Children of the Comet is the episode’s name and the writer’s get down to business right away. Inhabitants of a dry husk of a world turn their eyes to the sky and through them we are introduced to a comet passing close by. How close no one yet knows. We’ll find out, though.
This episode, Children of the Comet, is an Uhura episode, meaning that its point of view is taken from Cadet Nyota Uhura. Everything happens from her perspective, including the opening monologue and subsequent invitation to a crew dinner in the captain’s quarters. No spoilers here, but this opening sequence discloses that hazing aboard ships, even starships, hasn’t gone out of fashion, even in the year 2254.
The scene provides useful background. For example: Lt. Erica Ortegas mentions that the captain likes to invite all kinds of people to these social occasions, noting:
Ortegas: “The captain wants, you know, regular people to hear what’s actually happening on the ship. So, he’ll probably ask questions.”
Uhura: “Great …”
Ortegas: “That a problem?”
Uhura: “How do I put this? My father liked to say that I was unburdened by conversational boundaries.”
Ortegas: “Well, this will be fun for you, then!”
Indeed, the captain does ask Uhura questions, and we learn a lot about her background and her unusual motivations for joining Star Fleet and the possibility that it won’t be a permanent home for her. While some of this backstory and foreshadowing may seem to be a little heavy handed, since the scene lasts only a little more than six minutes in total, the payoff later in the show makes up for this.
Lastly, the event formally introduces us to Hemmer, a Andorian, and we learn from Spock that he is the ship’s new Chief Engineer – and that he’s completely without sight. We learn this as he upbraids Uhura for insensitive word choices for his blindness, all as he is simultaneously slicing and dicing some sort of root vegetable. The mantra of Hollywood writing is, “show, don’t tell.”
There wasn’t a better way to introduce this character than the way they did.
Enterprise tracks a comet, the one seen at the opening of the show, and discovers that it is on a collision course with the planet. If left unchecked, everyone on the planet (the children of the comet, so to speak) will die.
Captain Pike, La’an Noonien-Singh, and Hemmer concoct a plan to shift the come out of its course and they put it into action, but with unexpected results. The comet is not a comet, but rather some sort of uninhabited artifact driving through space. Pike discovers this when the objects shields prevent the Enterprise from changing its course. He says, “Anyone want to tell me how a comet puts up a forcefield?”
In short order, the Enterprise sends in an away team comprised of Spock, Noonien-Sing, Uhura, and Sam Kirk. Kirk was only just introduced at the end of the first episode. Again, no spoilers! The away team activates powerful forces on the comet and then get stuck inside. Enterprise’s transporters can’t beam them back out. While trying to force the comet to drop its shields long enough to get the away team aboard, a huge and complex alien ship opens fire on them.
Related Link: A Quick Look at Enterprise
Pike & Co. learn that a group of “Shepherds” is watching over the comet, safeguarding it while it does its mission. They address the comet as the M’hanit and tell Pike:
The Shepherd: “We escort the M’hanit.”
Pike: “The comet?”
The Shepherd: “The M’hanit is far more than a comet. The M’hanit is one of the ancient arbiters of life.”
Pike: “Okay …”
The Shepherd: “If you tamper with it again, we will not hesitate to destroy you.”
Begging for Spoilers
Rather than expose with more plot details, it’s better to leave with that cliffhanger.
The show is very enjoyable, in a way that most of the shows of The Original Series and Star Trek: TNG were. They introduced a problem, fiddled around with the available resources until a solution could be reached, solved the problem and left the audience with some real food for thought to chew on until a week passed and he next show was dispensed.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds works this formula flawlessly. The crew is made up of very capable individuals, each with a unique background that is useful and deployable at a moment’s notice. They are almost like a team in a sci-fi RPG (Role Playing Game) to the extent that one could almost imagine their character cards with point values attached that define their strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. In Uhura’s case, she demonstrates high scores in intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. Not so much on the others!
Already At Mid-Season Form
The second episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, reinforces that the writers really know their characters and are already adept at putting them through their paces. The cast is also similarly on point in that they are already over the growing pains that sometimes inhabit a new show while everyone gets their feet wet and the bugs worked out.
This is almost certainly because everyone has the history of Star Trek ingrained within themselves. It’s no secret how Number One needs to relate to Captain Pike, nor how Mr. Spock should occasionally throw an “Indeed” as the conclusion to another crew member’s insightful comment.
Anson Mount, above all others, truly understands the inner and outer workings of his character: Captain Christopher Pike. He gets it that he isn’t The Man all the time. He deploys humor during otherwise tense confrontations, and while at one point he says to everyone, “Let’s get it done, people. We’ve got a planet to save before breakfast!” he then says to Number One in private, “I love this job …”
She smiles back.
And we smile.
Broadening out Pike’s comment to perhaps apply to all of us, “We love this show.”
* Source: YouTube – Enterprise vs Shepherd Ship • Star Trek Strange New Worlds S1E2
** Source: YouTube – Pike is telling a joke • Star Trek Strange New Worlds S01E02