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Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Mid-Season Review: A Stellar Sci-Fi Adventure

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The cast of Star Trek Strange New Worlds

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has achieved a remarkable feat. Fandom is united in fawning praise at the mid-season mark. That’s unheard of for such a disparate audience. Akin to a bunch of Klingons sharing the last goblet of Bloodwine or containing troublesome Tribbles in a box. The show successfully hearkens back to the original’s theme of episodic exploration without sacrificing character depth. Creators Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman, and Jenny Lumet have learned to stoke a fire without overheating. We’ve had perfect slices of action, humor, and genuine camaraderie from a nascent crew destined for greatness.

The self-titled premiere introduces Captain Pike (Anson Mount) as a man haunted by inevitability. He has foreseen his awful death ten years into the future. This is a key event in Star Trek lore that launches the career of Captain Kirk. Pike’s mediation of a planet using warp technology in a civil war reaffirms his commitment to Starfleet. He’s bound by sacred duty and honor to his uniform. We get a seasoned leader, not as established as Captain Picard, but a man who understands that his choices matter.

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The primary supporting cast has gotten meaningful exposition. Science Officer Spock (Ethan Peck) worries that this job on the Enterprise will affect his engagement to T’Pring (Gia Sandhu). He struggles to please her Vulcan sensibilities as half-human. Their relationship gets a hilarious comic treatment in episode five, “Spock Amock”. Which also deepens the attraction between Spock and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush).

Number One, aka Commander Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn), the Enterprise’s first officer, is revealed to be genetically enhanced in episode three, “Ghosts of Illyria”. Pike refuses to accept her resignation after being exposed. Her rigid demeanor and warrior talents, much like Security Chief La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong), are explored and mocked in two vastly different episodes. Number One and Singh fight the brutal Gorn in “Memento Mori”. Then try to downplay their buzzkill status in “Spock Amock” by humorously engaging in Enterprise Bingo, a lower decks rite of passage.

Nyota Uhuru (Celia Rose Gooding) is a linguistically gifted cadet at this point. She joined Starfleet after the tragic death of her family in a shuttle accident. Episode two, “Children of the Comet”, has Uhuru playfully hazed by the ship’s brash and cocky helmsman, Ortegas (Melissa Navia). Uhuru proves her mettle in critical situations. She aids Hemmer (Bruce Horak), the blind albino Andorian and chief engineer, when his arm is crushed during the Gorn attack. Spock praises her for quick thinking. She belongs on the Enterprise.

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Rounding out the supporting players is the ship’s doctor, M’benga (Babs Olusanmokun). He’s an old friend of Pike’s that serves as a voice of compassion and reason. We learn in “Ghosts of Illyria” that M’Benga has hidden his terminally ill daughter, Rukiya (Sage Arrindell), in the transporter buffer. Number One uncovers this deception but allows him to keep her alive with a dedicated power source. Episode six, “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach”, has an alien child’s death giving hope for a new treatment.

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