Critics and fans alike have hailed Star Trek: Strange New Worlds as one of the best Star Trek shows in decades, and there’s really no question why. It’s not the welcome return to Star Trek’s mission-of-the-week structure or the emotionally powerful character moments entwined in each episode. No, it’s Captain Christopher “Daddy” Pike’s hair.
There’s a wise old saying I just made up: The hair makes the space captain. Which begs the question, How did Pike decide on the floof-with-a-pouf for his workaday look? Did he replicate some TRESemmé Mega Firm Control Level 5 Hair Gel one day, grab a round brush, and style his way into Starfleet history?
This question, alas, may forever be unanswered. Pike’s hair, however, continues to stand tall. “He’s No. 1 on the call sheet,” Anson Mount — who plays Pike’s hair — said in reference to his ’do during the Star Trek panel at San Diego Comic-Con. “The hair memes have been fantastic. And really, I don’t know what else to add to that.”
Wherever those luscious locks boldly go, the crew of the USS Enterprise — and we fans — will follow. In recognition of Pike’s hair’s valuable contribution to the United Federation of Planets, we’re ranking Strange New Worlds episodes solely by how incredibly coiffed the Captain’s tresses are. Read on to find out which episodes have pouf for days, which ones could be zhuzhed up a bit, and the few that should be vacuumed up off the salon floor.
Episode 108: “The Elysian Kingdom”
It’s hard to give a low ranking to an episode that has Pike wearing medieval garb, especially when he gets the doublet from a telepathic sentient cloud that makes almost everyone on the Enterprise think they’re a character in a fairy tale. Yes, the captain’s outfit is fly and deserves respect. But Pike’s hair is the true villain of the story — the flat middle part does the impossible by making the captain’s chiseled visage look foppish. A great feat, granted, but it’s a hairdo parted poorly.
Episode 109: “All Those Who Wander”
Lots of folks die in this episode. Lots! And it’s all because Gorn babies are bursting out of people Alien-style and subsequently killing everyone they come across. What’s even more tragic is that Pike clearly doesn’t bring so much as a comb with him on away missions, and his tresses become progressively uncoiffed as he watches members of his crew die around him.
Episode 107: “The Serene Squall”
Pike’s mane gets a bit tangled after he’s taken hostage by some ne’er-do-well pirates who, among other things, clearly lack the meticulous hair regimen that the captain maintains. Even though Pike seems to be enjoying his captivity to some degree — he even gets to cook a scrumptious stew! — his hair flops when faced with the confines of imprisonment.
Episode 104: “Memento Mori”
The Gorn really know how to take the pouf out of Pike. This is the first time the captain faces the Gorn, and something about the lizard-like aliens that use other living things as food supply and incubators really deflates the ’do. The Gorn are willing to do anything — even sacrifice one of their ships! — to suss out and destroy the Enterprise. One other thing that appears to be sacrificed in this episode is Pike’s grooming time. The Gorn, it seems, is one of the sole species in the known universe that can bring the Captain’s hairdo down.
Episode 101 “Strange New Worlds”
The show’s premiere episode starts with Pike on Earth pulling off a strong IDGAF look while he cozies up with his special Starfleet friend, Captain Batel (aka Wynonna Earp), and mulls over the knowledge that he’s gonna die a horrible death in a few years. Even though he clearly left his hair wax on the Enterprise, Pike’s downstyle suggests the greatness that lies within his locks.
Episode 103: “Ghosts of Illyria”
Pike and Spock spend most of this episode trapped on an abandoned colony once inhabited by genetically altered beings. I don’t know what’s in the air there (Editor’s note: It’s those same genetically altered beings turned into charged particles), but dealing with potential death takes some of the poof out of Pike’s floof.
Episode 105: “Spock Amok”
Pike’s hair gets a little extra oomph when paired with the classic green tunic reminiscent of the kind we saw Kirk wear back in The Original Series — a show that first aired in our past but, in the timeline of the Star Trek franchise, is in Pike’s future. Yes, it’s confusing, but Pike’s locks are up to the challenge and seem to have an empathetic wave to them that goes well with both his green ensemble and his diplomatic efforts.
Episode 106: “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach”
Pike reconnects with an old flame in this episode, and even post-coitus, not a strand is out of place. While we don’t see details, there’s no doubt that Pike is a sensitive lover, but given that his bouffant remains immaculate after boffing, it appears the captain is sensitive of his hair when getting his groove on. His tresses don’t even falter when Pike finds out that the lady he’s been lovin’ supports killing a child in order to keep the cogs of her civilization moving ever forward. Few have hair made of sterner stuff.
Episode 110: “A Quality of Mercy”
In the season finale, we get to see the ghost of Pike’s future when he’s an admiral with regrets. The years when he avoided an untimely death via radiation poisoning treated Pike well, and his hair still stands tall, even though he has lived through a major war with the Romulans. What’s more, it’s a far stronger hairdo than the one we see sported by a certain James T. Kirk when the two meet in a classic Star Trek time jump and alternate reality scenario. In this episode, we get Daddy Pike wearing his oh-so-tight apron while cooking up some pasta for Captain Batel. His hair, of course, is always on point, even after a bout of lovemaking, cooking, or trying to form a connection with the war-weary Romulan captain.
Episode 102: “Children of the Comet”
Strange New Worlds really takes off in the season’s second episode, and Pike’s hair takes off with it. The floof-and-poof is a bit wild in this one — no doubt reacting to Pike’s frustration over having a run-in with a religious group that thinks a comet is a sentient divine being. Pike isn’t having it, and his hair writhes itself into an artfully twisted wave as he deals with the comet’s devotees and, later on, contemplates fate’s seeming immutability as the comet appears to predict the future.
It was this episode when the Captain’s hair fully came into its own, and I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of mousse a replicator could spit out in Stardate 2912.4. Pike’s hair is a remarkable phenomenon — one worth following as it explores new worlds and new civilizations and boldly goes where no pompadour has gone before.