Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Will Show Us a Captain Kirk We Haven’t Seen Before

Paul Wesley joins the main cast of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds as Lieutenant James T. Kirk, but he's a very different version of the Captain we know so well.

Paul Wesley as James Kirk in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2
Photo: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

When you think of James Tiberius Kirk, Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, what words come to mind? Heroic? Brash? Romantic? All of those words apply, thanks to decades’ worth of performances by William Shatner and the younger version Chris Pine played in the J.J. Abrams Star Trek films. With Strange New Worlds season 2, we’ll get yet another take on Kirk, this one courtesy of Paul Wesley. We got a hint of Wesley’s Kirk in the season one finale of Strange New Worlds, but that was from an alternate reality where he never became Captain of the Enterprise.

In a recent press junket (via Trek Movie), Wesley gave a few more details about how his younger Kirk will differ from not only the man he played in season one, but also the Shatner and Pine Kirks we all know so well.

“In many ways, I think Kirk is still boy, at least in the version that I sort of have been playing,” Wesley explained. “I’m not sure he understands how to be a captain yet.” From that description, Wesley’s Kirk sounds similar to that of Pine’s, at least as he’s portrayed in 2009’s Star Trek. But in the Kelvin Timeline, Kirk was a wayward youth after his father died on the USS Kelvin.

As it takes place in the Prime Timeline, this Kirk didn’t have the same family background or the weight of expectation, which allows him to more gradually grow into his role. “I would like to slowly begin to portray him as someone with a deep confidence and an unwavering sort of sense of who he is,” said Wesley. “But I don’t think he’s quite there yet. And I think that’s sort of what makes it sort of special to watch.”

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Part of that development includes Kirk’s relationship with the person who has been and always will be his friend, Mr. Spock. The early tension between Spock and Kirk was a driving force in the 2009 Star Trek film, a precursor to the close bond the two shared throughout The Original Series and the subsequent movies. For Ethan Peck, those stories give fertile ground to the “adversarial component” of Kirk and Spock’s relationship, a “maybe we will / maybe we won’t” take on the friendship.

Wesley concurs with Peck’s take, noting that although we viewers have high expectations for the friendship the two will share, Kirk and Spock do not. “I think what’s great is that they don’t know what their friendship is going to be, yet,” he enthused. “They really don’t know what it is about one another that is alluring or intriguing.”

As these comments show, Wesley’s Kirk continues the approach to the series that Strange New Worlds co-creator and co-showrunner Akiva Goldsman described in an exclusive interview with Den of Geek magazine. “Season one was, if you really think about it, kind of an experiment,” he said. “So, because we got such a great response from people out there in the world, our brief for season two became: let’s do season one but bigger and better.”

That bigger and better will include taking Kirk to places he’s never been before, only further enriching our understanding of Trek‘s greatest captain.