Going from last week’s “Spock Amok” to this week’s episode, “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach” is like getting emotional whiplash. It’s a tough episode to process, and I’m not going to lie, I had a hard time with this one. Star Trek doesn’t often dip into the horror genre, but it really went there with this episode. Grab yourself something strong, like a cup of Janeway’s “Coffee! Black!” or a glass of Klingon Blood Wine. You’re going to need it. Take a look at my full review of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode 1×06, “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach.”
And the Child Shall Lead…
The society we happen upon in “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach” is one that Pike has encountered once before, rescuing one of its leaders some time ago. She’s his “One that got away.” This blast from the past, Alora, comes to Pike for help in protecting the First Servant. The First Servant is a little boy. However, the way the episode reveals his true role in Majalan society is shocking and disturbing. It was an expertly executed twist, one that I usually love in an M. Night Shayalaman film or horror/thriller films. But this? This one just disturbed me. Child sacrifice was not on my Enterprise or any other Star Trek Bingo card, but here we are. Pike’s unintentional role in this horror cuts him to the core. He can’t believe the beautiful, equitable Majalan society gains all of this prosperity from the sacrifice of one child. I can’t either. This is something where I require resolution, but I’m not sure I’ll get it.
Learning the Ropes
While the bulk of “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach” is heavy, there is a certain lightness to it with Cadet Uhura’s training in security. La’an is a stern, but a thorough teacher. While some of this training plays into the mystery we’re trying to solve surrounding Majalis and its attackers, there’s also a bit of humor to it. It’s fun watching our young Cadet learn the ropes in different departments, even though we know ultimately where she will end up. She’s living up to the title of “our young prodigy” as Pike calls her earlier in the season.
Interestingly, this training, while for security, puts Uhura’s linguistic skills to good use, and shows her adeptness at adjusting to different situations. I hope we see more of this kind of “cross-training” with Uhura in the rest of the season.
This is my least favorite episode of Strange New Worlds thus far. “Science. Service. Sacrifice,” is the motto of Majalis, but couldn’t the science part negate the need for such a sacrifice? Like Captain Kirk famously said, “I don’t believe in ‘no-win scenarios,’” and historically speaking, Star Trek doesn’t either. Elder Gamal, who tries to thwart the ascension of the First Servant, introduces the audience to a saying on Majalis, “Let the tree that grows from the roots of sacrifice lift us where suffering cannot reach.” Surely there is a way to avoid such a horrible sacrifice. Gamal makes an effort to change things in his society, but Alora sees no other way.
To be honest, I don’t know what this episode is trying to say. If all life matters, then we must do things to prevent suffering AND loss of life. Majalis has chosen the loss of life of one child to prevent the suffering of their planet. I find this unacceptable. So does Pike. There must be a better way.
The one bright spot for me in this dark episode is that Dr. M’Benga gets the framework that might lead to a cure for his daughter, Rukiya. I hope the knowledge he gains from Gamal eventually turns into something more positive for that situation.
If you have better thoughts on “Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach,” please leave me a comment, and let’s talk Trek.
The next episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will air on June 16, 2022, on Paramount+.