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Star Trek Strange New Worlds: Among the Lotus Eaters

"I'm Erica Ortegas. I fly the ship!"

Everyone gets amnesia, and wackiness ensues.

An eternal problem with away team landing party stories is that the writers have to find a way to put our characters in danger when transporters and communicators make it easy to rescue them. I kept thinking about this throughout the episode – that SNW had found a way to make a standard Star Trek situation even more dire.

Five years ago, Pike lost three members of his landing party on Rigel VII. The planet is now showing signs of cultural contamination (a Starfleet Delta visible from space, reminding me of the bat signal), and Pike was assigned to "clean up Enterprise's mess." Pike went undercover and took La'an and M'Benga along because they have fighting skills. No phasers, no tech. And oops, there was some very inconvenient amnesia.

The amnesia elevated the landing party plot, mostly because of its interesting limitations. Our guys didn't know who they were or what was happening, but they retained "deeply known things" and still felt a strong connection to each other. La'an automatically protected Pike when he was attacked by the guards. M'Benga immediately tried to save the injured La'an. And Pike was driven to retrieve M'Benga's memories in order to save La'an. Essentially, their core selves saved the day.

And fortunately, they were assisted by Kalar native Luq (in an effective performance by Reed Birney), a man who wanted to forget because, while he didn't know what happened to his family, he knew it had to be bad. Even so, Luq was still a good person, compelled to help strangers.

The system only seemed to work because there was a ruling class in the castle, protected from amnesia, telling everyone what to do. Was this just a local situation? Are there castles made of anti-amnesia ore everywhere on the planet? Was the entire planet in chaos, with people just wandering about forgetting everything? How could they survive without pair-bonding, forming communities, food storage?

Whatever. I was a bit disappointed that they went for an original series plot, that Zacarias, the Starfleet yeoman thought dead and left behind, drop-kicked his principles and used his superior knowledge to rule over these unfortunate people.

But I did find it fun that this was another callback to "The Cage," since Rigel VII was the location of Pike's first virtual reality fantasy with Vina. That castle indeed looked similar. Not exactly the same, though.

So the landing party story was dire and negative and honestly, I found it a little bit dull. That gave Ortegas and Spock a golden opportunity to steal the episode. And they did.

As the crew still on board began losing their memories amidst a sky full of flying debris, Erica Ortegas yelled questions into the air, and the Enterprise computer answered them.

Ortegas: "Stop the rocks!"
Computer: "Unable to comply."

I think this was the most dialogue we've had with the new computer voice so far, and they did indeed cast someone (Alex Kapp) who sounds like Majel Barrett. Good for them.

Anyway, after the computer helped her find the bridge, Ortegas felt a strong connection to the helm. And while she and Spock sparred, he instinctively trusted her judgment. I loved Ortegas exuberantly flying by feel, maneuvering her way through the debris field, with Spock kibbitzing and helping. Best part of the episode.

Honestly, I don't just like Spock when he makes me laugh. Ethan Peck's Spock is exceptionally cool when he's serious, too. I thought Spock's idea of giving the command crew a padd with information about themselves was excellent. And it might even have worked if everyone hadn't forgotten how to read.

I was less interested in the C-plot. I'm not sure why I don't like Pike's romantic relationship with Captain Batel. Melanie Scrofano is fine, and the idea of two starship captains in a relationship is actually cool. But every time they have a scene together, I want them to break up. Is it just me?

So in the opener, Batel gave Pike a present, an Opelian mariner's keystone that guides lost sailors home, right before they broke up. The keystone had enough emotional resonance for Pike that it did help him find his way. At the end of the episode, Pike and Batel just recommitted to their off-again on-again.

Guess we'll see where this goes. But I really do wish they'd break up.


— Stardate 1630.1. Enterprise visited Rigel VII, and the USS Cayuga dropped by twice.

— The title of the episode is an apt reference to Homer's Odyssey. The mariner's keystone kind of was, too.

— Pike, La'an and M'Benga in an actual cage felt like an obvious homage to "The Cage."

— That high pitched whine wins the award for the most annoying sound effect I've heard this year.

— I loved the scene where the amnesiac crew were all wandering about the corridors.

— I also loved Ortegas' silly hat that didn't quite conceal her anachronistic hairdo.

— Judge Advocate Pasalk prevented Batel's promotion to Commodore because of what happened in "Ad Astra Per Aspera." I was right that we'd hear from him again.

— And speaking of the court martial, Pike again made a judgment call about the Prime Directive, that getting rid of the asteroid debris that was poisoning the people of Rigel VII wasn't a violation. This is an obvious exception. It really ought to be part of the Directive, as in "... unless interfering will save many lives on the planet."

— Are you guys watching The Ready Room? There was a lot of interesting stuff this time about how they're using the AR Wall to create locations. It's fascinating. No sound stage full of orange rocks with a purple sky in the background anymore.


Ortegas: "Most of the time, I fly the ship, which is cool but can get boring."
Not this time.

Ortegas: "Let's get to that shuttle bay and have ourselves a landing party."
Note the use of "landing party" (original series) instead of "away team" (Next Gen).

La'an: "You're good?"
M'Benga: "I'm fine. Doctors love being tasked for a mission because of their combat skills."

Uhura: "Definitely not the oatmeal."

Spock: "I see that you are experiencing the same cranial discomfort I am."
Really, Spock. You can't just say headache?

Ortegas: "I'm a pilot?"
Computer: "Affirmative."
Ortegas: "I fly the ship?"
Computer: "Affirmative."

Ortegas: "I'm Erica Ortegas. I fly the ship!"
Computer: "Affirmative."

To conclude, I found the planet story a bit meandering and frustrating, but I could watch Ortegas and Spock with amnesia all day. Three out of four silly hats,

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


  1. Ditto.
    Same goes for me.
    I totally agree.
    You took the words out of my mouth.
    What you said.
    If I coulda I woulda (written the same review.)
    Anyway, you get the idea. I think the same, even on the Pike/Batel relationship. A good episode but not the best. Except for Spock & Ortegas

  2. I think I agree that the execution of this episode wasn't the best (but not the worst either), but I found the idea of losing your memory every night so interesting that I didn't care (I actually could have used more from the landing party story line). I kept wondering throughout the episode how happy those who lost their memories could be (in addition to the obvious oppression it enabled), that without memories/effective foresight/being future-oriented, would there be upsides like a lack of anxiety about the future and an ability to not suffer from the trauma of past events?


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