CBS Casting Announcements
We’ve seen the USS Shenzhou referenced a number of times so far in official Star Trek Discovery updates put out by CBS. She’s a Federation starship that will be part of the show’s plot line in some way or another. Exactly to what extent the Shenzhou will be in it hasn’t been released yet.
It’s been nearly three months now since the first Star Trek Discovery casting announcement was made on November 29th 2016. At least one of the three people in that press release is slated to be a member of the Shenzhou’s crew. Michelle Yeoh will play Shenzhou’s Captain Georgiou. In addition to that cast announcement, there has since been three further casting updates, and there’s at least one more to come. Lieutenant Commander Rainsford hasn’t been officially announced yet by CBS, but it’s widely believed she’ll be played by Sonequa Martin-Green.
At this point in time, strangely, we now know of more Shenzhou crew members than of the USS Discovery. That said, an important point to note here is that there has been no duplication of roles announced for either ship when you look at the cast as a whole. The captain of the Shenzhou has been announced. The captain of the Discovery has not. Chief medical officer for Shenzhou announced – Discovery; no mention of a doctor. And so on.
So why no replication in roles if crews of both ships are being announced?
Starship Crews to Combine
It’s possible (actually, likely in our opinion) that things are being done this way because the crews of the USS Shenzhou and the crew of the USS Discovery will be forced to merge in the new Star Trek tv series. We now believe the Shenzhou will not make it much past the pilot episode and that her crew will need to take up refuge aboard the USS Discovery.
It could also be the other way around, with the Shenzhou being the primary ship, but then we’d be stuck wondering why the name of the series is “Discovery“.
Perhaps some cataclysmic event happens early in the series that kills a number of crew from both ships – maybe even destroying the Shenzhou in the process – and forcing the amalgamation of crews for survival, and to complete their mission. This could partially explain why the series lead is a Lieutenant Commander, if she were one of just a few crew remaining on the Discovery and with detailed knowledge of its mission.