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Star Trek Strange New Worlds: Strange New Worlds

"Take me to your leader."

I loved it. And I was so afraid I wouldn't. Strange New Worlds isn't just another Star Trek series; it's the closest we'll ever come to a reboot. With the original Enterprise, no bloody A, B, C or D.

First out of the gate, they gave us a twist on a familiar mission. The planet Kiley 279 developed warp drive, making them a candidate for First Contact... except that it was a warp bomb, not warp drive, and they didn't develop it themselves. In the process of saving all sentient life in the galaxy, Discovery could have inadvertently caused the annihilation of a planet.

Captain Pike had to follow or reject General Order One (a.k.a. the Prime Directive, or as it is often sarcastically referred to, the Prime Suggestion). I liked how they combined his choice with what happened to him on Boreth. Pike was so haunted that he was seeing his own burned face in every reflective surface, and questioning how the knowledge will affect his ability to lead.

I was surprised but pleased that Pike confided in Spock, that they didn't string it out and have Pike manfully try to keep it to himself. And it reminded me that Pike only knows the absolute worst about his own future, and not the resolution in "The Menagerie," which might have made such a horror easier to live with.

Was Pike indeed more reckless than he should have been in throwing the Prime Directive to the winds and using the Enterprise's arrival as cultural shock therapy? His description of what happened on Earth – the second U.S. Civil War, becoming the Eugenics War, becoming World War III – was so intensely dark and brutal. Will this first contact with a big stick be enough to change Kiley's course?

The undercover mission had its amusing moments. My favorite was when the woman in the elevator started flirting with Pike until she saw Spock's ear wriggling in an attempt to form a point. If Chapel's experimental treatment was painful enough to make even Spock scream, maybe they should go back to make-up, prosthetics and contact lenses when trying to pass as face aliens. Or maybe don't take Spock along next time?


Except everything is better with Spock, isn't it? Somehow, between the end of Star Trek: Discovery season two and now, Ethan Peck got much Spockier. And Anson Mount's Christopher Pike is so commanding, soft-spoken, witty and charming that I might have parallel crushes on the two of them already.

And they both have a sex life! It was something of a recurring joke with old Star Trek, how unrealistic it was that all these attractive people with exciting jobs had no romantic relationships. Pike's was with another captain, Wynonna Earp, while they went original series completely and gave us Spock with his childhood betrothed, T'Pring. Whom Spock dropped like a hot potato when Pike called. T'Pring was not amused. If that was supposed to be their wedding night, I'd be a tad pissed off about it, too.

The rest of the cast consisted of rebooted characters from the original series plus some interesting new faces:

— Number One, whom they rescued, now has a name: Una Chin-Riley. Any relation to original series Kevin Riley? And was there some sparkage between Una and La'an?

La'an Noonien-Singh, looking nothing like Ricardo Montalban
— Despite her tragic Gorn colony past and her good instincts raising the shields in the nick of time, I don't think I like La'an Noonien-Singh. The chip on her shoulder was so huge that it almost obscured her face. Can someone out there tell me how she's related to Khan? Have they said?

— Admiral Robert April (Adrian Holmes), first captain of the Enterprise, mentioned but never before seen, arrived by shuttlecraft and told Pike to get back on his horse. Meaning a starship, not the horse Pike was actually riding at the time.

— I loved Cadet Uhura, who even sounded like Nichelle Nichols. She was so well versed on the culture on Kiley that she was able to engage and calm down the terrified Kilean who woke up in Sick Bay. Uhura and Chapel met for the first time in this episode. How about that.


— Dr. M'Benga, who was in two original series episodes ("That Which Survives" and "A Private Little War") was warm and funny and I'm looking forward to getting to know him better.

— Christine Chapel, on civilian exchange from the Stanford Morehouse Epigenetic Project, was fabulous, brilliant, enthusiastic, sarcastic. Loved her.

— There is a transporter chief named Kyle, just as in the original series.

— Near the end, we had the "Pike requesting Lieutenant Kirk" tease. Of course, it was Lieutenant Sam Kirk, who now reports to chief science officer Spock.

Bits:

— Stardate 1739.12 at the beginning of the episode, and 2259.42 at the end, which confused me. We went to Bear Creek, Montana; Raal on Vulcan; Kiley 279; and the forest bubbles of Starbase One.

— I loved the very original series credits with Anson Mount doing the narration. They kept TNG's "where no one has gone before" but went back to the "five year mission."

— At home, Pike was watching The Day the Earth Stood Still, a movie where the aliens came down to Earth and told us to stop our violence, right the heck now. Some obvious and fun foreshadowing.

— The bearded, long-haired Pike on horseback in the snow might have been an homage to Mount's old West series, Hell on Wheels. In which he starred with Colm Meaney, a name Trek fans might find familiar.


— I'm sure that starting off the World War III description with the January 6 insurrection will make some people unhappy. Even though the point was that negotiation and diplomacy failed.

— On Vulcan, instead of a man giving a woman a ring, the woman gives the man a small pyramid with a necklace inside of it. The Vulcan scene had some amazing visuals. Well, so did everything else.

— The captain's ready room has a bar and a fireplace. That's rather decadent.

— La'an had Spock take down two male Kileans for their uniforms, but a minute later, she was wearing one. Where did her third uniform come from?

— Shuttle Stamets. U.S.S. Archer. I love this stuff.

— In this week's hair report, Pike's has levitated and Spock's is tousled and sexier with a curvy sideburn. I don't like La'an's, but I'm okay as long as we don't get a yeoman with a basket-weave wig at some point.

— One complaint. Paramount+ is not yet airing in the U.K. This is deeply unfair to the British writers here at Doux Reviews. Bad, bad Paramount+.

Quotes:

Spock: "Matrimony and duty. The two will complement each other."
T'Pring: "I remain skeptical."
Me, too.

Pike: "This is your captain. We're a little early out of the gates, so I hope we didn't catch anybody with your hair wet or your pants down."
Only Spock, apparently.

Spock: "Is it soon?"
Pike: "Only you could ask that question. No. It's almost a decade away. Is that soon? Suddenly that feels soon."

Pike: "I'm all ears. (Spock looks at him) It's a figure of speech."

Spock: "As you know, the Vulcans invented first contact."
Pike: "As they never fail to remind us."

Pike: "Doc, please dispense some wisdom."
M'Benga: "Okay. Never get the house dressing."

Pike: "Why is it always an alley?"
Spock: "Captain, where are my pants?"
Pike: "When in Rome, Spock."

M'Benga and Chapel: (together) "Delta Scorpii Seven!"
M'Benga: "I'll prep the booster. You catch the rabbit."
Chapel: "You always give me the fun job."
M'Benga: "Well, you're my favorite."

Spock: "It is fortunate our route is empty."
Number One: "Can you not jinx it?"
Spock: "It is illogical to believe..."
(*ding* as the elevator door opens)

Pike: "Screw General Order One."

Pike: "You remember that when elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers."

Pike: "Whoever has the biggest stick wins. In this case, that is me."

Pike: "We boldly go where no one has gone before."
Uhura: "Cool."

Back in the late eighties, I saw Nichelle Nichols at a Star Trek convention. She told us we should be proud, that we had won because we had made The Next Generation happen, we'd gotten another Star Trek show. And now I feel like we won again.

Three out of four reflections,

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

12 comments:

  1. It cannot be overstated how much I love this take on nurse Chapel. She's so awesome!

    And oh my lanta, if Kevin Riley becomes a part of this story I might literally explode from joy

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  2. I'd like to think Majel Barrett would have approved of this series' takes on both of the characters she originated, Nurse Chapel *and* Number One.

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  3. I really enjoyed it, and I'm happy each episode is going to be self-contained and that they will actually be visiting strange, new worlds. That's one of the things I loved most about TOS. Just seeing the colors of the old style uniforms really made me smile, and the end credits used the same font. Do any of the other shows do that? I'm very much looking forward to this season.

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  4. I had never thought of the very meta pairing of Nurse Chapel and Number One crewing the Enterprise at the same time. That just makes me giggle. Loved Chapel and Peck's Spock has improved. I loved the references to Discovery, in a way that doesn't just brush that show under the rug. The sacrifice that the crew made is still felt with Stamets getting a shuttle named after him and Spock missing his sister. I loved that the fall out of that final episode of S2 was a world falling into chaos. Pike was great as always, and I have a good feeling about this series in general. I agree about La'an but perhaps she is meant to be slightly off.

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  5. I hope I find a way to watch this eventually! Sigh.

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  6. I believe La'an has a uniform because they scanned the Kilean uniforms and fabricated new ones for Pike, Spock, and La'an rather than taking the ones they had on.

    Loved this premiere. Great review, Billie! I'm so glad it's turning out like you (and I as well) wanted!

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  7. It was an awesome start to re-start my childhood imagination...I have watched all the major shows from TOS-to Discovery including the carttons...So far this is the top one in my book!!!!

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  8. With Discovery being "okay" for me and Picard being downright disappointing, I really wanted Strange New Worlds to be good. Thankfully, this first episode was a really solid start. One of the things I think really helped was that we already knew the top three characters on the roster from Season 2 of Discovery, so we were already invested in them. And all three of them are still fun to watch, but my favorite is definitely Anson Mount as Pike. He was the highlight of Disco Season 2, and he's still awesome. I'd even tentatively put him as my #2 favorite Star Trek captain, after Sisko from DS9. The story was solid, whether it was the "right" thing to do or not I definitely enjoyed Pike's version of "Big Stick" diplomacy. I get their reasons for the Jan. 6th reference, but I do think there will be people who read their own biases into it. I agree with Billie that the main point is the breakdown in communication and diplomacy, but ironically I think too many of the folks(on all sides) that need to hear that won't get the message. But I do like how they linked it to Pike's vision of his own future, and I'm very curious to see how Pike will wrestle with that. I get that many people thought La'an wasn't very likeable, but it's early yet so I'm willing to give them time to figure out the right balance for her. I'm dying to know how she ties into Khan Noonien Singh though, hopefully they don't make us wait too long before they start dropping hints. You don't just drop a name like that into the cast and not do anything with it. :)

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  9. Can I begin by saying that Vulcan was stunning? The scenes with Spock and T'Pring was a sight for the eyes. Plus, two attractive people didn't hurt either.

    I really liked this first episode. It did make me think of past Star Trek's and the difficulties of First Contact, but in all the best ways. I agree with the Reviewer who stated it was a smart move to not drag out the Pike revealing he saw his own death. I don't think I quite expected Pike to be so engaging, so charming. It's a treat to see this captain of the Enterprise, before of course we meet the one of the most famous ones.

    I liked the rest of the cast as well. Nurse Chapel was something more than just a foil for Spock. Doctor M'Benga I want to know more about. The rest of the bridge crew seems to be just as capable and charming.

    Now on to La'an. I kind of like her. At the very least she is interesting. I don't believe the Reviewer quite gets her. La'an doesn't have a chip on her shoulder. She has long standing grief living in her body, mind and soul. Her defense against the awful pain she is going through is bluntness, a perceived sneer. She was a witness to the atrocities, that the Gorn put her and her family through. She was the lone survivor. That alone gets my sympathy. If you have ever gone through something horrific and lived, you might be a lot like La'an. Besides, it's the first episode. I'm sure there is a lot more to come for all the crew. I'm looking forward to it.

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  10. Although I've been watching both Discovery and Picard, I've been quite lukewarm about them. I was REALLY hoping SNW would be a Star Trek I could love unreservedly, the way I love TOS. And so far it IS! I'm so relieved and so joyful!

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  11. Is it just me, or did the alien disguise on Captain Pike look a little like "vamp face" from Season 1 of Angel?

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    Replies
    1. No, it's not just you Patrick. I couldn't place why the alien disguise looked so familiar to me. Thank you!

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