Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

I am very much looking forward to this show, despite the fact that it spun off from my least favorite show of the franchise (DIS I mean, not TOS). When DIS premiered, I was prepared to accept enhanced special effects and redesigned sets, but I was not prepared to accept the blatant violations of canon for which the series became known (the "spore drive," the Klingons, the backstory and the tech in general), yet the show runners continue to insist that DIS is set in classic continuity rather than a rebooted continuity of its own. [I don't understand; no one insists that the 2004 Battlestar Galactica is part of the same continuity as the 1978 original (which it just as obviously is not), and everyone is fine with it.] My plan is to approach SNW with the same optimism I had for DIS and hope it doesn't reference its mother show too much.

Season One:

1. Strange New Worlds - p1

2. Children of the Comet - p1

3. Ghosts of Illyria - p1

4. Memento Mori - p1

5. Spock Amok - p2

6. Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach - p2

7. The Serene Squall - p2

N. The High Country

8. The Elysian Kingdom - p2

9. All Those Who Wander - p2

10. A Quality of Mercy - p2

Season Two:

1. The Broken Circle - p3

2. Ad Astra Per Aspera - p3

3. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow - p4

4. Among the Lotus Eaters - p4

5. Charades - p4

6. Lost in Translation - p5

7. Those Old Scientists - p6

8. Under the Cloak of War - p6

9. Subspace Rhapsody - p7

10. Hegemony - p7

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  • STRANGE NEW WORLDS: As the episode begins, Enterprise is in drydock and has been for a year being refit following a hazardous mission. Pike is on leave exhibiting symptoms of PTSD. (Anyone who has watched Discovery already knows what happened, but the backstory itself is not integral to the plot.) We do eventually learn that Pike has seen a vision of his fate about 10 years in the future. He not only saw it, he experienced it. April tells Pike that his first officer has gone missing on a first contact mission and that the admiral is sending Pike and the Enterprise to investigate. 

    There is a scene on Vulcan between Spock and T'Pring as he takes his leave of her when called back to duty. Pike's temporary first officer, Lt. La'an Noonien-Singh, is the sole survivor of an attack by a newly-encountered species known as the Gorn. I'm not going to belabor the plot here, but it concerns a "first contact" mission gone terribly wrong. The society has developed a "warp bomb" before it developed a warp drive, which has never happened before. It is this mission which led to refining "General Order One" into the "Prime Directive."

    Here are some of the familiar characters from the original Star Trek on SNW:

    Admiral Robert April

    Captain Christopher Pike

    Number One (Una Chin-Riley)

    Dr. M'Benga (not Boyce or Piper)

    Nurse Chapel

    Cadet Uhura

    Lt. Sam Kirk

    The crew/cast is racially diverse, including several new characters I have not mentioned yet. Admiral (not Commodore) Robert April is now Black (contradicting only TAS), and Dr. M'Benga is much more African the TOS's "TV Negro." An Asian transporter chief is named Kyle. Regarding some of the other crew (notably Dr. M'Benga, Nurse Chapel and Cadet Uhura), their being on the Enterprise at this time doesn't match my "head canon" but I'm not going to say to much about it because this is so obviously a reboot. (Sam Kirk served on Pike's Enterprise alongside Spock?) It reminds me of Harry Osborn and Mary Jane Watson being high school classmates of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy in the so-called "Ultimate" universe. That would never fly in a flashback, but in a reboot it doesn't really matter. Another problem is that characters such as Cadet Uhura and Nurse Chapel) will have outgrown their original TOS characterizations by the time Jim Kirk takes command, just as Jimmy Olsen did in Smallville. (In order to synch up with "cub reporter" continuity [SPOILER], Jimmy had to die and his identity assumed by his younger brother. [END SPOILER]

    I don't intend to belabor the anachronistic tech issues going forward, but further evidence that SNW is a reboot is that period costumes are able to be "beamed" onto the landing party's bodies during transport, sick bay has an emergency medical transporter, and Enterprise is able to "hover" within a planet's atmosphere. 

    Continuity-wise, this episode establishes that America's Second Civil War led to the Genetics Wars which morphed in turn to World War III. (Picard season two already established that the Genetics Wars took place in the 21st century, not "the 1990s" per "Space Seed".) 

    Back when DIS was first announced, THIS is what I hoped it would be. I have tried hard to like DIS, but after four seasons it is still barely recognizable as "Star Trek". I don't expect SNW to conform to established continuity any more than I do the Abramsverse movies. 

  • CHILDREN OF THE COMET: This is largely an "Uhura" episode. She is invited to the captain's quarters for dinner and we learn that her parents and brother were killed in a shuttle accident and that she is not at all certain that her future is in Starfleet. (The "captain's quarters," BTW, is the size of a small lounge; many of the crew are there, befoe you get the wrong idea,not just Uhura.) The Enterprise is surveying the path of a comet. Spock's analysis reveals that it will crash into a primative but inhabited planet in a few days' time. They try to deflect the course of the comet, but it is protected by a forcefield(!). A landing party beams to the surface of the comet and discovers a small structure on the surface, but a large citadel below. 

    They encounter an large glowing "egg" which shocks Sam Kirk, stopping his heart. they manage to get his heart started beating again, but when they try to beam him back to the ship the forcefield returns. A HUGE vessel then appears in orbit and threatens the Enterprise. they call themselves the "Shepherds" and consider the comet to be of holy significance. They have been "shepherding" the comet for longer than their own racial memory. Because the landing party has desecrated the temple, the Shepherds say, they are condemned to die there. 

    Meanwhile, Uhura is studying the glyphs, humming to herself, and accidentally discovers that the "egg" communicates via music. Now "all" she has to do is translate their language. This process is very similar to the one used in the season four finale of Discovery to translate the "light language," yet also quite different. It reminds me a bit of V'Ger mashed up with Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I'm not gong to reveal how the situation resolves, but the Shepherds believe it was "fate" when actually it was Spock. Yet, when Uhura does finally manage to decipher the egg's earlier message, evidence suggests that the entire encounter, Spock's plan included, was predetermined. This revelation leads Number One to suggest that perhaps Pike's future isn't predetermined after all; perhaps the purpose of his vision was to avoid it.

    I must say, it's refreshing to see an episodic Star Trek once again. I have grown quite tired of short, single-story "seasons". I also found TNG difficult to take seriously because there was rarely a single threat to occupy the crew for the entire episode. There were always "B" and "C" plots (such as "Data learns to pick his nose") to pad out the plot. 

  • LOL.  I think I missed that episode.

    Jeff of Earth-J said:

    There were always "B" and "C" plots (such as "Data learns to pick his nose") to pad out the plot. 

  • GHOSTS OF ILLYRIA: Remember how episodes of the first two seasons or so of TNG seemed to be call-backs to specific episodes of TOS? "The Ghosts of Illyria" reminds me of two TOS episodes. First, the landing party brings an infection aboard the ship ("The Naked Time"), but instead of reducing inhibitions, it makes the infected dangerously crave light. Second, the cure is found in a random element ("The Deadly Years"), but instead of adrenaline, it is darkness. But nothing's that easy; the disease has progressed so far that simply removing those afflicted from light will not help.

    Because of their experiments with genetic mutation, the Illyrians are a race the Federation avoids because of the Eugenics Wars. Nevertheless, the Enterprise has been assigned to investigate the disappearance of an Illyrian colony. An Ion storm is approaching. The rest of the landing party beams back to the ship, leaving Pike and Spock to finish up. The storm blows in in full force, leaving Pike and Spock temporarily stranded. Soon, all of the members of the landing party except Una Chin-Riley (Number One), begin acting oddly, seeking proximity to light sources. 

    Eventually, to save the crew, Una reveals that she is of Illyrian descent, despite the fact doing so means the end of her career in Starfleet. Nor is a cure from her blood an option because reasons. A cure is eventually derived from La'an Noonian Signh, who is a descendant of Khan Noonian  Singh. At the end of the episode, Una tenders her resignation from Starfleet, but Pike refuses to accept it; he is not even going to report it. The disease was able to enter the Enterprise visa the ship's emergency medical transporter, because Dr. M'Benga would not allow the latest filter upgrade to be installed. Una learns that his terminally ill daughter (11), is being preserved in the pattern buffer until such a time as a cure for her condition can be found. Una authorizes power to be diverted from engineering to maintain the pattern buffer so the transporter can be upgraded. She does not report M'Benga, so now we have Pike keeping Number One's secret and Number One keeping M'Benga's.

    In my second post, above, I listed some characters we know from TOS (although no Jose Tyler or Lee Kelso). Here are some new faces.

    Hemmer: Blind Andorian chief engineer (played by a blind actor). VISOR tech has not yet been invented.

    Erica Ortegas: Non-binary helmsman, the latest in a long line of Star Trek women with unfortunate haircuts.

    La'an Noonien-Singh: Security officer, descended from Khan; if not for Ortegas, La'an would have the worst hair.

  • The funny thing is,stuff like that is in development now..  Certain types of technology developed way faster than Roddenberry thought they would, back in dinosaur times (i.e., the 1960's).

    Of course, there have been hints over the years that there was a bit of a regression between now and "Star Trek times".

    I've also had the impression that Star Trek was originally intended to be set much farther in the future.  If I was creating a show like that now, I'd set it in "Legion of Super-Heroes" time, and be real vague about how we got there.

    Jeff of Earth-J said:

    Hemmer: Blind Andorian chief engineer (played by a blind actor). VISOR tech has not yet been invented.

  • "Number One" has had various origin stories and identities foisted upon her over the years in sundry comic books and paperbacks but, although I don't consider Strange New Worlds to be canon, I think this is the identity/origin that will stick. For ever after she will be the Illyrian Una Chin-Riley. 

  • MEMENTO MORI: This episode is most like "Balance of Terror" (with elements of The Wrath of Khan and TNG's "The Battle" thrown in), but instead of the Romulans the aliens are the Gorn. La'an is the only crew member who has encountered the Gorn face-to-face; in fact, her brother was killed by them. (This crew seems to have a lot of dead family members in common.) It opens on Remembrance Day (the Federation's Memorial Day), in which crew are expected to read the insignia of ships family members were serving aboard when they lost their lives. La'an refuses to wear hers.

    There are are different individual stories, but they're all part of the same plot. Below decks, when the emergency bulkheads close, a "redshirt" survives but a "blueshirt" is killed. (Tracy and I both remarked on it.) Una is severely wounded and in need of plasma for an old style scalpel operation because power to sick bay is down, but there is only a single unit left. Just before she goes under, a nurse from another table says that her patient is in need of plasma. Una orders Dr. M'Benga to give the plasma to the other crewman before slipping into unconsciousness. 

    Meanwhile, Hemmer and Uhura are trapped together in the main cargo bay and are dealing with an emergency of their own. One of Hemmer's hands is crushed and he cannot make the necessary repairs himself, so he talks Uhura through it. (Hemmer is an Aener, BTW, a sort of sub-species of Andorian introduced on ENT. He reminds me very much of "Stick" as drawn by Klaus Janson.) Spock mind-melds with La'an to uncover the suppressed memory that her brother deciphered the Gorn's secret code, which they use to escape. Number One awakens in sick bay and sees and IV tube leading from her arm to Dr. M'Benga's. La'an ends up wearing her memento. Unlike "Balance of Terror" we never get to see the aliens face-to-face. We already know what the Gorn look like, but I was curious to see how they'd look on this show. I imagine we'll see more of them in a later episode. "Always leave then wanting more."

  • As I recall, Kirk's crew didn't know what a Gorn looked like until Kirk met one face-to-face.

  • Now that you mention it, I think you're right. I know it came as a shock to discover the Romulans so closely resembled the Vulcans, but I remember the revulsion when Uhura focus in on the Gorn's face. Maybe the SNW showrunners are respecting that bit of continuity and we won't see the Gorn later this season after all.

    Regarding the technology, I was going to point out that not only is SNW more visually advanced that TOS, it's more advanced than TNG (which makes it that much easier to think of it as a reboot). 

  • In my mind, there's no question that these various new shows are set in similar but different timelines from the original series.  Heck, Next Generation wasn't always perfectly consistent with the original series.  Of course, to be fair, the original series  wasn't a;ways perfectly consistent with itself!

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