Warning: Spoilers ahead for "Strange New Worlds" Season 2, episode 6
Forget the fact that "Strange New Worlds" has tweaked a teeny-tiny bit bit of Trek history (the date of the Eugenics Wars to name just one), forget the fact that the USS Enterprise can now maneuver like the Millennium Falcon, forget the fact that Vulcans can now telepathically communicate over interstellar distances — most of these things are to be expected. They're inevitable in fact and should come as no real surprise with a show that's attempting to insert a whole new storyline with VFX standards and set design that's 60 years more modern than the previous vision of this particular future.
What everyone should be infinitely more concerned with, is that in a season that's as staggeringly short as just 10 brief episodes and having just passed the halfway point, we still haven't had an episode that focuses on the principal character in the show — but — we've had two episodes already that focus heavily on an existing character who should enter the story really only now and again, at this stage.
We are of course talking about the second appearance of Captain James T. Kirk (Paul Wesley) inside of four episodes. And while Wesley is doing a superb job interpreting the character, we're still not 100 percent convinced of the casting choice.
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This installment, entitled "Lost in Translation" is a basic reworking of another classic Trek trope, the industrial-progress-accidentally-threatens-weird-unknown-lifeform chestnut. Arguably the best example of this is "The Original Series" episode "The Devil in the Dark" (S01, E26), but it's popped up a few times since then, in just about every series of "Star Trek," which is why it really feels like it doesn't need to be here. Factor in the reappearance of Kirk and it all just feels a bit rushed.
That said, there are some interesting twists, including a totally new love triangle — 'cause we needed that — between La'an Noonien-Singh, Kirk and Nyota Uhura, plus of course the official introduction of Kirk and Spock (Ethan Peck), which itself feels a little that moment in "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" when Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) introduces young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).
And let's not forget that Lt. Hemmer, played once again by Bruce Horak, was actually able to record some new scenes rather than just rehashing old stock as you may recall poor Hemmer was about to be used as a living host to hatch baby Gorn, before he very sensibly decided to walk off the edge of an icy ravine instead, in the penultimate episode of season one. "I can officially tell you that the Star Trek career of Bruce Horak is not done," he told Space.com, but alas could elaborate no further.
So what we have here is an episode that has a pretty weak foundation, but ... actually turns out to be all sorts of interesting. And, if the long term plan over this season and the next, which don't forget were more or less filmed back to back, is to focus on the burgeoning relationship between Spock and Kirk before Pike's unfortunate accident, if that now even happens, which it kind of has to, then alright. But, that too feels like its unnecessary.
Hand on heart, this week's installment feels like it would be better suited as the penultimate episode of this second season, before an awesome, action-packed, pumping powerhouse of a finale. But, the thing is you see, as we may have mentioned, we haven't actually had an episode that focuses truly on Pike. So, it's hard to accept that is the plan. What's easier to accept, is that there isn't a plan.
This week's bonus episode is the crossover with "Lower Decks" and we are still wondering how the blazes that's going to work. It's also San Diego Comic-Con this week and Paramount is practically the only studio of significant size attending the event with a Star Trek Universe event in Hall H, but with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes still at full speed, it's difficult to know for sure if any talent from the shows will be in attendance.
"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.