Welcome to my informal review of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. I thought about writing something deep and well-articulated, but I have to be honest–I’m beyond excited to talk about this show. I’m giddy. I hope this review captures the joy Strange New Worlds brings me so forgive the lack of structure. Let’s jump right in–or as Captains Pike and Freeman like to say: “hit it!”
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premiered May 5th on Paramount+, and it is everything I hoped it would be and more. When the initial trailers of the Captain Pike-led series initially dropped, I felt so much optimism and excitement for what the series represents for fans who grew up on shows like the Original Series and The Next Generation: a return to the episode-of-the-week format with all the optimism and comfort which make Trek so endearing.
Whether you love or hate modern Star Trek, there’s no denying the franchise is unafraid to experiment with what it means to be a Trek show. Lower Decks is animated and pokes fun at the franchise while being a genuine love letter to all things Star Trek. Discovery and Picard have darker elements in their plots and utilize serialized story-telling with season-long arcs, while Prodigy focuses on introducing young audiences to the franchise. Personally, I like New Trek.
I love Lower Decks (I’ve re-watched it three times). While I’m not the biggest fan of Discovery or Picard, I appreciate what they’ve done for this new era of Star Trek. I love re-visiting this incredible galaxy and beloved characters even if every single show doesn’t line up with my personal vision of what I think Star Trek should be. Strange New Worlds would not be possible without New Trek. I cringe when I see other reviewers talk about how Strange New Worlds brought Trek back from the brink and is the best Trek has ever been. That’s a matter of perspective. It’s not fact, and it’s a disservice to the things Discovery and Picard accomplished.
Strange New Worlds is a return to episodic Star Trek and honors the original concept of the franchise—to seek out new life and new civilization and to boldly go where no one has gone before. It might not be the most daring construct for another prequel series, especially with the addition of so many familiar faces like Spock, Pike, Number One, and Chapel, but it doesn’t have to be daring. Not every single series needs to push the envelope and bring something new to the table.
Besides, Strange New Worlds has plenty new to offer as well. The Enterprise design is exquisite and retro. In fact, the entire vibe of the series is retro, almost as if the creators took the 60s out of the Original Series and plopped it into a modern-day context with added visual flair. The costumes are bright and colorful, familiar sounds mingle with the new, the worlds the Enterprise visits are breathtaking in their beauty and attention to detail, and the cast knocks their material out of the park.
Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), Number One (Rebecca Romijn), and young science officer Spock (Ethan Peck) are three compelling leads with arcs they carry over from Discovery. If you haven’t seen Discovery, don’t worry because the episode fills you in on the consequences of the series and how they affect the new cast. Also…go watch Discovery if you haven’t seen the show.
Mount particularly shines as the quiet, reserved, intelligent, troubled, and oh so sexy Pike (sorry, but it’s true), who grapples with being a captain while knowing his inescapable fate is approaching him. Pike has a long road ahead of him and understands his life will change in a way that requires significant adjustment. I’m excited to see what Mount and the series creators have in store for the character.
Ethan Peck brings a unique perspective to a younger Spock, who’s still stuck between the worlds of Vulcan tradition and human emotion. Number One didn’t have a lot of screen time out of the three leads, but she stole the spotlight whenever she was onscreen. I loved the original version of Number One (RIP Majel Barrett) so much and seeing the character return and thrive is an absolute joy. The pilot episode does a fantastic job weaving the character’s backstories and motivations together, and Number One’s connection with some of the other characters was heartfelt and unexpected.
The rest of the cast is equally as charming and enthralling, especially Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong), and Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush). Each character had a chance to shine in the pilot and demonstrate their strengths, talents, and character traits which help them stand out from the ensemble. I loved them all immediately and I’m looking forward to spending more time with them.
I genuinely think the Strange New Worlds pilot ranks as one of the best pilot episodes of the franchise, right next to Deep Space Nine’s pilot “Emissary.” There’s so much here to enjoy, from the classic vibes of the original series to the stellar cast and the excitement of the unknown. Some reviewers have critiqued the series for “not feeling new” enough but this is an informal review on my part and I don’t care. I’ve fallen in love with the series from the second it debuted. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Final Thoughts and Musings
“Emissary…the book!” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine reference. After I mentioned “Emissary” the pilot episode, phew….the memories came flooding back.
Believe me when I tell you Strange New Worlds is visually stunning.
Pike and M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) hugging made me lose it. It was beautiful.
There’s so many small beautiful moments that pay off brilliantly at the end of this episode.
What did you think of Strange New Worlds? Let me know in the comments. For all things Star Trek and pop culture, check out my website. Stay nerdy!