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Captain Pike

Star Trek Strange New Worlds: Season One

I adore Strange New Worlds! While I have been disappointed with recent Star Trek shows (I hate Discovery and Picard was only been ok) this newest series hit it out of the park. I shared in a previous post that I feel the episodic storytelling serves it well- while of course there is continuity over the episodes, the self-contained episodes have been working to SNW‘s advantage.

Strange New Worlds

The first episode lays down some background for Captain Pike, establishing his knowledge of what he knows will befall him, and his affable nature as the first captain of the USS Enterprise. When his second-in-command, Una goes missing on a planet during a first-contact mission, Pike needs to work around Starfleet rules when he realizes the planet’s government has recreated some technology and possibly will use it as a weapon. This protocol breach results in the Prime Directive.

Children of the Comet

A comet is headed towards an inhabited planet, and when trying to course correct it, the Enterprise is blocked by a group of zealots who tie the comet’s journey into religious significance. Of course, the crew figures out how to modify its trajectory, and realizes that the comet is some sort of living entity. We have some lighter moments of seeing Pike host crew dinners in his personal quarters and viewers get to know some background on Cadet Uhura and find out the pilot Ortega is quite the jokester.

Ghosts of Illyria

A colony of Illyrians, who have been kicked out of the Federation due to genetic engineering, have disappeared and the Enterprise crew tries to find them. We learn a secret about Una in this episode, plus that the widowed Dr. M’Benga has been keeping his terminally sick daughter in stasis while he tries to find a cure for her.

Memento Mori

While bringing an air filter to a space colony, the Enterprise crew finds out that many of the colonists are dead due to a Gorn attack. Security chief La’an Noonien-Singh recognizes the threat since she is a childhood survivor of a Gorn massacre. (Aside- In TOS Kirk fought off a Gorn in a ridiculous wrestling match, and the actor in a reptile suit was comical looking, even by 1960s standards).

Spock Amok

The crew is given shore leave, and Spock plans to reconnect with his fiancee T’Pring, but is called away for a mission. There is some levity, with Spock and T’Pring accidentally changing minds for a time, and the serious Una and La’an trying to understand a bingo game that new crew members play. Spock and T’Pring show some serious chemistry (to Nurse Chapel’s disappointment), so I wonder how they will handle the relationship in SNW, as in TOS the engagement ends.

Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach

This was a heartbreaking episode, as the crew meet a child who is doomed to be a sacrifice so his people can live in paradise. Pike is horrified that the child will endure years of pain, and tries to thwart the ceremony to no avail.

The Serene Squall

A space pirate captain fools the Enterprise crew for awhile, but then reveals her true motive- she demands her lover, who is being held by the Vulcan government be released. It is revealed in the last moments that the prisoner is Sybok, Spock’s half-brother, who was infamously in the movie Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (directed poorly by William Shatner). This movie has been derided for years, but hey, SNW is leaning into it.

The Elysian Kingdom

I loved this fun high fantasy episode! When surveying a nebula, the crew is knocked out and wake up dressed as fairytale characters. Only Chief Engineer Hemmer, who is a telepath, realizes that the nebula has a consciousness and is trying to entertain the doctor’s daughter. Later the doctor is given a heartbreaking decision, as the nebula can cure his daughter but she will have to remain behind. But the nebula is kind and will give her a good life, and the doctor can come back and visit her in the future. You can tell the actors had fun with these roles- they got to act against type and go full-out camp. See the below YouTube video for a fun preview of the episode.

All Those Who Wander

The Gorn are back! The crew beams to an ice planet to try to save the survivors there, but one of the main characters of this season becomes infected and they bravely sacrifice themselves so others can live. This death took me by surprise, and I was saddened to realize this character won’t be in S2.

A Quality of Mercy

Pike’s vision of his future death tie into this episode, as Pike thinks if he changes a few choices he can prevent his death, but a future Pike comes back to warn him that those changes set off an even worse chain of events. Despite this sobering news, Pike remains optimistic as he knows his sacrifice will be for the greater good. We also are given a surprise cameo of the future Captain Kirk played by Paul Wesley (famous for his role Stefen in The Vampire Diaries) and I like the casting. But in the last minute, a cliffhanger is established when the Federation shows up to arrest a member of Pike’s crew.

I really believe the producers and writers of Star Trek really took fans’ concerns to heart in this new series. The tone is much lighter, similar to the iconic original series that started this entire franchise. While they still tackle big issues, we aren’t burdened with overly long and dark story arcs. I like all the main roles, and I personally find Pike incredibly dreamy. SNW is everything I hoped it would be, and I speak for many when I say that this series is exactly what the franchise needed. In the meantime- live long and prosper!

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

I LOVE Strange New Worlds! I now consider it one of the best Star Trek shows, giving my beloved The Next Generation a run for its money.

I have to admit I have been disappointed with Trek for many years now- although I will always be a die-hard Trekkie. As a child, I watched re-run TOS episodes and watched all of the original movies, but it wasn’t until college that I became a true fan because of TNG and Captain Picard’s tenure. I also adored Captain Sisko’s DS9 and Captain Janeway’s Voyager series. However, I was disappointed with Captain Archer’s Enterprise, which I considered not up to par and not Trekkie enough, but now it has moved far up in my estimation due to my extreme dislike for Discovery. The new Picard series has been good but doesn’t have the same appeal as TNG (but the original crew will be back for S3!).

Many Star Trek fans have been very critical of Discovery and accused it of being too “woke”, and for awhile I tried my best to embrace the show, but eventually I gave up early into its third season. The main character Michael Burnham was much too much for me, it had long convoluted storylines, and it kept on introducing new characters and ignoring its bridge crew. The only bright spot was the second season was when Captain Pike, who was Captain Kirk’s predecessor, came aboard to help the USS Discovery crew. He brought along a young Spock who had a ridiculous plot line with Burnham, and these two plus Pike’s second-in-command Una became fan favorites.

These three hit it out of the park on Discovery and are anchoring SNW!

Anson Mount has done an admirable job of playing Captain Christopher Pike, a role originated by Jeffrey Hunter in the 1960s. Hunter shot the original pilot for Star Trek, but tv execs wanted to re-tool the concept, and Hunter was let go and replaced by William Shatner who played Captain Kirk. Only the character Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, was kept, and eventually, the footage of the first pilot was brilliantly worked into the episode The Menagerie linking Spock and the two captains of the Enterprise. That episode establishes that Pike will have a terrible accident and he will become disfigured and live his final years on an alien planet. Strange New Worlds is a prequel, as was Discovery for the first two years (before they jettisoned into the far future-gah!), so the specter of the accident hangs over the dashing Pike who has had a vision of his fate.

The original pilot, in addition to Captain Pike and Spock, featured Pike’s second in command Una Chin-Riley whom he typically called Number One. She was played by creator Gene Roddenberry’s soon-to-be IRL wife, Majel Barrett, who later played Nurse Chapel on TOS and Counselor Troi’s mother on TNG. Plus, we have more familiar characters- Doctor M’Benga who served under both Pike and Kirk, Nurse Chapel (which is funny because Majel Barrett played both her and Una), La’an Noonien-Singh who is a descendent of the famous Khan from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan movie, Spock’s fiancee T’Pring, and best of all a young Nyota Uhura. Then there are a few new characters such as the brash pilot Ortegas, and the gruff blind engineer Hemmer.

This season had ten episodes, which nowadays is considered a full season, and every single one was excellent. The first episode laid down some background for Captain Pike, establishing his knowledge of what he knows will befall him, and his affable nature as the first captain of the USS Enterprise. We meet all the characters I mentioned in the above paragraph, and as the season progresses we get to know every single one of them. What I found a problem on TOS and on Discovery (but not so much on TNG, DS9, Voyager or Enterprise) is that some people fade into the background and they concentrate too much on only a handful of the main characters. Of course, a series can’t always be equal, and some characters will naturally get the main storylines, but they seem to be really trying to flesh out all of these characters and also a few others on the ship.

The episodic storytelling is going well- while of course there is continuity over the episodes, the self-contained episodes have been working to SNW‘s advantage. They have been able to have episodes that center on certain characters, and have some dark storylines but also have some comedic moments, with one episode going full-out fantasy. In fact, I will have a future post just centering on the episodes!

All in all, this new series has hit the sweet spot for me and many other Star Trek fans. I look forward to season two and picking up the threads that were left in the finale. In the meantime- live long and prosper my friends!

Short Treks- Season Two

Star Trek Discovery tried an innovative approach in keeping it’s audience’s attention and building interest- it put out four shorts (each approximately 10-15 minutes long), between Discovery’s season one and two. This second time around there were six episodes, two of which were animated, and timed to coincide with the premiere of Star Trek Picard.

Warning- Spoilers!

Q&A

The first episode took the popularity of season two’s young Spock, Number One and Captain Pike and gave them their own prequel to us meeting them on the U.S.S. Discovery. Spock is beaming aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise for the first time as an ensign and meets Number One who he gets trapped in a turbolift with. Their prim and proper conversation takes a turn for the personal, with a fun but odd singing rendition of I Am The Very Model Of a Modern Major General by both of them. They later pretend to meet for the first time in front of Captain Pike. I did have two problems with this episode- they should not have been wearing those uniforms yet, but most importantly, I like them so much that I want them back on Star Trek Discovery in season three (or even better- a spinoff of their own)!

The Trouble With Edward

This episode was hysterical! I was laughing so hard that my oldest son sat down with me to finish watching the episode after I gave him a quick overview of the iconic TOS episode The Trouble with Tribbles. While my three children are all Star Wars fans, I’ve never gotten them interested in Star Trek (to my everlasting shame) so having him watch this short trek with me was a victory indeed!

New Captain Lynne Lucero is assigned to the starship U.S.S. Cabot (and is escorted there by Captain Pike) where she meets scientist Edward Larkin who is conducting some morally questionable experiments on alien Tribbles, for he wishes to use them as a food source on a starving planet. Ordered to stop, he does not, and the Tribbles start to breed out of control, eventually overtaking the entire ship. While Starfleet officers are usually professional, Edward’s ego got the best of him (as did the Captain’s frankly), and the sequence of events afterward is comical. Captain Lucero’s explanation to an admiral board of review is accurate and a perfect ending to this episode. (BTW, this is the first time chronologically we see a Trill alien in Starfleet)

Ask Not

The third Short Trek with dreamy Captain Pike! When Starbase 28 is attacked, Cadet Thira Sidhu is tasked with guarding a mutinous prisoner who no surprise is Captain Pike. Pike attempts to convince Sidhu into releasing him, but she refuses despite her husband being on board the starship in danger. Pike then reveals that this is a simulated test, and because of her fortitude she is welcomed aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise as an engineer. We even get a brief look at Spock and Number One when she beams abroad. While I very much enjoyed this mini-episode, the likelihood of a captain taking the time to screen applicants for his ship like this is extremely unlikely. But I’ll let is pass, as this might have been our last opportunity to see Pike, Spock and Number One together.

Ephraim and Dot

I was unsure about the animated shorts, but this first was adorable! Set in TOS timeline, a mother Tardigrade wants a safe place to lay her eggs, when The Enterprise disrupts her, so she follows the starship to see if it would be a viable location. She is witness to some iconic episodes- Space Seed (Khan!), The Trouble With Tribbles, The Naked Time (shirtless Sulu with a sword), Who Mourns For Adonis? (giant green hand in space), The Doomsday Machine (the big planet killer), The Tholian Web (orange energy cube), and The Savage Curtain (hey, whats President Lincoln doing in space?!), along with some other shoutouts to TOS happenings.  A droid, Dot, tries to stop her but later realizes her intent and there is a heartwarming ending. The animation was colorful, amusing and will appeal to all ages.

The Girl Who Made the Stars

As much as I loved the previous animated short, I did not like the second one at all. In this episode, we are shown Michael from the Star Trek Discovery crew, as a young child who is afraid of the dark. Her father wishes to reassure so he tells a tale of a young girl from Africa who brings stars to her tribe, as a gift from an alien she met. This story rubbed me the wrong way because a problem I have been having with the Discovery series is that Michael is just so earnest, and she and she alone is the savior of her ship and mankind. This cloying fairy tale-esque episode reinforced that issue which makes me wonder if Star Trek Discovery will fall to the wayside for me soon.

Children of Mars

This mostly wordless episode ties in with the Picard series as a prequel to Picard’s timeline, set in 2385, when Mars was attacked by deviant synthoids. The story begins with two girls who attend boarding school on Earth, speaking with their parents who are workers on Mars before they leave for school. The girls get into a skirmish at school and escalate it until they are truly fighting in the hallways.  As they are awaiting punishment from the Vulcan principal, the news is announced and the girls each realize they have lost a parent, and link hands in solidarity. We briefly see Picard on a screen when he was still an Admiral and this all fits into the mystery of Picard’s storyline. This episode was effective on many levels- it showed youth in school as we don’t see many children or family units in the Star Trek world, the catastrophe will sadly remind viewers of iconic tragedies such as 9/11 or the Challenger explosion and ties in neatly with the timeline and reasons for Picard leaving Starfleet.

All in all, I found five of the six episodes strong. These shorts allow some additional ideas to be developed that there is no time to explore in regular episodes. Fan favorites such as Pike, Spock and Number One got more character development, and threads that connect to the newest series were introduced. It a smart move by CBS to produce these mini-episodes to keep interest strong in the franchise and keep subscribers from dropping the paid platform. However, for me, I waited until Picard premiered to re-up my subscription and just caught up with these shorts at that time. So, soon enough you can expect a Star Trek Picard post from me. In the meantime- live long and prosper!

-Nancy

Star Trek Discovery: Season Two

I have a secret…although I profess my love for Star Trek, I have had a hard time following this new series, and have only very recently finished the second season although the finale came out months ago. I’ve been rather lukewarm about the series, although it has a few bright spots, as I’ve shared in the posts I wrote about the beginning of Season One and then when I finished it. But each season I’ve had some time constraints that popped up mid-season and I had to put my watching on hold, and then I struggled with finishing the final episodes.

The first season was atypical of what most Star Trek series have been like, and I came to think of it as more Star Trek-inspired than truly a Trek show. With a mid-season break, the creators seemed to do a bit of course correction and tried to hew the last few episodes of season one towards established canon. Captain Pike, the predecessor of the Enterprise’s Captain Kirk, was introduced and it seemed as if season two might try to actually be more Trekkie. They even cast a new Spock to be introduced as a pivotal character as the foster brother to Michael Burnham, the lead of this series. I truly enjoyed the four Short Treks that started off the season as teasers for the regular episodes to come. But alas, season two went off the rails with an extremely convoluted storyline.

*Spoiler alert* At the end of season one, Discovery meets up with Enterprise that had been on a faraway mission and sat out the recent war with the Klingons. With Captain Lorca no longer with the ship, Captain Pike is sent over to captain the USS Discovery as the USS Enterprise is docked for repairs. This sets us up to meet a young Spock who is in the midst of a mental breakdown and not anything like what we expect from TOS. Spock and Michael are brother and sister as Spock’s parents took in an orphaned Michael as a child and their connection is forced and ridiculous. There is a huge absurd storyline about a Red Angel visiting at pivotal battles to help and it ends up with the two of them needing to save ALL HUMANITY with a time-traveling space suit. In the midst of all this,  a character is brought back from the dead and my favorite character Tilly has to fight the most annoying alien ever. Three of the Short Treks tie into the narrative at the conclusion, and in the end, the crew splits up, with some of them having to go to the future with the USS Discovery.

It doesn’t bode well that many of my favorite characters were left behind in their present-day, while Michael and many of the younger crew members were sent to the future. I assume that’s not to say we will never see them again, cause come on it’s Star Trek; but I will miss Captain Pike, young Spock, Number One, love-struck Ash, Klingon Chancellor L’Rell and mirror-universe Georgiou. Michael was really grating on my nerves, with way too much focus on her and her earnestness, so more of her next season is not appealing. This turned out to be a pretty negative review of Discovery, but I’m not ready to give it up yet. The recently announced new Short Treks look promising and I will be all in for the new Picard series next year!

Live long and prosper, my friends!

-Nancy

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