Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

‘Strange New Worlds’ season finale: Unbalance of terror

"A Quality of Mercy" uses visions of the future to tell Strange New Worlds‘ first quasi-time-travel story, which is the vehicle for a parable about one man coming to terms with his personally awful fate, which he must willingly choose to accept. It cleverly frames its events from a possible alternate future based on a classic TOS episode and asks the question: What if the fact of our mere presence in a situation were destined to have catastrophic consequences, almost regardless of our actions?

The result is perhaps the best SNW episode of the season, which uses callbacks and nostalgia effectively but without compromising the straightforward effectiveness of the story at hand, which is about Pike learning that his attempt to outsmart his fate may have even more dire consequences for the Federation and those closest to him.

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‘Strange New Worlds’ goes full-on ‘Alien’

On the eve of Uhura’s cadet assignment ending and her announced intention to return to Earth rather than stay aboard the ship, the Enterprise is ordered to investigate the disappearance of the USS Peregrine, which went down on an icy planet and stopped transmitting in the high interference of the atmosphere. The crew’s fate is unknown. Pike takes an away team down in two shuttles where they find the crash-landed ship. It turns out the crew members have been wiped out by the Gorn.

"All Those Who Wander" is a fairly straightforward and unpretentious sci-fi/horror B-movie that’s elevated by a major sacrifice and a final coda that deals with the emotional consequences of the aftermath.

The only survivors found on the Peregrine are a young girl named Oriana (Emma Ho), who is being protected by a member of the world’s indigenous species, whom the girl has named "Buckley" (Carlos Albornoz), and whose language the Universal Translator can’t decipher.

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Dire fantasy has an eleventh-hour redemption

"The Elysian Kingdom" is exceptionally odd, in that it’s such a plodding, boring, test-pattern of a fantasy episode for its first three acts before then becoming really interesting and moving and Trekky in its last act of impossible choices. This was well on its way to being the worst episode of the season before it redeemed itself at the eleventh hour.

That redemption brings it up a few notches, but I still can’t endorse this. I want to throw away the first 40 minutes entirely, in which the Enterprise, trapped in a nebula by a mysterious force, turns into a fantasy world where the crew have their minds hijacked and unwittingly play out the parts in the fantasy book that M’Benga frequently reads to his daughter Rukiya (Sage Arrindell). M’Benga and Hemmer are the only ones who retain their personalities and know they aren’t the characters in the book.

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Under the guidance of ex-Starfleet humanitarian worker Dr. Aspen (Jesse James Keitel), the Enterprise ventures into a "wild west" area of space to rescue missing colonists who have apparently been kidnapped by a band of pirates known to actively pillage this area. Their ship is called the Serene Squall, and Aspen says the pirates will likely sell the colonists into slavery to the Klingons if they aren’t rescued. The Enterprise enters the region, which puts them out of contact with Starfleet and on their own, in a mission to find the Serene Squall and rescue the prisoners.

"The Serene Squall" is easily the worst outing for SNW this season, and it’s a bit of a deflation to see this promising show on the decline for the third straight episode. Still, this one stands out in its boring mediocrity compared to the last two. There haven’t been a lot of pirate episodes on Star Trek (they were long forbidden by Gene Roddenberry in the TNG days), with "Gambit" being the only notable exception. "Gambit" was middling, but it was a lot better than this.

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Pike stares, glares in dealing with latest strange new world

While making a visit to the Majalan system, which Pike visited a decade earlier, the Enterprise comes to the rescue of a Majalan shuttle under attack by a larger ship from a nearby alien colony. The Enterprise fends off the attackers, which crashes on the planet surface as its crew escapes. The shuttle’s rescued passengers are beamed aboard the Enterprise for protection. Among them are a young boy, his father, and a Majalan official named Alora (Lindy Booth), whom Pike coincidentally had some sort of romance with a decade ago.

The boy is the new First Servant of Majalis (Ian Ho), a young genius who is imminently scheduled to ascend to the throne in a crucial ceremony. The boy’s father, Gamal (Huse Madhavji), says he is the father in biology alone, as the First Servant actually belongs to all of Majalis. Alora seems friendly, and is really glad to see Pike again. Gamal seems a bit off, like something is wrong.

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