Chris Connor reviews the fifth episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2…
As Strange New Worlds’ second season hits its mid-point it delivers another ingenious episode, following storylines involving alternate realities, storybooks coming to life and memory loss. In the latest storyline, following an accident Spock becomes human, exhibiting signs of emotion. This comes at the worst possible time as Spock is set to prepare for his engagement to T’pring.
The episode builds on the relationship between Spock and T’pring which was a key component of the first season but also expands on the awkwardness between Spock and Nurse Chapel (who is trying to secure a work placement on Vulcan).
Placing Spock at the forefront of the episode gives Ethan Peck a moment in the spotlight, continuing this season’s focus on specific crew members and giving Jess Bush some welcome screen-time as Christine Chapel. Peck shows Spock dealing with an array of human emotions and feelings that of course he has learned to repress as a Vulcan, offering several fun moments that allow extra comedy to creep in. Who hasn’t wanted to see Spock trying his hand at cooking in Pike’s kitchen? We also get Spock snacking constantly and drunk and laughing with his crewmates.
Peck has been one of the show’s key assets across its two seasons, making the iconic role his own and here he captures the vulnerability Spock feels in his human form, giving what is a more comedic leaning episode plenty of depth. Mia Kirshner is a welcome addition, reprising her role from Discovery as Spock’s mother Amanda Grayson, building on her relationship with Spock, adding an extra layer to his plight.
While relatively low stakes, ‘Charades’ shows that Strange New Worlds is willing to have fun and continue to mix up its formula and structure week on week. The handling of the love triangle between Spock, T’pring and Chapel is well handled and not tagged on. The focus on Spock and Chapel is welcome following several episodes that have focused on specific crew members.
As it hits the half way mark, Strange New Worlds sophomore season continues to impress, mixing up more intimate storytelling within its overall narrative and giving genuine characterisation to almost the entire crew of the Enterprise. Fans will surely hope that the second half of the season manages to match the heights of the first half, thrilling fun but full of genuine heart and showing a deep understanding of what makes Star Trek such a beloved franchise.