Strange New Worlds – Season 2
Two seasons in, and Strange New Worlds continues to be the most Trek-like of the Trek spin-offs. Once again it has a huge variety of episodes, while somehow managing to maintain a more-or-less coherent whole.
There’s a courtroom drama episode, a time travel episode, a weird alien planet episode, a Vulcans are crazy episode, a brutal flashback to the Klingon war episode, a musical episode, and even a cross-over with Lower Decks. It shouldn’t work, but it does.
A major theme of this season is relationships. Pike’s romance with Captain Marie Batel is rocky throughout and is one of the things left hanging in the balance in the end-of-season cliff-hanger. La’an gets an affair with Kirk (Jim, not Sam, obviously), but it is in a time travel episode and is made not real, at least for him. The Spock-Chapel relationship is on then off again. The amount of emotional angst deployed in considerable.
Also notable is the cautious working towards The Original Series. Uhura is getting opportunities to grow into the character we know and love. And the final episode of this season introduces us to a very young Montgomery Scott. He’s surprisingly cute, in a loveable teenage super-nerd sort of way.
Like most people, I was very much looking forward to the Lower Decks cross-over. Obviously that has to involve time travel too, and the sight of Boimler trying to avoid altering the timeline while getting to meet a group of people that he has hero-worshipped all his life was obvious comedy gold. Both Boimler and Mariner were played by the actors who voice them in the cartoon, and that seemed to work very well, though Jack Quaid is Very Tall.
I was a little disappointed in the court martial of Number One for being an Illyrian. It seemed to get wrapped up too quickly, easily and neatly. However, there’s a moment in the Lower Decks cross-over that makes it all worthwhile.
My favourite moment of the series is at the end of episode 6. The main story is an opportunity for Uhura to demonstrate her intelligence, but at the end she also gets to introduce Jim Kirk (who is shadowing Number One prior to taking up his First Officer post on the Farragut) to Spock. There’s a definite poetic brilliance to having Uhura being the person who introduces them, but the moment is made by the setting. They are in the Enterprise bar and a jazz band is playing an old 20th Century classic song called “’Till there was you”. You may know it as it was later covered by a pop group called The Beatles. The lyrics are here. It is perfect.
The one thing I’m a bit unhappy with is Carol Kane as Pelia. She’s clearly a great character, but I have hearing difficulty these days and I can’t understand a word she says most of the time. I’m sure there must be some way to get subtitles, but I haven’t managed to figure it out yet.
There will be a third season. Or at least there had better be because episode 10 ends on a massive cliff-hanger. I am a little worried that Erica Ortegas is going to die, as the script contained a couple of hints in that direction. I hope not. I like her, and there’s time yet to swap the bridge crew for the TOS people.