Trekathon 863: A Quality of Mercy (SNW)

July 9th, 2022

Season 1 of Strange New Worlds ends. Spoilers.

Pike turns up to ‘Balance of Terror’ instead of Kirk. Well, in addition to I suppose.

So, the big question is this – do I love this episode because it’s so deep in Trek lore that I’m inevitably going to be drawn in? Or because it’s a good episode? Honestly, I’m not sure. I really enjoyed this, it’s an interesting episode, with a fantastic story premise. One that could be almost infinitely repeated as well.

If the episode has a flaw it’s that no one outside of Pike gets any chance for anything much interesting to do. Uhura is stuck as telephone operator, Ortegas just wants to blow stuff up, and everyone else gets little more than cameos. Spock has some things to do, but it’s also very mechanical. The most interesting other bit of work is James Kirk, which I’m not sure about. There’s something that just doesn’t quite mesh for me versus Shatner’s performance of the role.

But if there’s only one course in this meal, it’s a fantastic course. Anson Mount’s acting as Pike is a beautiful combination of subtle and big. It gives the overall impression of someone putting on a very successful facade, with just enough glimpse into the cracks to see what’s haunting him below.

Up until the end of the episode I wasn’t sure if this was going to end up being a setup for Season 2. I’m overall glad it isn’t, but it would have been fun to see a few episodes where we get the ‘Pike’ version of a TOS episode. Not that I’m thrilled about the cliffhanger we do get, but that can hopefully be an episode or two only.

Quick hits:

  • The opening shot is another example of how, somehow, Strange New Worlds has the best visual effects of any Trek.

  • Clearly Pike’s stalking of his future rescues is clearly insufficient if he didn’t know that kid was going to be here.

  • The TOS-movie-era costume is pitch perfect.

  • I wonder why Ortegas is there instead of the Lt Stiles that was in that seat in TOS? Some other butterfly?

  • Only just resisting the temptation to go watch Balance of Terror right now…

  • The lighting is very reminiscent of TOS lighting.

  • The casting for the ‘overlap’ parts is quite strong – definitely feels a lot like the original casting.

  • OMG, I was hoping we’d see Scotty! Well, at least we get to hear him.

  • I’m not sure the Romulan Praetor has a great grasp of what ‘surrounded’ means…

  • Spock’s injury makeup is pretty brutal.

863 down. Now a season review and a rest.