Star Trek – Strange New Worlds is THE best thing that happened in the Star Trek franchise in decades. After watching the 10th and final episode of the first season, I’m utterly destroyed – and that’s a good thing.
Fear not, as we won’t spoil the new series, although commenting on the old ones is inevitable. We hope you will be instigated to watch this new life brought to an ageing franchise.
Back to the Roots – Episodic Approach
Strange New Worlds follows an episodic approach, more similar to Star Trek: The Original Series, The New Generation, and Voyager than to the last maligned instalments of Discovery and Picard.
This approach allows the writers to, truthfully to classic Sci-Fy and Star Trek, to discuss deep, philosophical, and social issues such as inequality, pacifism, racism, and gender.
The producers could experiment further, even inserting different narrative genres in episodes like “All Those Who Wander (Episode 09),” where the crew must face baby-incubating Gorn in a derelict ship in the best Alien style.
Also, character development is present in every bit of the series. Ironically, whole-arc series such as Star Trek Discovery were so bad in developing characters, even with long-storytelling approaches. Once more, Strange New Worlds came to remedy that.
Some of the storytelling is delightful to old fans, and no-initiated may not get the whole breadth of Easter Eggs and nerd references such as the Amok Time’s song, Spock’s brother Sybok from Star Trek V (The Final Frontier), who was Stonn, eugenics, the Aenar, and so much more.
Focus on Storytelling and Character Development
Still, the text is well written and doesn’t sound as superficial as in Discovery (here we are again) or the J.J. Abrams Star Trek franchise. For the most part, we can say that the stories in Strange New World make sense most time and can appeal to old and new viewers alike.
The development of Spock, T’Pring, and nurse Chappel’s story arcs, for instance, is meaningful and respectful to the characters but attends to and surpasses modern sensibilities.
Similarly is the relationship between Pike and Spock, written to fill the gaps and Spock’s inconsistent behaviour in the old series “The Cage,” but ending as a story worthy of being told by itself.
Modern Takes to Perennial Issues
Episode 10, directed by Chris Fisher (2007’s Chuck and 2009’s S. Darko), sounds at the same time familiar to the Old Series and its Cold War background but, at the same time, so pertinent to modern times, the Russo-Ukrainian war, and the recent years increased Russian aggression.
Such pertinence is surprising, given the series was written and produced before the war started.
“A Quality of Mercy” revisits the events of the Original series S01.14 Balance of Terror, notorious for introducing the Romulans and their cloaking devices in the series.
Some of the original playfulness and the cat-and-mouse game remain in this new take, but the dramatic consequences of the episode overshadow them.
Destiny is All
The show’s episodic nature doesn’t mean there isn’t a general guideline. After all, the new series premise is based upon the pilot of the original series, developed further in the episodes “The Cage” I & II: What is Captain Christopher’s Pike destiny?
Eventually, during the first season, and in a full-dedicated episode at its closure, SNW explores the question – Is there a destiny? Can a man change it? If so, should he?
We will not spoil the answer to that question. Let’s just say the way the showrunners develop the theme is heartbreaking. We were just devastated after watching the final season episode but repeating myself – that is not a bad thing.
That’s a tribute to how good the writers were in developing captain Pike’s story without recurring to half-backed or easy answers. Like him, we all know how his story ends, and we want him to subvert that.
But be aware of what you wish for. The episode and season bring the haunting situation when a good person does the good thing, but the good thing may be the wrong choice. It may be said that such chaos is the writers’ form to subvert logic.