Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (SNW) Season 1 Guest Reviews

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Strange New WorldsChildren of the Comet


Strange New Worlds


Stardate 1739.12 or 2259.42: Captain Christopher Pike, weary after recent experiences and the premonition of his fate, is called back into service to investigate a first contact mission that didn't go according to plan.


If there was any other better way to introduce a newbie to Trek, I haven't seen it. Sure it does have a few flaws, but doesn't almost everything? In this story, it perfectly shows what Trek normally should be about, exploring as well as the human condition, and we get decent doses of that in the episode.

Captain Pike is called back earlier than he hoped for to take the Enterprise out to investigate the disappearance of the Archer, which is crewed by his Number One and two others; they were investigate a planet where they detected a warp signature. He has a new acting first officer - Lieutenant La'an Noonien Singh.

The Enterprise arrives at Kiley 279 (the planet the Archer was investigating), finding the small ship unoccupied and the planet showing no signs of developing to the point of developing warp travel. It later turns out the warp signature is not that of a warp engine, but a warp BOMB. Pike is curious about this and wants to investigate. They learn about the people of the world, who are on the brink of global warfare - not to mention dealing with the warp bomb.

In order to retrieve Una and company and investigate, Pike has the help of Dr. M'Benga and Nurse Chapel to alter their genomes to that of the aliens. Pike and Spock volunteer to be sedated first, but La'an doesn't want to be sedated, commenting that she would be willing to manage the painful procedure. After Pike, Spock, and Singh are adjusted, they beam down - as the transporter changes their clothes in beam-down (they mention they have alien clothing patterns in the buffer).

Spock's transformation has some problems due to his physiology being different from the two humans, so they need alien DNA to assist to help Spock adjust. La'an uses tactics to lure two alien scientists so Spock can nerve pinch them and send them back up to the Enterprise for DNA samples to stabilize Spock's "disguise." This doesn't quite go according to plan as they're unable to keep the two people they beam up sedated. While infiltrating the facility where Una and her two other officers are being held, Spock's "disguise" begins to wear off as it takes some transporter trickery to beam the means to stabilize him so that he can fool the aliens' retinal scans and the guards. They get through but Spock is still having difficulties (and pain) - as his ears briefly revert back to their true pointed forms, as one of the native aliens sees when taking an elevator. They're able to free Una and company; Una was shot in the leg by a bullet but is able to move with assistance - as it revealed that La'an and Una know each other. During this, Spock's transformation wears off, resulting in a fight between the aliens and the away team members. Una later fills Pike in on how these aliens were able to obtain the technology to build the warp-based weapon-of-mass-destruction: the planet is EXTREMELY close to the whole battle between Enterprise and Discovery and Control (see Discovery S2 finale) - the aliens observed it and gathered enough data to reverse engineer their warp bomb. Believing himself to be at fault for these aliens who are likely to use this warp bomb to devastating effect, he decides to have Una, her other two crew-mates, and La'an to beam back, while Pike and Spock remain. Pike hopes to use Spock who is now clearly "himself" again to his advantage. They emerge from the elevator they went down as a group of aliens see Pike and Spock, as Pike wants them to be taken to their leader.

Pike fills the leader of one of the planet's two factions (the ones who build the warp-based WMD) about what happened and who they really are, and that using their WMD isn't going to be worth it, but the leader doesn't want any of it and has Pike and Spock taken away, until Pike voice-activates his communicator and tells the Enterprise to assume a low orbit and reveal the ship to everyone. The Enterprise enters the atmosphere and hovers over the city, giving shock and awe to the alien population. The contact with the Enterprise has gotten the attention of both factions as they are willing to negotiate in the same room.

After learning about some of La'an's dark history - she and her family were kidnapped by Gorn and she witnessed those dear to her killed in horrible ways. We learn she was then released but not expected to live - Una saved her life. Pike decides to beam down and have Uhura send some images down to the planet's surface.

On the surface, Pike tells the aliens that humans weren't that much different from them back in the 21st century, explaining that they went through turmoil like such as the Second Civil War, the Eugenics War, and then World War III before turning themselves around. Pike tells them that if they continue on their ways, they'll be doing the same same, blasting each other to rubble, but gives them a better choice. As a result, the people of Kiley 279 educate each other about their contact with the Enterprise and such, and hopefully embark on a path away from annihilation.

Admiral Robert April (who called Pike back to duty) debriefs the staff on the Enterprise, comments that he had to pull strings to keep Pike and company from being put under lock and key for the stunt that they pulled, using a loophole - in that if the council could not acknowledge the battle with Control, they couldn't acknowledge how Kiley 279 was able to obtain the knowledge to build a warp bomb.

Afterward, Pike has a talk with La'an and offers her the security chief position on the Enterprise, which she accepts. Later on, the Enterprise is about to embark on its next mission.

Throughout the episode, Pike is troubled by the premonitions he received during season two of Discovery about his fate and seeing his disfigured form in a wheelchair (which is what happens to him by the events in the TOS episode "The Menagerie"). He wonders what to do, and discusses it with Spock and others, though he decides to be the best captain he can be until that time.

The characters are easily likeable. Of course there's Anson Mount's Christopher Pike, who is by far the best Pike out of the three, beating out Bruce Greenwood from the reboot and its sequel and of course the original (actually four if you count both Jeffrey Hunter AND Sean Kenney). Babs Olusanmokun's Dr. M'Benga is quite a warm character and I hope they build on what we know about him in TOS (if it is the same guy). Jess Bush's Christine Chapel is also a delight to watch. No offense to the late matriarch of Trek, but I could see her easily surpassing the original. With Ethan Pecks' Spock - I could see him easily giving Zachary Quinto a run for his money. And I do like La'an Noonien Singh, who is the chief of security on the Enterprise. This "red shirt" will be difficult to kill. And of course there's Una, and the surprisingly spunky new Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding). They said that the Kelvin Enterprise ensemble was good, I think this one could easily surpass it.

One of the big plusses here is the updating of the female roles. In addition to Una, we have La'an Noonien Singh, the chief of security on the Enterprise, not to mention Erica Ortegas, who is the helm officer. The aforementioned Chapel - she's already much more than she was in TOS. The other streaming series have also done a splendid job in doing such with the introduction of characters like Michael Burnham, Tilly, and Reno, Raffaela Musiker, Dr. Jurati, Philippa Georgiou - this series is NO exception. A very welcome departure indeed from the Kelvin films which mostly took a big step backwards (OK, I did like Jaylah from Beyond). Also, the "minidress" variant that Uhura and Una wear is done in a way that is rather classy and not goofy looking.

I love the touch of including the original "Day the Earth Stood Still" in the episode, especially when Klaatu is warning the people of Earth about going down a destructive path, and how this echoes in Pike's message to the people of Kiley 279.

The steamy scenes with Spock and T'Pring were interesting - exploring those two's relationships. Usually I'm not too crazy about sex scenes but that's definitely one of the better ones.

As I mentioned before, the episode basically shows what Trek is mostly about - seeking new life forms, new civilizations, and exploring the human condition, and this really nails it for any introductory piece to Trek, and yes this surpasses "Star Trek" (2009) by a mile.

Hemmer hasn't been seen until the very end when he's beamed on board. Hopefully we'll see more of him in the coming episodes.


Rating: 9 (Rusty0918)


Children of the Comet


Stardate not given: The Enterprise encounters a comet that is about to devastate a pre-warp culture. They discover an underground building or ship and send a landing party. An alien species who call themselves Shepherds regard the comet as a Godlike entity and will not allow the Enterprise to interfere with the comet.


The Enterprise crew are attempting to reroute a comet that will destroy a pre-warp culture. Discovering it has shields, they send a landing party to a structure on and below the surface of the comet.

While investigating they discover that the structure responds to Uhura's humming. Music, they surmise, is their basis for liguistics. Meanwhile a larger and more powerful ship crewed by the Shepherds approach the Enterprise and will not allow them to interfere with the comet as they consider it Godlike. After learning from the structure they landing party are beamed away. The crew come up with a plan to slice away a section of the comet's ice with a shuttle to alter the comet's course. Pike keeps his promise to the Shepherds not to touch the comet (the shuttle did a loop around a section of ice that sheared off due to the heat of the shuttle's engines), and the comet is diverted saving the planet.


Rating: 3 (william j soutar)


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