was what really made that movie happen in a way as to not cross the new boundaries and give Trek a new footing to continue.”
Discovery offers a much darker look at the Star Trek lore, a Game of Thrones-style show where no one is safe. The Enterprise's appearance helps link the old and the new of the franchise and is expected to play a big part in Season 2.
Streaming now on CBS All Access, Star Trek: Discovery stars Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Shazad Latif, Mary Wiseman, Wilson Cruz, Mary Chieffo, Jason Isaacs and Michelle Yeoh.