This is the trekkiest Star Trek show that’s ever trekked.
At least, that’s what I said to my wife after bingeing half of the 10-episode first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds all in one sitting. The series, which follows the adventures of the USS Enterprise before Captain Kirk came aboard, feels like the first true successor to The Original Series since it ended its run in 1969.
Make no mistake, there’s been plenty of quality new Star Trek content over the past 53 years on the small screen. Over that span there have been 10 live action and animated TV programs set in its unique universe, and all of them have offered something special. Trekkies have been treated to great characters, incredible villains, countless memorable moments, and the hilarity of Worf being wrong in every possible scenario. He was not a merry man. For lifelong Star Trek fans like myself, the past five decades-plus has been a veritable potpourri of quality programming, and not much of it has a connection to The Original Series. We’re a blessed fan base.
That said, no new series feels more rooted in the DNA of the Star Trek mythos than Paramount+’s wonderfully crafted, Strange New Worlds. To be sure, with Spock (Ethan Peck) and Captain Pike (Anson Mount) around, there are names viewers familiar with The Original Series (and Star Trek: Discovery) are sure to remember—but this latest vehicle also connects deeply to Trek lore.
Throughout every episode, tips of the cap abound. Viewers will meet Spock’s betrothed T’Pring (Gia Sandhu), hear Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) sing, watch Pike toss back Saurian brandy, witness nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) help an away team disguise themselves from aliens and flirt with Spock. We get introduced to La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong), a descendant of the one and only Kahn. Heck, even the opening credits have the same font as The Original Series. This is just the tip of the TOS iceberg as Strange New Worlds offers plenty of Easter eggs that help connect the two series. But if everything I just mentioned sounds like nonsensical Klingon to you (A T’Pring is not a type of Pringle), don’t be concerned.
While Strange New Worlds is a bit more enjoyable if you are a Star Trek fanatic (or have at least watched the actions of the crew during the second season of Discovery), there’s still a ton to enjoy if you’re brand new to the franchise. A big reason for that comes down to the man in the captain’s chair.
When we last saw Chris Pike, it was in 2019 during the Season 2 finale of Star Trek: Discovery, which featured time travel and an epic space battle. The Pike storyline was integral to the season, and it turns out his heroic actions in Episode 12 (“Through the Valley of Shadows”) casts its own shadow on the new series. In the episode, Pike comes into contact with a time crystal that predicts his future. He knows when and how he’ll die. This is a direct link to The Original Series episode, “The Menagerie.”
A tortured Pike is who viewers will now encounter in early in this first season of Strange New Worlds. He’s doubting himself, and wonders if he can be an efficient leader since he knows his fate. “You don’t want me in command of that ship,” Pike tells a superior officer when ordered to take the Enterprise on a mission. He’s questioning everything, but when it comes down to it, Pike is a man of integrity. He believes in service, sacrifice, compassion and love, and all of those characteristics are on display in Strange New Worlds.
Pike is a leader in the truest sense of the word. Thoughtful, intelligent, decisive, and with the right touch of humor, Anson Mount deftly portrays a commander you’d put your life on the line for. Over the course of the season, Pike evolves into a deep, immensely likable and engaging character. His crew is also full of men and women with multidimensional layers.
Mr. Spock, who could be brusque and off-putting in Star Trek: Discovery, has evolved into the more enjoyable and astute version of the character viewers came to love in The Original Series. Actor Ethan Peck has developed the role into the fascinating, logical, and reliable man viewers have been hoping for. When Spock says lines like, “I’m a Vulcan, I’m too honest by nature” and “I find the best way to diffuse tension is to apply rigorous logic,” it feels like something Mr. Spock would say, and Peck is phenomenal. Captain Pike’s Number One, first officer Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn) shines as well, particularly when we learn more about her in the third episode.
Star Trek fans are also sure to become enamored with three new cast members. Celia Rose Gooding is fantastic as Uhura. The linguistic genius (Pike calls her a “prodigy”) doubts her place on the ship, but has an innate earnestness. La’an Noonien-Singh (Chong) is an old friend of Number One, and even though she’s open about her past, her upbringing and lineage shroud her in mystery. But perhaps my favorite of these is Hemmer (Bruce Horak). An Aenarian, Hemmer is the Enterprise’s chief engineer. Blind but born with a fascinating precognitive ability, the straight-talking albino is erudite and elitist but also humorous despite his gruff demeanor. Although he doesn’t get much screen time, Hemmer will always get your attention.
Overall, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is an absolute blast. It’s full of compelling characters and its episodic format not only serves as yet another bridge to The Original Series, but also allows viewers to see the action aboard the Enterprise from multiple perspectives, which is refreshing. Smart, addictive and flat out fun, Strange New Worlds is the best Star Trek series since The Next Generation and acts as a faithful love letter to the original. Old fan or new, this is a trek you’ll certainly want to take.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premieres Thursday, May 5th on Paramount+.
Terry Terrones is a Television Critics Association and Critics Choice Association member, licensed drone pilot and aspiring hand model.
When he’s not crawling through Jefferies Tubes, you can find him hiking in the mountains of Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter @terryterrones.
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