Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Strange New Worlds

Oh, baby, this has been a long time coming.

Announced over two years ago, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 1 is very much the result of the fan love that poured out for Pike, Spock, and Una after they appeared on Star Trek: Discovery Season 2.

That being said, nothing prepared me for the sheer delight of this new series.

While the premiere provides a lot of backstory and context, there’s also a benefit to the Big Three being introduced on Discovery.

Anson Mount’s Pike is a uniquely situated Trek character in that we have seen where he’s been through his time with Discovery, but we also know where he’ll end up because of Star Trek: The Original Series.

Furthermore, while he was with Discovery, he saw his future while on Boreth on Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12.

Spock: Sir, I would suggest knowledge of death is vital for effective leadership.
Pike: Knowledge is one thing, Spock, but I experienced it. How will it live in me? Will it make me hesitant? Cautious? Not cautious enough? I’m already second-guessing myself, and that’s the last thing a captain can afford.

That experience has changed him and may have possible repercussions on how he lives the next decade of his life.

Back in the Saddle - Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 1

Already, he’s questioning whether he wants to remain in Starfleet.

When Admiral April recalls him from his mountain man recluse life, he’s not even willing to step back in to save Una.

Pike: Send someone else. You don’t want me in command of that ship.
April: You’re getting us confused. You don’t want you in command.

I appreciate that they establish the Enterprise’s tradition of captains with a singularity of vision and determination.

Canonically, Robert April was the USS Enterprise’s first captain. His refusal to accept Pike’s refusal is in keeping with a captain who knows his crew member is capable of more than they know themselves.

Admiral April - Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 1

Throughout the premiere, viewers are reminded that this is very much a spin-off, that Strange New Worlds would not exist if not for Discovery.

Pike’s experience on Boreth is only the first.

Pike: I asked how you were, Spock.
Spock: I am well, Captain, although I confess each time I return to space, the weight I carry for the loss of my sister feels heavier.
Pike: I’m sorry. I miss her too.

Upon reuniting with Spock on the Enterprise (after interrupting a tryst I will talk about more later), they both take a moment to acknowledge the loss of Michael Burnham and the crew of Discovery.

And then, when they arrive at Kylie 279, it’s only to learn that the entire situation resulted from them sending Discovery into the future on Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 14.

T'Pring - Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 1

But back to Spock.

T’Pring! Right? Who else was utterly tickled by watching Vulcans flirt?

T’Pring: Don’t.
Spock: I have to. I took an oath.
T’Pring: As you just did to me.
Spock: Matrimony and duty. They two will complement each other.
T’Pring: I remain skeptical.

Of all the characters we probably didn’t expect to have to struggle with a work-life balance, Spock is probably near the top of the list.

Now that he has a very Vulcan fiancée to consider, Spock’s life has the potential for a lot more situational comedy than analytical drama.

Pike: Spock. Are you naked?
Spock: No, Captain.
T’Pring: No Chris, he’s not. He was about to be. It’s a special night.

Keeping in mind Spock’s half-human heritage which may or may not have been the root of what T’Pring in the future that is Star Trek: The Original Series does — IYKYK — I can’t wait to see how he navigates the intricacies of an intimate, committed relationship.

Ethan Peck as Spock - Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 1

Strange New Worlds also continues the Trek tradition of speaking to contemporary issues.

Playing with shades of Fredric Brown’s short story “The Weapon,” the mission to Kylie 279 involves a comparatively primitive society discovering the secret to warp drive only to turn it into a warp bomb instead.

The power you’re harnessing can bridge the gap between worlds, but its capacity for destruction cannot be underestimated.

Pike

To be sure, it’s impressive that they were able to reverse-engineer a matter-antimatter reactor from watching a fleet of ships traveling through space a light-year away. However, given their preoccupation with war, it’s very much a case of giving paintballers loaded machine guns.

Pike: You’ll remember that when elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers. The Kikuyu people of Kenya Africa on Earth, they teach us that lesson every day.
Kylien Leader: You’ve given me a proverb. Which is less useful than a big stick. Whoever has the biggest stick wins.

All this tests Pike’s principles as both a Starfleet officer and a man of reason.

Anson Mount as Christopher Pike - Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

His direct approach in dealing with the Kyliens is something we haven’t seen since TOS Kirk. James T. Kirk, to be clear.

To be fair, he doesn’t so much preach (as Kirk sometimes did) as he educates and illustrates.

And while a single script isn’t too much to go on, it’s fascinating to note that he says the same thing to both the Kyliens and La’an.

“The choice is yours.”

La'an Noonien-Singh - Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 1

Of the new crew members introduced, one is immediately intrigued by La’an. And you are meant to be.

When Pike is approaching the Enterprise, it’s La’an’s record that he’s reading on the shuttle. (Shuttle STAMETS, did you notice?)

La’an is front and center from the beginning, taking Una’s place as First Officer while they try to find and rescue Una.

So when her history of captivity, trauma, and survival points Pike toward a solution, it’s not surprising, but is it ever engaging.

Spock: They’ve become used to episodes of violence for centuries. The true cost of a civil war is abstract.
La’an: Not believing you’re gonna die is what gets you killed.

It’s also clever how they’ve already drawn Una and La’an into parallel. In a recent roundtable interview, Rebecca Romijn commented that Una’s relationship with La’an is deeply important to Number One.

Conference - Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 1

La’an’s last name is Noonien-Singh, a fact that caused a stir when the new cast’s characters’ names were announced last year.

With that last name, she is obviously related to Khan, who, at this point, should be in stasis aboard the SS Botany Bay, having escaped the Eugenics Wars with his contingent of followers.

But the name is a bit like being named Hitler or Mussolini in our world. It comes with a lot of baggage.

I suspect that learning of her experiences with the Gorn foreshadows some future adventure. I’ll also admit to being a bit freaked out by the idea of Gorn planetary nurseries and victims becoming egg sacks. For a cheery and upbeat show (so far), La’an’s proving to be the shadow that shows the shine.

Earth. The dust and sky is my hearth, but Enterprise is my home. We can go forward together, knowing that whatever shadows we bring with us, they make the light all the brighter. I am a lucky man.

Pike

By all measures, this is a triumph of a premiere. Cast, script, context, and messaging are all on-point.

General Order One - Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1 Episode 1

Can the rest of the season live up to this first offering?

Who stood out most for you? Personally, I’m obsessed with learning more about Ortegas, especially after actress Melissa Navia shared how method she’s been about flying the starship.

Was Samuel Kirk a gleeful surprise? How will he play into the crew’s dynamic, do you think?

My biggest OMG moment was seeing Colonel Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut, and general all-around superstar, on the crew as Pike gives his mission speech.

After Stacey Abrams’s appearance on Star Trek: Discovery Season 4 Episode 13, I didn’t think they could thrill me more with a cameo, but there you go.

No matter how many stars there are in the sky. No matter how many galaxies swirl beyond our own. No matter the mathematical probabilities or the number of times we say, ‘We are not alone in the universe,’ our first visit from the stars is always the province of children’s stories and science fiction. First contact with aliens always lives squarely in the impossible. First contact is just a dream until one day, it isn’t.

Una

It’s time for you to hit our comments with your thoughts! Hit it, folks! Now is the time!

Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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