Trekathon 854: Strange New Worlds (SNW)

The fifth Star Trek season of this year begins. Spoilers.

Overall it’s a strong and promising start, but there’s a lot of unevenness. Probably largely driven by how much needed to wedged into the episode.

The most important thing for a pilot is to set the tone and introduce the characters. On that front the episode is a real success. There are a thousand little pieces that make this feel like a return to the days of TNG and TOS. And the character work is mostly set up well – the new characters have some history and are painted quickly and well. The side effect of this is that the episode feels like a hail of bread crumbs at time.

Pike’s haunting by the death is interesting. In particular, the choice to know the exact date – that creates some interesting dynamics. For instance, could he act recklessly as he knows that he’s safe. But there was an excellent piece of acting communicating just how haunted he is by the experience. It’ll be a tricky balancing act keeping this going, but without it becoming repetitive and dull.

The story itself was a bit less successful – good individual scenes, but it never really had enough screen time to flourish. The ending felt like a classic TOS ending, both for good and for ill. Hopefully next week can tell a story that has a bit more time to live.

Quick hits:

– The teaser credit instantly transport me back to the Star Trek TOS movie era.

– I’d watch a whole episode from the perspective of those aliens having first contact.

– Slightly surprised there’s no previously on to link to Discovery Season 2.

– Admiral Robert April, that is a deep lore link.

– Surely the line reading of ‘I need you back on that horse’ needs more emphasis on ‘that’, to distinguish it from the horse Pike is currently next to.

– The credits are another nice bit of positioning – very clearly we should expect TOS, not TNG, DS9 or any of the other series. I’m betting they can’t resist some galactic peril though.

– Vulcan engagement rituals are lovely. Very consistent. Nice to see T’Pring, and the relationship before it falls apart. As it starts to fall apart might be more accurate.

– Very restrained on the space dock beauty shots.

– Those Captain’s quarters are ridiculously enormous.

– This feels like a very TOS or TNG story.

– Who knew Nurse Chapel was Australian?

– Why don’t they get the person who’s disguise is wearing off to stand at the back off the elevator…

– OK, so La’an is definitely one of Khan’s super soldiers, right? You don’t name a character Noonien-Singh accidentally.

– I was kind of expecting Pike to play “The Day the Earth Stood Still” to the aliens. Glad he didn’t, but it would have been a fun callback.

– Linking the January 6 insurrection to the eugenics wars is pretty bold for Trek.

– Argh! Fake out on Lt Kirk… OK, you got me.

854 down.