Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Strange New Worlds" Season 2, episode 4
So far, this second season has mostly used existing Trek tropes, but rather than just rehash them, they've been used and updated in an interesting and clever way. Moreover, some are much more subtle than others, which is great because these are very enjoyable episodes that are only enhanced by nitro-powered nerd-level of "Star Trek" knowledge — they can however, be enjoyed just as much without.
Last week included a lot of super subtle references, from the manner in which Kirk (Paul Wesley) drives a car — a nod to The Original Series (TOS) episode "A Piece of the Action" (S02, E17) — to the hints we saw of La'an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) and Kirk's potential relationship that we're remembering only now from the alt-reality Kirk we saw in "A Quality of Mercy" (S01, E10). The writer's room is making some curious connections to different plot strands, but because they're not huge, canon-questioning clangers, the result is significantly smoother ride.
And this week is no different. The basic plot is a combination of the classic Memory Loss substory (a lá TOS episode "The Paradise Syndrome" S03, E03) with a sprinkling of the equally as entertaining Offworld Oppressor plotline (TOS "The Omega Glory" S02, E23 etc). Regardless of the source of this episode's inspiration, it's been deemed to take place on Rigel VII, with references to events that we'd only heard about in the very first TOS episode ever made, the pilot episode called "The Cage," which of course is later repurposed into the thrilling two-parter "The Menagerie" (S01, E11 and E12).
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At about the five minute mark, the ship's doctor, Dr. Boyce (John Hoyt) and Captain Pike (Jeffrey Hunter) talk about an unfortunate series of events that unfolded on Rigel VII where the away team was ambushed resulting in the deaths of three Enterprise crewmembers, including Pike's yeoman. At the time, this seemingly throwaway incident is purely used to establish the stress and strains that every Starfleet captain must face. And that's where we pick up the story, some 58 years after the pilot episode was shot.
Interestingly, according to Memory Alpha, the in-universe date for the events in "The Cage" is 2254 and this current season of "Strange New Worlds" is set in 2260, so Pike's poor yeoman, who had until now, been deemed KIA in Trek canon, not only has an actual name — Ensign Nguyen — but he also has much more interesting demise.
And what we're given is a very powerful, well-written, brilliantly acted and thoroughly enthralling installment. Again. And yet, one can't help but feel that either a) those folk at Paramount are holding back or b) this is a deliberate and very strategic build up to a mindblowing mid-season crescendo. It feels like the bases are loaded and we're waiting for an almighty episode, hitting the ball clear out of the park and into low Earth orbit, for a grand slam.
There seems to be a few more noticeable television shows and even just episodes that focus on dementia and associated conditions and if you've ever had first-hand experience of having to deal with this, you'll truly appreciate a solid performance that can bring home just how unholy frightening this of mental illness can be.
We mentioned last week that the future of "Star Trek: Prodigy" was a little up in the air, to say the least. The best way to imagine this is a situation similar to what happened to "The Expanse" when it was cancelled by SyFy and picked up by Amazon. Incidentally, after which it's ratings soared. Arguably the single biggest difference is that the second season of "Prodigy" wasn't finished.
Writer Aaron J. Waltke has said that Season 2 of "Prodigy" will be completed and showrunners Dan and Kevin Hageman reaffirmed this saying “We have faith this show will be picked up by a new home.” However, the ongoing writer's strike won't help the plight of "Prodigy."
Why has this happened? Well, in essence, by cancelling and removing "Prodigy," just like Disney, Hulu and a few other studios are also now doing with some of their content, the studios can take these shows off their balance sheets and avoid having to pay ongoing residuals, thus reducing the tax bill, despite a few fines along the way. Why "Prodigy" though..? Well, "Discovery" has been cancelled and with "Starfleet Academy" being given the green light, that will probably now represent the tick in the box for Paramount's one for the kids criteria. "Prodigy" probably just wasn't doing well enough in the ratings, for whatever reason. Although you have to wonder who is still watching reruns of "Discovery"...
So, if you thought having to insert a Blu-Ray disc into a player whenever you wanted to watch something was a real chore and were still deluded enough to believe that a streaming service somewhere would absolutely positively be showing whatever it was that you were aching to watch, turns out it really might not. Something to bare in mind.
"Strange New Worlds" and every episode of almost every "Star Trek" show currently airing streams exclusively on Paramount Plus in the US. Internationally, the shows are available on Paramount Plus in Australia, Latin America, the UK and South Korea, as well as on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel.
They also stream exclusively on Paramount Plus in Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In Canada, they air on Bell Media's CTV Sci-Fi Channel and stream on Crave.