Chris Connor reviews the season 2 premiere of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds….
There has been no shortage of Star Trek content in recent years from the Chris Pine-led films depicting alternate versions of the adventures of Kirk and Spock to Star Trek: Discovery (which originally was set in the lead-up to the Original Series before taking off into the future) and Star Trek: Picard seeing Patrick Stewart back in one of his most iconic roles and reunited with several Next Generation cast members. Few of these have earned as much acclaim and celebration as Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, a Discovery spinoff which depicts the Enterprise crew and its captain before Kirk, led by Anson Mount’s Christopher Pike.
The series has earned unprecedented reviews with a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for its first season, which balanced the explorative and moral elements that make Star Trek a distinctive entity. It honoured the legacy of Gene Roddenberry but was very much its own beast, balancing fan favourites like Spock and Uhura with a host of new faces whom we get to come to know. Hopes are incredibly high for its second season of ten episodes, which kicks off with “The Broken Circle” picking up almost immediately after the first season’s events.
Pike is looking to find a way to have number one (Rebecca Romijn) reinstated after she was detained at the end of the first season for being a genetically altered Illyrian. This looks set to be one of the main threads of the season , perhaps pushing Pike to question some of Starfleet’s regulations.
The episode’s main thread picks up with Christina Chong’s La’an Noonien-Singh on leave, trying to find a home for a survivor of a Gorn attack the crew encountered at the tail of the first season. Spock, Chapel, Uhura and several others go to assist La’an against the Klingons. This is a welcome expansion of these characters and while Pike is oddly kept to the sidelines for much of the episode this is to its credit showing the strength of the wider ensemble and giving them a chance in the limelight. Placing Spock in the Captain’s chair for much of the episode is a fun change-up and gives Ethan Peck a further chance to dive into the iconic character before he became the Spock we come to know and love.
There is more action here than in some of the opening season’s first episodes and again the production design and effects make this one of the best-looking Star Trek series. It’s a thrilling opening episode that instantly captures what made the first season so likeable with the chemistry between the main crew palpable and the balance between traditional Star Trek with a modern flavour continues to impress, with a nice blend of humour and action.
‘The Broken Circle’ is another standout episode for Strange New Worlds, kicking off the second season in fine fashion and building on elements from throughout its opening season, especially the relationships between some of the central characters, and retaining a winning blend of humour, heart and suspense. Based on the opener, season two is promising to be another winning season for fans and casual viewers alike.