Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 1, Episode 5 – Debuted Thursday, June 2, 2022
Written by: Henry Alonso Myers & Robin Wasserman
Directed by Rachel Leiterman
Strange New Worlds pivots again with a lighter episode focusing on some character fun.
WARNING: Spoilers below!
“We will see through each other’s eyes.”
After the beating the ship took last week in the fight with the Gorn, the Enterprise is back at Starbase One and the crew is getting some much-needed shore leave. But Spock’s mind is restless, including a Koon-ut-kal-if-fee nightmare where T’Pring sets his human and Vulcan sides to ritual combat. Subtle. His betrothed is actually visiting the Starbase on business of her own bringing in Vulcan fugitives and his dream proves prescient as she immediately disses his quarters as “very human.” No one does passive-aggressive like a Vulcan. She wants to pick things up where they left off in the series opener when Captain Chris abruptly called Spock away from Vulcan. “It was your duty that interrupted us.” See, there it is again. And she isn’t happy to learn Spock has to rush off to help Pike again, but he promises to be home in time for dinner.
Admiral April is back to task Pike with picking up negotiations with the R’Ongovian Protectorate, a species who can offer safe passage through the Beta Quadrant, but there is a danger they could hook up with the Klingons or Romulans instead. Initial talks with a Tellarite admiral ended in argument but Captain Vasso is immediately taken with Pike’s homespun charm and restarts talks right then and there. This delays Spock, finding an irritable T’Pring staring at the cold dinner before storming off with one more “too human” comment. After getting a little advice from Chapel, Spock brings his betrothed back to show he is committed to their Vulcan relationship by suggesting they partake in the ancient ritual of soul sharing. But all the candles, bells, and Vulcanian worked too well… “We have apparently switched bodies.” Uh oh. As Spock and T’Pring run through all the Vulcan rituals to try to reverse it, Captain Pike shows up and they agree “hijinks are the most logical course of action.”
“I’m your backup.”
Christine actually gave Spock that advice while she was out on a date with her latest boy toy, but hot Lt. Dever was actually more interested in talking about their relationship so she bailed on him to (literally) smack some sense into her Vulcan friend. Chapel also had some backup with Ortegas who is apparently her wingwoman, ready to fake a crisis to get her out of any bad dates. With everyone off resting and relaxing–including Dr. M’Benga and his silly fishing hat–La’an and Una are content to have a staycation of happily engaging in mundane duties, bristling after learning the crew has given Number One the nickname “Where fun goes to die.”
They get a chance to prove they are fun by personally handling a security situation at an airlock, only to find two frightened ensigns trying to take an unauthorized spacewalk. After playing good cop/bad cop (La’an got to be bad) they squeeze the ensigns to reveal they were working on something called “Enterprise Bingo.” La’an sorts out this is a game lower ranks play involving a series of pranks, and so the pair decide to try out this thing called fun to see what it’s all about. But after checking off a few items they aren’t seeing the point, realizing if they really want to do it right, they are going to have to break some rules… all in an effort to better understand the crew, of course.
“Who doesn’t love hijinks”
When Pike reveals the aliens want to talk to Spock, the Vulcan couple comes clean about the body swap. After some debate, it is agreed T’Pring will help. S’Pring starts off well with the aliens, explaining the logic of aligning with the Federation but starts to waver after the discussion turns to cultural homogenization. Pike steps in communicating to both T’Pring and the R’Ongovianians that Spock’s sacrifice represents “everything that is great about Starfleet.” And when T’Pring is needed to negotiate with a fugitive, Spock decides to step in as her after trying to demure with “I am not feeling myself” (we see what you did there). He again seeks out help from Christine looking for a medical solution, but that will take time, so she joins him to talk to this renegade Vulcan Barjan T’Or who immediately starts dissing Spock and humans, so T’Pock finds his inner homosapien and knocks the jerk out.
Back from fishing, M’Benga is delighted to try out some new goo to assist with the Katric transfer, bridging “the gap between medicine and something else.” It’s painful but it works, and Spock lets Christine know how much her help meant to him before returning to T’Pring where the pair use their newfound understanding to get even closer… if you know what I mean. As for those aliens, in one final chat Pike tries a new tactic and offers up all the reasons why the R’Ongovian Protectorate actually shouldn’t trust the Federation. April is aghast but the captain’s hunch is proven right. These guys aren’t mimics, they are the ultimate empathizers, and Pike showed he understood them. The aliens celebrate the alliance by flying the Federation flag on their beautiful lightship, which sailed right by La’an and Una having fun breaking the rules on a space walk across Enterprise to “sign the scorch,” which turns out to be the oldest panel on the ship’s hull. Things wrap up with Ortegas and Chapel sharing a drink, with Christine pondering if the right guy for her is out there somewhere.
Fun will now commence
In the fine tradition of a Star Trek shore leave episode “Spock Amok” is nice bit of fun, and a nice break after last week’s serious and deadly episode. With a strong theme of compassion and understanding, the episode leaned into the serialized character threads it has been building over the previous episodes, with a nice tidy sci-fi plot that helped glue it together and dovetailed with the same theme with a very Star Trek solution.
“Spock Amok” was designed to be a comedic episode and so, importantly, it was actually funny. The Spock/T’Pring bodyswap provided a lot of the humor, but thankfully the show didn’t overindulge in this, smartly having the pair reveal the truth to trusted people instead of extending the “hijinks” at the cost of character credibility. Ethan Peck was particularly impressive playing multiple versions of Spock, showing comedic timing with the character growth. Others also showed they can bring the funny including Anson Mount’s Pike dealing with the Vulcan hijinks, Rebecca Romijn and Christina Chong for the La’an/Una funtime adventure, and Babs Olusanmokun even got in some good moments… plus the hilarious hat. And of course, Melissa Navia is always strong with the quick quip. If anything, the episode could have gone further with the comedy, getting the hijinks a bit earlier after a lot of dry setup for almost half the episode. And it was unfortunate they really didn’t find anything for Uhura to do, with Celia Rose Gooding just tagging along with Pike for the ride.
All of this fun was greatly helped by composer Nami Melumad who indulged herself with lighter motifs that match the sitcom-style moments. And of course, she truly had fun with the “Amok Time” opening where she got to bring in Gerald Fried’s classic fight music. While the show continues to stretch elements of canon, including how familiar everyone now is with T’Pring, there was also plenty of love shown for Vulcan lore, including “Amok Time,” with amazing costumes, props, sets, and visual effects that combined the look of the original show and the TOS era movies.
“Amok Time” was simply fun, but this light-hearted romp also was able to build on the characters who are at the heart of this series. And this episode showed how the variety pack format of the series can work well, with not only new aliens every week, but new styles and tones. Unlike the other new live-action Trek series, Strange New Worlds is best viewed weekly, and this changeup in tones might actually be jarring in a binge-watch. But with just five episodes, Strange New Worlds has the strongest beginnings of the three live-action new Star Trek series, and we are only halfway through season one.
- In addition to being a twist on the Vulcan-themed TOS episode “Amok Time,” the title could also be referencing the classic 1953 Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck cartoon “Duck Amuck.”
- This is the second Strange New Worlds writing credit for executive producer/co-showrunner Henry Alonso Myers and the first for co-producer Robin Wasserman.
- This is the first Star Trek credit for director Rachel Leiterman who has worked as a director and assistant director for over three decades, including Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica.
- Bruce Horak’s Hemmer does not appear.
- The Stardate was 2314.4.
- Pike wore a tunic similar to Kirk’s green wraparound tunic from TOS.
- Starbase One was described as one of the “oldest and most venerated” stations, and it has been “newly repaired since the Klingon War. The Discovery episode “The War Without, The War Within” showed how the station had been occupied by the Klingons during the war.
- La’an said having alone time on the Enterprise was “like Christmas,” a rare mention of the holiday on Star Trek. Later the USS Enterprise will include a Christmas party (TOS”Dagger of the Mind”)
- Ensign Zier was a Bolian, a Federation race introduced on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they have been mentioned before on Enterprise and Discovery.
- As their punishment, the ensigns were assigned to Kyle and “micro-cleaning” the transporter pads, and they were scared, saying Kyle was “mean,” so apparently he has a dark side. Tuvok once assigned some troublesome crew a similar task in the Voyager episode “Learning Curve.”
- Cadet Uhura and Lt. Ortegas talked about Enterprise Bingo in episode 2.
- The rules of Enterprise Bingo are to complete 10 items from a potential list and to not get caught. The ones shown by La’an were:
- Use the transporter to reflavor gum
- Phaser stun duel
- Turbolift two floor shout challenge
- Set the Universal Translator to Andorian
- Gravity Boot change challenge
- Medical Tricorder Challenge: Vulcan Marsupial
- Food Replicator Challenge: Duran Fruit
- Sneak a Tribble into the transporter buffer
- Sit in the captain’s chair
- Sign the scorch
- BTW, if it is just a list, it really isn’t bingo.
- M’Benga mentioned he spent time studying Vulcan medicine, which will be used again in the TOS episode “A Private Little War,” when he treats Spock after getting shot.
- Spock talked to Chapel about his pet Sehlat I-Chaya, introduced in Star Trek: The Animated Series.
- Chapel revealed she had a pet dog named Milo, a Malamute.
- Christine dated a “gal on Argelius II,” a planet the Enterprise will visit later in the TOS episode “Wolf in the Fold.”
- Barjan T’or was responsible for an uprising on Kepler-22b, which is a real exoplanet described to be like Vulcan.
- In the park, Barjan T’or played Three-dimensional chess, introduced in the second Star Trek pilot, played by Spock and Kirk.
More to come
Every Friday, the TrekMovie.com All Access Star Trek Podcast covers the latest news in the Star Trek Universe and discusses the latest episode. The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Stitcher and is part of the TrekMovie Podcast Network.
New episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds debut on Thursdays exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., Latin America, Australia and the Nordics. The series airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada. In New Zealand, it is available on TVNZ, and in India on Voot Select. Strange New Worlds will arrive via Paramount+ in select countries in Europe when the service launches later this year, starting with the UK and Ireland in June.