It’s the Gorn

In this week’s episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – Memento Mori, the episode opens with Enterprise delivering crucial supplies to a distant colony. However, when they arrive, something is wrong – no one is there to greet them and the colony hasn’t sent any transmissions for several days as its communications satellite has been destroyed. Enterprise starts to investigate, sending a landing party to the surface where they find signs of a massacre, but no bodies and no people. Enterprise encounters an unidentified ship, so brings back up the landing party.

The unidentified ships hail them and it’s the survivors from the colony. Pike is able to move the surviving colonists to Enterprise. They are injured and traumatized and can’t identify who attacked them. One of the children is crying about monsters and tells Commander Singh and Number one that “monsters” took her father and describes the clicking noise she heard. Singh immediately recognizes it and tells the bridge to scan for polarized EM signatures. Once her fears are concerned, she tells them to raise shields (which they can’t do as they’re still evacuating colonists to Enterprise). Singh tells Una that it’s the Gorn, they’ve set a trap for Enterprise using the colonists as bait.

One Problem at a Time

The Gorn dealt heavy damage to the Enterprise and injured several crew members, including Una. La’an goes to the bridge, as a survivor of the Gorn, since she’s experienced with their tactics. She tells Pike he needs to escape – they are too damaged to fight. The Gorn’s practice is to tear them down and hunt them when they’re weak. They plot an escape route to a nearby Brown Dwarf, but it’s orbiting a black hole. Deciding it’s the best bet as an escape, they set course. 

The Gorn pursues and causes further damage to the ship, including the sickbay and the cargo bay. In the cargo bay, Hemmer has been severely injured and crushed by some cargo. Uhura is able to help him, but they’re trapped while the systems are severely damaged. There are no medical systems to effectively treat the injured and the Enterprise is at risk of exploding if Hemmer can’t fix the warp drive. 

The bridge crew is strategizing how to address the threat of the Gorn. Their shields have failed and weapons systems are down. Singh explains to them that the Gorn view humans as only food. They will hunt them until they catch them and eat them. She paints a terrifying picture. After the bridge crew leaves, Pike holds La’an back and tells her that the crew needs hope to survive this – and she plays a role in that. He then asks La’an if she can remember anything from her time with the Gorn. It’s clear that she was incredibly traumatized by the experience and tells him no.

In the cargo bay, Hemmer can’t perform the repairs with his broken arm. Uhura tells him that she will be his hands and they work together to try to fix the warp core manually. 

On the bridge, Spock tells Pike that he has figured out a way to track the Gorn within the gas giant. While the Gorn can’t see them, Enterprise can track them. With the Gorn ship close, Pike decides to load up their last photon torpedo and drop it on them… manually. They’re successful in destroying the Gorn ship! Unfortunately, more ships appear – they used their compatriots as a decoy in order to get Enterprise to reveal its location.

What do Snakes, Ducks, & Possums All Have in Common?

Pike, against Spock’s advice, orders Ortega to take the ship further into the Brown Dwarf. The gravitational pull on the ship causes further damage to its systems. Hemmer and Uhura continue to work on repairing the systems and, in sickbay, the situation is getting worse for the medical crew which has already had to revert to “archaeological” methods such as manual stitches and IVs. 

The Enterprise suffers from the atmospheric pressure and the portions of the ship start to collapse. It’s also impacting the Gorn ships as well — one of them is destroyed by the pressure. However, the black hole nearby continues to pose a serious threat to the Enterprise. La’an and Spock take a shuttle to take a look around for the other ships. 

On the ship, La’an asks Spock to mind-meld with her to help her remember what happened while she was captured by the Gorn. She and her family were captured by the Gorn and left on a Gorn breeding planet as food for their hatchlings where they were hunted. Her brother deciphered how the Gorn communicated with one another (using lights as a form of morse code), he gave it to her before he sacrificed himself to save her. During the mind-meld, La’an also gets a glimpse into Spock’s loss of his own sister and he cuts off the meld. La’an sends a false communication to one of the Gorn ships saying that the humans have boarded and taken over their vessel. Believing this, the Gorn fire on and destroy their compatriot’s ship.

On Enterprise, Uhura and Hemmer are mostly successful at completing their repairs. However, they took too long and need to vent the unit into space. Hemmer and Uhura don spacesuits in preparation for venting the hold. The Enterprise plans to use the black hole to create an optical illusion and vent the hold to make it appear that the Enterprise was destroyed. 

The Enterprise is successful in fooling the Gorn. Thinking their prey is dead, they retreat. The Enterprise and its crew, while badly battered, survive. 

Memento Mori – Episode Analysis

Strange New Worlds continues to deliver. This episode was incredibly dark but provided us with some powerful character development for La’an Noonien Singh, Pike, and Spock. The Gorn have always been a bit of a joke in Star Trek history. It’s probably one of the most famous tropes from the Original Series, even for non-trek Fans. Captain Kirk, ripped shirt, battles an alien that looks like… a man in a lizard costume. 

Strange New Worlds, however, fleshes out the Gorn in a horrifying way. We already had La’an’s terrifying description of them. Now, we have seen directly how they view humans and will hunt them down – even at great cost to themselves. It also showed us how far Pike was willing to go to save his ship – sacrificing members of his own crew and, when it was possible the Gorn would board (and eat) them, he risked destroying it rather than having it fall in enemy hands.

I especially enjoyed learning more about what happened to La’an and the trauma that she so visibly carries with her. Her shared grief with Spock, during the mind-meld, was a powerful way to tie in his emotions, without him actually showing them. Overall, the season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has been strong and tightly knit. I can’t wait to see what they do next!