Nearly 60 years after Gene Roddenberry first imagined it, Captain Christopher Pike stands tall on the bridge of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Yes, what formed the basis for the original Star Trek pilot episode, before being restructured to follow the adventures of Captain Kirk, has finally become a reality. Spinning out of their appearance in Star Trek: Discovery, the five-year mission Captain Pike, Mr. Spock, Number One, and the crew of the Enterprise are embarking on in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is an exciting new frontier for this iconic franchise.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds walks a fine line in the first five episodes provided to reviewers, one I was worried about ahead of viewing. That fine line being the balancing act the show pulls off, each episode is a standalone adventure for the Enterprise versus pushing the lives of the ship’s crew forward consistently, letting them grow as people. It’s a blend of two types of storytelling previously seen in Star Trek; the more character-focused, serialized storytelling of Discovery and Picard, and the procedural, mission-a-week style of The Original Series and The Next Generation. And that blend works perfectly in making Star Trek: Strange New Worlds feel like a breath of fresh air against the other live-action offerings at present from the final frontier.
It cannot be overstated just how fun Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is. Even when dealing with high stakes, the show never loses sight that this should be an enjoyable experience for the audience. This is all helped by a cast clearly having a blast playing in the Star Trek world. All of them are bringing their A-game to the proceedings in every episode, managing to navigate epic battles, quiet character beats, and fun, endearing moments for each character sprinkled throughout the show.
Leading the cast of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is Anson Mount as Captain Pike. Originally debuting in the pilot episode of The Original Series before being dropped in favor of William Shatner’s Kirk, Pike finally gets his moment in the spotlight all these years later. After stealing the show in his appearances throughout Star Trek: Discovery, fan demand almost single-handedly brought Mount back to the role for his own show. And it’s easy to see why. Every moment Pike is on-screen brings a calming presence to even the direst of circumstances. But there is an innate sadness to Pike’s journey in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Following what he discovered about his future in Discovery, Pike is a man who knows he’s on borrowed time, something Mount plays perfectly. I am excited to see how this progresses further into the series.
Also returning from their appearance in Star Trek: Discovery are Ethan Peck’s Mr. Spock and Rebecca Romijn as Number One, now given the name of Una Chin-Riley after previously only ever being referred to by her title. Spock is obviously an iconic character in pop culture, having been played by the legendary Leonard Nimoy in The Original Series, and one might think there’s not much more that can be explored with the character. But Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and Peck’s embodiment of Spock, has found a way to let him grow as a character without overwriting Nimoy’s work.
Romijn, meanwhile, gets a lot of space to play around with who Chin-Riley is, having only had one appearance, played by Trek icon Majel Barrett, before Romijn stepped into the role. She’s a great part of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, especially as we see her open up more to the crew as the show progresses.
The rest of the cast are all equally great. New characters Erica Ortegas, La’an Noonien-Singh (that’s a familiar surname, huh?), and Engineer Hemmer are respectively played by Melissa Navia, Christina Chong, and Bruce Horak. They all make wonderful additions to the cast and will surely join the long list of beloved Star Trek characters in no time at all. Then there is the return of Nyota Uhura, played by Celia Rose Gooding, and Dr. M’Benga, played by Babs Olusanmokun. Uhura is, after Spock, the most established character going into Star Trek: Strange New World. The show makes the intelligent choice of showing her journey from cadet into the brilliant Comms Officer of the USS Enterprise as wonderfully played by Nichelle Nichols in The Original Series.
My personal favorite out of the whole cast, however, has to be Jess Bush in the role of Nurse Christine Chapel. Much like Romijn, Bush is stepping into a role previously played by Majel Barrett. She brings an almost addictively chaotic feeling to the character, being a prime source of humor for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. But behind all that are the beginnings of a very interesting character journey for Nurse Chapel, one I’m intrigued to see unfold.
All in all, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is one of the most impressive debuts for a show I’ve seen in a long while. It’s confident in what it wants to be, something many shows in their freshman year struggle to achieve. Whether you’re a Trek fan of old or someone looking to take your first steps into the final frontier, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is a must-watch for everyone.
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