Because Star Trek: Discovery takes place ten years before the original Star Trek, the character of Spock could, in theory, appear on the show. And now, the incumbent Spock actor — Zachary Quinto — has made it clear that he’s game to “dip in” to the new series.
In a profile published by Entertainment Tonight, Quinto playfully responds to the idea that the planet Vulcan and Spock’s father Sarek is a big part of the story. “Well, then maybe I’ll have to dip in for a little visit,” he said. Later in the profile ET claims that the cameo “probably” wouldn’t happen, but their reasoning for it is because of the chronological setting. But, the fact is, the chronological setting of Discovery in any existing timeline, makes it perfectly reasonable for Spock to appear. And because Zachary Quinto is canonically Spock — in any reality — it would be fine for him to show up as “prime” Spock, only younger on Discovery.
The first J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie establishes that this would be okay: old Spock (Leonard Nimoy) recognizes young Spock (Zachary Quinto) as himself. Same with old Spock laying eyes on Kirk (Chris Pine) and Scotty (Simon Pegg) and “seeing” the Scotty and Kirk he knew in the past. It’s one of those things that requires the audiences to give the reboot movies a break, but it does seem to the intent. Two actors: same character.
To put it another way, nobody thinks Saavik in Star Trek III is from a different universe than Saavik from Star Trek II even though one was played by Robin Curtis and one was played by Kirstie Alley. Similarly, no one who is a fan of the Marvel movies would claim that the first Iron Man is in a different universe than the other movies even though Roadie is played by Terrence Howard intially, and then later, by Don Cheadle.
So, if Zachary Quinto is both Spock Prime and Spock from the Kelvin universe, then where would he be during the time of Discovery. If the show follows the original canon, Spock would be serving aboard a little ship called the Enterprise with a guy named Captain Pike. And oh guess what? We’ve got a guy who could play Captain Pike, too: Bruce Greenwood!
Star Trek: Discovery will debut on CBS on September 24, 2017.