Keep Your Eye Out for Lesson Seven

In this week’s episode of Star Trek – Strange New Worlds, the Enterprise arrives in the Majellan system to conduct a cartographic survey. They respond to a distress call, a small non-federation cargo vessel is under attack and requests assistance. The Enterprise fights off the attacking ship and evacuates the shuttle. The survivors arrive in the transporter room. There, Captain Pike reunites with a woman (Alora) he met while saving another shuttle a decade earlier. She is accompanied by a child and his doctor (also his father – strictly in a biological sense). 

Alara explains that the boy is a sacred figure (the First Servant) who will assume a leadership role on Majallis during a ritual called the Ascension. The attackers were attempting to kidnap the boy, possibly for a ransom. Alora asks that they return them all to Majallis. However, the Enterprise needs to stay behind and investigate the crashed ship.

In sickbay, the Doctor examines the First Servant and determines that his injuries are superficial. They also discover that he has bio-genetic implants that can heal him and (possibly) the doctor’s daughter who is suffering from Leukemia.

On the destroyed ship, Uhura and La’an are investigating. They bring back some items to further investigate. Alora identifies evidence that one of the sacred guards was in cahoots with the terrorists who tried to kidnap him. She investigates further and learns that one of the guards betrayed the First Servant, with the objective to stop the Ascension.

The Fate of One Child

Uhura, investigating some of the remnants of the ship, learned the origin of the terrorist group. Uhuru presents to the Bridge Team that the language spoken by the kidnappers came from Prospect 7, a small colony that is related to Mejallis–an offshoot of the home planet. 

The Captain is alerted that the Elder has taken the First Servant and plans to beam them back to the planet. Before Enterprise transports them, the First Servant is beamed off the ship, intercepted by a combat cruiser (that then attempts to flee). In its attempt to escape, the cruiser (with the First Servant on it) is destroyed. When Pike tells Alora what happened, she is devastated telling him that their world is now over. Without the Ascension, Mejallis will fall out of the sky. 

Then, Uhuru points out that the Elder (the First Servant’s father–only biologically speaking) was the one responsible for the First Servant getting beamed off of the ship. Spock then calls Pike to deck 7. He was monitoring a distress signal from the First Servant and they find him in a storage container. He tells them that he must get to Mejallis immediately for the Ascension.

Pike is invited to Mejallis for the Ascension as a sign of gratitude. There is a worldwide party celebrating the First Servant. Pike, clearly troubled by all of the loose threads, tries to get answers from Alora about why the boy is so important and his own people tried to kidnap him. To give him answers, she invites him to attend the ritual.

It turns out that the First Servant powers something at the center of Mejallis. The boy willingly enters a chamber where his essence and being will make Mejallis livable and fund their science and culture. However, there is a great cost. The boy will suffer, perpetually, throughout the process (a desiccated child’s remains are removed from the machine). Pike attempts to stop the ritual but he fails and the boy willingly enters the machine, becoming one with Mejallis. The boy’s father, the Elder, had been attempting to kidnap the First Servant to save him from this fate. 

We Don’t Pretend Otherwise

Knocked out during the fight, Pike condemns Alora and her people’s choices. She tells him that in the Federation, children suffer. But in Mejallis, one child does so (willingly) so that others do not. 

Having failed to save his child, the Elder requests a transfer to Prospect 7 where he hopes he can help save the next First Servant. 

Strange New Worlds: Lift Us Where Suffering Cannot Reach – Episode Analysis

This was a powerful episode that explored the temptations of advanced technology and resources at the cost of suffering. Like many Star Trek episodes, the writers are trying to hold a mirror back to use. While Mejallis watched as one child suffered terribly for their prosperity, we (and the Federation) turned their backs on the suffering of thousands, even millions of children so that others could live in luxury. 

Pike is clearly tempted by the potential medical benefits that Mejallis could offer; given his fate, it’s easy to understand. And the doctor, in search of a cure for his fatally ill daughter, is equally tempted. In the end, however, neither was willing to accept the cost – of knowingly allowing a child to suffer.

I appreciated the character development of Pike. The more insight we get into him as a Captain, the more painful his fate becomes for us as an audience. However, this does not do much to move forward the plot of the season. A stand-alone episode with little more than tugging at our heartstrings at the sacrifice of a precocious child. 

Overall, this episode feels a bit like a throw-away. It was engaging and fun. We played more with the “Pike is haunted by his fate…” narrative. So enjoyable, but altogether forgettable.