Full spoilers follow for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1.
Anson Mount’s arrival in the world of Star Trek could very easily have turned into stunt casting if not handled correctly, but instead was the return of Christopher Pike, the original captain of the USS Enterprise, not only made for a great season of Star Trek: Discovery. It also led to the spin-off series Strange New Worlds, which, as we now know at the end of Season 1, is the best single season of a Star Trek show since the legendary 90s of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
One of the keys to the success of the debut 10-episode season of Strange New Worlds has been a willingness to embrace standalone, weekly storytelling rather than season-long arcs. This, combined with a deep bank of immediately likable characters, has led to a lot of adventure, emotional punches, a lot of humor, and one of the most important elements of Star Trek that is sometimes lost in the modern era – good, old-fashioned exploration.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Images
Sometimes that meant Pike, Spock, and the crew encountering miracles like the comet in episode 2 that they believe will wipe out a planet’s inhabitants before realizing that they were somehow destined to not just destroy the planet. save it, but also make it. a seemingly better place for its people to live as well. But there have also been horrors, such as in “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach,” when the Enterprise has to deal with a race that, well… sacrifice children to power their world. Strange New Worlds indeed. We also have run-silent, run-deep-style battle stories, pirate adventures, a body-swap comedy, an Alien/Predator riff, and much more as Season 1 unfolds. And for every new alien race or awesome space station, a bit of that old Trek social commentary plays just below the surface. It’s there, but it never goes over your head like a misaligned phaser explosion.
Front and center of it all, of course, is Mount, whose relaxed, let-me-make-an-omelette style of captaincy certainly sets him apart from his predecessors. Pike, like most of the other main characters in the show, actually is doing get a season arc here, as he struggles with the foreknowledge that one day he will be horribly injured in an accident. Should he change his future now that he knows about it? While the show doesn’t dwell on the question, we got periodic check-ins with Pike on the matter over the course of its 10 episodes, before things culminated in the season finale when he got a chance to see just how much he cares about the galaxy as he. deviated from his destination.
So Strange New Worlds actually has its long stories to tell, but they’re not about space McGuffins or anything like that. Instead, Season 1 was about Cadet Uhura’s (Celia Rose Gooding) journey to discover the Enterprise was where she really needed to be, or La’an Noonien-Singh’s (Christina Chong) coming to terms with her refugee status. of the Gorn. And then, of course, there’s Ethan Peck’s Spock, whose destiny as Original Series/Leonard Nimoy Spock is arguably the most predetermined of the group. Here, especially in the ninth episode, as the crew suffers a major loss, we see Spock struggling to control his emotions once he gives in, a clear indication of why he will end up shutting himself off completely from the same thing.
The relationship between Spock and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) was particularly intriguing, as we know it barely exists by the time we get to Season 1 of The Original Series. But here’s one of the most fascinating of the bunch, a flirty friendship where the natural chemistry between the two characters (and actors) seems almost unstoppable. And yet it comes to an end… must come to a halt to eventually align with canon. It’s sad to know it will end, but then again…don’t relationships always end?
As for the loss that so affected Spock, the death of Bruce Horaks Hemmer was a surprising moment that, as hard as it may be to accept — Hemmer was an instant favorite — reminds us that most of these characters aren’t safe. Is there a reason Rebecca Romijn’s Una Chin-Riley, aka Number One, isn’t still on the Enterprise by the time Kirk takes over? Maybe she just got a transfer, or maybe the answer is worse than that. Certainly the mini-cliffhanger in the closing moments of this season indicates that Una is currently in trouble.
The show leans a little too hard on tributes to other great Star Trek and sci-fi stories at times, like in the season finale with a rerun of the classic Original Series episode “Balance of Terror.” And the judges still disagree on Paul Wesley’s rather dry take on Captain Kirk, who will show up in the season finale but will also be back for season 2. But overall, Strange New Worlds has managed to carve its own place in Trekdom. , even though it exists in an era of the franchise that we thought we already knew.
Plus, they gave Pike the classic green captain’s tunic. You just can’t go wrong there.
Questions and comments from the Q continuum:
- The announcement of Paul Wesley’s Kirk for Season 2 was a clever way to avoid expectations that he would appear this season… and yet we definitely knew he would appear this season! We just didn’t expect it to be an alt-future Kirk.
- Speaking of which, I appreciate the nerdy details used to create variations on the classic uniforms, but I wish they’d just kept Future Pike in the finale in the classic Monster Maroon from the TOS movies.
- This show isn’t afraid to delve into aspects of Trek that aren’t particularly beloved either. Sybok, from the (incorrectly) infamous Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, was even revived in a cameo scene that is sure to lead to more in Season 2.
- That same episode also gave us another great new villain, Jesse James Keitel’s space pirate Angel!
- Despite Hemmer’s death, Bruce Horak has said he will return to Star Trek in some capacity. But will he be? U.S Hemmer?!
- With Pike seemingly accepting his fate at the end of this season, we now seem to have a clear timeline of how long this show can go on: not long enough!