Star Trek is getting a series of standalone mini ‘Short Treks’ episodes

When Star Trek: Discovery’s original showrunner, Bryan Fuller, first met with CBS executives about bringing a new Star Trek series to the small screen, he proposed the new property as an anthology series, similar to the format and style of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story. That would allow a much wider lens on the larger Trek universe than any of the previous series or films had been able to accomplish. CBS was reportedly interested, but suggested he start with a serialized story first to test the waters.

With his exit from the show in October 2016 went any chance of a more eclectic take on Discovery — until now. This afternoon at the Discovery panel at San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H, co-creator and current showrunner Alex Kurtzman announced Star Trek: Short Treks, a series of monthly short-form stories that will function like bonus content and air on CBS All Access in conjunction with the larger Star Trek: Discovery series. CBS says Short Treks, which will air in installments of about 10 to 15 minutes, is “an opportunity for deeper storytelling and exploration of key characters and themes that fit into… the expanding Star Trek universe.”

Among the planned episodes: a Harvey Mudd episode directed by (and, of course, starring) Rainn Wilson; a sidebar for Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman); an episode starring Aldis Hodge (AKA Jack from the Black Mirror episode “Black Museum”) as a man stranded on a deserted ship; and, best of all, a much-needed deep dive into Lieutenant Commander Saru, the first (and evidently only) Kelpien in Starfleet.

“There is no shortage of compelling stories to tell in the Star Trek universe that inspire, entertain, and either challenge our preconceived ideas or affirm long held beliefs, and we are excited to broaden the universe already with Short Treks,” Kurtzman said in a press release. “Each episode will deliver closed-ended stories while revealing clues about what’s to come in future Star Trek: Discovery episodes. They’ll also introduce audiences to new characters who may inhabit the larger world of Star Trek.”

During the panel, attendees also got to see the first trailer for season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery, and they learned a few more bits of news: Kurtzman confirmed that season 2 would feature Spock — the Vulcan commander under the original series’ Captain James T. Kirk, rumored to be appearing in the Discovery universe after the season 1 finale featured Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and the USS Enterprise. Mount, meanwhile, confirmed that Number One would also be joining him onscreen.

The character was Pike’s second-in-command in the original series’ initial pilot, but she was ultimately scrapped in favor of William Shatner’s Kirk as the show’s lead. She was originally played by Majel Barrett, the wife of creator Gene Roddenberry, and later the voice of the ship’s computer in Next Generation. This time, she’ll be played by Rebecca Romijn. Wilson Cruz, who plays Dr. Hugh Culber, also strongly hinted that his character — whose explicit relationship with science officer Lieutenant Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) was beloved by LGBTQ fans long hungry for representation in the otherwise progressive franchise — would be returning despite his fate in the first season.

The lead-up to the second season of Discovery has been a ride, to say the least. In June, season 1 showrunners Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts were fired following reports of budget concerns and allegations of abuse from the writers’ room. Days later, it was announced that Kurtzman would be taking over as showrunner, in addition to his duties as executive producer. He also signed on to a five-year CBS deal that would include overseeing several additional Trek series, now including Short Treks and, possibly, another that would see the return of Star Trek: The Next Generation star Patrick Stewart.