Episode 1 of Strange New Worlds starts not with a bang, or with a whimper, but with a reintroduction – A troubled captain trying to rediscover his faith and drive, a new face for an older character, and some updates on where old friends are at this stage.
Duty hangs heavily about the necks of some, especially when it is allied with friendship. As is so often the case in Star Trek, duty is a burden, and it pulls some in multiple directions, as we find with both Pike and Spock. If you haven’t watched Discovery yet, it’s probably a good idea to either catch Discovery Season 2, or at least find a good preview.
We don’t start on the Enterprise, but it’s not long before we get a beautifully revisit of a classic sequence from Star Trek the Motion Picture. The Enterprise in spacedock, its newly reworked lines clean and simple… A shorter, but no more beautiful love letter to a classic. I’d like to point out that, while some are complaining about the new look, and have done since we met her in Discovery season 2, I love the new/old Enterprise – So dynamic and clean, feeling like it wants to race into the unknown.
As for the rest of the series, even from the start the new titles are bold, clean, optimistic and radiant.
New faces join old, and the re-redesigned bridge of the Enterprise is closer to the original, and is as stunning as the outside. The engine room feels true to the original and the Motion Picture, but fresh, too.
Pike, in contrast, is a little ragged about the edges, still dealing with the demons of his future – He nevertheless works to lead and inspire his crew as they depart early to save an old friend. The knowledge of the end of his journey is an albatross that drags at him, and some notice it more than others.
The new crew – Those we have met before with new faces, and the new members we’re meeting for the first time, come across well, and the reinterpreted tech of the future is bound to make some people less comfortable, as it already has with Discovery. It’s important to remember, though, that Star Trek isn’t supposed to be about dogma, but a sense of wonder and optimism – Which they manage and bring into focus.
As always, General Order 1 applies – Doesn’t this make things interesting?
“Screw General Order 1” is a great answer to it, though – Under the right circumstances
One thing I should make clear. I’ve watched and enjoyed all the different Star Trek series so far (Except for Prodigy), including Picard , Lower Decks and Discovery, but Strange New Worlds is definitely the closest in tone to the original series, falling somewhere between it and the Next Generation, but it has that optimism that maybe leached out of Trek along the way, as it did in so many aspects of our modern life.
This new series, revisiting many people we’ve come to know and love, but at an earlier time, and the performances of the key crew – Anson Mount as Pike, Ethan Peck as Spock and Rebecca Romijn as Number 1, all continue to carry themselves well, and form a core about which the other members of the bridge crew can build and grow.
Mount, especially, continues to give an outstanding performance as a very different captain to Kirk, Picard and others, building his own niche and inspiring confidence both from his crew and the viewers, being charismatic and positive without being dogmatic or too much of a cowboy. He and the rest of the core crew also don’t ignore their past appearances on Discovery either, which inspire some consequences and melancholy, but don’t dominate.
The preview for the rest of the season shown at the end also shows that, no matter what else, we’re going to see plenty of action and exploration, and a lot of things that feel very “Trek”. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series – And the second season, which has already been confirmed.
To close, I’d like to take a quote from that season preview, from Pike himself –
“We are bonded forever, by the family that is Starfleet”
Trek has always been at its best when it has shown not just starship battles and moral arguments, but when it remembers that the crew are the ones we fall in love with and follow, and the ones that give us perspective on the stories and keep us coming back. I feel confident that this crew will do so very well, without tarnishing our memories of those that have occupied their roles before them.
I’m hopeful that we might see more and more of those fans that have decried “NuTrek” come back and rediscover their love for the newer iterations through “Strange New Worlds”. It will be good to have them back and to see less complaining and more enjoyment.