Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, S2.3: “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” allows time for romance…


This week’s episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” may take its title from the Bard’s “Macbeth,” but the story itself solders together elements from many past Treks, including The Original Series’ “City on the Edge of Forever,” “Space Seed” and Star Trek: Enterprise’s “Carpenter Street.” Fortunately, there are enough new ingredients to freshen up this stew of familiar elements. 

Sowing Space Seeds: The legacies of Kirk (William Shatner) and Khan Noonien-Singh (Ricardo Montalban) are tied once again.

The character of Enterprise Security Chief La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) has grown on me after emerging from the cocoon of angst and bitterness that used to define her character earlier in the series. Now, in this latest episode, we see La’an going on a top-secret time-travel mission to 21st century Toronto, where she even engages in an off-the-books romance with famed galactic Lothario, Captain James T. Kirk (Paul Wesley)…

“Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”

Written by David Reed, Onitra Johnson and directed by Amanda Row, the story opens with a log entry by the Enterprise‘s Security Chief La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong), who records a typical day in her shoes. 

Chief Engineer Pelia (Carol Kane) is a hoarder and a thief…not the best route to take for her character.

La’an’s log includes breaking up a disagreement between two crew members (one of them a Denobulan, a species last seen on “Star Trek: Enterprise”), investigation of an anonymous noise complaint against Spock (Ethan Peck) playing his Vulcan lyre, and finally, a more serious (and disturbing) charge of theft against the ship’s new Chief Engineer, Pelia (Carol Kane), whose quarters are filled with priceless antiquities from Earth’s past—no doubt collected over Pelia’s vast lifetime, much of it spent on Earth. We later see La’an letting off steam in the gym during a sparring session with Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), who gets under La’an’s skin by mentioning her absence at Una’s welcome back party (see: last week’s superior episode, “Ad Astra Per Aspera”).

Note: I realize that Pelia’s being a hoarder and kleptomaniac is relevant to the story later on, but it raises too many serious issues with a ship’s senior officer being an art and antiquities thief.  To be continued…

A mysteriously-garbed stranger (Christopher Wyllie) gives La’an (Christina Chong) a device to help her complete his vital mission in time.

La’an’s day becomes a whole lot more complicated when she notices a man (Christopher Wyllie) anachronistically dressed in a gray suit, lying in a deserted corridor of the ship, bleeding out from an ancient bullet wound. Without hesitation, La’an rushes over to help the man, who gives her a handheld device which projects a holographic map of a diverging timeline.  With his last words, the man asks La’an to complete his mission—before he dies, and disappears.

Note: My first thought was “Please tell me the Temporal Cold War from Star Trek: Enterprise is not coming back,” and luckily, it’s not—at least not for a recurring role in this series; ah, the joy of Star Trek returning to its episodic roots…

Captain Kirk (Paul Wesley) in command of the United Earth Starship Enterprise is surprised at the sight of an unexpected arrival…

Hurrying to the bridge to report what she saw to Captain Pike, La’an steps off the bridge turbolift and sees Captain James T. Kirk (Paul Wesley) in the center seat.  There are other more familiar faces at their stations, such as Lt. Ortegas (Melissa Navia) at the helm, and Ensign Uhura (Celia Gooding) at comms, yet none of them seems to recognize La’an.  Turning to face her, Kirk asks if La’an would mind telling him who the hell she is. Before she can explain, the Enterprise is hailed by Captain Spock (Ethan Peck) aboard a Vulcan starship, asking for the Enterprise’s help in Vulcan’s ongoing war with Romulus.  Kirk uncharacteristically declines, leaving Spock—and the Vulcans—on their own. With the attention back to La’an, she asks to speak with the captain alone.

Note: We last saw this incarnation of Kirk in last season’s “A Quality of Mercy” (a fan favorite that I personally found lacking; one of my issues being the casting of Kirk). I also found it disheartening that this version of Kirk wouldn’t help a Vulcan ship in distress. Helping the underdog is more a part of Kirk’s character than simply his training. Spock implores Kirk by quoting that line from Socrates, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”; a point he would refute in “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013).

“You’re from where now?”
The episode finds a way around Kirk’s premature time-traveling.

In the briefing room, La’an tells Kirk she believes her timeline was altered. Presenting the dead time traveler’s artifact as proof, she asks for Kirk’s help as a fellow Starfleet officer.  Kirk explains that his starship Enterprise is part of a United Earth fleet, and that there is no Starfleet in his timeline. Earth is an independent power, and the Federation doesn’t exist. Wondering if the artifact might be a weapon, he reaches for it, but La’an resists…

Note: I realize that for production’s sake, they couldn’t afford to build all-new interiors of a United Earth version of Enterprise, or even new uniforms, but it’s a bit hard to swallow that the ‘United Earth’ Enterprise is identical to the interior of Starfleet’s Enterprise. The Enterprise’s advanced technology is supposed to be a result of shared technologies between member planets of the Federation, so it makes no sense for the United Earth version to look almost exactly the same, save for minor nomenclatural and insignia changes.  Even 1967’s “Mirror Mirror” (made for much less) used altered uniforms and detailing for its “Terran Empire” Enterprise (which used non-human slave labor).

Strange New World? Kirk and La’an find themselves in modern-day Toronto…

During the struggle, the device is accidentally (or purposefully?) engaged—instantaneously zapping the two across spacetime into a back alley of a large metropolitan city, which Kirk initially mistakes for New York City.  Noticing the signage and other details, La’an corrects him, pointing out that they’re in mid-21st century Toronto, Canada.   La’an realizes that they need to blend in as soon as possible.  Dressed in their thin duty uniforms, they also need protection against the decidedly chilly Canadian climate…

Note: In many ways, this episode is like “City on the Edge of Forever” minus the time-doughnut (both see the protagonists arriving in back alleys of big cities, both have tragic endings).  That Kirk mistakes Toronto for New York City is easy enough to understand, since Toronto has a long history of standing in for the Big Apple in movies and TV shows. Kirk also mentions he was born aboard the “USS Iowa,” which means that technically, despite the timeline change, Kirk is still born in Iowa (unlike his Kelvinverse counterpart, who was born aboard the USS Kelvin—the loss of which created an entirely new timeline).

La’an and Kirk plan a shoplifting–er, shopping excursion to procure more suitable garb for Toronto climes.

Finding a department store, La’an and Kirk enter through the front revolving door, which confuses Kirk. Using that Kirk CharmTM, Kirk thwarts La’an’s look by telling her he ‘works in space’ (a line he used on Gillian in 1986’s “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”). Finding suitable (warmer) clothing, La’an sneaks a peek as Kirk changes clothes in a nearby dressing stall—clearly she’s attracted to the brash young captain. With their new winterized duds on, they proceed to the checkout before realizing that 21st century Earth still uses money. Security chief La’an sneakily slips a new wallet into an unsuspecting female shopper’s bag.  As the woman attempts to leave, she unwittingly sets off alarms, which provide enough distraction for Kirk and La’an to slip out of the store unobserved. 

Note: As a former retail manager, I sympathize with retail workers whose lives just became all the more difficult with this episode…

One of the best tacticians in the galaxy hustles chess players for dough.

Realizing they can’t go without money for very long in this century, Kirk spots a few heavy-duty chess players in the park. Ever the brilliant tactician and three-dimensional chess champion (TOS’ “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” “Charlie X”), Kirk gets La’an to hold his beer as he hustles multiple players at old fashioned two-dimensional chess, which he calls an “idiot’s game.”  Winning fistfuls of cash, Kirk impresses La’an, whose own knack for hustling provided the two of them with clothing. Theirs is a good match…

Note: While I have some issues with Paul Wesley’s casting as Kirk, the actor’s chemistry with Christina Chong’s La’an isn’t one of them. It’s also ironic that in La’an’s timeline, Kirk and her ancestor Khan would become mortal enemies.

Kirk offers La’an the lifesaving gift of a hotdog…

Realizing their ‘first order of business is survival,’ Kirk uses a little of their newfound cash to buy a pair of hotdogs from a local vendor. La’an resists, but Kirk insists, correctly pointing out the hotdog is for survival.  They walk and talk, as the sun sets. As they compare notes on their timelines, Kirk says his Earth is a bombed-out dystopia, with a sky full of ash. In his reality, humanity is no longer centered on Earth, but has since thrived on colonies throughout the solar system.

Note: “United Earth” and “United Earth Space Probe Agency” were earlier versions of TOS Star Trek nomenclature before “United Federation of Planets” and “Starfleet” were respectively adopted later in the series first season.

“We’ve got to get to the bridge!”
La’an and Kirk are alarmed by the untimely destruction of Lake Ontario bridge.

Using some more of Kirk’s winnings to rent a room for the night, neither La’an nor Kirk are able to sleep soundly. Kirk wonders if their time-travel device can return them to their futures, but La’an insists they stay to repair her timeline. Kirk points out that such ‘correction’ may erase him from existence.  She mentions Kirk’s brother Sam aboard her Enterprise, and Kirk is shocked to learn his late brother Sam is still alive in her timeline (not for long; see: TOS’ “Operation: Annihilate!”). This clinches the deal, as Kirk realizes La’an’s timeline is for the greater good of the universe. Suddenly, outside their window, the two witness a cataclysmic explosion at the Lake Ontario bridge. They hurry to the scene, where they find a young woman (Adelaine Kane) taking photos with a high-quality camera.  La’an politely asks if she can see the woman’s photos.  In one of the images, La’an recognizes char marks on the collapsed beams as residue from a photonic bomb—a technology beyond 21st century Earth technology.

Balance of Terra?
Sera (Adelaide Kane) shows La’an and Kirk photos she’s collected of UFOs…including one very familiar design.

Needing transportation to follow a van of mysterious investigators from the scene, Kirk nerve-pinches a man before stealing his car keys (a trick he learned from his Vulcan cellmate in a Denobulan prison…along with making plo-meek soup in a toilet). As Kirk aggressively tears his newly acquired Dodge Challenger through busy downtown streets, he’s spotted by cops and pulled over.  Facing arrest, the police are distracted by the same young woman taking photos at the bridge. The woman tells the cops that Kirk is a well-known civil rights attorney and that she’s livestreaming his arrest. The cops let Kirk off with a warning (right…) and he thanks the young woman, who is named Sera. At a cafe, La’an (using the alias “Vanessa”) and Kirk learn that Sera is a conspiracy theorist and UFO-nut who thinks aliens are here on Earth to slow down human progress.  She pulls out a tablet to show La’an and Kirk her photos—one of which is a Romulan warbird hovering in a cloudy sky. Kirk is convinced Sera might be onto something…

Note: The image of the Romulan warbird hovering in the sky reminded me of the Enterprise hovering in the skies above a Nebraskan Air Force Base in 1967’s “Tomorrow Is Yesterday.” 

Taking 21st century transportation to Vermont to see an “old friend.”

La’an also notices that a man in Sera’s photos seems to have waited for the bridge’s destruction. Kirk remembers that an experimental cold fusion reactor is rumored to have been destroyed sometime soon at this point in history. Both La’an and Kirk realize they need an engineer.  La’an remembers that Enterprise’s current near-immortal chief engineer lived in Vermont during this time.  Taking a taxi and bribing a border guard to enter the United States (yeah, sure), La’an and Kirk make their way to a remote shack, where, on a wooden door is a crudely handwritten sign saying “Department of Archeology.” This is Pelia’s place…

Note: There’s a certain breezy, easygoing vibe for much of this episode that reminded me of other Star Trek time-travel stories, where certain needs are met a bit too easily at times. For example; bribing a post-9/11 border agent to enter the US is very unlikely, no matter how much money Kirk won—not to mention La’an’s British accent. There are some things you just have to swallow, for entertainment’s sake.

On a special episode of “Hoarders.”
La’an and Kirk encounter Pelia, living in Vermont with a bunch of hoarded, stolen artifacts.

La’an knocks. Pelia answers the door. La’an tells Pelia she knows the wily old woman is really a long-lived alien “Lanthanite.” Pelia lets the two in. Once inside, Kirk and La’an notice Pelia’s vast collection of colorfully acquired art and antiquities. La’an tells Pelia that they’ve come because they need an engineer.  Pelia insists she’s not an engineer—not yet, anyway. In fact, she learned math over 2,500 years ago under Pythagoras.  Kirk tells Pelia about the cold fusion reactor he believes is being targeted. Pelia assumed cold fusion was a myth, like Bigfoot, but she agrees to help.  She finds a watch in her collection that’s sensitive to tritium, an ingredient in cold fusion. The phosphors in the watch’s face should glow when they’re close to a tritium source.  They thank her, take the watch, and go off in search of the cold fusion reactor…

Note: I really thought I was going to like Pelia when I heard that Carol Kane was attached to the role, but the way she’s being written isn’t encouraging. Writing her as a thief and hoarder—not to mention a scatterbrained ditz—seems too sharp a contrast with the savvier, three-steps ahead woman we met in “The Broken Circle.”

Getting to know you.
Kirk and the descendant of his future enemy find romance in the 21st century.

Laan and Kirk walk the nighttime city streets. They’re working well together, and really hitting it off. Kirk now sees that he’d rather live in La’an’s more hopeful timeline than his own. La’an says her timeline isn’t perfect, either. She bears a “Scarlett Letter” with her family name, which is like Cain. Kirk looks puzzled by her references…before breaking into a wide grin. He’s kidding; his timeline has Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Old Testament, too. They share a tender kiss…until the watch begins to glow. The reactor is nearby.

Note: Of the episode’s many references to “City on the Edge of Forever,” this one is reminiscent of the scene where William Shatner’s Captain Kirk and Joan Collins’ “Edith Keeler” are walking along the streets of New York, as Kirk tells Edith about future authors, and how the three words “Let me help” will someday hold even greater value than “I love you.” There’s a bit of irony too, as this Kirk is falling in love with the descendant of one of his most legendary foes.

The Eugenics Wars unfold a bit differently now than they did in 1960s Star Trek, confirming my belief this is all a new timeline.

They soon find themselves at the “Noonien-Singh Center For Cultural Advancement,” a Bond-villianesque front for eugenics research and other global-controlling enterprises.  Access to the reactor is through a hand scanner, which is coded to genetics instead of fingerprints. La’an, being a direct descendant of the future tyrant Khan Noonien-Singh, tries her luck.  Access is granted.  As she and Kirk are about to enter, Sera unexpectedly emerges from the shadows carrying a gun.  Turns out Sarah is a surgically-altered Romulan spy from the future, who is trying to prevent Earth—Romulus’ greatest rival—from progressing to the stars. With Kirk forbidding her access, Sera shoots him. A dying Kirk then tells La’an to say ‘hi’ to Sam for him. 

As alarms are set off by the shooting, Sera kills the security guards arriving to investigate. Enraged by Kirk’s murder, La’an tackles Sera.  As the two fight, Sera’s gun is dropped.  Sera angrily snarls that time itself seems to be fighting back against her 30 years of sabotage—all of these events were originally supposed to happen back in 1992.  La’an then grabs Sera’s gun and kills her.  Sera bleeds dark green Romulan blood before disintegrating without a trace…

Note: Sera’s observation of “time fighting back,” a phenomenon which has already pushed the Eugenics Wars 30 years later than they were supposed to happen, is an interesting means of reconciling 1960s Star Trek’s ‘future history’ with our own; since the 1990s came and went with no mention of Khan Noonien-Singh, or any ‘Eugenics Wars’…

La’an confronts her ‘evil’ ancestor Khan (Desmond Sivan) as a scared little boy; the Baby-Hitler paradox.

With Sera gone and police en route, one of the doors unlocked by La’an’s hand scanner access is labeled “Khan” in a child’s handwriting on the door, along with a child’s drawings. La’an cautiously enters the room of her ancestor, Khan Noonien-Singh (Desmond Sivan), only to find a frightened child—cowering from the shootings.  He asks La’an if she’s going to kill him, to which she assures him she won’t. Knowing the terrified boy’s dark path, La’an then sees a nearby photo of other child augments, all clad in matching red uniforms. With the boy worried about where he should go, La’an says “You are right where you need to be.” With additional security and police just outside the door, La’an hits the now-green button on her time traveling device and disappears…

Note: This episode uses the “Baby Hitler” time-travel paradox; what happens if one is sent back in time to kill Adolf Hitler, but finds only an innocent baby?  Does killing that baby make the time traveler a monster as well? This old sci-fi notion is La’an’s reality now, and she acts humanely—recognizing only the innocent boy in her presence. The photo of other augments shows them all dressed in red—a uniform color we see adult Khan and his male shipmates aboard the Botany Bay wearing in the episode “Space Seed.”

La’an returns to her own timeline, and decides not to throw the book at the ship’s resident kleptomaniac Pelia, to the surprise of Pike (Anson Mount) and Una (Rebecca Romijn).

Arriving back on the USS Enterprise in her own timeline, a heartbroken La’an is still wearing the civilian clothes she stole from the Toronto department store. She steps off the bridge turbolift to see Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and Number One (Rebecca Romijn) questioning Pelia on her stolen collectibles. Pike asks the out-of-uniform Security Chief to weigh in. La’an, realizing she owes a debt to Pelia for her deeds in the 21st century, recommends letting it slide. Excusing herself, La’an then exits the bridge and returns to her quarters…

Note: I realize letting Pelia’s various thefts “slide” is the correct thing to do in context of the story, but maybe Pike could at least suggest that Pelia return these clearly stolen antiquities to their rightful owners, depositories, or museums…?

A wellness call to Kirk shatters the Security Chief’s once-frosty reserve.

In her quarters, La’an takes off her jacket, as she realizes she’s not alone. A woman in a suit is sitting in a chair across from her.  The woman is Agent Ymalay (Allison Wilson-Forbes), from the Federation’s Department of Temporal Investigations—an agency that doesn’t yet exist in the 23rd century. She asks La’an for the temporal device back. She also asks that La’an not share her experiences of what happened with anyone, not even Captain Pike. With the timeline restored, Agent Ymalay disappears. La’an then realizes she still has the wristwatch 21st century Pelia gave to her. She then impulsively makes a subspace call to Captain Kirk. Once the very-much alive captain answers, La’an embarrassedly realizes she needs an excuse for calling this now total stranger.  La’an says as Security Chief she needed a birthplace for his brother Sam’s Enterprise records. Kirk says “Riverside, Iowa.” La’an thanks him, and they end the call.  La’an then breaks down and sobs—having just talked to the ‘dead’ man she loved in another time and place.

Note: Some powerhouse acting by Christina Chong, who runs the gamut of emotions in this episode; playing light romantic comedy as deftly as she plays unbearable grief.

The End.

Summing It Up

Home of the Blue Jays.
La’an is quicker on the draw, while Kirk is a little dazed and confused as to their location.

As stated earlier, the episode draws upon the ‘tragic romance in time’ aspect of TOS Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever” (with alternate-Kirk playing the Edith Keeler role) but with a feel closer to Star Trek: Enterprise’s “Carpenter Street”—a prior sojourn to 21st century North America, where another Enterprise captain had to stop Temporal Cold Warriors from screwing up Earth’s future. The romance between La’an and Kirk is a refreshing change for her character, though Paul Wesley doesn’t quite nail the character of Kirk like his predecessors.  However, actors Paul Wesley and Christina Chong have nice chemistry together, and that goes a long way.  Their romance gives the episode its much-needed heart.

Not loving hoarding-kleptomaniac Pelia (Carol Kane).

One development I wasn’t as fond of was a new wrinkle added to the Enterprise’s Chief Engineer Pelia, played by Carol Kane (“Princess Bride”). While I appreciated the writers framing her as an impish, Yoda-like character, I didn’t like them turning her into a damned thief.  I also can’t buy Capt. Pike and Number One simply letting her off the hook. What if the Enterprise were destroyed in an attack, and those priceless treasures of Pelia’s were lost forever?  And what about the rightful owners of those pieces, including the Louvre (which I hope still exists in the 23rd century)?  I don’t mind Pelia hoarding her own pieces of sentimental junk she’s collected over her long lifespan (gum wrappers, ugly Christmas sweaters, whatever), but some of those items in her possession were clearly stolen, and that takes her character into a much less lovable place in my book. Kleptomania is not a cute, adorable trait to assign this character.

The romance between La’an and Kirk is one of the strongest elements of this episode.

We also get a more-or-less definitive answer to a nagging question for Star Trek geeks like myself; when exactly did the Eugenics Wars happen in modern Star Trek, and how do they tie into World War 3?  In TOS Star Trek’s “Space Seed,” Spock definitively stated that Khan and his augment-supermen seized power “from Asia through the Middle East,” in the year 1992, before their self-imposed space exile aboard the SS Botany Bay in 1996.  Now we see a new Khan Noonien-Singh as a 21st century boy—the embodiment of the ‘Baby-Hitler’ paradox—living in a secret institution in North America, quietly awaiting his role in WW3 (which we hope will never happen, of course). This new skein of events confirms a long-held belief of mine that all of modern Star Trek, no matter its fidelity to canon, is part of an alternate timeline.

“Tomorrow and Tomorrow…” allows actress Christina Chong a chance to flex some comedic/romantic muscles, while finally owning her character’s dark heritage in a uniquely Star Trek-way.  It also puts a fork in some nagging issues with Star Trek’s ever-malleable future continuity—for now, at least.  Hardly a perfect episode, but there’s plenty to enjoy, as the characters play fast and loose with Star Trek’s future. 

Where To Watch

“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” is available to stream exclusively on Paramount+. The first season of “Strange New Worlds” is also available for purchase on BluRay and DVD from CBS/Paramount, and is available for purchase wherever you can still buy physical media (Amazon, BestBuy, Barnes & Noble; prices vary).

Images: Trekcore, Paramount+

10 Comments Add yours

  1. scifimike70 says:

    Time travel stories in the sci-fi universe and certainly Star Trek couldn’t get any better than this. Christina Chong as La’an beautifully shines, Paul Wesley as Kirk is very impressive, Carol Kane as Pelia in the past is an interesting way to get to know her better, and the final twist that La’an must confront is timeless. Thank you for your review.

    1. Thanks, Mike. I love Carol Kane in “The Princess Bride” and “Taxi”, but I’m just not cool with Pelia’s kleptomania and how lightly her theft of museum pieces was taken.

      But on the whole, the episode was good, and I enjoyed it. Christina Chong’s La’an is really growing on me as a character.

      1. scifimike70 says:

        Same here about La’an. And you’re very welcome.

      2. scenario says:

        Pelia is a woman whose lived thousands of years. Many cultures do not approve of strong women so she developed a ditsy persona as camouflage.

        What is stealing? Requiem for Methuselah. “I am Brahms… da Vinci… Solomon, Alexander, Lazarus, Methuselah… A hundred other names you do not know.”

        She has to keep a low profile but what kinds of skills could you learn in thousands of years.

        She’s the painter but she gave them to someone else and he got famous. When the local cops found out that a local woman had expensive paintings they took them and sold them. They were stolen from her. She stole them back.

      3. I still question whether or not she had the original right to have those, but at any rate, making her a kleptomaniac isn’t a point in her favor; and at her age (and presumed wisdom) you’d think she’d start to become less materialistic, not more. Just saying.

  2. Lorraine Fiel says:

    Sounds interesting. I wish I had Paramount+ so I could watch Strange New Worlds.

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