This review contains spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode 9, “All Those Who Wander.”
The penultimate episode, written by Davy Perez and directed by Christopher J. Byrne, sets the bar high with emotions, motivations, and losses.
We're treated to character growth, gripping surprises, and yet another Gorn encounter (this time with a young female survivor) that forces La'an to tackle her trauma head-on. With this much adventure so close to the coda, the stage is set for a nail-biting finale.
As “All Those Who Wander” opens, we learn from Cadet Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) that her mission and time aboard the Enterprise are almost over. She returns to Earth after their current mission: delivering power cells to deep space station K-7.
She's still considering her life's purpose and envies the surety of the Enterprise crew, who have made Starfleet's mission their life's mandate. At her graduation party, and to Ortegas' (Melissa Navia) chagrin, her anxiety causes her to shy away from the group. However, Captain Pike (Anson Mount) assures her there'll always be a place for her aboard the Enterprise.
In Deep Space
Meanwhile, The U.S.S Peregrine activated an emergency landing distress signal before losing contact four days ago. The planet is a known dead zone, and the Enterprise's transporters don't reach the surface.
Pike suggests a rescue mission as a last hurrah for the cadets. They would send a landing party to find the vessel and treat the wounded even though once they enter the upper atmosphere, the party would be out of contact with the ship.
The Peregrine made landfall near a great chasm, but the ionic interference that prevents long-range communication stops them from getting a reading of the vessel. The team lands in a highly volatile area several meters away from the Peregrine, and their situation only deteriorates from there.
When they finally locate the ship, they find blood smeared on the walls and floor. Pike tells Spock (Ethan Peck) to run a quick diagnostic.
La'an (Christina Chong) returns with grim findings; they've located 20 casualties, one of them being the captain. Some crew members died of hypothermia, while others had been picked apart by local wildlife or “something else.” Pike notes that the ship had a crew of 99.
The remaining landing party outside the Peregrine comes across a gruesome sight: blood and badly mangled bodies.
Uhura finds an audio log from the Peregrine's Captain detailing their rescue mission which went awry. They found three castaways: a human girl, a humanoid of unknown origin, and an Orion named Pasco. They rescued all three and brought them aboard, but biofilters failed to detect that Pasco was infected with Gorn eggs. She surmises that her crew will be dead by the time a rescue party arrives and advises Starfleet to stay away from Valeo Beta V.
Pike, La'an, and Uhura search the rest of the ship and come across an alien guarding a young girl, Oriana (Emma Ho); they appear to be the only survivors.
Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush) checks on Oriana's alien guardian when they begin hyperventilating, realizing their skin is suddenly oozing blood. The guardian has been infected with Gorn eggs all along and dies when the younglings burst through their flesh, killing Cadet Chia (Jessica Danecker) as they escape.
The four newly hatched Gorn spread quickly throughout the wrecked ship and began to feed. The next victim is Lt. Duke (Ted Kellogg), who had severely burned his arm on his first mission since being promoted.
La'an finds Nurse Chapel and assesses the scene; there's no sign of the young girl, but La'an figures out that the Gorn have found a way to evade their sensors.
An ice storm has begun outside. Hemmer (Bruce Horak) and Uhura restore power to the ship, and Pike sends a message for everyone to get to the sick bay. The Gorn reappear as Uhura and Hemmer prepare to move. One of the Gorn spits its deadly venom and hits Hemmer, but La'an arrives and scares the creature off.
In sickbay, Hemmer advises that they only need to reboot navigation, after which the ship could leave Valeo Beta V. They still need to defeat the Gorn. However, the creatures' biological makeup renders them invisible to all sensors, and even Hemmer's telepathy cannot sense them.
They devise a plan to kill the two remaining hatchlings by manipulating them and luring them into a trap using the environment controls (Gorn dislike the cold). They must act quickly, as La'an tells them they wouldn't stand a chance “against even one adult Gorn.”
The Gorn have a strong drive for alpha dominance, and the crew's plan works, driving both creatures into the same area, causing them to turn on each other. With one remaining, La'an shows herself to provoke the creature and lures it into the choke point. Hemmer freezes it with a powerful icy blast, and La'an smashes its petrified body to bits.
When Hemmer emerges, he reveals that the Gorn venom had infected him. “I know my own body very well,” he tells them, already manifesting symptoms. The entire team is in tears as the beloved Andorian engineer begins his goodbyes. He leaves Uhura one final message before exiting the ship and ending his life.
Back on the Enterprise, the crew holds a funeral service to remember the lives of Hemmer, Lt. Duke, and Cadet Chia. Ortegas and Uhura share their fondest memories of Hemmer and how he'd impacted their lives. Spock's emotions get the better of him at the ceremony and he storms off. Nurse Chapel chases him, finds him as he punches a wall, and assures him that his current feelings don't make him weak. They make him “human.”
La'an tells Captain Pike she's found a lead on Oriana's family, but it's a weak lead that's also outside the Federation. “I know what it feels like to be alone,” she tells him before requesting a formal leave of absence to ‘go where the clues take her.' Pike says he'll square it with Starfleet and urges her to return to the Enterprise “however long it takes.” However, this leaves Pike without a Security Chief and Lead Engineer.
The episode ends as Uhura enters the communications station on the bridge and takes a long, pensive look around the empty room.
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Sasha Lee is a freelance journalist and editor who writes on all things pop culture and music. She has seen every episode of The Golden Girls at least five times and her work has appeared in a variety of online publications. You can connect with her on Twitter @ohsashalee