Movies & TV Shows

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Review

Please log in or register to do it.
Star Trek Strange New Worlds Crew Cast

Minor spoilers ahead for the premiere episode of Season 1 of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

You don’t want me in command of that ship

Christopher Pike

This sentiment is quite rare within the context of Star Trek, a universe where the main characters typically possess an innate inclination to assume leadership roles. However, in the debut of “Strange New Worlds,” featuring Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike, we witness a different side of leadership uncertainty.

Charting New Courses: Captain Pike’s Odyssey in ‘Strange New Worlds’

Pike’s path back to a commanding role commences in the inaugural episode of this latest Star Trek series. The show pays homage to the golden era of Star Trek from the past, where episodic adventures took precedence, extraterrestrial beings and their quirks often resembled humans, despite their unique appearances, and a touch of good-natured humor eased the weight of the crew’s lofty ideals aboard the USS Enterprise.

Diehard Star Trek enthusiasts are likely aware of Pike’s challenging circumstances in this premiere episode. Referring to a fifty-year-old TV episode, it was established in the original series that Pike was destined to suffer a severe injury in a future accident, consigning him to life as a debilitated man reliant on life-sustaining machinery. When the character resurfaced in 2019 in “Star Trek: Discovery,” Anson Mount’s portrayal of Pike offered a glimpse into this bleak future. This understanding accounts for his despondent demeanor as he roams the mountains, sporting a pandemic-appropriate beard, in his initial appearance here.

Naturally, it was Pike’s involvement in “Discovery” – with Mount joined by his “Strange New Worlds” co-stars Ethan Peck (Spock) and Rebecca Romijn (Number One) in the second season – that breathed new life into the Pike character. Fans developed a strong affection for him and his companions, prompting demands for a dedicated show. Nowadays, fan wishes often carry considerable weight. (It’s worth noting that the original “Star Trek” series was reputedly saved from cancellation, at least temporarily, by fervent fan letter-writing campaigns. Historical precedent is at play here.)

And so, this series has come into being, chronicling the early escapades of the USS Enterprise before the tenure of Captain Kirk. The crew includes the central trio of Pike, Spock, and Number One, along with Celia Rose Gooding as Uhura (depicted as a young cadet), Jess Bush as Nurse Christine Chapel (evidently a civilian not yet part of Starfleet), and Babs Olusanmokun as Dr. M’Benga (a character who made sporadic appearances in the original show). Fresh faces also emerge, such as Christina Chong as security chief La’an Noonien-Singh, Melissa Navia as helmsperson Erica Ortegas, and Bruce Horak as the sightless alien chief engineer Hemmer.

Star Trek Strange New Worlds Series

The central focus of the episode revolves around the Enterprise crew being summoned back from their leave ahead of schedule. Their mission is to locate one of their own—Number One, played by Romijn—who got caught up in a mission gone awry on a planet that bears resemblance to Earth during the 21st century. This concept of parallel Earths, initially introduced by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in TOS, is embraced in this episode, although it avoids directly replicating the “Roman Earth” or “Nazi Earth” scenarios of the original series. The planet discovered by Pike and his team, along with the challenges they confront, exudes the essence of classic Star Trek storytelling, enriched with a healthy dose of cautionary narrative.

Unquestionably, some fans might raise concerns about Strange New Worlds’ interactions with established continuity. For instance, Spock’s period spent on Vulcan with a particular character here appears to intersect with the events of a renowned Original Series episode. However, there is potential for this subplot to be seamlessly integrated into the pre-existing narrative without violating canon. Whether the delicate handling of this specific subplot is ultimately justified is a matter yet to be determined.

Choosing Between Fresh Stories and Nostalgic Connections in Strange New Worlds

Spock Strange New Worlds

Speaking of which, narratives like Spock’s journey here or Pike’s challenges in dealing with his foreseen destiny appear to be ongoing themes throughout the series. (As of the time of writing, the first five episodes have been shared with the press.) While shows like Discoveries and Picards are centered around season-long overarching antagonistic storylines, Strange New Worlds opts for a weekly focus on fresh tales while also gradually unfolding its characters’ personal narratives over the course of the season. These character arcs span the entire season, and the approach truly pays off in the initial quintet of episodes.

In this premiere episode, Mount and Peck are provided with captivating material to delve into. Mount’s charisma alone could seemingly power the Enterprise, and Peck’s distinct portrayal of a Spock ten years away from becoming the Spock we know is utterly engaging. Meanwhile, franchise newcomer Christina Chong’s La’an Noonien-Singh also manages to shine brightly in her debut. Admittedly, the character’s concept seemed rather questionable upon announcement—an offspring of Khan Noonien-Singh, as seen in The Wrath of Khan, working on the Enterprise? However, Chong delivers an impressive performance, hinting at her genetically complex history and effortlessly demonstrating her capabilities during the away mission on the planet’s surface.

Nevertheless, much like the Spock storyline in this week’s episode, and perhaps in the context of any long-running franchise that has endured since the time of Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency, fans might need to make a decision. Will they embrace the new narratives or instead fixate on how connections are made, or not, to stories recounted decades ago? In the case of Strange New Worlds, my recommendation is to choose the former approach, because if the initial five episodes serve as any indication, this is undeniably exceptional Star Trek.

Strange New Worlds Delivers Unmatched Trek Experience

Strange New Worlds Crew

The debut of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds adopts a classic approach to the franchise, not only in its setting and characters but also in its narrative style. The primary focus is on self-contained stories, presumably set on unfamiliar planets where new life and civilizations await exploration. However, the continuous character arcs will serve as the cohesive element that binds the season together. Anchored by the already exceptional performances of Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, and Rebecca Romijn, the series introduces a promising ensemble of fresh talents. With its blend of humor, inspiration, and remarkable storytelling, Strange New Worlds stands out as the finest addition to the Trek universe in years.

Pikmin 4 Game Review
Meg 2: The Trench Movie Review