Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, First Contact

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds opens with Captain Pike (Anson Mount) staying in a snowy cabin in Montana, on leave with a lovely young Starfleet Captain. He’s pulling an impersonation of Grizzly Adams while pondering his return to command. He’s haunted by what he saw while serving on Discovery – his future in “the chair.”

When he doesn’t answer hails from Starfleet, an Admiral tracks him down while he’s out horseback riding. Apparently, Una (Rebecca Romijn), also called Number One, has gone silent after a First Contact mission. He wants Pike to find her and the USS Archer.

Hit It

After the cold open, we find Spock is on the Vulcan, in the region of Raal having dinner with a lovely Vulcan woman (T’Pring)  who proposes to him – and he accepts. At her home, the two are trying to enjoy a romantic evening but are interrupted by Pike who explains that they’ve been called back early to rescue Number One. 

At space dock, Captain Pike beams to Enterprise and meets Spock who tells him their systems are operational but that, because they are leaving early, personnel will need to wait – including a young Lieutenant Kirk. Pike prods him further and Spock admits he is struggling with the loss of his sister, Michael. On the bridge, he is introduced to his new First Office, La’an Noonian Singh (a relative of Kahn?) and we meet a young Uhura. As they prepare to leave, Captain Pike hesitates briefly before giving the order to depart. 

In his ready room, Pike has a flashback to what he saw on Borath – the accident that sends him to the chair. He’s interrupted by Spock who expresses his concern. Pike then confides in Spock about what he saw and how he is struggling with it. 

Just Don’t Lose my Socks

When they arrive at Kiley 279, they search for the USS Archer (and Number One) and find the ship, with systems fully functional but missing the entire crew. Apparently, it was staffed by a skeleton crew of only two astrophysicists and Number One. Given the suspicious nature of what they found Lt. Singh recommends they take a defensive stance and get their shields up just moments before plasma torpedoes are launched towards their ship. Spock determines that the warp signature that attracted the attention of Starfleet was due to a warp bomb rather than a warp drive. This is a pre-warp society. 

The team heads over to sickbay to don disguises, allowing them to blend in with the local population. Nurse Chappel (a familiar name from TOS) designs a genetic modification protocol to make these changes. Apparently, the procedure is quite painful, but Lt. Singh declines the pay medication. With their new faces, the team (the senior bridge crew) beams down to the planet.

Take Me To Your Leader

The team lands in a city filled with civil unrest; people are protesting the development of a new and devastating weapon. To get into the security building, the team knocks out two guards and beams them up to the ship for safekeeping. As Spock’s costume is already degrading, Nurse Chapel decides to use their blood to synthesize a protein to help. They send Spock a genome “booster” that seems to stabilize the change temporarily. 

Inside the building, they are able to track and rescue Una. As they begin to escape the building, they run into a group of scientists and soldiers just as Spock’s genetic costume wears off. The team fights their way out and continues their escape. Una explains that the Kyleans were able to get warp technology from Discovery and the fleet when they opened the wormhole to the future. 

Pike decides that he and Spock will stay, violating General Order One, to fix the problem they created. The rest of the team beam out while Spock and Pike go to speak to the leader of Kiley 279 and try to talk her out of using the warp weapon. When they’re unsuccessful, Pike calls the Enterprise and has them enter low, visible orbit – revealing alien life to the entire planet. This impromptu first contact forces both sides of the conflict to sit down with one another.

Pike shows the people of Kiley 279 what his world looks like today as well as how it looked in the 21st century when they were warring and fighting like the people of Kiley. He explains the history of the 21st century – Eugenics Wars, Civil War, World War, and nuclear holocaust. He extends them an invitation to join the Federation and it seems they accept.

That’ll Never Stick

Back at the Space Station, the Admiral lectures the team about violating General Order One. They are getting away with it, but to reaffirm its importance, Starfleet is rebranding it the “Prime Directive.” 

The crew gathers on the bridge, joined by the new Lieutenant Samuel Kirk as they take the Enterprise out on its five-year mission of exploration. 

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Episode 1 Analysis

I have been eager to watch this show since they announced it at the end of Star Trek: Discovery, Season 2. However, I remember at the time being concerned that Season 2 of Discovery was going to turn into the “Spock and Pike show.” At the same time, “I would definitely watch that show” I thought. I loved the development of these characters on Discovery – going far deeper into the canon.

This episode showed me that these characters and the show have an incredible amount of promise. In many ways, it’s classic Trek. It’s got a  “monster of the week” format, the entire senior bridge team goes on dangerous missions, and Captain Pike is a hero who can solve centuries-long world conflict with a nice speech and stunning eyes. 

At the same time, I can see that they’re going to lean into some dark and heavy topics. Pike is a man haunted by his future. He knows how his life (or his life as he knows it) will end and when. It’s impacting him and, while he hopes it’s for the better, it clearly disturbs him deeply. Lieutenant Singh has a difficult backstory. Apparently, her entire family was captured by the Gorn where they were tortured, used as breeding sacks, and/or eaten. She was the sole survivor of that event. There’s also a hint that she suffered from addiction as she adamantly refuses any type of anesthetic when she has to undergo an incredibly painful genome transition.

Even Spock expresses some serious struggles. He leaves a fiancée on Vulcan. If he does marry her, it’s a marriage never referenced. When Pike asks him how he is doing, he deflects the question with a status report. With a little more prodding, he admits how much he is struggling with the loss of Michael. For a Vulcan, this is the equivalent of breaking down sobbing in a crowded room. 

The show is also leaning further into canon. When Pike recounts the history of Earth, he mentions the Eugenics Wars (about 50 years after it takes place in ToS), another American Civil War, as well as a World War that ends in nuclear annihilation. They have touched on these issues in Picard as well so I’m eager to see if they explore them more. Our Lieutenant Singh must somehow be related, is she a eugenically enhanced human? 

I’m excited to see how these stories play out with these characters. What do you think will happen next? Will we learn more about Singh’s origins? Will Spock’s engagement work out? Let me know your theories in the comments!