Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, S2.10: “Hegemony” revisits (and reimagines) a legacy foe…


The final episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (SNW) season 2 has arrived, and I apologize for the lateness of this review, but since this is the ‘big season finale,’ I wanted to give readers the opportunity to stream it before I spoil the hell out of it.  A couple of safe-spoilers to regular fans of the show; this episode does involve the Gorn (the TOS-era sentient reptiles who are being set up as SNW’s Borg) and—as telegraphed since the pilot—it also involves a turning point in the relationship between Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and his fellow captain/paramour, Captain Marie Batel (Melanie Scofano).  No surprises there.

The Enterprise takes a few shots from Gorn hunter ships…

I think I also dragged my feet (hands) on this review because my feelings for this episode, and season 2 in general, have been somewhat complicated. Overall, it’s not had the consistency of season 1, which was one of the most confident and refreshing opening seasons I’ve seen in a Star Trek series.  Granted, season 1 set a high bar, and season 2 has seen a few standouts (“Ad Astra Per Aspera,” “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”) but some creative choices made this year have yielded decidedly mixed results. 

The title “Hegemony” refers to the collective hierarchy of the mysterious Gorn (as established in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode, “Bound”), and once again, we see these reimagined Gorn acting as irredeemable monsters who have a lot more in common with the ‘xenomorphs’ of the “ALIEN” franchise than anything from Star Trek lore.


Written by writer/producer Henry Alonso Myers and directed by Maja Vrvilo, “Hegemony” opens with a log entry from Captain Marie Batel (Melanie Scrofano) aboard the starship Cayuga, which is in orbit over the human colony world of Parnassus Beta; a planet modeled after an idyllic representation of the American Midwest of the early 21st century. 

Note: The starship Cayuga shares a name with the favorite vacation retreat of “The Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling in Cayuga Lake, New York (it was also the name of his production company). Serling was one of the most brilliant writer-producers in American television, and he died far too early after suffering a heart attack at age 50 in 1975. I also appreciate that Parnassus Beta is modeled after an idyllic Midwestern town—the sort of town that often appeared in many of Serling’s Twilight Zone stories.  It also allowed the SNW producers to use contemporary Toronto-based studio backlots for shooting. 

The inhabitants of Parnassus Beta are apparently unfamiliar with the 20th century flick “Independence Day”….

Christine Chapel (Jess Bush) is hitching a ride with the Cayuga en route to her fellowship appointment with Roger Korby; in exchange, she’s assisting Batel’s crew with giving inoculations and health checks for the colonists. Chapel finishes with the last of the colonists and beams up the ship, just as Batel receives a subspace call from her paramour, Captain Pike (Anson Mount), and they chat about the colonists; Pike notes they’ve refused Federation membership, perhaps worried it might “paint a target on their backs.” Just then, the call is scrambled by some sort of subspace interference, as Batel looks up to see a flaming Cayuga shuttlecraft fall from the sky, as a massive Gorn ship appears above the town—blocking sunlight in its massive shadow. “My god,” Batel says, as the colonists run for shelter.

Note: The Gorn ship projecting a massive shadow over the town as it emerges from the clouds is an image right out of the movie “Independence Day” (1996) or even Kenneth Johnson’s “V” miniseries (1983)

Pike is shaken to hear that the USS Cayuga and Parnassus Beta are under attack from an old foe.

On the bridge of the Enterprise, Ensign Uhura (Celia Gooding) reports she’s receiving a distress call from the Cayuga through the interference—Captain Batel reports her ship and the planet are being invaded by the Gorn.  Pike orders Helm Officer Lt. Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia) to head to Parnassus Beta at maximum warp, as Uhura opens a secure channel with Admiral Robert April (Adrian Holmes).  In the briefing room, Pike tells April the situation, but the admiral is limited by Parnassus Beta’s refusal of Federation membership.  Pike makes the case for defending them against the Gorn, whom he characterizes as “monsters.” April cautions Pike that these monsters may be misunderstood. As the Enterprise comes out of warp, April reminds Pike to not let his feelings for Batel cloud his judgment. 

Note: One of my issues with how the Gorn are portrayed in SNW is the Federation’s familiarity with them at this point in the timeline. Having rewatched TOS’ “Arena” recently, it was very clear that episode (which takes place a good six years after this one) marked the Federation’s first contact with the Gorn.  Kirk and his crew referred to the Gorn as unidentified “aliens,” and even Sulu—an experienced helm officer—can’t identify their ships.  It isn’t until the intervening Metrons drop the name “Gorn” does Kirk come to know the name of this alien species. 

Haunting image of the Cayuga saucer wreckage–an extremely effective visual.

As the Enterprise comes out of warp, Ortegas makes her way to the Cayuga—lookingout for Gorn vessels. They soon locate the remains of the Cayuga—its massive, bisected saucer section partially exposed to space, floating among a debris cloud created by the ship’s wreckage.  As Spock (Ethan Peck) scans for life signs, he reports that scanning equipment and communications are being blocked by the Gorn. Security Chief La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong) reports the Gorn use such technology to prevent their enemies from seeking help. Pike and Una remind the crew to remember their training, and that perhaps there could be survivors in sealed compartments of the Cayuga and on the planet.  Pike mentions that Batel was on the planet when communications were lost.

Note: The visual effects of the Cayuga wreckage are extremely well-realized, and they bring to mind the wreckage of the Starfleet task force which was destroyed at Wolf 359 in TNG’s “The Best of Both Worlds” Part 2 (1990). 

Hoorah for Uhura, once again.
Ensign Uhura (Celia Gooding) offers some very useful suggestions in this episode.

Uhura adds that survivors also might be using signaling means detectable only by line-of-sight, such as smoke signals, flashes of light, etc.  Before they can explore that option, Spock reports  incoming warp signature from a Gorn hunter ship; it takes some warning shots at the Enterprise, but Pike orders his crew to hold on returning fire.  Just then, Uhura receives an image from the Gorn vessel setting up a demarcation zone through the Parnassus system, with the wreckage of the Cayuga on one side, and Parnassus Beta on the other.  

Note: The idea of setting up a demarcation zone in space across a moving planet’s orbit is ridiculous; it ignores the fact that planets revolve around a parent star.  In a day or two, Parnassus Beta would move right outside of the Gorn’s demarcation zone (!). It would make a bit more sense to use stars as demarcation zones, since their relative motions during galactic transits are much less apparent.

Unlike the rest of the crew, La’an (Christina Chong) has a very personal history with the Gorn, as they wiped out her family.

In the briefing room, Pike tells his officers that the Enterprise is holding on its side of the demarcation zone, and the Gorn are holding to theirs.  However, survivors from the Cayuga may be on the Gorn’s side of the zone.  With Spock and others expressing strong hope for Cayuga survivors, Pike says he will only accept volunteers for a search-and-rescue mission, as it may violate the demarcation zone.  Spock and Uhura immediately chime in, as does xenobiologist Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte) who wants to study the Gorn up close to learn more effective ways of killing them.  To that end, Pike calls the transporter room and has several cases of new anti-Gorn weapons beamed directly into the briefing room; they include new phasers tuned to more effective settings, and nitrogen grenades, which will flash-freeze and kill their cold-blooded reptilian foes.  Ortegas loves the “super cool toys,” but wonders how they can deliver them across the demarcation zone…

Note: In a typical Star Trek episode, we’d see at least one officer arguing on the sentient and clearly intelligent Gorn’s behalf, but not in this episode.  Here, they are treated like a scourge to be wiped out.  Not once does anyone stop to wonder what the Gorn might actually want with the planet to the point of risking war with the Federation. Such blindness to the Gorn’s intentions would serve as the basis for Kirk’s later understanding of and reluctance to kill the Gorn captain in TOS’ “Arena” (a far superior episode to this one, in my opinion). 

“Then we just float away.”  
“With the rest of the garbage…” 
Ortegas takes another page from Han Solo’s book (see: “The Empire Strikes Back”).

On the bridge, Ortegas gets the brilliant idea to disguise a shuttle as a piece of flotsam from the Cayuga’s debris field, since the Gorn appear to be ignoring it.  Pike assigns Ortegas, along with the ship’s Gorn ‘expert’ La’an, Chief Medical Officer Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) and Sam Kirk to the shuttle landing party. Outfitting the shuttle’s exterior with bits of twisted metal to aid the illusion, the shuttle drifts innocuously through the Cayuga’s debris, where it will appear to be a large piece ‘burning up’ in the planet’s atmosphere, as the shuttle makes a faster-than-usual descent for maximum friction.  As g-forces build outside the shuttle, Pike remembers why he’s no longer a test pilot.  Ortegas however, seems to enjoy a little seat-of-her-pants flying, as they make a sharp drop to the surface of Parnassum Beta to avoid Gorn detection.  Ortegas will soon come to regret her wish to join an away mission…

“I’m Erica Ortegas, and I fly the ship!”
Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia), a charming character given very little to do in 20 episodes, except for flying the damn ship.

Note: It saddens me that Melissa Navia, who projects such warmth and earthy charm as Lt. Erica Ortegas, has been given so little to do in the 20 episodes of Strange New Worlds to date.  Granted, the same could be said for First Officer Una Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn) as well, but even she had two very strong episodes (“Ghosts of Illyria,” “Ad Astra Per Aspera”).  Ortegas has yet to have an episode focus on her character.  She just smiles and “flies the ship.” Given what happens to her later in this episode, I’m starting to wonder if that lack of focus is by some cruel design; after all, she is wearing red.  Here’s hoping she returns…

“Come out come out, wherever you are….”
Pike and the landing party make their way through the unsettlingly deserted streets of Parnassus Beta.

As the landing party exit onto the surface of Parnassus Beta, Pike spots a piece of technology off in the distance—a large glowing tower of some kind—that doesn’t appear to be native to the planet.  La’an confirms it’s Gorn; her brother Manu once identified such a device on their home planet as a beacon for other Gorn. Pike suspects it’s also the source of the subspace interference affecting the Enterprise’s scanners, communications and transporter lock. Once that’s confirmed, they make their way into the deserted, dark streets of the nearby town to look for survivors.  Before long, they’re met by a hungry Gorn youngling—a vicious creature that La’an kills with one shot from her retuned phaser rifle.  Grateful that the new phaser settings worked, La’an offers some insight into how the Gorn spread their eggs throughout a conquered world to “soften it up.” The landing party then watches as a previously hidden youngling arrives to feast off its dead sibling’s corpse (charming).  As Sam picks up more younglings en route, Pike orders a retreat into a nearby barbershop…

Note: The scene of the tense, armed landing party roaming the dark, deserted streets of Parnassus Beta reminded me of a similar scene in last season’s “Memento Mori,” as well as scenes from various zombie films, such as the George Romero canon (specifically 2004’s “Land of the Dead”) as well as TV’s “The Walking Dead” (2010-2022) which owes its very existence to the zombie films of the late Romero (1940-2017). 

Blood on a barber shop wall is not good for business.
La’an and Pike take a minute to regroup, as they discuss the Gorn’s puzzling strategy.

At the barbershop (its walls streaked with blood), La’an is confused by the Gorn’s behavior; the younglings don’t usually work together in coordinated attacks; they should be fighting each other for dominance. Pike admits that they don’t fully understand these creatures.  La’an picks up on Pike’s worry for Batel, and assures him that she’s tough. Meanwhile, Ortegas reports the younglings appear to have moved on, while Sam picks up readings of a possible human, coming from a location down the street…

Note: The younglings are a near carbon-copy “homage” to the xenomorphs from the ALIEN franchise, with their clicking noises stolen straight from the “Predator” films, as well. That was one of the things I disliked about last season’s “All Those Who Wander,” which was essentially a scene-specific remake of “ALIENS,” right down to the mute orphan (à la “Newt”) and Sam Kirk acting like Bill Paxton’s “Private Hudson,” who loses his nerve under pressure.  While Hemmer’s sacrifice made for a powerful focal point in that episode, the rest was terribly unimaginative. 

Finally! An authentically Scottish Scotty (Martin Quinn).

Following the life-sign to its source, the enter the front room of a deserted business where they examine a small box—which activates a forcefield that traps them on all sides. The forcefield is a trap left by the ‘life sign’… a bright young Starfleet officer with a thick Scottish accent; Lt. Junior Grade Montgomery Scott (Martin Quinn).  Pike and the landing party are impressed with the young engineer’s talents, but ask if he could drop his forcefield. “Scotty” releases the field, and introduces himself.  Pike then asks if he came from the Cayuga, but Scott says he was on the Stardiver, a ship in the next system that was studying solar flares when they were attacked en masse by the Gorn. Scott barely managed to escape aboard a shuttle he jury-rigged to travel faster-than-specs.  He made it to the Parnassus system, only to see the Gorn invade this system as well.  Asked if there are any survivors from the Cayuga, Scott takes them to a nearby diner…

Note: One of the few genuine brights spots in this otherwise bleak episode is the delightful reintroduction of legacy character Montgomery Scott as (finally) played by an authentically Scottish actor, Martin Quinn. Quinn’s interpretation of the character lies somewhere between James Doohan’s original and Simon Pegg’s version from the Bad Robot Star Trek movies.  If I had any nits, I’d say that 29-year old Quinn appears to be a bit too young to age into the 40-something Scotty we see in TOS, which is set only a few years from the time of this episode. Maybe those dreaded ‘delta rays’ of the warp engines aged him…?

Cafe ’80s.
Pike experiences a bittersweet reunion with Batel at the local cafe, retro-designed to evoke a mythic Midwestern US.

At the cafe, Pike and the landing party find Batel, along with a few scattered survivors from the Cayuga. Pike and Batel take each other in a long embrace before she calls him an idiot for coming after her—risking himself and his command, only to be stuck on the surface with them. Knowing that their shuttle couldn’t take all the survivors back to the Enterprise, Pike asks future ‘miracle worker’ Scott for any ideas. The engineer mentions that his lost Stardiver was studying the coronal ejections of the neighboring star when they were attacked and overwhelmed by the Gorn. Scott surmises that there may be a link between the Gorn and the solar flares, like hordes of locusts being attracted to raid crops under certain circumstances.  Recognizing that the Gorn communicate through light, Scott rigged together the equivalent of a Gorn transponder using quickly-scavenged solar-observing equipment from the Stardiver. He was barely able to activate it and escape, before his crippled shuttle was forced to make for Parnassus. Asked if could rig together another such device, Scotty says he can’t—his equipment was left aboard his crashed shuttle. 

Note: Here’s hoping he gets his Martin Quinn’s Scotty gets his Chief Engineer rank soon. As much as I loved Carol Kane in “Taxi” and “The Princess Bride,” her character of Pelia just isn’t working out. The curmudgeonly kleptomaniac isn’t written very well; it’s as if the producers wanted a Guinan but wound up with a hoarding, ill-tempered “space hippie,” as Una so perfectly characterized her (“The Broken Circle”).

Hoorah for Uhura, Part 2.
Spock (Ethan Peck) and Una listen to a brilliant idea that came not from Chief Engineer Pelia, but from Ensign Uhura. 

On the Enterprise, Uhura comes to Chief Engineer Pelia (Carol Kane) with a radical idea for destroying the Gorn signal-jamming device located on the planet. Taking the idea to Number One and Spock, Uhura theorizes that since they can’t openly phasers fire on the beacon without alerting the vigilant Gorn ships, they can divert a large piece of Cayuga debris from orbit to crash on the surface—where it can obliterate the device. Una then devises a dangerous plan to spacewalk over to Cayuga’s badly-damaged saucer, attach portable thrusters to it, and decay its orbit into a directed impact. This will give Enterprise a brief window to beam survivors aboard, before the Gorn activate a redundancy.  Realizing the danger and specific calculations needed for the attempt, Spock makes the case that he is the only qualified person on the ship to carry out the plan. Spock also has hopes of finding Christine, who might still be on the Cayuga, despite the obliteration of its sickbay. 

Note: While I really enjoy Spock and Chapel’s chemistry as a couple in SNW, we sadly know where this will end up.  One of the frustrating aspects of SNW is that it slavishly adheres to canon in some areas (the Roger Korby fellowship, Pike’s ridiculously-brief promotion to “fleet captain” when he meets Kirk, etc), while completely ignoring it in others (the early Gorn-Federation first contact).  Since “Tomorrow and Tomorrow…” established that we’re seeing an altered timeline (the revised chronology of the Eugenics Wars), then why not simply break the show free from the grip of canon altogether and label it as one more universe in Star Trek’s multiverse?  Maybe Pike could survive his future accident as well…

Survivor: All-Stars Trek.
Christine Chapel (Jess Bush) revives from unconsciousness aboard the Cayuga’s saucer.

Aboard the Cayuga’s saucer, Christine Chapel barely awakens in time as life-support is failing in her section of the ship.  She barely manages to stabilize it in time before running out of breathable air. She manages to make her way to a window, where she sees the very welcome sight of the Enterprise, just beyond the scattered debris field of the Cayuga.  With no means to signal them, Chapel reaches for a flashlight and attempts an old-fashioned code signal from the window…

Note: I like Jess Bush’s version of Christine Chapel so much that it breaks my heart to remember that she’s destined to remain a nurse in McCoy’s sickbay in a few years.  Hell, this revised version of the character is so good I could easily imagine her running a sickbay of her own in that time. 

“A thruster suit? That’s Spock.  Damn him…” 
Given his future, this will not be the last time the gallant Vulcan will get the idea to play hero in one of these…

Christine then receives another welcome sight when she notices Spock flying towards the Cayuga’s hull with a collection of portable thrusters in tow. As Spock lands on the hull, he begins attaching the thrusters strategically to initiate a simulated orbital decay.  Meanwhile, Christine is already suited-up in an emergency thruster suit she found nearby.  She then hears the verbal replies of the main computer denying access to someone unseen. Thinking for a moment that it might be Spock, she then realizes that it must be a Gorn somewhere else on the ship.

Note: This will not be the first time Spock decides to play hero with a thruster-suit, as we later see in “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” when a curious Spock steals one of these, in a better attempt to make contact with the intelligence behind the unknown entity which calls itself “V’ger”…

The Gorn squeezes itself and its newly elongated, H.R. Giger-like tail into a custom spacesuit.

Spock attaches the last of his portable thrusters directly onto the exposed bridge of the Cayuga, as the saucer begins to move. He then sees the reflected image of a spacesuited Gorn’s tail on a panel in front of him. As Spock draws his phaser, the Gorn uses its whiplike tail (a handy feature we never saw on them before) to knock the weapon out of his hand.  During the battle, Spock notices that a fully-suited Christine is on the bridge with him (!). Grabbing a hefty chunk of metallic debris from the bridge, Spock brutally smashes the clear faceplate of the Gorn’s spacesuit, causing the hostile creature to asphyxiate and die. 

Note: I guess Spock didn’t have the time to locate some coal, sulfur, potassium nitrate, diamonds and a bamboo chute to make a crude cannon. Okay, I’ll stop…

Spacewalking Spock and Christine find each other as the primary hull of the Cayuga burns…

With the lone Gorn dead, and no other survivors left aboard the Cayuga (?), the saucer begins its descent into the atmosphere. Spock takes Christine’s hand as the two spacewalkers watch the descending saucer begins to heat up in the friction of the upper atmosphere…

Note: Kind of hard to believe the Gorn ships monitoring Enterprise on the other side of their own demarcation zone wouldn’t pay closer attention to something as large and suspicious as the Cayuga’s saucer brightly burning in the upper atmosphere—and that it’s on a direct course with their ground installation.  Spock and Chapel were damned lucky there were no other Starfleet survivors hiding in any other pressurized pockets of the Cayuga saucer…or those survivors were just damned unlucky, I guess.

Famous last words: “Oh that? It’s nothing.”
Batel initially dismisses a youngling Gorn’s failure to attack her.

The next morning at the diner, Pike awakens early to search for Scotty’s shuttle and his makeshift Gorn transponder device. Captain Batel immediately volunteers to go with him, as does Scotty, whose unintentional eavesdropping on their conversation woke him up, anyway. They reach the crashed shuttle from the Stardiver, and as they carefully make their way into the craft, a youngling Gorn appears from nowhere to face off with Batel—it shrieks, but doesn’t attack her, which Pike finds very unusual. When a curious Pike presses Batel on why she she was spared, she angrily rolls up her sleeve and shows her dark veiny arms—a clear sign of Gorn infection, as we saw last season with Hemmer, just before he sacrificed himself.  Batel figures she has only a day or so before the implanted Gorn eggs burst from her body.  

Note: In ALIEN 3, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is bearing a xenomorph queen, and is able to resist attacks from other xenomorphs, who sense that she’s ‘expecting.’ This episode steals that idea too, as the youngling Gorn somehow senses Batel is ‘pregnant’ with more of its kind (perhaps by scent), and leaves her alone, as well. Once again, I would congratulate this reimagining of the Gorn if it were something new; sadly, these ‘new’ Gorn are little more than bug-eyed ALIEN retreads. 

Got a little “Oppenheimer” in my Star Trek…
The Cayuga’s saucer makes violent contact with the Gorn’s interference gizmo.

Batel’s reason for coming with Pike, beyond their attraction to each other, is that she hoped to pilot Scotty’s shuttle with his Gorn transponder aboard, and collide with the beacon—ending her life on her own terms in a final heroic act, instead of becoming a Gorn nursery.  That mission of hers is rendered academic when Scotty realizes the Cayuga’s saucer section has appeared in the sky, and is on a collision course with the beacon!  Everyone in the shuttle ducks for cover, as the beacon is obliterated in a massive explosion. Transporters and comms are restored. Spock and Chapel are immediately beamed back to the ship.  Once aboard, Una asks if Chapel can immediately report to sickbay for incoming casualties from the surface…

Note: Uhura is the unsung MVP of the episode; her plan to push a chunk of space debris at the beacon saved a lot of lives—and it was an idea that neither Chief Engineer Pelia or Science Officer Spock imagined. 

Pike gets to better know the ‘miracle worker,’ Lt. Jr. Grade Montgomery Scott (Martin Quinn)…

We then see Pike, Scotty and Batel beamed aboard, and they make their way to sickbay.  Batel is immediately put into stasis to prevent maturation of the Gorn eggs inside of her, while Pike rushes to hug Chapel, glad to see her survive the Cayuga‘s destruction.  Pelia reports to sickbay, per Pike’s orders, where she is ‘reintroduced’ to “Scotty,” whom she remembers as her best student at the Academy, even if he received some of the worst grades. Luckily, Scotty managed to salvage his makeshift Gorn transponder from the shuttle as they were beamed up. 

Note: Something tells me that Pelia better watch her step in the next season, as her eventual replacement is already aboard.

Una, Spock and Pike are on the bridge, where (to quote Una) the red alert can’t get any redder

Pike arrives on the bridge, where Una and Spock report that a Gorn destroyer has entered the system, with more ships on the way (of course).  Pike orders Uhura to open a channel to Starfleet Command, and to beam up all remaining humans from the surface.  A puzzled Spock says he can’t find any human life-signs remaining on Parnassus Beta—they’ve all been beamed up to the Gorn ship. With no options left, Starfleet Command orders the immediate withdrawal of the Enterprise, as the bridge crew protests.  The Gorn attack vessels open fire on the Enterprise, and Una then asks Pike “What are your orders?”

Pike freezes in a moment of indecision.

To Be Continued…

Summing It Up

I’ve long believed that each new iteration of Star Trek is more or less a new pocket of reality within the greater Star Trek multiverse. This notion fits well with SNW, since this prequel series offers a reimagined USS Enterprise that far outstrips anything we’ve yet seen in its 57 year-old franchise (even the Enterprise’s new crew lounge makes Ten-Forward look like a drive-thru McDonald’s). The episode “Tomorrow and Tomorrow…” pretty much established that SNW is part of a new timeline where the infamous Eugenics Wars were pushed back nearly half a century.  So be it.

Gorn Baby, Gorn.
I half-expect this Gorn to bleed acid…

While I accept SNW as a different timeline (as I assumed it was), I’m not a fan of its reimagined Gorn. I have noissues with the Gorn begin aesthetically upgraded (this is 2023, not 1966), but when everything else about them is fundamentally changed, aren’t they a new species?  After all, the show’s subtitle is Strange New Worlds, right?  Once again, my issue is not cosmetic changes—I’ve been used to that ever since “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” unveiled its lobster-headed Klingons back in 1979.  However, I just can’t reconcile these shrieking Gorn parasites with what Kirk fought in TOS’ “Arena”; that creature never tried to use Kirk as a breeding sack, nor did it have a long, whip-like tail—which it really could’ve really used in that episode, too. I don’t mind a clever re-thinking of an old foe. What bothers me is labeling it as something ‘new.’ These new Gorn are reheated leftovers from “ALIEN.” I also wonder how these devastating early encounters with the Gorn in SNW could be completely forgotten by the time Kirk encounters these same “aliens” (as he and his crew called them) a few years later in TOS “Arena.” 

Gorn, but not forgotten.
Captain Kirk (William Shatner) gets up-close and personal with a Gorn (Bobby Clark) in TOS’ “Arena”; a first contact gone bad.

I’m also not sure where the Spock-Chapel thing is headed, but since they’re apparently committed to following the TOS road map (too bad—I love Jess Bush’s fiery new take on Christine Chapel), Spock and Chapel are a lot closer now than they should be at this point, especially since TOS’ Chapel didn’t even know Spock was engaged (“Amok Time”).  Space amnesia, perhaps?  I’m also not fond of Pike freezing on the bridge at a critical moment at the episode’s conclusion; this is a poor contrast with TNG’s cliffhanger “Best of Both Worlds,” which ended with acting Captain Riker ordering the crew to fire a dangerous new deflector dish weapon; even with Picard’s life at stake, Riker showed no hesitation and did what had to be done.  Freezing on the bridge is not a good look for Pike, as he’s been such a strong character to date. On the plus side, the “To Be Continued” at the end came as a genuine surprise, as I hadn’t realized this was going to be a cliffhanger.

Captain Pike (Anson Mount) has been an ideal captain for most of SNW’s run, but he’s critically conflicted when it comes to his feelings for Captain Marie Batel.

Another plus is the new Scotty (Martin Quinn), who’s charming right out of the box.  As an added bonus, Martin Quinn is a native Scot, too.  Aligning somewhere between Simon Pegg and the late James Doohan’s interpretations, Quinn more than fits the bill. Personally, I wouldn’t mind if Pelia gets ‘reassigned’ when the show returns, which would allow Quinn’s Scotty to take her place. I had high hopes for veteran actress Carol Kane’s Pelia, but the character (as written) just isn’t working out. I loved Carol Kane in “Taxi” and “The Princess Bride,” but obstinate, insubordinate, kleptomaniac “space hippie” Pelia has been a tough character to embrace.

One of the issues with SNW being a prequel is knowing this fiery new version of Christine Chapel (Jess Bush) will follow the same drab trajectory as TOS’ Nurse Chapel. This Chapel would be running her own sickbay by then.

While there were some dramatic moments and a fresh reintroduction of a TOS legacy character, this season finale cliffhanger doesn’t stack up well with past cliffhangers from Star Trek. Yes, the action and cinematography were well done, and the scenes in the abandoned, blood-stained diner were like something out of a George Romero zombie film, but part of my issue with this cliffhanger is that we know Spock, Chapel, Pike, Uhura, M’Benga and any other legacy characters are all going to survive this.  So, maybe the criminally-underused Erica Ortegas get the axe, along with the colonists?  Is that the reason she’s been so underdeveloped?  Then again, she is wearing red, even though TOS-era helm officers traditionally wear gold.  Safe to say Captain Marie Batel is not long for this universe, either… 

The Gorn leave a wake of death and desolation similar to something found in a post-zombie apocalypse.

If this really is an all-new timeline, then I wish SNW would embrace that concept wholeheartedly, and divorce itself from prior canon to “boldly go” down its own path. I’d love to imagine that in this reality, Spock-Chapel could be a couple now, or that Pike might even avoid his grim fate. Hopefully, SNW will have a few new surprises left up its sleeve when the show returns someday… presumably after the dual writers/actors’ strikes.   

Live long and prosper, everyone! 

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+
Images: Trekcore, Paramount+

3 Comments Add yours

  1. scifimike70 says:

    It’s certainly strange how different the Gorns are now than how well they can be remembered for Arena. But then the Silurians went through their particular changes between classic and modern Doctor Who. So it’s understandable enough that the creative powers that be wanted to make some adjustments, even if that didn’t work so well for most fans with the Klingons.

    And now Scotty’s onboard. Strange New Worlds is continuing to excel. Thank you for your review.

    1. Appreciated, Mike.
      Just hope the current writers/actors’ strikes are resolved equitably for the talent, so the show will continue. Otherwise this might be our last live-action Star Trek for awhile.

      1. scifimike70 says:

        So do I.

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