Sci-Fi: ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Episodes 1 and 2

Still of Celia Rose Gooding as Nyota Uhura and Ethan Peck as Spock in ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’. Copyright goes to Paramount Pictures and Roddenberry Entertainment.

Hey! Hallie here!

I’m finally caught up with a majority of the newer Star Trek content on Paramount+, so now I can actually watch some of these shows as they come out! ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ is definitely a series I’ve been anticipating. Anson Mount’s Cristopher Pike was my favorite part of season 2 of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’, and though I thought they could have done more with Ethan Peck’s Spock, I saw a lot of potential in this version of the character. All they really needed to finish selling me on this show was an awesome Uhura, and the minute I saw Celia Rose Gooding as the character I knew I would be tuning in every week to watch ‘Strange New Worlds’. Just like the other series we cover on this blog, I’ll be reviewing every two episodes so I have a good amount of content to dive into for each review. But who knows? This show’s already giving me so much to adore that I might be posting about it more often than planned! Here’s your warning that there’s SPOILERS ahead, and let’s get started!

Episode 1, ‘Strange New Worlds’:

What I Liked:

Captain Pike: Pike’s trauma is the star of episode one. Pike opens this pilot as a seriously depressed man, partially because of the people he lost in ‘Star Trek: Discovery’, but mostly because he saw himself in the future, horrifically scarred and unresponsive as we all know he ends up in TOS. You really feel how horrific this is for him when he begins to see his scarred face in every reflective surface. It’s disturbing, and if I had that knowledge I would also isolate myself in the middle of a snowy wasteland. But then Number One’s in trouble and she’s too badass to just leave behind, so Pike re-enters the Enterprise despite his mental state. Once we got onto the Enterprise, I was instantly reminded of why I liked Pike so much when he was on the Discovery. He’s a genuinely good captain. He’s loose in the captains chair and casual with everyone around him while still maintaining respect. When Spock corners him about his trauma he’s open to the conversation, even when Spock knowingly oversteps into something he isn’t comfortable speaking about. Pike even confesses that his trauma worries him mostly because he’s afraid of what kind of captain he’ll become when the knowledge of his death could potentially influence his decisions. I also think it’s really interesting to see a captain that’s so serious about the Prime Directive. We’ve definitely seen captains serious about it before, but Pike sees it as a moral obligation. The only way he becomes convinced to help the alien species in this episode is by the knowledge that they created warp technology and it’s partially his fault. At which point he gives the alien species, who’s currently at war, a rousing speech about avoiding the destruction the fictional World War III of Earth caused, which felt like Picard in the best of ways. I just really like Pike. It’s hard to dislike how caring he is is towards the galaxy at large.

Spock: Spock feels SO much more like Spock here than he does in ‘Star Trek: Discovery’. He isn’t moody here, but attentive and wise. He’s always calm and cool on the outside, as all Vulcans are, but his underlying care and concern for the other characters seeps through as well. He presses Pike constantly about his well being throughout the first half of this episode and he offers comfort in the best, most logical way he knows how. I also really loved the added touch of his lack of reaction after he screams in pain while experiencing the genetic disguise wearing off. It made for a good comedy moment that could really only ever come from Spock.

Other Crew: Pike, Spock, and newcomer La’an Noonien-Singh get the majority of the focus in this episode, but I wanted to shout out the other crew members. First, Uhura gets a few scenes in this episode and she shines in all of them. Her natural positivity is so infectious. Next, I actually like Christine Chapel! I really don’t like Christine Chapel in TOS. She’s mostly just used for eye candy and doesn’t have much of a personality to speak of. Christine Chapel here is quirky and funny, with a casual disregard for what others think of her that makes me want to be her. Dr. M’Benga also gets a personality boost in this series, and though we haven’t seen much of him yet, I really like his laid-back attitude. Also, I need to shout out Erica Ortegas, who didn’t get many lines but who was so much fun to watch onscreen that I barely noticed. Finally, Una Chin-Riley might not have been in this episode a lot, but she’s awesome whenever she shows up and I look forward to more of her as the series goes on.

Things I’m Not Sure About:

Incorporation of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’: I don’t have anything I outright dislike, but I do have some hesitations when it comes to this show. Its connection to ‘Discovery’ is one of them. I haven’t really talked about ‘Discovery’ much on this blog, and that’s because I’m not the biggest fan. I think it’s taking so many important strides when it comes to representation, but the writing isn’t the best in my opinion. In the very least I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone looking to watch ‘Star Trek’, so I’m not certain how I feel about a series I’m already loving so much, that I would recommend to my friends, depending on knowledge from a series I wouldn’t likely recommend to my friends. At least I’d only need a brief recap on ‘Discovery’ to catch a new fan up on what’s going on.

Spock Romance Scene: This was just kind of awkward. Also, a good chunk of fans couldn’t care less about T’Pring, especially when so many of them are busy shipping Spock with other characters (Mostly Kirk). I just don’t see what purpose this scene served.

La’an Noonien-Singh: She isn’t the most likable character when she’s introduced, but then again I’m not sure she’s supposed to be. She kicks ass, sure, but she’s standoffish and rude to pretty much everyone. On top of that, she does the very performative looking “I don’t need the sedative for this painful procedure” move, which doesn’t really impress me. But give her the same last name as Khan and I’m thoroughly intrigued. We’ll see where this goes!

Episode 2, ‘Children of the Comet’:

Uhura: I am so happy we got an Uhura episode so early on in the season. This episode was absolutely brilliant. I like the emphasis on how young she is here. She’s a prodigy in language studies, which means she’s the newest on the crew and the youngest by quite a bit. Given her young age, I really liked how the show displayed her uncertainty about her future. We don’t see that often in ‘Star Trek’. Most of the time we’re led to believe that everyone who joins Starfleet is 100% certain about their choice because they’ve trained to get on a star ship for so long. But Uhura ran away to Starfleet after the death of her family, and now that she’s gotten some distance from that tragic event, she’s starting to second guess that split-second decision. As a young person who’s experienced a lot of uncertainty over my future because of unforeseen circumstances, I relate to her so much. I also loved how the show emphasized the importance that her heritage plays in her love of, and immense skill in, languages. When it comes down to the meat of the episode, where Uhura is sent on her first away mission, we get to see a completely new side of the character. For the first time in her life she faces a life-threatening danger where her abilities are the only thing stopping her and the landing party from dying. And she begins to freak out. I adored this side of Uhura. It was so refreshing to see such a confident character buckle under pressure, as anyone would do on their first away mission, and begin to succumb to all of the negative thoughts she’s had about herself. It made the subsequent scenes, where she picks herself up, breaks through to the alien force she’s communicating with (By singing because it’s Uhura), and saves the day, that much more inspiring. Uhura’s already my favorite character in this series.

Spock: Spock gets even more in this episode than he got in the last episode. It’s all perfection. From the first part of the episode where he takes part in hazing Uhura only to admit moments later that her angry reaction made him respect her, to the complete lack of understanding over laughing at misfortune, everything he did in this episode had so much personality. I loved how much he grew as a character just by attempting to keep a watchful eye over Uhura. After the crew dinner he goes after her to speak with her as a result of the way she impressed him, but in the process he makes her feel unwelcome by suggesting that she leave if she’s uncertain about Starfleet. In reality he’s only trying to encourage her to put more work into giving Starfleet a chance, but his logical approach to this winds up coming back to haunt him when Uhura loses faith in her abilities on her first away mission. In coming to terms with Uhura’s uncertainties and encouraging her to focus on the present rather than on “what ifs”, he finally gets through to her and gives her the encouragement to save the day. He even supports her attempts to communicate in the alien’s language, which means we get to hear Spock’s adorably monotoned singing voice! I know that there’s a lot of talk over whether or not Spock and Uhura should be a couple, especially because there’s evidence to suggest Gene Roddenberry might have put them together in TOS if not for the rampant racism of the time, but I liked this approach to their relationship. Nichelle Nichols has always described Spock and Uhura’s relationship as a more mentor/student sort of dynamic, and it really works here.

The Pike Storyline: Pike’s part of this story isn’t as interesting as Spock and Uhura’s, but it’s still enjoyable to watch. I really like when we get episodes where the Starfleet crew is the one misunderstanding the alien species they’re talking to and not the other way around. I think it’s important in shows like this to shine a light on all of the things humans don’t know, even in a possible future where we’re far more advanced. Pike goes from thinking that the aliens they encounter in this episode are crazy and have no concern for sentient life, to realizing that they’re correct and while the Enterprise crew is needed to solve the issue at hand, there isn’t need to offend the aliens they encountered in the process. I also really loved the idea of Pike holding social dinners with the bridge crew in his quarters. It felt very much like when Sisko would cook his crew a meal on his off time and offer cooking lessons to anyone who wanted to help out. It makes the whole crew feel like a big family and it’s so comforting to see.

I don’t have any negatives to discuss for episode two so I’m going to end this here! As you can probably tell, I’m really enjoying myself with ‘Strange New Worlds’. I love all of the characters so far and the character development we’ve seen is inane for only two episodes. In general, I like the return to the regular ‘Star Trek’ formula. I like seeing a captain and their crew work together to solve planetary issues as they make contact with new worlds and new species. Sometimes it’s nice to turn things on their head and explore different storylines, but ‘Star Trek’ seems to be struggling a bit with these types of stories at the moment, so it’s nice to see the perfected original formula working at its best. They won me over after episode one, so I’m so excited to see what each new episode brings!

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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