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Star Trek Strange New Worlds: Ghosts of Illyria

I was oddly reluctant to rewatch and review this one. Quite probably because we've all had a bit too much exposure lately, pun intended, to mysterious diseases and lockdowns.

But this was actually a pretty good episode. We learned a lot more about Commander Una Chin-Riley than I expected.

Una is an exceptional leader. Unexpectedly in command during a life and death crisis, she calmly and carefully proceeded from fact to fact until she found the solution, all the while retaining her people skills and sense of humor. Plus, she can pick up a full-sized Andorian and toss him over her shoulder. And she can defeat La'an in hand-to-hand combat. Impressive.

Because, as it turns out, Una isn't human. She's an Illyrian, which has nothing to do with Amy Acker in blue contacts and make-up. The Illyrians as a species were rejected from membership in the Federation because of their constant use of genetic modification, which is now a Federation no-no. Except for the dead Illyrians the Enterprise were investigating on Hetemit 9, who wanted so badly to join the Federation that they rejected those modifications and died in the attempt.

How did Una manage to medically deceive everyone in Starfleet and masquerade as a human for this long? If it is illegal to mix human and Illyrian blood, it implies there are detectible differences – so why weren't they caught? Was Una genetically modified to appear human? That would make sense, but she didn't say so. And where did she come from? She said she came from a "long way away." I'm sure there's a story in there somewhere.

Christopher Pike refused to turn Una in and won't reveal her species identity to Starfleet. Una doesn't know if he showed her that mercy because she saved everyone on the ship. I'm sure it didn't hurt. I'm also sure that there's more to Pike's choice than that.

Interestingly, Una turned around and showed the same loyalty and mercy to M'Benga, who also had a secret that endangered them all. The disease got onboard in the first place because M'Benga wouldn't upgrade the emergency medical transporter, because that is where he is hiding his daughter Rukiva, who has an incurable disease and only weeks to live. He materializes her periodically so that it's safe to keep her in the pattern buffer. (Yeah, "Relics.")

While everyone on the ship was running around screaming and throwing themselves into light sources, Pike and Spock spent the night in the most boring library I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of libraries. It was impractically set up so that most of the collection was inaccessible, there was way too much wasted space, and nowhere to sit down and actually read the materials. Did it even have bathrooms?

The best part of the library sequence was Pike and Spock practically in an embrace as they huddled on the ground being rescued from the ion storm by Illyrian ghosts. Do they really need to give the slash fiction writers that sort of ammunition?


— Stardate 1224.3. The away team visited the planet Hetemit 9, an abandoned Illyrian colony, during an ion storm.

— We learned that La'an is descended from Khan Noonien-Singh, something that made grade school tough for her. She is of course unaware that he is out there in suspended animation waiting in the wings to be a major Star Trek supervillain.

— Those jackets they were wearing? I want one, right now.

— Hemmer is wonderful. It's like he's the anti-Scotty with sarcasm as his permanent setting.

— Again, was anyone else getting romantic vibes between Una and La'an? Una gave La'an a love of strawberries, hmm? When and how?

— The computer sounds a lot like Majel Barrett, doesn't it?

— Uhura has roommates. Cadets have sleeping modules instead of bunks.

— We got a good look at Engineering, which is massive, and an expanded version of Sick Bay. Wow.

— Sedate everyone and turn out the lights? In space, no one can hear you scream.


Kyle: "How did you..."
Hemmer: "I am a genius. Move quickly."

Pike: "Suggestions, Mister Spock?"
Spock: "Run!"
Clearly, Spock has seen Doctor Who.

Ortegas: "Whatever tweaks your freak, pal."

Spock: "I believe there is a human phrase. 'A watched kettle never boils.'"
Pike: "It's a pot. And in this case I'm pretty sure we're gonna get hit with the scalding water."
Spock: "You are deliberately mixing my metaphor in order to indulge your anxiety."

Una: "Did you find anything?"
Hemmer: "Of course. That's why I'm wandering around the ship in the middle of the night running diagnostics. For fun."

(Spock holds up a glowing library cylinder)
Pike: "Does that thing have a setting for stun?"
Spock: "I am arming us with knowledge."

Chapel: (to Una) "How in the exact hell are you carrying him?"

A good episode, but please: no more mysterious diseases and lockdowns. Two out of four biofilters,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. >>"She's an Illyrian, which has nothing to do with Amy Acker in blue contacts and make-up."
    Haha yay. Too soon for a rewatch still though

    1. I loved Una, and yes I'm getting mild romantic vibes too with La'an. I think I liked this one more than you did, but all the characters improved a bit. I'm liking La'an a bit now, Una is great and so is Hemmer. I'm a little in love with both Spock and Chapel... and he'll throw Pike in there as well.

  2. I cannot overstate how eagerly I'm awaiting the inevitable Nurse Chapel focused episode. Please don't make us wait for season two for it.

  3. (fka milostanfield. Google thing ain't working anymore)
    The dialogue between Pike and Spock when they were in the bathroomless library reminded me so much of Nimoy's Spock and Kirk. It was almost like Anson Mount was channeling Shatner. Wondering if anyone else picked up on that.

    Anson Mount was born to play a Starship captain.

    Glad they got around to Una. She is an incredibly intense, focused, and all what Billie said character. Looking forward to watching her.

    I'm enjoying the week to week narrative, a nice complement to the other Trek serial arc narratives. Not liking one over the other. Just different tools in the story telling toolbox. One problem with week to week is that the need to wrap up everything with a bow in 43 minutes can lead to pat endings. I thought the awesome first episode was a bit weaker because of the ending. I just don't see generations of hating and fighting being resolved with a nice speech, a big gun, and a Powerpoint presentation from space. But hey, this is Star Trek, not reality, and I'm loving SNW so far.


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