Review by Dan Skip Allen
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds left fans on quite the cliffhanger in the last episode of Season 1 of this prequel series. Una Chin Reilly (Rebecca Romjin), an El-Aurian, was arrested for concealing her identity on her Starfleet Application. Season 2 picks up with that particular thread in episode two, but there is also a bit of that story in episode one of Season 2 as well.
Episode one was a good old-fashioned adventure, with Spock (Ethan Peck) stealing the Enterprise to help La' An Noonien Singh (Christina Chong), who was embroiled in the throes of a Klingon moon. They interrupt a mission to start a war against the Klingons. Doctor M'Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) get into a huge fight with the Klingons and almost die. This was a great way to start Season Two of this fantastic series.
Another lingering plot thread from Season One was the lingering war with the Gorn and lizard-like species that plant their eggs in those they capture until they burst out and kill them. They are a nasty race of creatures with an Alien sense about them. They were only in one episode of the original Star Trek series called "Arena," where Captain Kirk fought one in a fight for his life. They have gotten more screen time in this series, though, and have become a main threat for the crew of the Enterprise and the Federation in Strange New Worlds. They are added to the threat of the Klingons and the Romulans, who are already the main threats.
The main character of the show is Christopher Pike (played by Anson Mount). He is the captain of the Enterprise in the 23rd Century when this show takes place. Mount has had an interesting career so far, but I think he is just getting his sea legs — or space legs, if you will — playing this character. He hasn't had that breakout episode like he did in Season One yet. He has just played his Captain's role in all the episodes given to me to review. His dreams of his impending doom from Season 1, I'm sure, will pop up again this season. Just not yet. As the main character, he has been lacking a little bit this season.
My favorite episode of Season 2 of the six I watched is "Charades," where Peck's Spock and Bush's Nurse Chapel are on a mission to explore an anomaly, and Spock somehow gets turned into a human. This makes for some fun stuff, where Spock learns about his new human traits, and he has to do some stuff with his wife, her parents, and his mother, which has to do with his Vulcan impending marriage. The thing is, he's still human, so this is a problem. I enjoyed all the fish-out-of-water moments that a Vulcan being turned into a human could cause.
A few of the other members of the bridge crew have stand-alone episodes where they are being featured. Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), Erica Ortegas (Melissa Navia), and La'An Noonien Singh (Christine Chong) all have character-building episodes where they get the chance to shine in Season 2. Throw in a few guest appearances from characters from Season 1, including Paul Wesley as James T. Kirk, and you have a good batch of new episodes so far. I just feel Season 2 isn't as good as Season 1.
Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman, Dan Liu, and Jenny Lumet have created a fine Star Trek show. They have taken the spirit of the original series and infused it into this series nicely. They just haven't hit their stride on Season 2 yet. The last four episodes still remain, and maybe the creators will salvage this season yet. I feel Season 2 lacks the fun and enjoyment of Season 1. Nevertheless, it's still new Star Trek, and we should all be thankful for that, I guess.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streams on Paramount+ beginning June 15. Six out of ten episodes reviewed.