TV Show ReviewsJosh Reviews Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season Two – Part Two

Josh Reviews Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season Two – Part Two

Yesterday I began my look back at season two of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.  Read on for my thoughts on the rest of the season, including the crossover with Lower Decks and the surprisingly fun musical episode!

06 — Lost in Translation

  • After seeing Spock and Chapel kiss at the end of the last episode, I’d really thought this episode would follow up on that.  I was disappointed that it didn’t!
  • I love seeing the bussard collectors on the Enterprise’s nacelles actually at work!
  • Have I mentioned how I hate hearing characters say “Enterprise” instead of “the Enterprise“?  (I know I have!)
  • Uhura watching YouTube video of Hemmer is sweet, though she should probably know how to run a diagnostic on the communications systems, right?
  • I like seeing the two Kirks on this show, Sam and James, finally together in a scene.  But it’s weird to me that James Kirk just beams over and hangs with Sam.  There’s no official business that brings him to the Enterprise?  (I still don’t understand why either of these Kirks are characters on this show.)  It’s also weird to me that we don’t see the Farragut at all, even in just one establishing shot at the start of the episode.  James Kirk doesn’t seem to have any duties over there.
  • They make a very weird choice for the depiction of Kirk & Uhura’s first meeting.  Kirk sort of hits on her?  I do like that Kirk believes Uhura and helps her.  That aspect of the story is a nice beginning of their bond.  But the flirtation throws it off for me.  Creating an Uhura-La’an-Kirk love triangle is not the choice I’d have made.
  • I liked seeing the fuel pod ejection.  That was cool.  (Though, wow, there was a lot of destruction!  I’d think the Enterprise would require time in space dock after taking that kind of damage!)
  • I didn’t like Uhura saying to Kirk that she’s never been able to face death — that felt way too close to Kirk’s famous line in Star Trek II.
  • It was pretty obvious to me what was going on in this episode, that the deuterium mining was the problem.  (It reminded me a lot of TNG’s “Home Soil” and TOS’s “The Devil in the Dark”.)
  • This episode also gives us the moment when Kirk first meets Spock and… nothing happens.  OK, I can roll with that; there’s no reason for that meeting to be momentous for these characters; it’s only momentous for the audience.  But the long pullback after that moment was strange to me… as it didn’t seem to lead to anything.  I’d expected to see La’an watching them.

07 — Those Old Scientists

  • This crossover with the animated Lower Decks show is amazing!!  Easily my favorite episode of the series so far.  They brought some of that Lower Decks magic into this show!  This episode was a hoot from start to finish, filled with clever touches and lots of funny little bits.
  • I was totally surprised — and loved!! — the spectacular animated opening, dropping us right into an episode of Lower Decks!  What a fun choice.
  • The animated opening credits were amazing!!!!  Another fun surprise!
  • I loved Pike’s line, after learning that Boiler’s Starfleet badge is also a communicator: “But flipping it open is the best part!”
  • Jack Quaid and Tawny Newsome both looked fantastic as the live-action versions of Boimler and Mariner!  (Though Jack Quaid is very tall!!)  The Lower Decks Starfleet uniforms look terrific.
  • Great line from Boimler on the Enterprise bridge: “NCC 1701 dash nothing!”
  • The Orion vessel looked cool — a nice update of the design we saw (briefly) on TOS remastered.  I wish we saw more of this ship.
  • Hearing Boimler and Mariner talk about SNW’s “Hot Spock” was fantastic.
  • Leaving the 23rd century Orions with access to a time portal device seems very risky!!
  • TOS stands for “Those Old Scientists”??  Love it.  Great joke.
  • Seeing the SNW gang aninated Lower Decks style at the end was great!!
  • The only off note in the episode for me was the very lame notion of using future Boimler as a reason to break up Spock and Chapel.  UGH.  This show has been breaking continuity for two seasons by depicting a burgeoning Spock-Chapel romance… and THIS is how they’re planning to get out of it?  A “you’re not supposed to be together” time travel plot device?  Lame.  Also: poor move to spend two seasons pushing the characters together, then finally have them kiss in episode five, and then already start the move to break them up two episodes later.  Come on — if you’re going to go there, then GO THERE and let Spock and Chapel be together for a while and let that play out more naturally.

08 — Under the Cloak of War

  • I was pumped by the Lower Decks crossover, but this episode felt right back to the same old SNW problems.  Once again (as was the case throughout the first season, but had been happening less this season) here was an episode that I thought had an interesting set-up but that fell apart entirely in the last ten minutes.  (More on that below.)
  • It’s great to see Clint Howard!!  (Mr. Howard has had a great career and, of course, he played the commander of The Fesarius in the TOS episode “The Corbomite Maneuver” more than half a century ago.)  I wish he had more to do in the episode!!  He’s wasted after his intro scene.
  • I like this Klingon ambassador, Dak’Rah, though it stretches credulity that we hadn’t heard about a Klingon on the Federation side before now.  He’s very well-played by Robert Wisdom (The Wire).
  • Solid visual effects of the battle zone on the moon of J’Gal.  I would have liked a better sense of geography of the moon and a better understanding of what they’re fighting over.  Also, I thought it was a little too obvious that they’re on the “volume” stage.  (The Mandalorian team is way better about blending the live-action props and scenery with the “volume” digital screens.  On that show I often find it pleasingly difficult to tell what’s real and what’s digital, but here on SNW it’s always painfully obvious.  See the Enterprise’s engineering room for a great example.)
  • The business about ambassador Dak’Rah burning his hand on poorly replicated Raktajino is ridiculous.  Spock is too dumb to program the replicator to make sure the mug is cool while the liquid inside is hot??  Come on.
  • I like hearing about Mokbara (which we saw Worf practicing on TNG), but I’m surprised M’Benga or any human knows of it during this era
  • The emotional scene in which Chapel is forced to purge the transport buffers with the injured man’s pattern still inside is great and very powerful.  (That had been a neat trick to store the wounded dude’s pattern.  Was this where M’Benga got the idea he’d eventually use for his daughter?)
  • I needed to care a lot more about the young Starfleet officer for this story to have worked.  This character was one-dimensional and so obviously marked for death.
  • I liked the Spock-Chapel scenes.
  • It was cool to see inside of a sonic shower!
  • We finally get back to the story behind M’Benga’s super soldier serum from earlier in the season… but this episode doesn’t actually tell us that story!  It turns out we need another flashback to before this flashback!   This is so dumb to me.  (Also: the flashback here alludes to M’Benga’s past as fighter, and maker of that super serum.  How is it that Starfleet doesn’t still have the formula?)
  • UGH I hated the ending.  First of all, it is WAY too much of a coincidence for me that M’Benga just happened to have been the one who killed the three Klingons that Rah had boasted of killing.
  • Second, I can’t believe they killed off Rah without bothering to actually answer the intriguing mystery this peaceful Klingon represented!  What really happened?  Was his embrace of peace genuine?  How and why did he change for that to happen?
  • I hated that he gets killed so easily.  Come on, even a cowardly Klingon general would have put up more of a fight
  • And M’Benga just kills him in cold blood??  And Chapel lies and says Rah attacked M’Benga??  I am shocked by both actions by these two characters who are supposed to be heroes.  (And the show hedges its bets by not actually showing us Rah’s death.  So I guess we’re supposed to think maybe M’Benga didn’t murder him?  What a lame cop-out.  If M’Benga only acted in self-defense, then what was the point of this entire episode?)
  • I’d loved the set-up of this Klingon warrior who’d found peace.  The episode could have been an interesting meditation on war and redemption.  Could this vicious general ever be forgiven if he had a true change of heart?  But the ending sidesteps all those issues.
  • M’Benga is shockingly cold in that last scene with Pike.  He condescendingly refers to Pike’s “privilege” in believing in forgiveness.  First off, I hate hearing this very-2023 language written into a Star Trek show (a sin the Discovery writers commit constantly).  Also: do these writers not understand the values at the core of Trek??  Forgiveness and understanding is what this show is all about.  What a betrayal of Trek as a whole and the character of M’Benga.

09 — Subspace Rhapsody

  • OK, so an all-musical episode is not exactly what I’m looking for in my Star Trek.  Also, it’s yet another example of this show imitating other shows and movies.  (Buffy did a musical episode first, as did the CW superhero shows.)  That being said, I quite enjoyed this episode!  It was joyous and fun.  I dug it!
  • I loved the a cappella version of the theme over the opening credits.  That was a delightful touch!!  It’s better than the usual main theme!
  • I hate the ridiculous fake-science set-up.  An improbability field, in which improbabilities become probable?  Are we in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy???  Don’t rip off one of the most famous sci-fi comedy novels ever written.  Do better, SNW writers!!
  • Why is James T. Kirk on board, yet again?  Why isn’t he shadowing his OWN captain?  These are thin excuses to keep having Kirk on the show.
  • I liked hearing Chapel talk about Roger Korby, who we know from TOS she’ll eventually marry.  (Did we know that he was her teacher when she fell in love with him??)
  • I liked seeing the view UP the Jeffries tube when Kirk is working in it!  There was a nice little visual effects shot showing the long tube.  We only saw the other, downward angle on TOS.
  • It seems out of character for the stoic Number One to advise Kirk to “connect to your crew.”  I don’t really get this version of Number One yet.
  • Seeing La’an pine over Kirk is moving.  Ioved her song.  Christina Chong is a fantastic singer!!
  • Chapel is surprisingly cold to Spock.  Didn’t she want to be in a relationship with him?  I’m annoyed at how quickly they broke these two up after they finally kissed in episode five.  It feels like the show spent a season and a half pushing them together and then immediately tried to find plot reasons to split them up.  I don’t understand these choices.  (Are they trying to have their cake and eat it too with respect to continuity?  So they’re teasing a Spock-Chapel relationship but not actually going there?  This approach doesn’t work for me.)
  • I was surprised to hear Kirk say he’s in a relationship with Carol Marcus.  The timing works, I think.  But it feels out of left field.  If he’s in a relationship, why does Kirk keep telling La’an “you owe me that drink”, which seems a clear invitation to a date?  And wasn’t he flirting with Uhura in episode six?  This doesn’t track for me.
  • Spock’s song is very good.  That song crystalized a thought: Have these whole first two seasons just been a long explanation of that one-second shot in “The Cage” (the original TOS pilot) when Spock smiles?  So they’re trying to show us how smiling Spock could become the logical Spock of TOS?  Wow, this was all totally unnecessary in my opinion.  I am a nut for canon, but that was a one-second shot in the unaired original pilot.  It’s never bothered me overmuch before when we see that moment in “The Menagerie”, so crafting a multi-season character arc for Spock from that feels totally misguided.  It would have been better to have had SNW Spock actually acting in character with the Spock we knew from TOS and all subsequent appearances.  (Also, I can’t believe this show is so bogged down in the continuity of that one shot from “The Cage”/”The Menagerie” when it totally ignores most other TOS continuity!!!)
  • Uhura’s song is also very good.  Celia Rose Gooding is a terrific singer!
  • The Ktinga-class Klingon battle cruiser looks awesome on the view-screen.  I wish we saw more of that ship.
  • The singing Klingons were very funny.  I loved seeing Hemmer actor Bruce Horak back on the show as the main Klingon!
  • I liked hearing the TOS music at the end of the grand finale song.

10 — Hegemony

  • I was not super excited to get back to the Gorn after the awful depiction of them in season one.
  • When we open with Pike’s girlfriend, Captain Batel, it’s obvious that something bad is gonna happen.
  • I liked the cool shot of the huge Gorn ship entering the atmosphere.
  • April is cold to suggest the Gorn attack is outside their jurisdiction so Starfleet shouldn’t get involved.  It is a human colony, right??  Wouldn’t they feel some obligation to help them?
  • But Pike is also in the wrong saying the Gorn are just monsters.  April is correct in pointing out that monster is a word for something they don’t understand.
  • Why would the Gorn draw a boundary line between the planet and its moon?  They’d surely claim the whole system.  It feels like writers don’t understand how space works.  Planets rotate around stars!!  It’s also a lazy way to keep the Enterprise close so they can eventually sneak down to the planet.  I thought the whole thing was very dumb.
  • Speaking of dumb: when sneaking down to the planet, they don’t use shuttle’s engines until 150 meters above the surface because they say they want to stay below the Gorn scans.  It’s not radar!!!  Why wouldn’t the Gorn be able to scan the surface??  So stupid!!
  • I didn’t really understand the scene where the Enterprise bridge crew are suddenly shocked that the Cayuga sickbay is gone.  We already saw the view-screen image of the Cayuga’s hull with a huge section smashed away!
  • Mr. Scott’s intro is fun.  I’d guessed it was him.  I wish this show would try to stand on its own two feet more and stop constantly bringing in TOS characters.  That said, I like this new Scotty.  I’d be happy for him to stick around.  His accent will take some getting used to (it’s very different than classic Scotty), but it’s nice to see the character being played by an actor who is actually Scottish!
  • Spock says “I am the only one who can pull this off”.  That’s a bad line; Spock wouldn’t use a colloquialism like “pull this off”.
  • I thought they were hoping people were still alive on the Cayuga saucer; it’s weird no one mentions that when Uhura pitches the plan of smashing the Cayuga saucer into the Gorn beacon.
  • Once again I think the show does a poor job of setting up the geography of what’s happening.  What happened to the huge Gorn ship we saw entering the planet’s atmosphere at the beginning?  Is the ship we saw in orbit the same ship monitoring the debris field?  Did that first ship drop off the beacon?  Where is the beacon in relation to the town center where Batel and the others are hiding?  What happened to all the people on the colony?  We see like 15 civilian survivors out if population of 12,000.  Surely the Gorn didn’t murder them ALL, right?  I’m also confused by the timeline of events.  Did Scotty arrive on the planet after or before the Gorn attack?  When/how did he hook up with captain Batel?  Did everyone else on Scotty’s ship die?
  • That Chapel is the ONLY person on the Cayuga who survived is ridiculous.  And the staging/editing of the revelation that she’s alive is weak.  We see a cool visual effects shot of the smashed Cayuga hull, then we weirdly cut right to Chapel, without any attempt to explain how she wasn’t exposed to the vacuum of space.  Show me a blast door or a force field or something to show me the writers understand how space works.  Also, how is there still power in the room where Chapel is??  Also, where is she?  (They make a point earlier of telling us the Cayuga sickbay was entirely destroyed; so why don’t they explain where Chapel is and why she wasn’t in sickbay?)
  • I like the moment when Chapel sees the Enterprise out of her window.  But Spock then just happening to float right by her window is silly.  The Cayuga hull is HUGE!!!
  • Spock’s spacewalk onto the Cayuga hull is cool.  (But why does he say that no human do what he did?)
  • The Gorn in the spacesuit looked cool.
  • Batel has a Gorn in her?  Ugh.  Predictable and yet another annoying Alien rip-off.  When was she impregnated?  Why her and no other survivor?  Aren’t all the other survivors suspect now?
  • I liked the cool shots of the Cayuga’s hull entering atmo.  But how did Spock and Chapel escape without thruster packs?
  • I like seeing Pelia meet Scotty and call him Scotty.
  • I looked the cool shot of three Gorn ships engaging the Enterprise.  (We see glimpse of a larger Gorn ship on the viewscreen behind Pike during the final battle.  Is that the ship we saw at the beginning of the episode?)
  • I don’t love the cliffhanger ending on indecisive Pike.  Show us his choice — fight or retreat — and THEN cut to credits.  Wouldn’t that be stronger?  (“The Best of Both Worlds” didn’t end with Riker not sure what to do.  It ended with him saying “Mr. Worf — fire!”)
  • I really don’t like this show’s take on the Gorn.  Seeing the Gorn as wild dogs feels all wrong to me.  The Gorn in the space-suit seemed more intelligent — he was trying to operate the Cayuga controls — but it was still basically just a monster, and a lame rip-off of the xenomorph from Alien/Aliens at that.  Also, all this Gorn stuff totally ignores that Kirk and Spock knew nothing about the Gorn in “Arena”.  Yet another huge continuity problem.
  • After setting up Sybok towards the end of the first season, I’m very surprised we didn’t see him at all this season!

It looks like it’s going to be a looooong wait for the resolution of this cliffhanger.  From what I’m reading online, its doesn’t seem like we’ll see season three of this show until 2025.  That’s a long wait.  Will I come back for season three?  I’m not sure.  I continue to think that the ingredients of a great Star Trek show are present in Strange New Worlds.  But the execution leaves so much to be desired, in my opinion.  We’ll see.  For now, I am looking forward to the return of Lower Decks in just a few weeks…!

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  • Mark Painter

    First of all, a small nitpick: The preferred usage is that you *not* put “the” before the name of a naval vessel. Star Trek characters have been calling Enterprise “Enterprise” since at least Wrath of Khan. Using “the” is not exactly wrong, but it is not the preferred usage.

    This show’s look and its canon problems are not as annoying to me as they seem to be to you, but some of them grate pretty hard. As was the case with Discovery, so many of these problems could be avoided if the producers simply got over their strange reluctance to set a show in the post-Voyager universe. I’m amused by the fact that Lower Decks and Prodigy, the two animated series, were the only ones not afraid to (dare I say it?) boldly go where no series has gone before—at least until Picard came along and Discovery made its big leap. And Discovery’s big leap noticeably freed up the show and made it better.

    One of the canon problems that bugs me the most is the insistence in including characters we’ve already met on TOS. We’ve got Pike, Uhura, M’Benga, Chapel, Spock, Sam Kirk, Jim Kirk, and now Scotty. This needlessly limits the show. We already know the futures of these characters, so if they want to get dramatic, they have to kill off a new character, which is sad, because the new characters are in many ways more interesting than re-examining characters we’ve already watched. Hemmer was a great character, but he had to die, because who else can they kill off? Big mistake.

    It also bothers me that we’re supposed to believe, for example, that Uhura will be sitting at that comm console for the next 15 years or so? Really? She never got transferred? Or that poor Kyle has been stuck at the transporter console for the same length of time? Can’t we at least get the poor guy a chair? Side note: I hate to be the one who says it, but recasting Kyle with an Asian actor doesn’t sit well with me, given that the character has an Anglo-Saxon name. (See also Discovery hiring an Arab actor and then making him play a character called “Ash Tyler,” which is literally as Anglo-Saxon as a name can get.) Why not give an Arab actor’s character an Arab name. Instead of hiring that Asian actor to play Kyle, they should have cast him as the Asian character working the transporter room in “The Cage,” and given him a real Asian name. That guy wore horn-rimmed glasses, which I think was the only time we saw anyone wearing glasses in the 23d century until Wrath of Khan. Why does he need glasses? See, you’ve got some character backstory right there!

    And I completely agree with you that their handling of the Gorn makes no sense. Not only is it inconsistent with the “Arena” episode, but it undermines the very Star Trek-y point of that episode, which was that it is misunderstandings that cause conflict, and discussion that solves it. The producers have explicitly said that they want to create an opponent that can’t be reasoned with. We’ll that’s a really great idea, if you want to create a Star Trek series in conflict with every other Star Trek series ever made. If the Gorn are mindless monsters, how in the world did they build a civilization, discover warp drive, and explore space? If they need to reproduce using the bodies of beings from other planets, how did they reproduce before they discovered warp drive, and why can’t they continue to use that method, whatever it is? It must be easier than waging war on advanced civilizations. Surely beings with that level of technology have intelligence and are capable of being reasoned with and negotiated with.

    One of the producers said in an interview that they recognized the canon conflict with the Gorn, but if they have to choose between respecting canon and telling a good story, they’ll choose the latter. Setting aside the fact that these are not good stories, why can’t they simply give the monsters a different name? How would that adversely affect the story?

    Well, thank you for your carefully reasoned reviews. They stimulate a lot of thought.

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