Hold onto your butts Trek fans because Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is back for its second season! We’ve got a great opener for season two, putting several balls in motion for threads I’m sure we’ll see worked out as the season goes on. Here are a few of my thoughts on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×01 “The Broken Circle.”
Spock’s “Thing” Should Be Hijinks
Spock calling for “hijinks” from the word “go” is awesome, even if he wouldn’t necessarily call it “hijinks” himself. First, you steal the Enterprise from space dock. Then you go on a mission to help your friend even though you’ve been expressly forbidden to do so by an Admiral. And THEN, you uncover a plot by the Klingons to start another war with the Federation and you can’t call for backup because that would cause a scene and provoke the Klingons openly! If that’s not hijinks, I don’t know what is. Spock better swap “I would like the ship to go now, please,” for “Hijinks!” It’s much shorter, simpler to say, and frankly is descriptive of what he gets up to. Hijinks. I’m here for it. If this is the kind of excitement we can expect from season two, then we are in for a wild ride, my friends.
Do No Harm
One of the most interesting things I found in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×01 “The Broken Circle,” is the juxtaposition of medical personnel who’ve taken a vow to “do no harm” who are forced to fight because they will allow more harm to occur if they do not act. To use a Babylon 5 term, M’Benga and Chapel got stims! Whatever this drug that they use to juice themselves up is, it’s certainly potent and seems to lower inhibitions the longer it’s used. Watching Dr. M’Benga nearly lose control is quite scary for the audience, and disturbs him too.
Now, from a complete action aesthetic standpoint, that corridor fight scene is frickin’ EPIC. Watching the physicality of Jess Bush and Babs Olusanmokun as they fight their way through some Klingons left my jaw on the floor. The enclosed spaces fight scene really got me thinking about similar Marvel fights like the Daredevil hallway fight in season one of that series and the bus fight in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The enclosed space really heightens the tension, especially considering that these doctors would rather not be busting their way through a bunch of Klingons.
Courage and Kinship
The courage and sheer audacity that Dr. M’Benga and Nurse Chapel show in their plan to jump out of the airlock and hope they get picked up is bold, daring, and quite a bit crazy. And yet, it’s a better than zero chance of survival like they would have had if they had stayed on that ship. I suppose you could say it’s the only logical choice left to them. I can’t help but respect that.
While the spectacle of it all is quite fun to watch, the biggest highlight for me here is getting to see the kind of relationship that Dr. M’Benga and Nurse Chapel share. They served together in the Klingon War. They are not only colleagues, but they’re also close friends. There is a real intimacy in their use of first names. It tells much about their relationship with very little, and that’s the kind of writing I’m here for. Well done, Strange New Worlds writing staff!
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×01 “The Broken Circle” really highlights Spock’s humanity and his struggles in maintaining his emotions since Hemmer’s death. As a method of stress relief, he starts to play the Vulcan lute, which we get early on in Star Trek: The Original Series. We also get a nice callback (or perhaps, call forward) to Uhura singing with him in The Original Series as well when she asks, “Did I hear music?”
Ethan Peck does an incredible job of displaying the full range of emotions Spock is experiencing in this episode. From holding back tears after he’s fired on the ship when he thinks he’s killed Chapel and M’Benga (emphasis on the Chapel) to him administering chest compressions to Chapel and yelling in panic, “YOU DO NOT DIE!” as he’s doing so.
“I have no words for what I feel,” he tells M’Benga as he silently cries over Chapel’s unconscious body. His struggle with his emotions is further highlighted by others telling him just how not-like-a-Vulcan he is. Pelia (Carol Kane) tells him he is a “Sweet un-Vulcan Vulcan.” The Klingon captain raises a toast to Spock saying, “To the Vulcan who acts nothing like a Vulcan!” as Spock downs many mugs of blood wine with him.
There are a few other character moments that I’d like to highlight in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×01 “The Broken Circle.” First up, I’m really enjoying this new and a bit warmer La’an. Her time with Ariana has really brought out her softer side, and it looks good on her. Dealing with your trauma is difficult at best. It must have been healing for La’an to help a young girl who had been through the same horrible thing she experienced at that age. Something I try to act on in my own life is to “Be the adult you needed as a kid.” La’an gets to do that for Ariana, and in some small way, that’s helped her too.
Carol Kane as Pelia is the Mary Poppins of Engineering. She’s fun, funny, and has a bit of whimsy to her personality. Pelia has an otherworldly type air about her due to her extensive age. She’s Mary Poppins, y’all. I said what I said!
To wrap up, I have to say that Spock drinking black coffee while talking over his actions with Admiral April is HILARIOUS. I’d definitely take a Klingon hangover over the loss of my commission. But speaking of Admiral April, he says Spock just kept us from having to fight a war on two fronts. Then there’s a GORN ATTACK SHIP on the radar?! YIKES. If we get more episodes that spoof Alien, I’m going to be a happy girl. I’ll also be freaking the heck out, but I’ll be having a good time just the same.
Finally, the dedication at the end of the episode wrecked me. “For Nichelle, who was first through the door and showed us the stars. Hailing frequencies forever open…” Cue the waterworks. I still can’t believe she’s gone, but I believe Celia Rose Gooding honors Nichelle Nichols with her performance. Hailing frequencies open, indeed.
Star Trek Gold Stars
School may be out, but you can get a couple of Gold Stars from me this week. If you’d like to do some Strange New Worlds extra credit, add the following to your podcast queue. You can hear my co-hosts and me on We Are Starfleet chatting about Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2×01 “The Broken Circle.” I also had the good fortune to join my friend Brandi Jackola on her Star Trek: Strange New Worlds podcast, Boldly Go to chat about this episode too. The conversations in each of these podcasts vary, and I’m lucky to have brilliant co-hosts who highlight things I don’t notice. Besides, we’ve got to have something to hold us over until next week, right?