The Confusing Case of Captain Pike's Chronological Age

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by TJ Sinclair, Apr 29, 2021.

  1. TJ Sinclair

    TJ Sinclair Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Usually main Trek characters have pretty well established birthdates, at least the year, or within a very small range. Spock is born in 2230, Kirk is born in 2233, Picard in 2305, etc. These dates have been pretty consistent (at least since the Spaceflight Chronology was thrown out). Usually they're based at least somewhat on the actor's actual age, but there are exceptions, most notably in the case of Picard, who is about 12 or 13 years older than Patrick Stewart.

    But trying to nail down Christopher Pike's age is... difficult. Partially because for the longest time, we only had The Cage (and the original production notes) to go on, partly because we've seen him at differing points in his life, and partially because we've had three different significant versions of him (not counting Sean Kenney's, which was just an extension of Hunter's).

    So "The Cage" takes place in 2254, and was filmed in 1964. Production notes tell us that the character of Pike (previously Captain April or Captain Winter) was intended to be "about 34." Jeffrey Hunter was 37 or 38 at the time of filming, and "The Cage" certainly gives the impression that Pike is a man in his mid-to-late 30s. It would give us a birthdate of around 2220, and (again, once the Spaceflight Chronology dating scheme was abandoned), that remained roughly consistent for many years. IIRC, the novel Burning Dreams specifically says 2219, a couple of sources say 2221 or 2222 I think, but all roughly in the same ballpark.

    Then we come to the Kelvin timeline's portrayal of Pike. They wanted to make him more of a mentor/surrogate father figure to Kirk, and even though we're dealing a "compressed" timeline, and a 25 year old Kirk in 2258, a late 30s Pike just wouldn't fit that role. So we get a Pike in his fifties, with then-52 year old actor Bruce Greenwood (who I personally loved in the part), and background material for the films giving Pike's birthdate as 2205.

    Given the nature of the divergent timeline, that date should hold true for the Prime reality as well. But it would mean that Pike was 49 during "The Cage", and while I could imagine Hunter's character being in his early 40s, almost 50 seems a huge stretch (even considering the Picard/Stewart age difference).

    Now we come to Discovery, back in Prime, and giving us again an "older" Pike, though only 3 years or so past "The Cage." Anson Mount is pitch-perfect in the role, and I have no trouble viewing his portrayal as an extension of the original character. He was 45 when he started filming DISCO, and, relatively, almost a decade older than Hunter was when he played the part. That would probably work better if the gap was, you know, more than three years in universe, but still it does seem to "split the difference" between the Hunter and Greenwood versions well enough. Extrapolating back from Mount's age, we'd get a birthdate for Pike of circa 2212, which is a little older than he seems to be per "The Cage," but not unreasonably so.

    The biggest problem, though, comes from Pike saying he and Georgiou were contemporaries at that Academy. We know Georgiou's birthdate, 2202, and her years at the Academy -- 2220 to 2224 -- from her service record, and that tracks well with Michelle Yeoh's age. Initially, I thought that maybe she could have been a senior or post-grad instructor when Pike was a freshman or sophomore, but Pike's line about Georgiou "having every regulation memorized by the second week" would indicate they were classmates. This means Pike had to be born circa 2202, as well. Even if Pike entered the Academy at 17 (or 16 if we're stretching it), that would still give a birth year between 2202 and 2205. Close enough to match with Greenwood's age, I guess, but... wow, really out for Hunter, and even off for Mount (unless we take the Picard/Stewart gap into consideration).

    Certainly if we go with the original idea for Pike, a man in his mid-30s in 2254, there's no way he could have been at the Academy at the same time as Georgiou, who graduated in 2224, when he would have been about five years old at best.

    I'm hopeful that Strange New Worlds will give us something definitive, but even then, it's still going to be awkward, no matter how you look at it. It really seems the best way to reconcile things is to assume that Pike is about 50 years old in "The Cage" instead of the intended 35ish.

    What do you all think?
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2021
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  2. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Also, in ‘The Menagerie,’ Commodore Stone says that Pike is the same age as Kirk, which absolutely had to be an error.
     
  3. TJ Sinclair

    TJ Sinclair Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Not quite. It was Mendez, not Stone. Stone was the one in "Court-Martial." And Mendez' comment was "About your age, Jim," IIRC. Still awkward, but there's at least some wiggle-room.
     
  4. Dukhat

    Dukhat Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I stand corrected about the Commodore. But I’m pretty sure Pike was supposed to be at least ten years older than Kirk, if not more.
     
  5. TJ Sinclair

    TJ Sinclair Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    As I said, it's awkward. The issue is that "Pike" and "Kirk" were supposed to be "about the same age" when the characters were conceived. As in "Kirk" is the same "mid-30s" that "Pike" was supposed to be, and would have been if the show had proceeded from "The Cage" instead of the second pilot. I think that's what the line is based on, but it fails to take into account that "The Cage" was 13 years prior in universe. Yeah, it's a blip in the script, but since the line is indeterminate and open for interpretation, it's much less of an issue than a specific date or range of years.
     
  6. Tim Thomason

    Tim Thomason Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Here's something I said the last (or first?) time this was brought up:
    Funny comment, but there's a lot of good thoughts in that thread.

    The best case scenario going forward would be for them to establish Pike's age (maybe close to Mount's age, a la, born about 2210-15) and ignore the Academy classmates reference to Georgiou (maybe even explain it away much later at some point, if they're so inclined). Pike is a little bit older than he appears in The Cage, but it bridges the gap between Hunter and Greenwood, so that both could be reasonably explained away as older than they look or younger than they look in those respective adventures/timelines.

    Memory Alpha, and fans, will just have to fudge around the details of him apparently attending the Academy with Georgiou. Maybe by acknowledging that, okudagrams be damned, Georgiou must've attended the Academy at a later date (and may be younger than her actress). In much the same way that we all collectively ignore the okudagram that put Janeway in her late 20s during Star Trek Voyager.
     
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  7. TJ Sinclair

    TJ Sinclair Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Indeed, funny line. :) And I'll need to take a look at that thread. I somehow missed it when I was searching to see if this had been brought up before. As for Boyce, I've always pictured him as being in his 60s (or older) during "The Cage." John Hoyt was 59 or so, and I love the actor and the character, but his face is too weathered to be 51 even by 1960s "standards" of aging. With "the Picard factor," he could be in his mid-70s for all we know, though during TOS, they definitely seemed to operate under the assumption that 23rd century humans lived about as long as 20th century humans, rather than TNG's longer lifespan and apparently slower aging post-30 or so.

    That would be my preference, definitely, but...

    ...my concern of late has been that the production staff has started to take Memory Alpha as gospel, or so it seems to me, more often than they should. I'm worried that if that continues, references in episodes will be based solely on what MA says rather than vice versa...

    ETA: Oh, that Okudagram caused so much confusion back in the day. I love Mike, but sometimes, I don't know what he was thinking when stuff like that happened. Janeway's age and history always seemed to be a moving target on Voyager, especially once Jeri Taylor left. We had multiple references to her commanding ships before Voyager, and then we get to around seasons 6 and 7 and suddenly she's this young captain and Voyager is her first command. Ugh.
     
  8. FederationHistorian

    FederationHistorian Captain Captain

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    Is it known if Pike had a dad that was active in Starfleet? A Pike Sr and a Pike Jr could explain the Kelvinverse Pike. Meaning we saw Pike Sr.

    Pike and Georgiou could be contemporaries if the class was an elective taken by both undergraduates and graduates alike, or if Georgiou was a teaching assistant for a class that Pike took.

    Georgiou could have also returned back to Starfleet Academy for a course in the late 2230s or early 2240s.
     
  9. TJ Sinclair

    TJ Sinclair Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Possible, but not the intent, and would add an unnecessary layer of complication, IMO. And the birthdates for supposed senior and junior still wouldn't line up.

    Again, I had considered that, but, it doesn't jibe with the kind of reference Pike made. He specifically said Philippa had "memorized every regulation by the second week." That is something one says of a peer, not an officer coming back for "continuing education," nor would an incoming cadet know what an upperclassman had accomplished before they arrived. The only way that line makes sense is if they entered the Academy together.

    The best explanation, as Tim says above, would be that Pike is a bit older than he seems in "The Cage," and that Georgiou is younger than Michelle Yeoh. I doubt that they'll go that route, though.
     
  10. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I assume Pike was in his late 30's during The Cage. Georgiou could have been a staff
    member or guest lecturer when Pike was at SFA. He looked up her service records which included her at SFA?
     
  11. TJ Sinclair

    TJ Sinclair Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Again, as I said, that's something I considered, had thought at first, but going back to the episode, Pike's actual line is this:

    It's related in context with a contemporaneous memory, and in context that only makes sense if he's talking about a classmate.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I see nothing wrong with Pike being a bit older in "The Cage". Ron Tracey old, say. Standard for starship skippers, and perhaps even a bit above the average if need be because Starfleet seems happy to accept people into the Academy at an older age, too. Hunter has enough grey on his temples to be a match for Greenwood if one imagines a few extra wrinkles (and Hunter does a good job producing those out of sheer worry and self-pity).

    On the other hand, I also have little problem with Mendez' assessment. The framing story for "The Cage" is cobbled together in obvious hurry and doesn't make much in-universe or dramatic sense, but it's not unsalvageable, either. And Mendez, with his clipped sentences, is actually making sense there. He defines Pike as "big", "handsome", "man", "vital" and "active". Each and every one of those appears untrue as he speaks, so "about your age" is in good company there as well. Obviously Mendez is speaking about who Pike was, before this happened. And in the past, Pike of course was Kirk's age. After all, he is Kirk, from another angle: we're supposed to worry that what happened to this Other Kirk could happen to our current hero as well, sic transit gloria mundi, memento mori and all that.

    On the average, any of the Pikes so far could be in his early fifties in the late 2250s, so even the idea of him being a classmate to Georgiou isn't too difficult to swallow. But "you had every regulation down" could be read as "even though you are a pathetic alcoholic, you're one mean teacher: we all had every regulation down thanks to your teaching-under-influence"...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Boris Skrbic

    Boris Skrbic Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Bear in mind that Hunter’s Pike and everything surrounding him has been retconned into Mount’s Pike’s stylized daydream, so all we need to do is reenvision “The Cage” in DSC style, connecting the dots between Short Treks and DSC.
     
  14. TJ Sinclair

    TJ Sinclair Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Except that... no such retcon has happened, and according to the production staff of Strange New Worlds, the look of the show and the ship will be closer to TOS than it was on Discovery... So... unless this "daydream" idea is your personal explanation for the cosmetic differences, I don't see what you're getting at.
     
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  15. Tim Thomason

    Tim Thomason Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think the daydream is his interpretation of the opening scene of "If Memory Serves...". A valid, fun interpretation, if a bit out there.
     
  16. BillJ

    BillJ Canon Warrior Premium Member

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    Since early Kirk is essentially Pike with a different name, I think he was intended to be in his mid-30’s during “The Cage”. I really have no concern how the current shows interpret it.
     
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  17. Boris Skrbic

    Boris Skrbic Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You don’t see that DSC only reused footage from “The Cage” because they didn’t need to shoot new scenes? Do you imagine they’d go for an authentic period recreation of everything but the recast actors (enter Gary Kerr, the Okudas, original-bridge enthusiasts), or that we’re supposed to imagine something like that magically existed only between Short Treks and DSC?

    Of course not. As far as DSC is concerned, “The Cage” events existed in a version of DSC style, which can be interpolated between Short Treks and DSC, so we can now hypothesize more gray hair on Mount’s Pike in 2254, without having to worry about Hunter’s appearance any longer. Sure, I can easily believe that SNW will look closer to TOS, but it will still be updated for the present day, never actually steered into a literal period reconstruction (remember, we’ve already seen Pike’s accident and chair in that future).

    All I’m saying is, let’s keep it simple and focus on how old Mount’s Pike can be.
     
  18. TJ Sinclair

    TJ Sinclair Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think we've both misinterpreting each other here. I absolutely accept, and have argued many times, that no 2018 production is going to even attempt to recreate the aesthetic of a 1964 production, nor should they. I don't need an explanation for the cosmetic differences, I just accept that they are.

    I also don't see anything here as any sort of "retcon," really, just an aspect of production differences over a period of more than half a century. I was interpreting your comment of "it's filtered through Pike's daydream" as you saying that was some kind of in-universe explanation for the difference in aesthetics. It isn't, and it doesn't need to be.

    Things looked that way in 1964. They look this way now. If that does anyone's head in, trying to deal with in universe explanations, that's not the show's problem to fix. The guys like Bernd Schneider -- who has done a lot of good for fandom over the years -- that have issues accepting "the way things look now" or insist the differences mean that Discovery is in a different timeline are not a concern to the production, nor should they be.

    That being said, when it comes to novels or comics associated with a particular show, I'd hope that we continue to get TOS-looking aesthetics from a TOS book, and DISCO-looking aesthetics from a DISCO/SNW themed book. Just to keep with the vibe of the source.

    But of course the show itself isn't going to be the same now as it was then, and no "daydream" explanation or "retcon" exists or is needed.

    The only time any of these changes has ever taken me out of the moment was seeing the ridiculous "turbolift factories" that would possibly not be out of place on Earth Spacedock, but are far too large for either Discovery or the Enterprise, regardless of the Discoprise's increased size over the TOS interpretation. To me it's the DISCO equivalent of the Engineering Brewery on the Kelvinprise.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2021
  19. Boris Skrbic

    Boris Skrbic Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Ok, I thought it was obvious that we can’t exactly prove that Pike daydreamed about his mission as “some kind of star trek” from 1964 (though who knows, maybe he did, having recently rewatched Forbidden Planet or something). We do see Mount’s Pike when the footage ends, suggesting he was just thinking about those events.

    As noted, I wanted to make the point that Hunter’s exact appearance doesn’t matter to the latest production continuity. We only need to imagine what Mount’s Pike would’ve looked like in “The Cage”, and “Q&A” is set before that. Here is a photo.
     
  20. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Could Georgiou have entered SFA much later than 17, but quickly Rose through the ranks to become a Captain?