The late Star Trek screenwriter DC Fontana once said, “It’s not a lie to keep the truth to oneself.”

How true is that? Just ask the crew of the enterprise as they navigate through the plotlines of Episode 6, “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Exist.”

The Setup

The Enterprise is involved in a cartography mission within the Majalan planetary system. It seems Captain Pike was in the system a decade before, taking part in an impromptu rescue. He seems pretty nonchalant about it until the crew is called upon render assistance to a nearby non-Federation shuttle. The shuttle is under attack from a small combat cruiser with light armament. Cadet Uhura, under the watchful eye of security chief Noonien-Singh, attempts to disable the cruiser, but mistakenly hits it hard enough to cause it to crash on a nearby planet. No harm, no foul, it seems.

Battle stations
Somebody needs to stop that ship. Make it the cadet. What could possibly go wrong? Source: **

They are, after all, the bad guys in this episode’s intro segment.

Upon rescuing the shuttle passengers, Pike finds himself reunited with an old crush and the Enterprise crew find themselves in charge of a young child, aka: The First Servant, that was the object of what appears to be a kidnapping plot. The child’s father, Elder Gamal (Husein Madhavji), is also present.

ST SNW Alora resplendent
To paraphrase the late Tom Petty, “Well, she was a Majalan girl, raised on promises …” So true. So, so, so true. Source: **

We all discover more about Pike’s old flame, Alora (Lindy Booth), as he rediscovers what made her so attractive in the first place. It seems that in the time since their initial encounter, Majalan was offered and declined a membership in the Federation, wishing to keep their customs and ways to themselves. Pike’s earlier rescue mission involved Alora and, it seems, there’s still more than a little spark between the two of them.


Only A Lad …

“Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Exist” succeeds in over-the-top fashion when it comes developing the First Servant (Ian Ho) into someone that we all truly learn to care about.

Sick bay
Everyone seems to thinks Enterprise is old tech. Source: **

It seems that Alora is now a Majalan leader and that she is overseeing the delivery of the First Servant to Ascension Day festivities on their home world. Just like various characters in comics and entertainment that are meant to be the best examples of their races – Adam Warlock comes to mind – the First Servant is a holy child chosen to embody the very best of the species. Science, service, and sacrifice is the motto, and it becomes crystal clear that without him ascending on time, dire consequences will befall everyone and everything. There are enough red flags flying around all of this activity to alert even the most inattentive viewer.

Just A Touch of Spock

Entertainment is best when it shows something, rather than simply telling us about it. The First Servant is immediately endearing because he is demonstrably intelligent, but still very much a kid at heart. In one scene, he holds his own while engaging with Mr. Spock about, well, science stuff:

A science lesson, yes. But who is doing the teaching? Source: ***

First Servant: You must be the science officer.

Spock: I am.

First Servant: Do you know the speed of propagation of subspace radio signals in long-range communications?

Spock: I believe it is roughly 50,000 times the speed of light.

First Servant: Really? … Wow. That’s … super slow … No wonder you have to use subspace relays. At those distances, the signals would degrade long before they were received, even when radially polarized.

Spock: I do not know many your age who grasp radial polarization.

First Servant: I’m interested in it because I thought it would be fun to have a friend across the galaxy …

Clearly this is a youngster who sees well beyond the event horizon, but he’s still just a youngster. We also see embodied in him the dreams and hopes that all children should have, so similar to the dreams many adult humans remember dreaming and still hold so very dear.

One more thing, this kid’s smile lights up the sick bay and warms the hearts of everyone around him – even the inscrutable Mr. Spock.

The Balance

Beautiful hanging gardens
If you have to live in a floating city, this one is all right, I guess.
The show’s production values continue to excite. Eye candy everywhere!! Source: **

The rest of this episode is a balancing act. On one side, the crew is responsible for keeping the First Servant alive until his Ascension. On the other, Pike attempts to not learn any more than he needs to about Alora’s responsibility to her planet’s strange cultural necessities. The writers do a good job in helping us imagine a younger Pike, more dashing and daring, rescuing the maiden in distress. We imagine the younger Pike dallying with the young Alora until duty called him away. Fast forward ten years and Pike is now a ship’s captain with all the commensurate responsibilities. And Alora is now the spiritual and diplomatic representative for her entire culture. One might recall the French saying, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” Literally, that’s the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Regardless of how Pike might wish it otherwise, nothing could be further from the truth.

The guards at work
A spiked Pike. What does one do? Source: *

The plot somewhat overwrought with fakey plot twists. It has to be. Their goal? Single-mindedly obfuscating the viewer until the show reaches the pre-ordained conclusion after 50:27 of run time. For instance, was there every any real doubt that the “strangers” who attempted to kidnap the First Servant weren’t strangers at all?

Alora in costume
A look that tells it all. Excitement, loss, sadness, inevitability. And a terrible price somebody has to pay. Source: *

Other similarly contrived plot points are too likely to spoil parts of the show to merit discussion. No spoilers here!!

New Ground That Still Feels Familiar

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is as good as it is, and it is that good, because it delivers rich, distinctly formed, and emotionally charged stories on an episodic basis. The characters are nuanced to such a degree that it would be fun (and fulfilling) to have a beer and a chat with any one of them. The show therefore fulfills Gene Roddenberry’s original dream of making the Enterprise into a “wagon train to the stars,” with each episode a small portion of that vehicle’s five-year mission.

The show’s long-term plot arcs are mostly hidden under the surface and are only recalled when needed:

  • Captain Pike’s disfigurement and paralysis are still on track to occur, but not for a long while.
  • Spock will no doubt have more run-ins that test the ebb and flow of his Vulcan vs. Human make-up and his family’s history on Vulcan and in Star Fleet.
  • Dr. M’Benga will continue to accumulate knowledge that will help him to save the life of his terminally ill daughter.
  • Cadet Uhura is going to eventually embrace the Star Fleet life (and we know this because she eventually becomes the Lt. Uhura that we first saw in Star Trek: TOS).
  • There are going to be more encounters with the Gorn and La’an Noonien-Singh will play a major role in them.

There may even be exploration of how Number One can become more in touch with her softer side, even while retaining the aura of respect (and fear) that seems to inspire (and terrify) most of the crew.

Wouldn’t that be interesting?


* Source: YouTube: The Ascension – Star Trek Strange New Worlds S01E06

** Source: YouTube: Star Trek Strange New Worlds – Episode 6 Breakdown & Review!

*** Source: YouTube: The Fight | Star Trek Strange New Worlds S01E06