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Strange New Worlds

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!

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