Star Trek: Strange New Worlds kicks things off just right – “Space, the final frontier …“
It’s been a while, hasn’t it?
Captain Christopher Pike says these all-too-familiar words as the opening credits roll, then paraphrases them as part of a speech to some recalcitrant delegates to a not-so-peaceful peace conference. The words build a verbal foundation for the delegates to move forward toward a cooperative and peaceful future.
Isn’t that what Star Trek does best?
Endings And Beginnings … And Beginnings
Chronologically, Captain Christopher Pike was first seen as the captain of the starship Enterprise in the ill-fated turned-down Star Trek pilot known as “The Cage.” The rejected pilot was later turned into the two-part episode called “The Menagerie.” Pike’s disabled condition in this set of episodes informs his psychological state at the beginning of ST: SNW.
There are bits of information that might be helpful to know prior to watching the debut episode, more information about Pike, Spock, and the character known as Number One. However, they aren’t essential, especially if you’ve been following Star Trek: Discovery. And making people know this stuff would probably violate somebody’s Prime Directive.
The starship Enterprise, NCC-1701, hits the road again in the recent series premiere. This debut episode finds the audience in the time period prior to Star Trek: The Original Series. Captain James T. Kirk has not yet taken command of the ship.
This is not the Christopher Pike we’re expecting. He is anything but the take-charge officer that we’re expecting. Instead, he’s on edge because he knows more about his future than he should, and it’s making him doubt himself as a starship captain. He and Spock return to the Enterprise because there is an emergency, and they need to rescue one of their crew from a dangerous predicament, a dilemma that involves the discovery of warp core from a planetary system that can’t be at such an advanced stage of development.
The actual plot of the show is similar to much of Star Trek canon – take a problem from today’s world and lay it bare by examining it through the lens of science fiction. In this case, it is the inability of a divided, partisan society to talk things out and plan together for a brighter future.
Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike: He looks a lot like Jeffrey Hunter, the actor that portrayed the original Pike. Through an introduction in Star Trek: Discovery, there is no doubt that this Pike can deliver the goods.
Ethan Peck as Spock: Peck is unquestionably on point as the New Mr. Spock (pun intended). The new show gives him some fun material to work with, starting with a moment with the future Mrs. Spock, T’pring, and disguising his pointy-eared self from planetary inhabitants – for a while, at least.
Rebecca Romijn as Number One: She has only a small role in the pilot episode but excelled when she was on Star Trek: Discovery.
Christina Chong as La’an Noonien-Singh: She has quite a past that includes a harsh run-in with the nasty, lizard-like Gorn. This background informs her character – a very strong character.
Celia Rose Gooding as Nyota Uhura: This younger version of Uhura is a credit to the role. She handles all of the communications dialog with a crispness that emulates that of Nichelle Nichols.
Melissa Navia as Erica Ortegas: She handles her lines very well. Check-in with Walter Koenig, George Takei, or Grace Lee Whitney. It’s hard to get good lines when you’re not in one of the top spots.
The Enterprise Itself
While Star Trek: Strange New Worlds takes place prior to The Original Series, the show’s visual production values completely outdo what was available in 1968. Maneuvering around the inside of the ship is a smorgasbord of visual delights. However, the show’s visual style is informed by what audiences saw in the original Enterprise while still making the sets stimulating enough to please the audiences of today.
The Final Verdict
Star Trek has never been more available on what used to be called the Air Waves. Via streaming services, it is possible to see The Original Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Below Decks, and now Strange New Worlds. Regardless, there seems to be room for more, and the possibility of telling engaging and relevant stories through the adventures of this new/old crew has never, ever been brighter.
* Source: YouTube – (9) Star Trek: Strange New Worlds | Official Trailer| Paramount+
** Slideshow Source: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds | Official Series Theme Song | Paramount+