Star Trek Strange New Worlds Season 2 Kicks off With Klingons, Ass Kicking, Carol Kane
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is back with its second season. While Star Trek: Discovery may have ushered in this new era of Trek it’s clear that Strange New Worlds will be Paramount’s flagship Trek going forward–and as a long term Trek fan, I’m okay with that.
While shows like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did the overarching story thing well, most Trek has benefited with the “monster/problem of the week” format. And while Strange New Worlds season 2 seems to promise more of the same, it does continue the cliffhanger left at the end of the first season with Anson Mount’s Captain Pike running off in defense of Una Chin Riley (Rebecca Romijn) leaving Spock (Ethan Peck) in command of the Enterprise.
Of course, Spock’s temporary assignment isn’t going to go without incident with Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) picking up a distress call from former crewmate Noonien Singh (played by Christina Chong). The only answer is for Spock and crew to steal the Enterprise, helped out by Carol Kane playing Trek’s latest revealed race, the long-lived Lanthanites.
Spock and company successfully commandeer the Enterprise after some clever trickery, and go on to discover that Noonien-Singh has discovered a group of Klingons that want to reignite the war with the Federation.
It’s a lot of story to pack into a single episode–especially one that is meant to reintroduce the series and its characters. And Strange New Worlds doesn’t shy from humor, and while that goes a long way to ensure its accessibility–and therefore, its legacy–some of the humor comes off as awkward. But it’s an endearing sort of awkward, especially when Spock has to come up with “his thing.” In other word: the phrase he will use to confirm a command on the bridge–especially one that gets the ship moving. Modern Trek writers seem obsessed with this, especially since it’s popped up on multiple shows.
We’re really getting to know some of the characters in Strange New Worlds. But it was still a bit surprising to see Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) and Doctor M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) take some sort of stimulant to take on a dozen Klingons. That was a scene that requires some sort of in lore explanation, so I’m anticipating the return of the kick-ass hypo juice. And while I didn’t hate the scene, I couldn’t help but picture what Majel Roddenberry’s Nurse Chapel would have looked like running around and throwing punches.
I have to say that I’m really appreciating the way Strange New Worlds depicts its alien worlds. These are leaps above away teams hanging out in caves among styrofoam rocks or traipsing among artificial foliage. Despite this, they still ended up in the corridors of a Federation Starship–well, in this case, a pseudo Federation Starship that was going to be used to launch a false flag attack. And from how flimsy that ship seemed to be, it was meant to be a suicide run against the massive (and impressive looking ) D7 cruiser.
The appearance of the Klingons in this episode is of note, especially since they’ve shied away from the hairless depiction of Klingons from Discovery to one that is a little more conventional to Trek viewers. There were a great array of forehead ridges on display, and I swear there was even one Klingon that looked like he had Star Trek: The Motion Picture style Klingon ridges–which was either a coincidence, or a nod to the Klingons’ first ridged appearance.
Perhaps the biggest standout characterization is Spock wrestling with his emotions. While I don’t think that Ethan Peck gives the same gravitas that Leonard Nimoy gave to the role, he does an excellent job showcasing Spock’s fragile emotional state coming into the second season.
And of course, all Spock gets for stealing the Enterprise is a slap on the wrist and admonition from Admiral Robert April, highlighting this era of Trek and it’s “cowboy diplomacy” as Captain Janeway called it on Star Trek: Voyager. Stopping the false flag attack and rounding that out with Spock chugging bloodwine is probably the best example of this in Star Trek so far.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 is off to a good start. I have to admit that I’m not champing at the bit to see how Una Riley’s problems become resolved–or not. However, I am looking forward to more of Anson Mount’s hair, and am tentatively excited for Carol Kane’s Lanthanite engineer, though it’ll be hard to replace Hemmer, the Aenar Engineer who lost his life at the end of the first season.