The series premiere of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is still a long way off, but Lower Decks just threw a potentially huge curveball into the franchise canon that the pre-TOS spinoff is going to have to contend with at some point.
So what happened to Captain Pike’s body after “The Menagerie?” Presumably, it was taken care of on Talos IV by the Talosians, but for how long? The latest episode of Lower Decks has a brief Captain Pike Easter egg that’ll make you question how long Pike’s life-support pod can last. If Starfleet is using the exact same tech in 2380 that they used to keep Pike alive back in 2265, then it seems like Pike could potentially live forever.
Here’s what the Pike Easter egg means in the context of the episode, and why it could lead to a bonkers scenario of Captain Pike becoming quasi-immortal. Mild spoilers and speculation ahead.
In Lower Decks Season 1, Episode 7, “Much Ado About Boimler,” we’re introduced to a part of Starfleet called Division 14, which deals with Starfleet people who are victims of “space accidents.” We see at least a couple people who have been zapped by “Delta Radiation,” and are encased in the same kind of life-sustaining pod Pike had in the TOS episode “The Menagerie.” The in-universe explanation for this was that the “delta rays” were so bad that Pike was almost totally cut off from his body, even though his mind was completely fine. Commodore Mendez tells Kirk that Pike is “kept alive mechanically, a battery-driven heart.” In the same episode, when Kirk asks how long Pike will live, Bones replies “As long as any of us.”